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How Efficient Is Your Property Management Company?

Efficient property managementBy Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL Walk around your office and various departments. Ask folks what tasks they absolutely hate to do or what seems pointless. You will gain a ton of insight about your processes and procedures. Find out why you do that task. Make sure you dig down deep and study the what-ifs of each task. For instance, each time we do a batch of “X”, a paper printout is generated. The paper is then put into a bin and we file it by property. Every single company, building, and system is different so this example is just an illustration. The point is to ask, “What is the value of this task?” If you file this print-out by property, what is the value of that print-out, and how many times is it referenced or utilized? Why are you printing it at all, can the printing function be turned off? How long is the data retained? There are many questions to ask, but the most important point here is, somebody just needs to ask. Tracking and naming files and logs is very time consuming so you should ask yourself and your team a few questions. Is it meaningful? How often do you reference the information? What happens to the information after one month, one year, etc.? In one case we had a supervisor instruct the staff to pull down a report, save it to a file, and create a name for the file each time a certain event occurred.......
Recent Comments
Guest — C Fiori
Linda, and all readers: There are clearly many ways where our lives can be made more efficient. The key thing to remember is that ... Read More
Friday, 13 April 2012 01:08
Brent Williams
I love this post, but I think it is also important to empower this type of efficiency to come from the front lines up, as well. W... Read More
Friday, 13 April 2012 06:42
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Operational Due Diligence - Investigate Your Critical Factors

Due diligence being conducted prior to your offer to purchase a rent roll By Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia I’m sure you are beginning to understand the vital importance of an operational due diligence being conducted prior to your offer to purchase a rent roll becoming unconditional. Once that contract is unconditional you are bound to proceed with the purchase regardless of how inferior the business is that you are purchasing. Yes, I understand that in most purchases there is a retention period, usually three months (again, this is a time period I do not agree with) whereby you have the opportunity to not pay for any managements that you may lose in this period. But, under normal rent roll contracts it’s fairly standard that a percentage of the purchase amount is usually withheld in a solicitor’s trust account and is released when the retention period has expired. Some agents believe this period is their safe guard. Well, I’m here to tell you that you must not be lulled into a false sense of security and, with that said, I feel another article is worthy of this subject. This post focuses on what I refer to as the “critical factors” that need to be investigated when conducting an operational due diligence. These critical factors are: Average management fee Average distance to property ratio Average weekly rent Management splits (percentage of houses and apartments) Number of owners against properties under management and how many are multi owners (including details of each owner’s actual number of properties) Percentage of fixed term leases Monthly disbursement methods......
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If It Is Broke, Don't Delegate

Landlord RepairBy Colin McCarthy, J.D., Robinson & Wood, San Jose, CA Even after our little spigot fiasco, my father and I are speaking again. In fact, it did not take long. We both bonded over the fact that later that night, my wife and I walked out of the George Clooney movie, the Descendants. My wife and I both were bored out of our minds and had little empathy for a guy who owned all of Hawaii. I mean, really? I'm supposed to feel sorry for this guy!? Dad, being generally anti-Hollywood applauded our decision to vacate the movie theater in favor of the bar next door. We got to talking, and we agreed that in the future, it would be best if I not ask him to do repairs on our house. It's not really something I should delegate to him. We decided on the McCarthy "non-delegable duty of repairs” rule - I must do my own repairs. By operation of law in California, a landlord also has a non-delegable duty regarding repairs. If the negligent – grossly negligent one might argue – repairs my father attempted were on a tenant's dwelling that I rented out, I still would be liable for any injuries it caused. So if the tenant got hurt from this negligent repair, they could still sue me. A landlord cannot escape liability for his repair duties by having someone else do the repairs. This duty to repair is "non-delegable." Thus when a landlord hires a plumber, or......
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Help! My Tenant Needs to Break Their Lease

