EPMEPM: BD & Growth

Property Management in the Year 2058

Natalie Hastings takes a wry look back to the bad old days of property rentals, and wonders what the future holds for landlords, tenants and property managers.

Cast your mind back forty years to the real estate industry of 1978 in Australia.

Being a relatively youthful industry, you might not remember the ‘bad old days’. They were light years from the profession we know and enjoy today.

Whilst some things remain the same about success in real estate – prospecting must be part of every day, timely communication and great customer service is everything – much of the agent or property manager’s ideal day has changed.

In 1978, there was no internet, no email and no mobile phone. This meant a much better work/life balance in many ways! Properties for sale or lease were advertised in shopfronts or in the newspaper. Prospective tenants would come to the office to pick up keys, visiting homes for lease on their own. Rent and bond were usually paid in cash to the office, adding a level of risk and potential for fraud that chills modern trust accountants to the bone.

Property management used to be the first stop on the ladder for real estate professionals, and was viewed as a training ground for sales. Databases were effectively index cards or notes made in REIV diaries. Newsletters weren’t even a thing.

People and processes have changed in our industry, and for the better.

So what will the real estate profession – and property management, more importantly – look like in another forty years? Will we even have jobs in 2058? Here are hastings + co’s predictions for the future of property management.

FEWER AGENCIES DOING MORE WORK

As today’s senior principals begin to leave the industry, their rent rolls be will be acquired by larger businesses with substantial budgets. These larger agencies will have the resources to amplify their use of technology and market across all mediums, helping them to win more landlords as they go, thus creating mega rent rolls.

Don’t despair and think that this centralisation will mean fewer jobs for property managers: so much of Australia’s wealth rests upon property investment and the industry will continue to require talented managers ‘on the ground’ to represent landlords’ interests. With more property managers working in giant agencies managing tens of thousands of homes, it’s possible that employee benefits and training will be on the up as the role of property manager gains the respect it deserves.

By 2058, we’ll have realised that working from the same place isn’t crucial to collaboration.

OUTSOURCING WILL BE KEY

In the future, principals will look back on the agencies of today and scoff at their concerns over outsourcing. In 2058 accountability systems and processes will be enhanced by databases that do more than we could possibly imagine today.

Anything that doesn’t involve immediate customer interface and a brand experience is up for outsourcing. Trust accounting, processing routine inspection reports, marketing, basic maintenance matters – even prospecting will be outsourced to businesses who specialise in their unique real estate support category. It’s more tax-effective for real estate businesses to focus on what they’re best at – human relationships and pairing great tenants with great properties.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST AGENCIES

Expect to see the rise of leasing-only real estate businesses who differentiate their offering by focusing simply on providing a great service to landlords and tenants. Smaller estate agencies may still exist – but they’ll have established their USP (unique selling proposition) with consistent, bold marketing and ‘high touch’ communications. Hint: don’t discount building relationships with these agencies – they’ll have properties to refer on to trusted sales agents!

THE FEMALE ECONOMY

Did you know that women will shortly be in control of 75 per cent of financial decisions for their household? In the real estate industry, we either ignore gender bias or market in a way that is traditionally for the male gaze. Gender matters, and the female economy in the real estate sector continues to be ignored. Not for much longer, however – bring on 2058 and its female-centric investment property leasing services.

In the future, principals will look back on the agencies of today and scoff at their concerns over outsourcing.

TOTAL FLEXIBILITY IN THE WORKPLACE

By 2058, we’ll have realised that working from the same place isn’t the most crucial aspect of collaboration. As men and women become more equally represented in the property management workforce, flexibility for family and personal commitments will become part of our agency cultures. Whilst coming together physically will still have a place, nine-to-five clockwatching will be a thing of the past. Different KPIs will come to the fore, with team members made easily accountable courtesy of advanced CRMs.

VIRTUAL EVERYTHING

Physical newsletters, newspapers and printed collateral will be a quaint anomaly used for only the priciest of property marketing. Physically getting together for team meetings, listing presentations or tenant interviews will be facilitated virtually, too (do I hear a sigh of relief?). Open for inspections for sales and property management will also be held in a sophisticated virtual reality space – and whilst OFIs will still occur, they won’t be in the same volume. Never physically meeting tenants and landlords will become quite normal – particularly as international property investors become part of our rent rolls.

IN-HOUSE MAINTENANCE SERVICES, ACCOUNTING AND MORE

Savvy real estate businesses will take the concept of the ‘one-stop shop’ to the next level for landlords and tenants. They’ll offer additional services, creating departments for maintenance, accounting, styling, advocacy and broking.

One thing’s for sure – whatever the future really holds for property management, there will still be landlords and tenants. Some things never change; forty years on, prospecting, timely communication and great customer service will still be key.

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Natalie Hastings

Natalie Hastings is the Managing Director of Hastings + Co. For more information, visit hastingsandco.com.au.

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