rental housing industry

Apartment managers prioritize leasing skills

Monday, August 17, 2015

New survey results reveal that credentialed residential property managers have some key diverging priorities from their peers in the commercial sector, despite the many similarities in their job functions. Data recently collected from more than 1,400 Canadian and American property and asset managers with certification from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) underscores the importance of marketing and leasing skills in the rental apartment sector and the relative lesser weight given to sustainability issues.

“For office buildings, the primary people responsible for marketing and leasing are brokers rather than the property manager,” the executive summary of the survey results explains. “It is also something that is likely to come up less often for office buildings since office leases can be five, 10 or even 20 years in length rather than the 12 months or less for conventional apartments.”

The job analysis survey, which is central to IREM’s ongoing scrutiny of required competencies and criteria for certification, asked respondents to rate the importance of job-related tasks and knowledge areas that support the fulfillment of those responsibilities. Questions fell broadly into six categories: maintenance and property operations; financial operations and asset management; legal and risk management; leasing and marketing; human resources; and client/owner relations. A seventh category, cross-functional skills, was added for consideration of knowledge areas.

Overall, enforcing operating policies and procedures emerged as the most important task, with 88 per cent of managers considering it important or very important. Communications was seen as the most important knowledge, deemed important or very important by more than 95 per cent of managers.

Comparing the responses of residential and commercial property managers, seven of each group’s top 10 tasks are the same. However, more than 80 per cent of apartment community managers ranked “marketing leasable space” as important or very important, while only 40 per cent of office building property managers gave it that prominence. An even smaller percentage of commercial managers deemed “implement a leasing plan for the property” as an important or very important task, in contrast to more than 80 per cent of residential property managers who viewed it that way.

Meanwhile, more than 50 per cent of office building property managers ranked sustainability issues as important or very important, while less than half of the total respondents felt that way. “Sustainability generally doesn’t register high on tasks for multi-family managers, but site managers at residential communities do believe that it is important for them to educate residents on the role they play in sustainable practices, e.g. energy and water conservation,” the survey’s executive summary states.

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