Residential real estate agencies generally have two areas of operations – Sales and Property Management. The workflows are relatively different and most Property Managers would never consider working in sales and vice versa. Very often, the Agency Principal favours one side of the business. Usually it’s Sales, as that is the glamorous part of real estate. It’s where they started and it matches their entrepreneurial personality. Property Management is often considered the poor cousin. It is important for you to select an agency that has a Principal who is interested and involved in Property Management and has a team, systems and processes built and managed to deliver superior and consistent service. The size of the business is also important. A small team doesn’t have the capacity to invest in the best systems, technology and training and is very vulnerable to staff leaving and temporary absences. It is also possible that a business can get too big and become complacent, or lose focus and control. Being big is more of an office management challenge rather than a fundamental flaw.
Marriott Lane is a medium to large-sized agency (over 750 properties) with a strong focus on both property management and sales.
In a small agency, one person fills all the roles of property management. Letting, Initial & Routine Inspections, Repairs, Rental Arrears, Owner Communication, New Business, Accounting and more. They know everything about each owner, property and tenant. This is an ideal structure, except for the issues of being small, with a single point of failure. And no chance of a holiday.
As agencies grow the number of properties under management, a structural choice is required.
Effectively the same structure as above is maintained whereby multiple staff members split the portfolio and each is responsible for all the tasks associated with their properties. The intense familiarity with the owner and property is maintained. Backup is provided by peers and administrative assistance.
Where different people do different tasks – you can have a letting clerk, someone who does just inspections, someone who organises repairs, arrears, accounting, new business etc. The landlords may get phone calls from five different people or perhaps from one person trying to relay information from others – or a combination of forms.
When asked for their opinion, the vast majority of Landlords and Tenants prefer Portfolio.
However, many agencies adopt the Task model as they can gain efficiencies and pay people less for the menial tasks. The senior staff do the tasks they prefer and delegate the ones they don’t. Another consequence of this structure is high staff turnover, as employees get fed up with doing the same thing over and over and not developing their skills and building relationships with clients.
Marriott Lane has a Portfolio structure as it’s best for owners.