EPMEPM: Case Studies

Karen Mudge – Peter Lees Real Estate, Launceston

Karen Mudge decided she wanted to be a property manager after receiving a bunch of flowers from her property manager when her son was born. And, being completely ‘wowed’ by the service given by the Agency, Peter Lees Real Estate, she has only ever had one employer on the radar.

When did you start in real estate?
I started in real estate in March 2006, so almost seven years now!

What made you choose a property management career?
I have a close family member who works in property management and I used to listen to her talk about her job. It sounded so interesting and ever changing. I was actually renting through Peter Lees Real Estate when I was sent a beautiful bunch of flowers after the birth of my son. I was totally amazed that my property manager knew I was having a baby and that she had even remembered. As I would say now, I was completely ‘wowed’! After researching property management a bit further, I realised that it was a career path that I wanted to follow But I didn’t want to work for just any real estate agency; I only wanted to work for Peter Lees Real Estate. When I returned to work I applied for a position but was unsuccessful. I tried again a couple of months later and was thrilled to be given a position.

As a property manager, what are the biggest challenges you face?
As a department manager as well as a property manager, I find that managing my time effectively is my biggest challenge. I split my time between managing my own portfolio, managing my team of nine, training our junior staff, and staying on top of my own training and development. As a property manager, my biggest challenge is communicating to landlords the need to adapt their expectations to meet the current market conditions. The rent that can be achieved is only what a tenant is prepared to pay in the current economic climate.

What do you love about property management?
Everything! I truly find every aspect of it fascinating, and love meeting and talking to my landlords and tenants and delighting them with the service that we provide. I also love that each day is different and brings with it new challenges and opportunities to expand on my knowledge. I have written hundreds of procedures over the years and know that for every question there is an answer. The answer may be in something I have done before, or I may need to do some research or call a colleague. I love being able to provide my landlords and tenants with answers.

Why is your agency or team unique?
We are a Jenman Approved agency – we place a high value on the importance of ethics in any real estate or business transaction. As far as my team goes, we are extremely close and spend a lot of time together outside work. We have a varied group of people all at different stages of their lives and with a mix of youth and experience. We all bring something different to the team which is why we have been able to forge such strong friendships.

What was the most memorable property you have ever managed?
Just recently I was approached by a young couple about to have their first baby. The heating in the property they were renting (through another agency) had stopped working and neither the agency nor the owner would fix it, despite it being a requirement of their lease. I felt so sorry for this lady who was trying to try and find another property to rent despite the agency making her feel obligated to stay. Within a couple of days I found her another property with great heating (it’s cold down here in Tassie, especially for a young baby) and had her approved. I also was successful in my dealings with her previous agent in having her released from the lease due to conditions not being fulfilled. I then arranged for the free hire of a trailer and helped with her moving just in time for the new baby to be born. It might not seem like the most interesting story, but it signifies all of the reasons I got into property management in the first place. Seeing their gorgeous new baby was just the icing on the cake.

What’s the best advice you have been given?
Have a ‘To Do’ list. Set it up each evening before you go home and then methodically work through it the next day

What are your most important values?
Honesty, persistence, positive attitude, generosity and politeness. Some are self-explanatory, but generosity takes many forms. Of course you can be generous in the financial sense, but being generous with your time to help others or even to just listen to them is extremely important to me. When it comes to politeness, you can have every other personality and character trait in the world, but if you are not polite you will not get anywhere.

What are the key features in maintaining healthy relationships with landlords and tenants?
Strong communication and honesty from all parties. Doing what you say you will do, and treating all concerned as a priority.

Do you have a mentor, or someone that inspires you?
There are so many people that I look up to and aspire to emulate that it’s hard to name just a few. There are a number of local women who have forged successful property management careers and businesses whilst having families and overcoming all sorts of obstacles. Their drive and determination to succeed is something that I greatly admire. My own boss is also someone who started out with very little and through sheer hard work, persistence, passion and integrity has created this amazing agency in which I am privileged to work.

What would be your dream job?
I have my dream job! That’s right, I’m living the dream! As for the future, I see more training, furthering the skills and knowledge that I have already developed, and passing this on to my younger and less experienced team mates.

How do you relax outside of real estate? Do you have a favourite sporting team or travel/holiday destination?
I relax through exercise and being with my boys (husband and two sons aged 12 and 10). With the help of an amazing husband and supportive parents I have been able to ‘do it all’ – have a career and a family. I’m a strong Collingwood supporter and love watching the AFL. Now that my boys are older I also attend their games on a weekend over winter, sitting in the cold, cheering them, eating meat pies and loving every minute of it.

If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would it be and why?
If I was being flippant, I would say Channing Tatum (for the eye candy), Dane Swan (obviously) and Mel B (she’s hilarious). But on a more serious note, I would love to meet Michelle Bridges and get her advice on keeping fit and healthy. Lorna Jane – look at the business she has created!

I would love to sit down with any of my competitors and have a completely honest and open discussion. Too often in real estate I think that we all hold our cards so closely to our chests that we miss out on opportunities to work together and learn from each other.

What are your predications for the real estate industry for the next year?
To quote a wise man “Houses will sell, people will buy them, and properties will rent”. There are no guarantees in real estate other than this, and those people who rely on economies going one way or the other often end up drawing the short straw.

What advice would you give someone starting out in property management?
Persistence – and the persistence to keep persisting. It worked for me. And reading – lots and lots of books. You can never learn too much.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.