SPOTLIGHT -- The Evolution of Property Management

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Nora Neilson, CPM

LEED Green Associate

Managing Director/SVP

PropertyManagement/Carolinas Market

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What is property management? This seems a relatively simple and straightforward question. However, the answer isnot so simple – and, surprisingly, unknown by many in the commercial realestate world.  What’s more, it hasevolved over time as clients and tenants have become more sophisticated intheir expectations and technology has evolved building operations.


It might be easier to ask: What do property managers do? The role of a property manager is diverse andever changing with multi-faceted perspective on the asset he/she manages. Gone are the days of a quirky superintendentlike Dwayne Schneider (One Day at a Time) – overseeing a building with hishandyman’s wrench on his tool belt, ready to use bubble gum and band aids toresolve whatever problem may arise. Goneare the days of a one-page lease agreement for the long-term tenants who occupythe building. Properties today arerecognized as the “investments” that they are – for both clients (owners/investorsand asset managers) and tenants (the businesses that occupy the property) whoeach have their own invested interest in the property. 


Clients invest money into anasset (building) with the intent of getting a return on their investment via ongoingprofit, profit at sale, or both. Tenantsinvest rent into a property that they expect to get a return on as well – byhaving a safe, clean, comfortable work place in which to house their employeesand run their businesses effectively. 


It is the property manager’schallenge to achieve the correct balance between customer service to the tenantand value enhancement for the client. Asthe commercial real estate industry has evolved, so too have the expectationsof a property manager. Colleges anduniversities are now offering programs in property management. Many property management firms seekindividuals with certifications and graduate degrees to fill propertymanagement positions. A manager isexpected to have extensive knowledge in finance, investments, assetenhancement, valuation and real estate – as well as the basics of dailyoperations and customer service. Today’sproperty manager must be skilled in the following:


·        Client Relations

·        Customer Service

·        Asset Management

·        Financial Planning

·        Capital Planning

·        Risk Management

·        Security and Life Safety

·        Building Automation

·        Applicable Building Codes

·        Lease Interpretation

·        Vendor Management

·        Operational Oversight

·        Administrative Oversight

·        Physical Operations and Maintenance

·        Sustainablity


So as our lives have become more complex and our clients and customers more sophisticated, so too has property management. Property managers need ongoing education in technology, investing, and trends to be ahead of the curve in service delivery to clients and customers. Certification in the field, licensing, and master’s degrees are the norm and these trends are expected to continue, as property management professionals continue to provide integrated solutions, purchasing power, experience, and expertise to drive the value of the investments they manage.