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA It was just a few months ago when the tenants were in the office signing the one year lease agreement. The leasing agent followed the office procedures and made sure to review the lease terms and obligations prior to asking for binding signatures. Then with the swipe of a pen the property was considered off the market and occupied for the year. So, it can be somewhat frustrating when two months later you receive the dreaded call from the tenants stating that for some unforeseen reason they need to move out of the property earlier than expected, consequently breaking their lease agreement. As a property management expert, and owner of San Diego Premier Property Management, I’ve had the opportunity to prepare, execute, and negotiate lease agreements for the better part of a decade, and I can say with all honesty that this scenario happens on a regular basis to the most qualified of tenants. Whether the breach occurs one month or six months into the one year lease agreement it is important to understand that the lease agreement, and the terms agreed upon and signed by both parties constitute a legally binding contract that when breached can carry monetary and legal consequences toward the tenant. With that said, the situation doesn’t have to escalate to a legal issue since it can be mitigated to the benefit of both parties. If the lease has an opt out clause then advise the......
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Open The Window of Opportunity with Owner-Financing

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL Today more than ever, many people do not have traditional sources of employment income. With the job market shrinking, many of us are working for ourselves and are creating jobs by starting businesses and new ventures. With that being said, how does a self-employed individual purchase a residential or commercial location with the stringent financing requirements currently in place? Simple! Look at properties with owner-financing. What is owner-financing? Owner-financing is when the seller of a property is in a position to act in the capacity of a lender. The seller accepts a down-payment and an agreement for repayment. The advantages are tremendous and can be a win-win for both parties. Advantages include: More favorable rates and terms. Easier qualification process. Able to sell a property in a depressed market. Seller can get a much higher return than other vehicles such as a CD. Seller can receive a substantial down payment. Tenant can now become an owner. Less closing costs. Now like anything, there are many pros and cons depending on each seller and buyer's tax consequences and personal financial situation, including whether or not the property is held free and clear. Owner-financing should definitely be a serious avenue to consider when selling a property and when evaluating your lease vs. purchase decision on residential or commercial property. An attorney is needed to assist in the process and as a buyer, you should still do your homework, via a due diligence period. Whether buying or......
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How to Use Due Diligence to Expose Business Landmines!

By Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia Sadly, when carrying out due diligences many agents buying a rent roll are not sure what they are looking for. This lack of understanding means most pay a hasty glance over files and computer reports. On the surface they all look fine, but it’s a bit like an iceberg, we need to understand what looms below. We are all in the industry because we are good sales people. Ultimately, isn't this industry all about our ability to sell? Yes, we promote the best features and benefits of our products and services, but as selling specialists we also need to understand that whilst it looks good on the surface, there may be landmines below. I’m not saying don’t buy rent rolls, just be aware of what it is you are purchasing. So, the first thing is to understand due diligence. There are two kinds of due diligence – financial and operational. When purchasing rent rolls, financial due diligence is undertaken by a valuer. In many instances, the valuer is engaged by the bank to conduct an evaluation of the business prior to lending. If you are not borrowing for the business, I recommend a financial due diligence be conducted nonetheless. Operational due diligence is the second type. This is just as critical as the financial due diligence. Not having an operational due diligence prepared would be like buying shares in a company that is on the verge of bankruptcy and hoping a healthy bottom line......
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A Healthy Property Management Style

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL If you like to read great business books and gobble up terms that help managers get the job done, there is one I want you to never forget, MBWA! Not only is it effective and powerful, but it is also good for your health! Here are variations on its commonly known names: The Acronym: MBWA Management by Walking Around Management by Wandering Around Management by Walking About Manage by Walking Around My own version and personal favorite is - Property Management by Walking Around (PMBWA). It is not easy because you have to push yourself away from the desk. Get out and just start walking around. Do nothing but walk. That is all you have to do. Start at the top, the bottom, the outside, the inside, or any part you would like. If you push yourself away from the office you will be out there in the thick of things. Walk around the parking lots, mechanical rooms, corridors, vacant spaces, other departments of the company, but just walk. Or as a former, very successful boss of mine said, "Get out there in look ‘em in the eye!" While you are walking ask questions, talk to people, make inquiries, and introduce yourself to strangers. Ask technicians what they are working on and ask contractors what project or task they are performing for the property? Do not have a plan or carry anything with you but your smartphone. If you must take a note, just......
Recent Comments
Guest — Nathan Borne
Linda! I learned about this concept in business school. A great idea to start using at the office. Thanks!
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 08:39
Caprice Stokes, MBA
This is cool, I honestly never thought about walking around with NO agenda!! I will keep you posted!!
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:45
Charles Fiori
Something similar was posted on another apartments board, on Facebook, I believe. My response was as follows--Take the same approa... Read More
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 22:28
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Do You Have A B2B Marketing Message?

