Thanks in large part to low property taxes, above-average job growth — especially in the tech and finance sectors — a competitive and increasingly connected transit system, and the well-documented influx of millennial migrants, Charlotte is widely considered one of the most attractive secondary markets in the country. Landlords the city over have taken notice and are in a proverbial arms race to deliver the best new product, the most engaging tenant experience, and the most robust amenity base. The goal, of course, is the same as it’s always been: retain existing tenants and attract new ones.
The game hasn’t changed, but with a healthy stream of capital pouring into new developments and existing buildings, companies redefining their ideal work space, and a booming CRE tech industry begging to shift the paradigm — the rules of the game have. In this hyper-competitive climate, the most successful property managers have stopped simply managing an asset — they’ve become one. Here’s how:
- They recognize property management is still a contact sport. In an age of social media, perpetual connectedness, and the previously-mentioned vibrant CRE tech industry, it’s possible, if not tempting, to live and work behind a screen. One of the rules that hasn’t changed (and probably won’t) is that real estate is still a “people” business.This is especially true for property managers, and the best among us continue to focus on building real relationships with the litany of stakeholders (tenants, service providers, clients, and industry colleagues) we depend on. The benefits of being visible, approachable, and reachable are many. Conflict resolution tends to be more collegial and constructive in person. Well-connected managers are more likely to learn about new technologies, systems, and amenities before they hit the market, driving financial and operational efficiency, and delivering needle-moving tenant experiences.
- They realize one size doesn’t fit all. Each building is different, each landlord’s investment goals are different, and each tenant’s needs and sensitivities are different. The most enterprising managers account for these nuances in their management strategy. In a market that’s prioritizing uniqueness and flexibility, a bespoke approach to property management is a differentiator for tenants and clients alike. Understanding the building’s position relative to its competitive set, the market, and the client’s investment strategy helps ensure recommendations are thoughtful and impactful.
- They know what they don’t know. Property management is largely a knowledge-based trade. To make an informed decision, you must necessarily be informed. The most effective property managers know the limits of their knowledge and seek counsel to fill in the gaps. Property managers tend to wear the “jack of all trades” label like a badge of honor and for good reason.
We also tend to forget the rest of that idiom, “master of none,” and being confronted with our own knowledge gaps can be a humbling experience. However, hubris that infects the decision-making or advisory process can force unfavorable financial outcomes while exposing clients, assets, and tenants to unnecessary and unmitigated risk among a host of other consequences. Hubris can be a liability. Managers that prefer to be assets in a competitive market are cognizant of their shortfalls and don’t overcompensate, they just ask.
Real estate is cyclical; however, effective management is not and these qualities, in the right hands, should survive any disruptive shifts in the social, political, or economic climates that underpinned their importance.
Brian Hill joined the Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services team as a Property Manager in 2017. Brian works with key clients to achieve their operational and investment goals while leveraging a breadth of experience across all major asset classes to deliver comprehensive real estate services including operations oversight, budget preparation, financial reporting, contract and risk management, and tenant relations.