EPMEPM: Technology & SocialOPINION

Elevation meets integration: The evolution of the property management industry

The property management industry experienced a significant shift in 2017. But that’s nothing compared to what’s to come in 2018, according to Rockend CEO Alister Maple-Brown and Antonia Mercorella, CEO at REIQ. Here they discuss the year that was and the year ahead in property management.

With the dream of home ownership becoming more and more difficult for many, the demand for property management services is growing at a rapid pace. Also growing are the expectations landlords and tenants place on their property managers.

To meet these expectations, the property management industry is evolving – and technology is providing property managers with the tools they need to embrace this evolution.

2017: The year of elevation

Being a property manager is a hard gig. Most people underestimate the complexity of the role. And in years gone by, property management has sometimes been viewed within the real estate industry as the poor cousin to sales.

But no more. Steadily gaining pace for a number of years, the elevation of the property management role came into its own in 2017.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella points to the move away from a transactional mindset as one of the main drivers behind this elevation.

“For too long, the property management industry has been a bit stuck in an old-school, transactional style of thinking: ‘I’m a property manager and because I need to do everything myself, I can only manage X number of properties’,” Antonia explains. “But the influx of technology into the property management space has turned the transactional model on its head and property managers have had to recreate their offering.

“The disruption the property management sector has experienced over the last year in particular has helped property managers to better understand what their clients are looking for from them. It’s no longer enough to simply transact. Landlords and clients want – and expect – more. They want property managers to provide a value-add service.”

According to Alister Maple-Brown, CEO at Rockend, this change of mindset has been good for the industry and technology is helping property managers meet their clients’ service expectations.

“Property management has truly become a business that never sleeps – and there’s no doubt technology can be a property manager’s best friend in navigating this new reality,” he says. “We all expect the information we want to be at our fingertips anytime, anywhere – and property management is no different.

“Cloud-based property management software is fast becoming the norm. Client information portals are now common. Electronic condition reports are on the rise. Task-specific apps continue to be developed. The list goes on and on. All designed to enable a better level of interaction between the property manager, their clients and other suppliers and stakeholders.”

Rockend CEO Alister Maple-Brown

All of this has led to the elevation of the role of property managers, particularly over the last 12 months.

“How we view property management has definitely grown up – our outlook has matured,” Antonia says. “All you need to do is look around and see how many agencies there now are specialising in property management.

“Five or ten years ago, no one viewed property management as a ‘business’. Very few people understood the true value of it in its own right. But that’s all changed. There’s now a respect for property management that wasn’t necessarily there before.”

Alister agrees that savvy business owners are now treating property management as a business, rather than an afterthought.

“They appreciate the value it brings to the agency,” he says. “Stepping out of a transactional mindset and embracing the opportunities technology affords has allowed property managers to provide the level of service their clients want and need – and, in turn, has seen an elevation in their role.

“And we’ll see this elevation continue throughout 2018.”

2018: The year of integration

Both Alister and Antonia believe that technology integration will be central to supporting the further elevation of property managers in the coming year.

“‘Integration’ will definitely be the word on everyone’s lips in 2018”, Alister says. “For every task you do each day in your agency, you can find a piece of technology to make the ‘doing’ easier.

“But, because technology innovation is moving at a mind-boggling rate, it’s impossible for a single technology supplier to provide an end-to-end solution for every need their clients have. That’s why integration is critical.

“The success of any business hinges on successful engagement with clients. And successful engagement with clients is about the successful integration of the systems those clients are using. To achieve the best client outcomes, technology suppliers need to leverage off the innovation and success of other suppliers.”

When it comes to the property management industry, it’s essential for technology suppliers to have a healthy symbiotic relationship with other property management application providers. This not only benefits the property management business but ultimately also their landlords and tenants, Alister says.

PropertyTree, Rockend’s cloud-based property management software, continues to release more in-app functionalities such as Invoice Genius – a scanning and automation function that helps reduce invoicing time by up to 25 per cent – and is also integrating with more property management applications each month.

“In the last quarter alone, PropertyTree launched integrations with property inspection management apps Inspection Manager, Property Inspection Manager and Rentfind Inspector, and will be adding HappyCo and Inspection Express in the coming months,” Alister says.

“At a time when start-ups, disruptors and innovators are leveraging connectivity to establish new offerings, it’s never been more important for property managers to understand – and rethink – how their offering can most efficiently and effectively operate in this interconnected world. After all, none of us are silos.”

Antonia says the days of being able to be possessive in the technology space are over.

“It’s been coming for a while, but this year will be ‘the year of intergration’,” she predicts. “Agencies are seeing the importance and value of working in a more collaborative way, and understand that clients are demanding a seamless experience. If they don’t get it, they’ll simply walk away. This is what’s fueling the integration trend across property apps.”

Alister agrees. “Integration is at the core of this and in 2018 we’ll undoubtedly see a greater focus on it by all stakeholders – property managers and their clients, as well as technology suppliers.

“Expectations continue to increase. These days, everyone wants more and they want it quicker. That’s why property managers need to be working with a platform that allows for the seamless integration of the many systems they use. This, in turn, will free up more time to help property managers provide a better level of service to their customers, and manage their ever-increasing responsibilities and regulatory requirements.”

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