A Born Leader A Look at Today's Managing Agents

They have to worry about everything from keeping track of financial reports to whether the masonry will survive another winter. They collect maintenance, track repairs, and soothe ruffled shareholder feathers. If they don't know how to handle something, they had better know someone who does. Part accountant, part contractor, part therapist, they are property managers, and they keep New York's apartment buildings habitable.

Not Enough Hours in the Day

Manhattan's Midboro Management, Inc. currently handles 58 properties. Company president Michael J. Wolfe describes the beginning of his typical day: "First, I check my mail box for faxes, mail, voice mail messages and e-mail, and prioritize the group. Then, while I'm addressing the incoming [issues], I also have to follow up on things like the last board meeting and ongoing projects."

A sample to-do list for Wolfe might look like this:

  • Call roof manufacturer - advise them that the roof is leaking.
  • Arrange replacement for vacationing maintenance staff member.
  • Obtain bids for new elevator contractor.
  • Notify board of possible code violations.
  • Meet with architect/engineer and vendor to discuss status of façade restoration.
  • Speak to shareholder behind on maintenance.
  • Review and approve invoices.
  • Answer questions from prospective purchaser.
  • Investigate banging in heating pipes.
  • Review alteration application from shareholder.
  • Investigate excessive noise complaint from a neighbor's apartment.
  • Attend evening board meeting.

Of course, the whole list may go out the window if an emergency or crisis rears its ugly head. "You can start the day with a plan," says Elizabeth Hurley, president of Platinum Properties of New York, Ltd., "and by 10:30 it will change. You have to be flexible." Property managers need to be able to think quickly and creatively.

"You have to be a pretty good problem solver," adds Hurley. Emergencies run the gamut from flooded apartments to a tree leaning on power lines. The property manager needs to know which contractor or city agency to call in each situation.

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