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How to Raise the Bar on the Property Management Industry

Let me start by saying I love my co-workers and I love my competitors. I love how hard working they are. Side note: there is enough business for everyone to have a slice, so have integrity and play fair and it will all work out in the end.  That all being said, being full time working in the property management industry, I’ve noticed a lack of responsibility to the craft. We are the ugly step-child to the prom king, 4-year varsity starter real estate sales.  Real estate sales is sexy. Staging homes, drone videos for listings, nicely dressed agents and a professional presence online (most of the time), real estate sales gets you the big pay check and therefore people are competing to get it. Competition drives performance.

Not in property management though. We are the cash flowing, down and dirty operations side of real estate investing.  From my perspective, we (including myself) get lazy and don’t take our profession as seriously as it should be taken.

What can we do?

Get Educated

Of all the property managers I know, the best ones are the ones getting involved and getting educated. IREM, Institute of Real Estate Management and NARPM, National Association of Residential Property Managers are two great organizations to get involved in to evolve your career. This is a great cash flowing industry, but don’t just collect rents and binge Netflix. Further yourself, further your career.  Then, once involved with one of those organizations, volunteer in a position to give back. It is amazing how much you will learn about the industry by osmosis.

Embrace Technology

Are you accepting payments online? How about smart locks at your apartment complexes? Property management will be now and forever a service-based industry, but technology is disrupting how the day to day operations are playing out.  I’m not saying that you have to jump on every new tech bandwagon, but look at your business, the vision and goals you are trying to accomplish and implement the best tech that will help you meet or beat them.  We live in an exciting time where both the real estate industry and the property management industry are going through substantial changes, it will be exciting to see the future. The near future.

Simple – Better Photos

Are the pictures you are putting online done with you iPhone 6 on a gloomy day in a dirty unit? Are they pictures you’d show the owner of the property? If not, up your game.  Professional pictures can cost as low as $79 but return so much more. Offer the renter a credit of $20 to clean up the place for the photographer to come by, plan it on a bright sunny day if you can and throw out all the pictures that have any blur. Not only will this get the property leased out quicker, it will also provide you with great options to post to your social media accounts, to showcase your skillz.

There will be a large amount of property managers retiring the next few years. Michael Lanning out of an article from National Real Estate Investor stated “While the average age of an American worker today in any industry is 43 years old, the average age of a property manager is 50.1 and the average age of a CPM is 52.3 years old.” This industry is going to see a wave of younger entrepreneurs entering the field and when they enter, it is up to us to have a bar set so they know what they need to live up to.

Mediation – What is it? Here’s My Experience

You’ve probably heard of the word mediation. Heck you’ve probably even have been a mediator yourself between your friends. But, have you ever been involved in a law suit and required to go to mediation? I hadn’t until yesterday. It was an experience. Since the lawsuit is still pending, I won’t use any real facts or figures, but I think I can give you the general idea of mediation.

The parties involved: The Plaintiff, The Defendant, The Lawyers, and The Mediator

The Plaintiff:
This is the individual or party who has brought on the lawsuit. You were the plaintiff, if at one point, you yelled at your mom, “MOM! He hit me!” We may grow up, but we don’t stop pointing the finger and placing blame.

That is where the lawsuit comes into play, and then the lawyers. We all love lawyers (I actually do like a couple). Unfortunately, they are a necessary evil in the sue happy culture we live in today. The lawsuit, states who was harmed and who is at fault and the damages sought.

The Defendant
“No I didn’t, she’s lying!” – The defendant. If it were all this easy. Well maybe to the plaintiff and defendant it is. Each one is 100% certain the other is either at fault or lying. That is where the lawyers come in and start digging. Dig, dig, dig. $$$$$. Well, who was truly at fault and to what extent.

At some point, those $$$$ signs become an amount that the plaintiff feels his/her/their case is worth which is presented to the defendant. If the defendant and his/her/their counsel feel this is acceptable, shoot, lawsuit done, we can all go home. But it ain’t ever that easy.

The plaintiff’s $$$$ signs might be the defendants $ sign.

The Lawyers
Because “He hit me” and “No I didn’t, she’s lying” is far too simple language, legal jargon and experts in arguing were created. Lawyers. Each one fighting for or defending their client to the best of their ability. They represent their client and do most of the talking and counseling, but they are their for their clients best interest.

The Mediator
When the case is on the verge of trial and the two sides cannot come to an agreement, mediation is often the step before trial. Mediation gets the two parties involved in the lawsuit together on the same day in the same building (hopefully), but in different rooms to try and hash out a resolution.

