The World on their Shoulders Property Managers and Their Portfolios

If your planner or BlackBerry is full of to-do lists and scheduling conflicts, if you're often running up against deadlines and your cell phone rings constantly, you've got a lot in common with a New York property manager.

Property managers have a lot to keep track of; board and shareholder meetings, maintenance issues, communication with residents, building staff and a host of other concerns that go along with being the place where the buck stops for the day-to-day life of co-op and condo property in Manhattan. Depending on the size of the management company, a single agent usually cares for multiple properties. Without the support of a manager's parent company and peripheral support from the board, a manager's work is truly never done.

The Portfolio Balance

Michael Berenson, president of AKAM Associates, Inc., a New York-based management company, says that while having a robust portfolio is a smart management move, it's possible that managers can take on too much. "A balance must be struck with regard to portfolio size and time-on-task. When a manager's portfolio becomes onerous, it encumbers any potential the manager may have for growth because that manager will not have the time, energy, patience or support to delve into any one area and master it."

So how much is too much? Jonathan West, president of the Charles H. Greenthal Management Corp., of New York, says, "The average, if everything is equal, would be six to seven buildings. In decades past, it could have been upwards of 10 to 12 buildings."

A property manager's caseload varies depending on the size of their portfolio, and how many units there are in each building, of course, but the decline in total number of buildings per portfolio might surprise some. Isn't this the communication age? Shouldn't property managers be able to handle more than ever? In fact, most managers feel the idea that computers, faxes and PDAs cut back on work is a misconception—if anything, the list of managerial tasks have increased with the addition of new gadgets that only serve to speed up the turn-around time they have to deal with problems.

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