Characteristics of a Good Property Manager

I am often asked what boards should expect from a property manager,” says Ira Meister President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

Meister says that at first glance the question seems obvious.  The board wants a person available 24/7 who can oversee the staff so the building is maintained in top-flight condition and provides excellent services. Someone who can help control costs and supervise capital improvement projects. 

Professionalism and having communication with tenants are key in property management

“All management companies will say they do this,” Meister says.  “But to truly

understand what a board and its residents should expect, the answer must be more specific

Meister says that probably the most important quality is professionalism. This means a manager who conducts themselves in a professional manner, who is courteous and patient with board members and residents and who is a good manager of staffs.  Communications and the ability to deal with and work with others is a key ingredient.

“While a manager oversees a multi-million budget, management is very much a people business and those with good people skills and professionalism are excellent managers,” Meister says.

A good manager is organized and keeps detailed records and reports

Another area, he says, is having someone with experience. Other characteristics include  being prompt when attending meetings and making certain anything with a timeframe is delivered on schedule, whether a report or project.  A good manager is organized and keeps detailed records and reports.

A bane of many boards is a lack of responsiveness.  A board should expect that all calls or emails are returned within 24 hours, if not sooner, and that questions are answered directly and accurately.  The board should also expect that the company has a manager available 24/7 in case of emergencies.

“While knowledge of building systems and construction are important, the people aspect and developing a trusting working relationship is the key to good management,” Meister says.

The Importance of a Long-Term Capital Plan

Having a long-term capital plan and budget is necessary for successful management of a property, says Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc., a leading New York property management firm.

“Many buildings have a five-year capital program which identifies areas that need work and also sets up a funding plan.  By carefully spreading out the work based on need, the building can better manage its cash flow and identify how much it would need to raise for the projects,” Meister says.

Five year capital programs help avoid pitfalls in today’s strict lending environment

This type of organized planning helps avoid the pitfall of needing several major projects in one year, which put a burden on the property’s finances and the shareholders or unit-owners.  Often the failure to provide a funding plan results in special assessments, especially in today’s strict lending environment.

In preparing the long-term capital budget, a property manager should gather information about the structural condition of the building and its systems.  This, along with the repairs or upgrades required to comply with various government requirements such as Local Law 11, forms the basis of the capital plan.  Included should be estimates of costs, Meister advises.

Gathering information of the building’s condition is needed to prepare a capital budget

“Once all the information is gathered, the asset manager can set priorities and a timeframe for the work based on the information he has obtained,” Meister says.

Another area to consider is available tax incentives and rebate programs.  Some of these have deadlines and others are available on a first-come basis.  Knowledge of these can help in setting the priorities of work.

“By having all the information, the manager can get a big picture view of what is required and bundle similar projects based on the systems or work involved,” Meister says.  One example would be having work that requires scaffolding done in sequence avoiding the need to have the scaffolding put up several times at a much greater expense.

Handling Arrears in Co-ops

What has been the impact of the economy on arrears in co-ops since the fiscal crisis erupted in 2008?

While statistics are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence from lawyers and our asset managers indicate there has been little change, says Ira Meister, president and CEO of Matthew Adam Properties, a leading property management firm.


Foreclosure rates decreased every year since 2006

Perhaps one way to look at this is, Meister says, is to look at Crain’s analysis of mortgage foreclosures in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens from 2006 to 2012.  While there was an increase in foreclosures in Manhattan and Queens from 2008 to 2009, the overall trend has been down.  In fact, Meister points out, the foreclosure rate in 2012 is lower in every borough than in 2006.

While foreclosure differs from being in arrears on monthly payments, each obviously indicates a resident suffering financial stress and an inability to pay, so it can be argued there is a correlation, Meister says.


Shareholders in arrears causing foreclosures have not been the case in recent years

The situation since 2008 is contrary to the housing crisis in the early 1990s when many co-ops experienced severe problems with shareholders in arrears and subsequent foreclosures.  The failure to make timely payments by a handful of shareholders in a co-op put a burden on the building’s finances. The other shareholders had to make up for the revenue shortfall and put the entire property in financial hardship.  This has not been the case in recent years.

One reason, Meister explains, is that co-op boards have become more stringent in reviewing the financials of prospective buyers reviewing their income as well as liquid assets.

The issue of arrears, though, is one that should be of concern to all boards and property managers regardless of the economy as individual issues can affect a resident’s ability to pay. “It is wise for boards and managers to have procedures in place in the event the situation arises,” Meister says.

Continuous Training Is Required To Maintain a Quality Staff

It’s no secret that the performance of the employees has a significant impact on the success of any company, organization or well-run building, says Ira Meister, founder and president of Matthew Adam Properties. It’s like going to a fine restaurant and having delicious food with terrible service.  The experience is not what it should be.  The arrogance, disinterest and poor training of the wait staff can ruin a wonderful evening.

Matthew Adam Properties understands this, Meister says, and puts significant emphasis on the quality and training of building staffs.  “On each visit our asset managers engage with the staff, observe how they are performing and look to see how well they are maintaining the property and serving the residents,” Meister says.


New updates in technology require staff to be continually trained


But it doesn’t stop there.  In addition to meeting with the superintendent and employees, both in formal and informal meetings, the company conducts learning sessions to focus on the building’s priorities and provide updates on the latest technology and on new methods of maintenance.

“Driven by technology and the need to have the staff be as efficient as possible to keep costs down, we need to continually train and educate employees,” Meister says.

“We also spend time with the doorman and concierge going over the do’s and don’ts of greeting residents and announcing visitors as well as accepting packages, providing security as well as taking messages,” Meister says. “We look at everything in a building and make recommendations when we see fit.”

The company discusses keeping uniforms clean, whether for maintenance people or doormen.  Some buildings prefer the doormen to wear their hats at all times, while others don’t and the doormen need to be reminded what the standards are for their building.

Meister says his company is very aware that each building is its own entity with its own culture, procedures and individual needs. “The staff must be sensitive to that and those who have worked in other properties must understand that what was acceptable or a practice in one building does not necessarily follow through to be effective in another building.”

How Landlords Should Handle a Natural Disaster

Oftentimes, natural disasters uproot ongoing lives in cities and raise havoc in heavily populated areas. Whether you have recently experienced a flood, tsunami, earthquake, landslide, or hurricane there are many steps landlords and tenants can take to handle the damage. Here is what you should know about handling property damage caused by natural disasters.

Common Scenarios Between Tenants and Landlords

After experiencing a natural disaster with varying effects and damage on property, four general scenarios may arise between tenants and landlords. The first scenario includes both parties wishing to cancel the agreement for rental occupation. The second scenario involves the landlord wishing the tenants to vacate the property but the latter opposing the move. The third scenario is when both the landlord and tenant wish to stay in the property and the fourth includes the landlords wishing the tenant to continue occupying the property but the latter wishing otherwise.

How Should Landlords Approach Tenants? 

If both the landlord and tenant are in agreement, the contracts and repair services are relatively simple. Mutual agreements between the tenant and landlord, whether choosing to stay or move out, should be solidified with a written contract. However, if the landlord wants the tenant to relocate, they must provide them with a 30-day notice. They can also provide a 60-day no cause notice if the tenants have occupied the property for over a year. It is important to note that landlords cannot charge their tenants for any damage caused by the natural disaster. However, they can charge for expenses of damage that are not related to the natural disaster.