The mediator is a prior judge, who has a vast history on how trials have proceeded and hopefully can help both sides see what the reality is of his/her/their case. I really liked our mediator, but I think that is what makes a good mediator, to a certain extent, because if I like him, maybe I’d be more inclined to agree to his/her terms.

When you get into the building and walk into the mediation offices, you are greeted with a bundle of baked goods, drinks and the lunch menu. Load up, it’s going to be a long day.

The defendant and plaintiff are going to be ushered to their respective office suites (at least two doors apart from each other because we don’t want the other to hear our plotting, right?). The lawyers, will at this point hopefully have briefed you some what on what to expect and how long it is going to take and how much free time you’re going to have. You’re going to have a lot of free time. I forgot my laptop and my phone was half charged, it’s gonna be a long day.

As the process begins, the mediator will come in and introduce him or herself. He or she will have been given ALL of the documents and will have completely briefed themselves prior on the case and the details. They know what the case is worth and they are here to get the two sides to agree, if all goes to plan.

For the next 5 hours a game is going to be played. The game… is called Ping Pong of Crazy, Stupid Numbers. Maybe, if you’re lucky the numbers won’t so stupid and you will get to a resolution. We. Did. Not. The 5 hours was a waste of time, as both sides were so far off, after the 3rd counter, we should have left. Yes… 3rd counter. Third counter of 6.

I’m in real estate and sure there have been some deals where I have countered a total of 3 times, but never 6. I get the point. We won’t agree on price and terms.

Ultimately, each side feels they are completely right, but maybe to protect the uncertainty of trial are willing to reach an acceptable amount they could live with. The plaintiff is trying to get as much as they can and the defendant is trying to give away as little as they can. But where is the middle ground and can you reach it?

Mediation was an experience. I couldn’t and still can’t believe I spent 5 hours to get nowhere, but that is part of the game and now we are headed for trial.

Bed Bugs and Multifamily Rentals

If you’ve been in the property management business long enough, you’ve come across bed bugs. Hopefully just from hearing someone else’s experience, but most likely have had your own. Multifamily rental properties have seen a major increase in bed bugs over the past few years, and it only looks to increase.

If, you’ve received the following call, I’m sorry:

Tenant – “Hey, Property Manager, I think I have bed bugs”

Property Manager (in his/her head) – They have bed bugs. – “Okay, I will have a pest control company contact you to set up an inspection.”

Although your initial reaction is to burn the building down, and move out of state to an island where not even snakes exist, take step back and gather yourself. It is important to get that unit and surrounding units inspected. The unit that called in, may not even be the unit that is infested. In a multi unit building, it is important to have all surrounding units inspected that share a wall. Bed bugs can travel through and along ducts, vents, electrical, plumbing, cracks or anything else your mind can imagine. They like dark hiding spots, and will infest them. It is also important to have the unit inspected, as it may not even be bed bugs, they could be bat bugs. Don’t schedule a treatment before getting the unit and surrounding units inspected.

So your exterminator is scheduled, and 4 units are scheduled to be inspected, the original unit and all shared wall units.  What next? Hope that the unit that called is the culprit and that none of the other three units have any signs of bed bugs. That is the best case scenario. If not, you will have to expand your inspections until you come across a unit that does NOT have bed bugs. Then you can begin. Typically, the two main choices of treatment are between heat and chemical.

Heat Treatment Vs. Chemical Treatment

Heat Treatment –
When I first began in property management, heat treatment was the way to go. Expensive, but the way to go.  Essentially, the exterminator, turns the unit into a sauna. The unit is slowly heated to a temperature between 117 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.  From there, the bed bugs exoskeleton is compromised and the bug dies a day or two after treatment. All life cycles of bed bugs are killed during this heat process.

This is a costly procedure and the company who we use only guarantees results for 30 days, which is worthless really because a bed bug can go dormant for up to a year and Orkin has even proved bed bugs can go up to 500 days.

Chemical Treatment –
Insecticides are used and typically 2-3 visits are needed. Which, if you are using a reputable company, should be included in their bid. Chemicals are sprayed along barriers, where bugs are found and where they are predicted to move. The bugs move through the chemicals and then die.

Other Option: Steam
Steaming is a spot treatment. You need to know where the bugs are to kill them. Miss a spot of steam and the treatment is worthless, the spread will continue.

I’ve used all three on my duplex and after $10k worth of pest control expenses. It has been over a year and no sign of the BB word.

