HOUSTON—Making young people or those in other careers aware of the value and stability of property management—and providing the proper education to ready them for it—are key in drawing in future candidates, IREM’s Blaire Hoffman, CPM, tells GlobeSt.com. Hoffman, VP of Deane Realty in Houston, is part of an education committee at IREM, as well as an outreach committee that is trying to determine how to get other sectors of the industry interested in joining property management. We spoke with her about this topic and what can be done to engage new professionals into real estate management.
GlobeSt.com: What does the real estate management sector need in order to entice professionals in the residential arena to commercial real estate management or vice versa?
Hoffman: I’ve only been on the commercial side, but I think the industry as a whole needs more technology for companies to adopt so they can include more technology-friendly ways of doing things. There are a lot of paper trails in CRE, particularly among the Baby Boomers in this industry. Once, I was doing a property inspection, I was using an app on my phone for logging notes and uploading pictures. Afterward, the VP of the company called me into his office and told me what I was doing was very unprofessional: he assumed I was texting the whole time. I showed him my phone and the app I was using and he loved it.
I feel like there’s an inverse bell curve. There a lot of Boomers in this industry, and there has been an influx of Millennials graduating from college, so there’s a technology gap and there has not been a fluid transition among the generations. It’s harder to introduce new ideas for doing things when a supervisor who’s been overseeing a building for 20 years has someone new come in who’s used to technology and wants a faster pace of doing things.
GlobeSt.com: How can the property-management sector attract young people who are just out of school or new to the industry into this field?
Hoffman: The stable salary is really enticing, especially if they have student loans. It’s a great foundation for getting into the industry. If you’re interested in other aspects of the industry that require more experience, learning the foundation of how leases work and how the different aspects play into each other firsthand can provide that experience and allow you to specialize in it. It’s a really stable job; there will always be buildings that need to be managed and assets to be looked after. And if you’re good at your job, even if the economy goes down, you might have larger portfolio to oversee, but the job is not going to go away.
GlobeSt.com: What tools and education are necessary for the sector to accomplish these goals?
Hoffman: It’s becoming more and more financially based. To be a strong property manager, you really have to be good with people and good with numbers. The asset-management track from IREM teaches you what managers are looking for in portfolios, how to create the reports that provide the information they’re looking for. There are also good classes from CCIM that are more financially based than IREM—above and beyond what a property manager would need to know. There are basic finance, marketing, psychology and stress-management classes. Property management is definitely a high-stress job, and you have to be able to juggle lots of high-priority items that are impactful to the asset. If you’re able to handle stress and thrive under pressure, you’ll be able to thrive in property management.
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about this topic?
Hoffman: I’m part of an outreach committee at IREM that’s trying to figure out how to get other sectors of the industry into property management. It’s kind of hidden; nobody says they want to be a property manager when they grow up—you kind of stumble into it, but it’s a really rewarding job, and it takes a special kind of person to do it. We need to find out where those people with numbers and people skills hang out and market to them. It’s a matter of trying to increase awareness. Most people in office buildings don’t realize that somebody takes care of that office building. They don’t interact with the property manager unless something’s not working.