IREM Blogs

Communications Strengthens Property Management-Asset Management Connections

March 23, 2018 | Nancye Kirk

IREM’s third annual Commercial Summit brought real estate property managers and asset managers together to discuss—what else—property management and asset management and the complex relationship between the two.

For the past 18 months, IREM has embarked on a study of asset management with the goal of forging a better understanding between the property and asset management disciplines. Dustin Read, PhD/JD, assistant professor of Property Management and Real Estate at Virginia Tech, has been guiding the initiative. As he reported at the Summit, the goal of the initiative is to “explore the points of connectivity between the property management and asset management professions as well as ways to help individuals working in both to collaborate more effectively, drawing upon contributions of people working in the field.”

Where property management ends and asset management begins can vary from one asset to another and from one company to another, according to Read, but one thing seems to be clear: It’s not a blurred line. There are distinct differences between the two professions.

Despite disparities in how companies define the asset management function, Read has identified four characteristics that define good asset managers:

  • Strong financial acumen
  • Ability to lead and motivate a team of people
  • Make decisions even without perfect information 
  • Great communication skills

Indeed, the importance of communication skills took center stage during a dialogue about strengthening property management-asset management connectivity. It was generally agreed that asset managers need to bring their property managers into the conversation early and often and clearly outline owner expectations. Likewise, property managers need to over-communicate what is happening at the properties they manage and the market of which it is a part. Their asset management colleagues suggested that property managers should not only identify problems, they should be proactive, anticipating client needs and, when there are problems, come with solutions.

For both sides, it was acknowledged that communication is not just about talking—it’s also about listening, an often overlooked skill. As someone once said, “There’s a reason we have two ears and only one mouth.”

The importance of communication is borne out by IREM research into client decision factors when selecting a property management company. In a 2015 study, 90 percent of respondents who outsource property management rated communication skills as somewhat or very important when hiring a third-party property management firm.

The IREM Commercial Summit took place earlier this month at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City.


About the Author

Nancye Kirk, in her role as IREM’s chief strategy officer, supports real estate management businesses in the U.S. and throughout the world, helping them address the big issues with which they are wrestling – issues related to business strategy and growth, talent management and best practices.

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