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A Day In The Life Of – A Property Manager

Property Manager

By Christopher Lee, CEL & Associates, Inc.

For many by 2025 [and clearly for everyone by 2030] the nearly 100-year old title of “Property Manager” will be replaced by titles far more reflective of the role, span of operational and “total asset experience” control, level of expertise, financial/business decision-making authority, technology acumen and overall leadership requirements.

Property Management and the position of today’s Property Manager began as a career in the early 1930s as the role[s] of a Building Supervisor [an elevated engineer]. Formation of the Institute of Real Estate Management [IREM] began to elevate a career in property management. The title “Certified Property Manager” was created and the status and quality of Property Managers were significantly enhanced [today there are around 9,000 CPMs]. Real estate professional organizations such as NAA, BOMA, ICSC, ULI, IFMA, and NMHC, among others, also elevated the role and quality of the Property Manager (also including the apartment industry’s Community Manager) positions. Unfortunately, yesterday’s Property Manager is not today’s and clearly will not be tomorrow’s Property Manager.

As the real estate industry moves to 2025, the title, role and responsibilities of the Property Manager will change dramatically. In addition to managing four walls and the resident experience, tomorrow’s Property Managers will be as or more focused on what is inside the four walls. 

Creating valued workplace environments, experiential retail destinations and interactive homes [not apartment units] will require interpretation of and adapting to new technologies, the IoE, automation, robotics, online tenant/resident interface, civic philanthropy, environmental sensitivity, disaster/emergency protocols, management of social media, predictive analytics and knowledge of new building materials and processes. The Property Manager of tomorrow will act more like the Concierge at the Ritz-Carlton, utilize technology like a Googler, and execute like an Air Traffic Controller. This new role is more akin to an Enterprise or Business Director, because managing a “property” is becoming an increasingly smaller part of a Property Manager’s responsibilities. 

Residents will likely have “Tenant Chips” or wear an apparel item that will provide entry, elevator and restroom access, will turn lights on and off, and regulate temperature control to accommodate the “work pattern” of each individual. Eventually, these Tenant Chips will track wellness, activate multimedia and communications technology and carry out various tasks. Work orders will be placed via apps, and technology (such as that being offered by Zenplace and being developed by others) will track FFE usage and lifecycles. Chatbots and AI bots will handle work orders. 

Software will take data from its property management software and automatically create work orders. Leasing and property tours can be conducted virtually. Cloud-based property management software will give owners and residents 24/7 dashboard-like access to real-time information, video streaming and reporting. Voice recognition will create instant communications between residents and tomorrow’s Property Managers. Energy monitoring apps will help buildings to be more energy efficiency. Sensors in carpeting and common areas will enable better utilization and reduced maintenance costs.

Integrated building systems, “sustainable” and “wellness” ratings will be commonplace, cost management systems and telecommuting will require commercial buildings to become 24/7 hubs and portals for tomorrow’s mobile and connected workforce. Video conferencing, digital files and the redefinition of “work” will alter building usage and utilization. Clearly, disrupters are changing resident service expectations and delivery systems. The Property Manager title and responsibilities today are soon to be turned upside down.

Predictions

  • By 2025 up to 15% of buildings under 100,000 sf could be managed remotely.
  • By 2025 most Property Managers will be utilizing some form of AI.
  • By 2025 new building materials will begin to rapidly transform space utilization.
  • By 2025 every Property Manager will seek a wellness rating for his/her building.
  • By 2030 the title of Property Manager will be eliminated.

By 2025 and beyond, where we work, live, shop and play will become an interwoven fabric of connectivity, accessibility [on demand], generational preferences, plus social, behavioral and experienced-based environments. Purpose, meaning and impact will be valued more than financial performance. Authenticity will be the foundational driver of occupiers as services increasingly replace space in buildings.

As much as 18 percent to 24 percent of revenues from property management could come from “network effect” services, not management fees. Up to 50 percent of a Property Manager’s time will be managing platform expectations, experience, predictive analytics and automated building systems. Within the next decade, it is increasingly likely to see an industry consolidation of real estate organizations from the Big 10 to the Big 5. 

Indeed…the life of today’s Property Manager will be dramatically different from today. The implications on hiring, training, certification and professional development will be significant.