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL As property owners and managers we need to change our thinking about marketing. For instance, do you have a B2B (business to business) marketing message or do you just focus on B2C (business to consumer) marketing? I would guess that many of you have B2C messages down pat, but fail to focus on B2B. The reason the real estate management industry does not look at itself as playing in the B2B world is due to a myriad of things, but the most pertinent being our training and how we’ve been taught to present ourselves to the marketplace.     For instance, a typical business report about the economy focuses on consumer spending, retail, housing starts, home buyers, and the stock market. There is no mention of the terms we are familiar with, such as number of units, total square feet, vacancy, occupancy, tenants, building improvements, and leases signed. There is no connection to our industry metrics and benchmarks. Our data and statistics are not tracked due to the nature of our business model. It is as if our industry is a forgotten piece of the economic pie. For this reason, I think there is a disconnect in how we really fit into the picture. My intent is to turn the tables and give you some tips on how to improve your B2B marketing messages by giving you the confidence to realize that we are vital to our communities. The B2B marketing message you create......
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Mike Lamoreaux
I'm sorry, I couldn't keep this out of my Twitter feed. Thanks for a great article. Never had thought about a B2B approach.
Monday, 12 March 2012 13:09
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Questions Are Nuggets Of Gold

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL When managing your property staff, encourage them to ask as many questions as possible. In general, people are afraid to ask questions because they think it makes them look less qualified. However, you must listen and treat each question like a nugget of gold. As a property manager you need to train your staff on the ins and outs of your business, but if they are not sure about something, encourage them to ask questions. Otherwise, acting without direction may have serious ramifications! Hearing questions before an action is taken should be like music to your ears, when compared to hearing about a mishap or a mistake made because they didn’t ask. For example, would you want to risk to an employee’s safety because a team member failed to ask a question about proper safety procedures? Also keep in mind that when something takes longer to do or makes your staff work harder, don’t scream at them for asking, “Why must it be done this way?” and respond with an “it’s my way or the highway” type response. Instead, explain that it is for the greater good of the property, the building ownership, or that it is a requirement of the insurance policy. Make it clear to everyone involved why there are certain processes and procedures in place. In so many cases, if people do not understand the reasons, it can create confusion and problems. Life is hard enough without being caught in the......
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Does Your Property Manage You?

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL Do you manage your property, or does it manage you? This should be at the forefront of your mind every day. This question is meant to keep you on track and focused. Why? Because property management is an industry that can make or break you! As property managers we are the ultimate in multi-tasking. We know that anyone can become a property manager, but the ones that truly standout and differentiate themselves are the ones that manage their building. Not the other way around. There can be constant interruptions and challenges throughout any given day. The day starts out fine until you get a call about a flooded property, or an unexpected customer complaint. Now you need to drop what you are doing and attend to the crisis at hand. As you begin to tackle this new challenge, it is best to keep reminding yourself that you manage the building, the building does not manage you! When the flood hits, do you have a contingency plan? Why is the customer complaining? Analyze the issue and address the problem. The number one solution is to be proactive. Do all you can to prevent these issues from happening again. Manage it and do not just react to it! When an issue arises, it must be broken down into the smallest components in order to find the reason or cause. Once it has been solved, it is time to develop a new approach or plan so that......
Recent Comments
Guest — Milisa
Love this! I have found that IF you implement your policies and procedures ALL the time and do not try to manipulate them to fill... Read More
Friday, 02 March 2012 00:01
Guest — MK Asset Management
Whether your building provides a home to your company or is part of an investment portfolio, a poorly managed commercial building ... Read More
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 00:27
Park Management
Policies are no 1.Deal with the issue immediately.Follow up.I also believe in having 3 companies in every trade handling repairs a... Read More
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 01:52
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