A rental property that shares walls is a unique problem when dealing with bed bugs. The shared walls allow for spreading of bed bugs but also, makes treatment much harder. Some best practices for preventing bed bugs is knowledge. Tenants may not even know what bed bugs are. It is your responsibility to help teach the tenants. Hopefully to minimize the chance of bringing in bed bugs to your property.

  • Bed bugs are brought in to properties – so be careful when traveling and using second hand furniture
  • If bed bugs are detected, call immediately as to prevent further spreading
  • Do not try to self treat, bed bugs require professional treatments

Bed bugs suck, there is no way around it. They have become more and more prevalent in multifamily dwellings and rental properties. They are expensive to treat and are very resilient, requiring multiple treatments most times.


5 Strong Qualities of a Property Manager


Property managers and the property management industry always are getting knocked.  Just the other day, I was told I have a “thankless job”.  Owners want low expenses and high rents.  Tenants want high maintenance attention (costs) and low rents.  You’re consistently disappointing one or the other.

Over the past 4 years of managing properties, I’ve had some experiences that were great, and some that made me laugh at some of my life choices.  You are wise when you learn from others mistake.  Here are 5 qualities, of a property manager that I believe lead to success in the position.

1. Empathize

We are all human, we all have unique lives, and sometimes…. life happens.  Johnny’s grandpa passed away and he had to fly across the country at a moments notice to attend his funeral, $500.  Harry walked into his bosses office, seeking a promotion and she fired him, income gone.  Fido, the dog had to go to the vet because he got into a fight with another dog at the park, costing $1,000 and Charlotte now doesn’t have enough money to pay rent.  What do you do? Get mad at them? You’ll lose their trust and respect from this day forward.

You have a responsibility to the owner to make sure rent is paid and paid on time.  Let the resident know you understand their problem by providing them with possible solutions.  We use payment plans and subleasing as solutions for tenants who come across financial hardships.  Follow your companies policies and communicate with the owner why his/her rent hasn’t been deposited into their account.

2. Be Well Read

If you don’t like what you do, don’t do it. Otherwise, if you like what you do, take interest and read up on what is happening in the industry.

This year, the property management industry has seen huge changes.  We have seen the implementation of HB16-426, Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to An Assistance Animal , as well as a “position” from HUD on how Providers of Housing and Real Estate Related Transactions Should Deal with Criminal Records. These two items have huge implications for our industry.  There is so much good information at your fingertips and such easy access, utilize it.  Follow the leaders in the industry on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and stay current. If you are not staying current with your industry you are doing a disservice to your client and yourself. READ MORE!

3. Look to Mentors

Even though you may be the smartest, strongest most beautiful person on Earth, you will always be able to learn something from someone else.  I have been fortunate in my life, in that I’ve had some of the best mentors you could ask for.  Once or twice a week, I am sending an e-mail or calling one mentor or another asking “how would you handle this?” or “have you had this happen?” and more times than not, they have lead me to success.

You can’t buy experience, but you can borrow it from a mentor.  Find one.

4. Have a high Financial IQ

NOI. Net Operating Income. You are in charge of an owners investment and investors expect returns.  They may be looking for appreciation, cash flow, tax advantages/deductions etc etc. There are a lot of different reasons a person invests, and it is your responsibility, to the best of your ability, to help the owner reach those returns.   You must be able to read a P&L statement first and foremost.  Budgeting, reading variances and being able to communicate to the owner the reason for those variances (positive or negative) will win your owner’s heart.  There are so many different financial aspects in real estate investing, numbers should be your friend.


I was in a meeting the other day with a man in sales and he mentioned something that just stuck.  He told me “the one’s that make it in this business, aren’t the best salesman but the ones that have grit and stick it out and push through.” I love it!  Although you may be in a position that you are trying to acquire business and having to sell yourself, I believe property managers need grit for another reason.

Every day you are going to come across something different.  A grow house in your studio apartment.  A 6 foot monster lizard rooming in a 3 bedroom house.  Six people living in a 2 bedroom apartment (grown people).  Or a house left with ALL of its furniture and “stuff” and oh yeah, they were a hoarder (a protected disability class now). These things may not happen to you, but something along these lines will, and you are going to question yourself and why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Are you going to have GRIT and get the job done and come back the next day and ask “what challenge is next”? Or are you going to throw your hands up and throw the checkout in your bosses face?

6. – 100.

There are hundreds of good qualities of any profession and professional.  These are just the five I thought apply quite well to property management.  If you are a property manager and don’t possess any of these 5, yet are still successful, good on ya for finding different ways to success!