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The Times They Are A-Changin’*

Property management, in the 20th century was the blocking and tackling of the multi-family real estate industry – dealing with the day-to-day operational and financial property-related matters; doing the unspectacular. The whole point was to protect and preserve the physical plant. In the 21st century, we would argue that old-school property management is necessary, but not sufficient to meet the emerging and changing needs of proactive owners and the Board of Directors/Board of Managers. We believe the term property manager is severely outdated because this designation is limiting in scope.

We contend that last century’s property manager has to morph into today’s managing agent. A Managing Agent is forward thinking; able to anticipate what owners might need in the future, as well as what they need presently, but do not have the time nor experience to recognize. This predictive approach must be coupled with a hospitality mindset – providing service with excellence. The Managing Agent is a consigliere - advisor and counselor - to the Board.

When real estate values were relatively stable or even stagnant, focusing exclusively on the needs of the physical plant was an acceptable metric. Today rising real estate values and unchartered business cycles, demand that a managing agent also be evaluated on the quality of advice that she gives owners and Board of Directors/Board of Managers. The quality of the advice – not the outcome per se of the decision made by the Board. A Managing Agent is providing input based upon experience and/or quality research. Managing agent, as advisor, is critical at this time because rising real estate values can be correlated with rising expectations of owners. In our experience, new owners are making unprecedented demands concerning building amenities, among other things, and are demanding a role in the decision-making process – usually as members of the Board of Directors/Board of Managers.

These new owners, along with some legacy owners, are accelerating this paradigm shift. Managing Agents, in this new paradigm, possess professional backgrounds (e.g. law, business or architecture); they bring a new perspective to managing the affairs of a co-op or condominium – they assist Boards in how they deliberate and make decisions.

*The title of this piece is inspired by the Bob Dylan song of the same title released in 1964. He wrote the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment.

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