A good property manager is like a hip dad. He or she may not say things like, "Hey pal, whatcha say we go toss around the ol' pigskin?" but like a hip dad, a property manager needs to have a certain set of specific traits and other, harder-to-define skills in order to be successful.
A property manager needs to be able to listen and communicate, as well as be proactive and involved, current and knowledgeable. He or she should also be levelheaded and resourceful, personable and articulate. For all the property managers diligently trying to excel, the list of "and's" goes on and on. At the end of the day however, most people working in the management industry agree that the most fundamentally important trait for a good property manager to possess is the ability to communicate and relate to people.
Communication is Essential
Good communication is the grease in a building's wheels. It is the property manager's duty to make sure everything runs smoothly, and that requires everyone involved in the building to understand one another. Conflict is generally a result of misunderstanding, often precipitated by a lack of or breakdown in communication. Like a good foreign diplomat, a property manager needs to be able to see other peoples' perspectives, to hear what they are saying, and to solve problems. The property manager needs to understand and balance the views of multiple interested parties. According to Steven Gold of New York City-based management company Hudson View Associates Inc., "It's very important that a property manager is a good listener, who is detail-oriented and follows up. Furthermore, a property manager must be able to listen, then understand and interpret what he or she is being told by the unit owners [or shareholders], the super, the board of directors, and so forth."
The property manager is the go-between for everybody associated with the building, so as Gold mentions, they need to be a good interpreter and show diplomacy: listening, understanding, and translating messages between various parties. If you are a member of your board and you have been having problems with the super or the doorman, or unit owners have been complaining, you might want to take a closer look at your manager. Do they maintain open lines of communication?
A Side Order of Knowledge
In addition to communicating well, a good property manager keeps the board of directors informed on several different levels, financially and otherwise. According to Greg Cohen of Impact Management in Queens, "A managing agent should provide two reports on a monthly basis—a financial report… and a physical report that covers the day-to-day operations of the building."