Acquiring a multiresidential property can quickly become a full-time job, with tons of overtime. If your plan is to start acquiring multiple such properties, you'll need to arm yourself with a slew of good staff, especially management. As the CEO of Stablegold Hospitality, a real estate investment firm with its portfolio primarily focused on multiresidential properties in the affordable housing space, experience has taught me that one of the most critical roles you'll need to recruit for is a property manager. I've also learned that not all property managers are alike, especially when it comes to Class C/D assets.
The following guidelines assume most candidates have the technical know-how. Even if they don't, it's not a deal-breaker if there's support staff to fill that gap. When recruiting, there are some other key attributes to consider that I believe only personal experience can account for, as opposed to what we learn in school. Here are three of the most important aspects.
1. Experience within the appropriate property class
The background of an experienced property manager should be directly related to the property class you're hiring for. For example, our company specializes in purchasing Class C/D properties, which usually consist of older, worn-down buildings in neighborhoods facing socioeconomic challenges. If a potential candidate has only gained experience from working at luxury hotels, they most likely won't have the experience we're looking for.
Sometimes it can be difficult finding a property manager with this experience. When supply is low, try to prioritize candidates who at least make a good cultural fit. Ask yourself: Have they worked with a similar clientele in previous jobs? Have they made social connections within the local community? How well would they navigate situations they have not previously been exposed to?
Personally, I've found great managers in both scenarios; they either had experience with a similar property class or just naturally made a good cultural fit for our organization.
2. People with principles
Integrity and good work ethic are qualities that all property managers should have, regardless of the property class they're being hired for. My experience has taught me, however, that it's even more important while working for Class C/D properties because in these environments, there may be instances when staff members have the opportunity to participate in illegal activities. They need to have the fortitude and integrity to do what is right, even when no one is looking.
Look for someone who takes a hard stance in these situations and will communicate what they see. This means they can't turn a blind eye to what's going on, even if they're not directly involved or it means reporting an issue that will result in more work for themselves. For example, they may see their direct reports engage in something they shouldn't, yet getting those individuals reprimanded could result in one less support staff, leaving piles of work behind for yours truly.
Situations like these are a good example of why property managers are often required on-site beyond the regular 9-5. They should also be incentivized to do so. For example, our company has performance targets our managers must reach to qualify for a bonus, thus motivating them to ensure operations are running smoothly at all times. It's important to do this because if we don't have the right leadership representing the property, operations could easily go into chaos, capsizing the reputation of your hard-earned investment.
3. Bright smile, thick skin
Within a C/D class property more than any other, I believe the most important quality to look out for in a property manager is someone who is strong-minded and has a positive attitude. Their days will be filled with tough situations because, to be fair, customers are frequently walking in from tough circumstances.
In an environment where people are facing socioeconomic challenges, the atmosphere can easily and understandably get filled with stress and anxiety. If a property manager who's representing the company's leadership soaks in that negativity, it creates a barrier toward establishing a healthy environment.
For example, if a customer approaches a property manager and demands they be allowed to stay for a complimentary week because they lost their job, a manager has two choices on how to respond. The manager who is easily bogged down by a stressful situation may start an altercation or call the police to have the guest kicked out immediately. The manager you want to hire, however, is the one with a positive and patient mind. They would sympathize with the guest first and then look for a suitable compromise. Unfortunately, this guideline doesn't always work in every circumstance, but the right manager will always try to compromise before moving on to more drastic measures. Resilience and a positive mindset are key.
Again, I don't want to downplay the skills we learn in school or, nowadays, through online training. Technical and business skills are also necessary to carry out the job. Fortunately, that training is usually accessible for everyone to learn and can often be executed by support staff. That being said, it's important to use the above-mentioned guidelines to help you create a shortlist of individuals who also have the right background and work experience. Happy hunting!