EPMEPM: Productivity

Property Management – No Longer “Just a Job”- Now a Career Path

Those property managers who, like me, have been around for a number of years would know that the perception of property management as a job choice has changed for the better. And that’s a great thing!

The days are long gone when rental properties were somehow looked after by the ‘girl’ behind the front counter and the management of properties was considered something an agency had to do because they had sold a client an investment property. In some cases, property management was seen as the training ground for those wanting to enter the sales side of real estate.

It would be no exaggeration to say that managing property in most agencies was limited to finding a tenant, providing a lease agreement and receipting rent. Not a lot of significance was given to any of these tasks being completed in an effective, professional manner. It was just something that needed to be attended to and it didn’t matter who did it. Many vital areas were ignored by the majority of agencies.

There was simply no consideration given to the reporting side of property management, inspections, systems, policies and procedures, duty of care, maintaining appropriate files, and the list could go on.

Again speaking generally, most people engaged in the management of property were not there for the long haul. The common ideology seemed to be that it was what you did until something better came up or the stress under which you were working became too much to cope with.

Meet the ‘new’ property manager

Times have changed and definitely for the benefit of all parties involved. Not only has the property management industry become extremely professional and highly systemised, it has also become very specialised. Well trained, experienced property managers have become a sought after commodity and they play a critical role in the modern agency’s team.

There is now a career path in property management and a number of areas of specialisation.

Firstly there are the mainstream types of management:

  • Residential property
  • Commercial property
  • Holiday rentals
  • Strata management

Within these mainstream types there are now a number of less traditional areas of management, which require the skills of experienced and informed property managers.

Let’s look at the most easily recognised management area – residential property management. Historically this has meant managing a residential property for an investor owner and that property could be a freehold house, a high rise unit or a townhouse.

Now managing residential property can mean a number of other things;

  • Managing blocks of student accommodation
  • Retirement villages
  • Apartment blocks
  • Defence housing
  • Government housing
  • Mining towns

Specific systems and skills are required for each of these new property management areas and subsequently a whole new world of opportunity has opened up for property managers.

Opportunity knocks in mining towns

Until recently mining companies were responsible for management of the property they supplied to their employees. This meant the management process was handled by administration staff normally not trained in the area of property management. Sometimes tenants were placed in property without tenancy agreements, bonds or condition reports. In some mining towns when an employee left the company, which meant they left the property, it was quite common for kitchens to be replaced, the property could be painted inside and out or in extreme cases the property could be totally refurbished.

Obviously this created a number of issues for the mining companies, who didn’t have the bandwidth or skill set necessary for their team to manage the associated problems. It also added enormously to the cost of providing rental accommodation to their employees.

Some ten years ago mining companies started sourcing experienced and well credentialed property managers to take over what had literally become a minefield. Each mining company has its own specific requirements and they also provide good working conditions, living quarters for singles and normally, excellent remuneration packages.

LJ Hooker has a franchise office at Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory totally devoted to the management of the mining town. We believe we were the first franchise group to establish a management relationship with a mining company and it continues to work extremely well for the benefit of all concerned.

It is now common for property managers to progress from the management of a residential rental portfolio in suburbia to the management of entire mining communities. Prior to taking on the challenging role of managing property in remote mining towns, they must gain a high level of experience, they must be committed to ongoing training, and they must invest time and resources into developing themselves both professionally and personally. These property managers look at property management as a career, not just a job. And now they are reaping the rewards.

Company-wide respect for property management

LJ Hooker as a company has for some time recognised that there is a career path attached to property management. Accordingly, we have introduced different forms of training and achievement levels to assist our property managers on their individual career journey.

The foundation of the LJ Hooker policy on property management is our Best Practice P.I.M. training courses. Within our franchise group property management is identified as P.I.M. – Property Investment Management – we are very conscious of the responsibility of managing the ‘investment’ for our clients.

Participation in our training leads our property managers to apply for Property Management Accreditation at Levels One and Two and ultimately Level Three. Once a property manager achieves Level Two status they may then apply for membership of the exclusive LJ Hooker Captain’s Club P.I.M. available to the top 5% of property managers within our network.

The ultimate achievement is entry to the Multi Million Dollar Chapter of the Captain’s Club P.I.M. These are our highest property management achievers.

Attached to P.I.M. training and P.I.M. Accreditation are State, National and International Property Management Awards to acknowledge annual top P.I.M. achievers drawn from the LJ Hooker network of nearly 700 offices around the world.

To support and educate our property managers at a regional level, the LJ Hooker P.I.M. Chapters hold regular meetings allowing members to network, become better informed on market trends and legislative changes as well as learn from their peers.

LJ Hooker believes all these initiative sets property managers on a well established, long term career path, proud to call themselves professional Property Managers.

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Jan Malmstrom

Jan Malmstrom has had 35 years in the real estate industry, always with a specific interest in property management. Jan is currently Head of Property Management at Investors Direct. For more information visit: idfg.com.au