There’s a subtle but definite shift taking place in the real estate industry. New demands and new technologies are coming together to advance the role of the property manager. Traditionally assumed to be a day-to-day role with little to no strategic responsibility, the property management function today takes on much of the aspect of asset management.
And while this shift in responsibilities has been gradual, we’ve noticed intensified pressures on property managers post-recession. This, I believe, is in response to a heightened need on the part of investors and owners to capitalize on the value of their portfolios. Today, there is significant pressure on the property management professional to put in place new or revised policies and practices to comply with vast state and federal regulations that impact the health of the real estate asset.
Our member research reveals that the skillset required to fulfill the role of the real estate management professional has changed. Included in the expanding suite of property management responsibilities are such forward-looking, strategic initiatives as establishing a property's operating policies and procedures, collaborating with property owners or boards of directors to develop ownership goals and objectives and preparing long-term financial models, just to name a few. Of course, there are still the day-to-day responsibilities traditionally associated with the profession, such as the collection of rents and ensuring the timely execution of such important but mundane functions as trash pick-up, bill payments and landscaping.
Advances in technology have provided remarkable abilities for real estate professionals to analyze data and project conditions with relative certainty. Software advances have enabled real estate managers to comply with the most sophisticated financial reporting requirements. We are now able to provide, analyze and apply data for virtually any reporting requirements. This broadening of skillset and technology has enabled the traditional property manager to make financial decisions—or at the very least advise asset managers more fully—and do so with ease and sophistication.
It should be noted as well that this expansion of responsibilities also affects the career trajectory of many property managers, providing access to the tools and processes of the formerly distinct asset management career path. Increasingly, day-to-day functions can be used as a training ground for new entrants to the field who face an unprecedented choice of career paths.
I firmly believe that we are located today at a base camp of sorts—a starting point of serious and exciting changes in the real estate industry as we take part in a morphing of property management and asset management, and we see property managers increasingly take a seat at the strategic table.
In addition to her role as IREM 2015 president, Lori Burger, CPM, PCAM, CCAM, is senior vice president of Eugene Burger Management Corp. in Rohnert Park, Calif.