EPMEPM: Case Studies

Property Manager Profile: Karina Reed, hockingstuart Glen Iris

Karina Reed is a seasoned authority on all aspects of property management, having amassed over 22 years’ experience in the industry. Conscientious, efficient and hard working, she maintains a genuine enthusiasm for helping people and still ‘loves a challenge.’ As manager of the property management department at hockingstuart Glen Iris, Karina heads a dedicated team who respect her knowledge and appreciate her fun and happy personality. Together they seek to grow the rent roll and forge lasting and harmonious working relationships.

How did you get started in property management?
My mum cut an ad out of The Age employment section for a ‘Girl Friday’ position located in St Kilda, back in March 1992. I liked the location and job description – mostly typing and filing – which seemed like a good role coming straight from high school. Now, having been in the industry so long, I’m qualified in all aspects of property management – reception, administration, managing a portfolio, leasing, BDM, shareholder and manager of the property management department.

As a property manager, what are the biggest challenges that you face?
It’s always a balancing act between landlords and tenants. We’re almost like mediators, trying to fulfil the needs of both sides at once.

What do you love about your job today?
I love how each day is so different. I love dealing with different nationalities and people from all walks of life. It’s really nice to be out and about in a social work environment.

What do you feel makes your team unique?
Our clientele is very multicultural and we’ve built our team to reflect the needs of our customers, including having staff who are multilingual. Having this diversity makes a big difference to customer service and puts us at the top of the game in our area.

As a property manager you must have some interesting stories to tell…
Years ago a prospective tenant came into our office looking pretty dishevelled. I gave him a set of keys to inspect a property (back then it was the norm to give keys out). He applied for the property, was accepted and moved in. A week later he came to our office and presented me with a bottle of champagne to say thank you for giving him a go. I remember feeling embarrassed – I couldn’t understand why other agencies had turned him down. It was a really good reminder to show equal respect to everyone who walks through the door.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I’d say, ‘A quick meeting is always a good meeting’ and ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. Another that works when dealing with tricky situations is ‘Always smile when on the phone’. People seem to sense it in your voice and respond well, and it helps me feel more positive.

What are your most important values?
Teamwork, loyalty, trust, fun and staying positive are all very important to me.

What are the key features in maintaining healthy relationships with landlords and tenants?
I believe in open and honest communication. Every client wants to feel the lines of communication are open; it’s the most important way to show you have their back.

Do you have a mentor, or someone who inspires you?
Yes, I have several! My husband, Chris Reed, is my mentor both professionally and personally. I value my ex-colleague and friend Lyndal for her brilliant IT and recruitment knowledge, and my Mum inspires me in raising my family.

I still value what I learned through my first two managers, Rosemary Philp and Kerry Fraser. Even today I try to mirror their approach to staff management.

Do you have any interests outside real estate?
I have an unusual outside interest: I’m a qualified marriage celebrant! I also love practising yoga and reading about fundamental nutrition. When it comes to a healthy work/life balance, I believe it’s all about time management. I structure my work days to function efficiently so I can spend quality time at home. I make sure I am ‘present’ when my two children are with me.

If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would it be and why?
I’d invite David Attenborough, because he’s such a fascinating guy, and Lewis Litt – my favourite character from the US TV series Suits. And David Gillespie, who has written several books on good fats and quitting sugar, because I’m passionate about changing views on traditional eating habits.

What are your predictions for property management and the real estate industry in 2015?
I think we’ll continue to see increased professionalism in property management across established agencies.

With so many companies undercutting larger agencies on letting and management fees, additional service offerings will become the norm to ensure businesses remain competitive.

What advice would you give someone starting out in property management?
Keep an open mind about the industry; it’s not all about moving from one open inspection to the other. The role is really about problem solving. If you’re good with people and like helping them, it could be right up your alley!

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Samantha McLean

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