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The changing face of residential management.

The role of the residential managing agent has evolved to the point whereby a new definition of this position is needed. The demands placed upon management executives and the needs fulfilled by them are so varied that the original job description is no longer valid.

In 1974, when few cooperatives and condominiums existed and I began to manage property, management knew exactly what services were expected. For the most part, we were then employed by individual owners who had a specific direction outlined. Their agenda was clear. The agents role was to keep all apartments rented by solid citizens and to obtain the maximum income allowed by law.

Increasing income and curtailing expenditures were of paramount importance. The agent was to keep the building in sound and operable condition, attend to repairs as needed, and comply with all governmental codes and regulations. If the building was fully occupied and well maintained; if the rents were collected in a timely manner; if there were no violations on the property; and if the owner realized a profit at the end of each month, then the owner was pleased with the services provided.

Let's fast forward to 1998, 24 years later. We are now in the post cooperative/condominium era. Management is still servicing an owner, but ownership today is, for the most part, a group of individuals, very few of whom have real estate experience. The owners are board members who volunteer their services and who, because of the very nature of humanity, may each have a different direction and agenda. This has created the need for a new management style and the accompanying skills.

Tactfulness and sensitivity are two qualities that assume an importance not previously noted by managing agents. The ability to deal with divergent personalities and assume a positive leadership role is of limitless value.

In today's management world, agents may deal with owners of one property who are at odds on important issues that require resolution. To perform the job successfully, the agent must be capable of skillfully guiding all the entities without leaving behind any bruised egos. Ergo, the agent must command respect. This requires that he/she be an intelligent, capable and efficient person who possesses excellent communication skills, written and verbal.

The agent must be able to interface intelligently, not only with the owner, but also with the attorneys, the accountants, the engineers, the consultants and all persons servicing the property. The agent must be as capable of reading a financial statement, discussing debt service and dealing with a mortgage refinancing as of understanding mechanical and structural problems. To this, add the need for the agent to decipher the myriad of governmental regulations and new legislation, and you have a more complete picture of the changing face of management during these past two decades.

Where are we to find this renaissance person, willing to labor in an industry where the day never ends? A physical day generally ends at 10 p.m., after the last evening board meeting. Since the agent is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the demands on one's time is open ended. Is that person who possesses all of these qualifications and talents willing to remain in an industry where the pace is so intense and the compensation limited? Is that person even willing to enter this industry?

This is the challenge for the new millennium: fostering young minds and encouraging them to bring their intelligence and talents into the residential management arena. This requires a major effort and an outreach program. Because, as time passes, there must be a new generation willing to carry on the traditional job of maintaining our properties and our communities.

As management professionals, we have a responsibility to secure the future and leave behind a legacy of stability.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus On: Property Management
Author:Taranto, Marcia
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 29, 1998
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