The Essential Property Manager
The Essential Property Manager
Many of us have spent more time at home these past few months than we ever could have imagined. I’ve spoken with friends in property management who’ve shared how challenging it’s been keeping their residents safe and happy. One told me that she’d always known what she did for a living was important, but the pandemic made her realize why property managers are truly considered essential workers.
This reminded me of a letter I received from a property manager in Dallas. Incredibly moved by the woman’s words, I used it as the closing story in my book I Have A Complex, But I’m Managing It!
Home is Where The Heart Is
This is her letter:
I am the property manager of a 170-unit apartment community. I’ve been in property management for a little more than four years now—the majority of my experience gained in Class A properties.
I’ve enjoyed property management thus far, but recently had to face a new set of challenges that I may not be up for. The property I now manage is one of six in a neighborhood that, according to other area managers, has had its share of “incidents”.
When I accepted this position, I wasn’t made aware of the history of the property. I’ve had to learn as I go. On any given day I find that I’m making calls to local authorities to report everything from assaults, vandalism and drug trafficking. Some of the information I receive is actually from the residents. We also are the recipients of regular statistical studies of crime in our area.
My staff and I are routinely questioned by police officers in search of subjects who’ve used our property as their last address. It can be scary and, at times, overwhelming.
Add to that the stress of rent delinquency at an embarrassing rate, multiplied by resident complaints—mostly regarding poor living conditions. Hearing some of the work orders make my heart break.
It didn’t take long for me to reach the end of my rope. I’d been the manager for only one month, but it felt like I’d been there a year.
I found myself closing my office door and crying out to God, “Why have you put me here?” I realized that I’d been under-prepared to manage this Class C property. I was completely overwhelmed and in way over my head.
After a real good boo-hoo, I gathered myself together, refreshed my makeup, opened my office door and resumed business as usual. I greeted new prospects, helped current residents and passed out popsicles to the children who came into our office.
That same afternoon, one of the property’s long-time residents came into the office wanting to introduce herself to me. She told me that she had lived at this community more than ten years.
Immediately cynical, based on everything I’d witnessed to date at this property, I half expected her to bombard me with a slew of complaints or tell me why she wouldn’t be able to pay her rent on time. However, to my surprise, this was not the case. The woman began to tell me how much she appreciated me. She’d noticed the improvements that had been made since my arrival. She thanked me for everything I’d done and told me that she loved living here and was excited about seeing even more changes. She encouraged me to keep up the good work.
I was wowed! I felt my face start to burn as I fought to hold back tears. It was all I could do not to cry as I thanked her in return for her words of kindness.
She had no idea how much her words of affirmation meant to me at that moment.
Other residents began praising what I was doing for the property through emails, phone calls and in person. I was determined to stay and make a difference here.
My family worries about me. They often ask me why I don’t leave this property. With my experience, I could easily get another job at a nicer, newer and frankly, safer community.
My answer is simply this: the residents. These are hard-working people who love their community. It’s their home and they want the best for themselves, their families and their neighbors. They deserve a property manager who can help them achieve these same goals. I accepted that and strive to be that manager every single day.
When it’s all said and done, property management is such a noble profession! I’m so humbled and proud when people ask me what I do for a living.
It’s all worth it.
From the book I Have a Complex, But I'm Managing It!, stories from property managers compiled by Monica E. Simmons.