The Importance of Good Communications

“After many years in property management, I know that good communications is essential to successful management,” says Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties.  He notes that often problem arise because good communications is lacking.

To counter this, Matthew Adam Properties asset managers are trained to be good listeners and to be pro-active.  “It’s not only promptly replying to phone calls, text messages or emails,” Meister says.  “It includes visiting the properties and talking to board members, staff and residents.  A few words with someone can alert the manager to a potential problem or help resolve an issue quickly.”

Another vital area of communications, Meister says, is alerting residents to repairs in the building that can cause temporary service disruptions.  A while back, residents were notified by a sign in the elevator, or in the lobby, telling them that the elevators may be shut down for a few hours or maintenance of the boiler will curtail hot water for several hours.

Ira Meister Keeps His Residents Notified and Up to Date With Building Events and Changes

Today, there are numerous ways to notify  residents.  Meister says that Matthew Adam Properties works with a company called “My Building” to help communicate with residents.  A website is customized for each property to provide numerous services to keep residents informed, make maintenance and service requests, notify them of package deliveries, or to make monthly maintenance, common charge or rent payments.

The system provides various options to notify residents of upcoming service interruptions, emergencies or building news.  Most visible is a monitor usually located at the  front desk or in the mail room that shows by unit number whether there is a delivery to be picked up.    The monitor also shows current information about service interruptions or building news as well as reminders of building policies.

Other means of communication include text messages and phone alerts.

“The use of technology has greatly increased our ability to communicate with residents in real time,” says Meister.  “While useful and needed, technology does not replace the personal contact and quick response time to messages that are at the heart of excellent management.”


Reducing Costs with “Green” Lighting

Matthew Adam Properties is implementing a comprehensive lighting program that saves money for the properties it manages as well as helping to protect the environment and improving lighting quality, says Ira Meister, President and CEO.

This is possible through the exponential advances in LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting in the past decade.   The impact is seen in many areas of buildings the company manages, from the compactor rooms on each floor to the lobby.

Meister says Matthew Adam Properties coordinates with lighting companies that produce LED products to benefit from cutting-edge technology and the ability to customize the products.

“By taking advantage of the latest in technology as well as using professionals to guide us, we are making a difference,” Meister says.

While the initial cost of LED lighting is greater than for the standard lighting, long-term there are significant savings. LED uses less energy and adapts well with sensor lighting.  Another significant savings, particularly in larger buildings, is maintenance, Meister says. Less staff time is required to change light bulbs as LED lighting lasts many times longer than conventional lighting.

Some areas where Matthew Adam Properties has made improvements are:

Stairwells – Dual-timer systems are now installed in the stairwells of many buildings.  “We’ve replaced the standard lighting with low-intensity, energy-saving lighting that is on full time and supplement this with motion activated full lighting,” Meister says.

            Lobby – In addition to the environmental and cost savings, the new lighting   provides different light tones that accentuate lobbies and give them a more dramatic look.   Motion-sensor lighting is installed in mailroom areas to reduce energy usage.

            Compactor rooms – Motion-sensor lighting has been installed in many of these areas.

The lighting program is part of the company’s conservation program spearheaded by the Sustainability Division headed by Kendra Stensven.  Kendra is LEED certified, making Matthew Adam Properties one of the few, if not the only, management company with a LEED certified person heading a “Green” division.

“The division is part of our overall program to use innovative thinking and a professional approach to provide quality management for the buildings in our portfolio,” Meister says.

Creating Value in a Condo or Co-op Part II

The “curb appeal” of a property sets an immediate impression for a visitor or prospective buyer, says Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, a leading property management company.

“Starting with the landscaping (if there is any) and the entryway it follows as one enters the lobby,” Meister says.  Frayed or dirty furniture or rugs are a total turn-off and can immediately kill any initial interest by a prospective buyer.  The same with peeling paint and dirty carpeting in the hallways.  Some buyers may even look in the laundry and garbage chute rooms to see their condition. These areas say a lot about the upkeep of a property and the attention to detail.

Amenities also come into play. “Older buildings have to compete with newer, amenity-laden properties,” Meister notes.   A desired amenity for many is a health club or gym.  If an older building lacks such a facility, the board and asset manager should explore the feasibility of creating one.  Another possibility is creating or upgrading the roof deck so it becomes a desirable location rather than “tar beach.”  “In one East Side property, we took unused basement space and created a playroom for young children, which is very popular and a real plus for the building,” Meister says.

The attitude and performance of the staff are key, Meister says.  Poor morale leads to lack of attention and sloppiness.  Residents have daily contact with the staff and their attitude, work ethic and capabilities are important in the successful operation of a property.

Finally, technology. In the past decade or so, technology has begun to play an important role in keeping residents informed, and managing the operations of the front desk and the building.  Using technology increases efficiency, can reduce costs and create value.

It is clear that the asset manager plays a significant role.  In fact, the professionalism and capabilities of asset managers and the company they work for help create value.  “People who have sound management abilities, an understanding of mechanical systems, sensitivity to keeping a lid on costs, attention to detail, good people skills and a drive to make the property a showplace are the keys to creating value,” Meister says.

“This is one reason we at Matthew Adam Properties devote time to hiring, training and, most importantly, retaining our asset managers, many of whom have been with us for several decades.  Their knowledge, experience and dedication are behind our creating value.”

Creating Value in a Condo or Co-op Part 1

If apartments in two different co-ops are essentially the same in terms of size, location and amenities, why is one getting a higher price per square foot than the other?  Could it be the uniform and demeanor of the doormen?  This might sound like a small detail, but first impressions are vital in determining a sale and price, says Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, a leading property management company.  Paying strict attention to details is essential to creating value in a co-op or condo, one of the prime goals of a residential property management firm.

Meister says that Matthew Adams Properties feels so strongly about viewing a home as an important investment that it calls its managers asset managers.  “They are there to preserve and increase the asset value of the property, and thus the sale price of the units,” Meister says.

Ira Meister Adds Value to Condos and Co-ops, Improving Living Experience

Numerous factors contribute to creating value, some, such as the condition of the building, are obvious.  Others, such as the demeanor and look of the doormen, are less dramatic.           Here are some factors that add up to creating value in a property:

“One of the most important is the financial condition of the building,” says Meister.  How large is the reserve fund, is there debt, are the maintenance charges too high in relation to similar properties and have the monthly charges increased dramatically in the past several years?

These are factors that buyers and their attorneys should consider.  “We place great emphasis on finances, not only making certain that the books are current — it is surprising how many co-ops and condos have poor bookkeeping — but we also work to keep down expenses through controls as volume purchasing, careful scheduling of staff and use of the latest technology to reduce energy costs,” Meister says.

Part of this is the maintenance of the property so that all systems are kept in good, efficient working order.  If periodic maintenance of the boiler, for instance, is not maintained, the system will probably work less efficiently and use more fuel than it should.  Periodic checking of the roof is important to detect problems early to reduce the possibility of damage to apartments and to repair the problem early, before it becomes more costly.

(To be continued)