As jugglers of multiple and oftentimes complex tasks, property managers must be adept at mediating between board members and unit owners, as well as resolving all manner of maintenance and legal issues. To this end, property managers don’t have 'typical' days, but rather varied and challenging ones that are often complicated, and require a particular skill set to navigate.
“The property manager for any asset type is mainly to make sure that every property is running smoothly and achieving the goals and purposes of the owners, client or investor,” says Alfred Ojejinmi, president and CEO of the East Brunswick, New Jersey-based Presbeuo Group Inc. “The manager is the captain of the ship and must know everything regarding the property such as physical, functional, social, fiscal, operations and governance.”
The Juggling Act
In order to do their respective jobs well, managers require a wide array of both concrete skills and specific personality traits. And while the size of the property dictates a manager's involvement and responsibilities to a large degree, there are a few traits that are common to any good manager. These professionals understand not only how to deal with boards and residents, but vendors and the ever-changing status of the property–whether its due to the environment, a lawsuit, a rotating roster of contractors, or changing board members. In the end, it is the board that ultimately entrusts the property manager to make the right call, regardless of the situation.
Since the role of the board is essentially that of policy making, board members must take a team approach when working with a property manager. To this end, board members must read all reports, attend all meetings and make decisions that are in the overall interest of the community. But getting buy-in from board members in all this requires some skill on the part of the manager, say the pros.
“Every board is different, so it takes time to meet and understand what a board actually wants from a manager,” says Annette Loscalzo, senior property manager at Argo Management in Manhattan. “Personally, I like to let them know who I am, how I work, what they should expect, make recommendations, making sure their property is run in an efficient cost-effective manner. I try to guide them, but sometimes it's best to step back if they're arguing, let them hash it out and get it off their chest. Sometimes getting in the middle of the argument can make things worse. I try not to get into their personal lives. Boards usually appreciate honesty, letting them know that they're not alone. They're under pressure, and it's a volunteer position,” she says.