They are the glue that holds the whole process together, the ones who make sense of the world for board members, for vendors and consultants and for the families who make up South Florida’s condominium communities. They are community association managers, seemingly the one true constant in the always changing world of Florida real estate.
As with everything, though, the management business is changing. New faces are filling its ranks. New technologies are making themselves known. There are new approaches to old problems. Today’s property managers are adapting fast while at the same time, neophytes are entering the profession. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, where will tomorrow’s managers come from and what skills will they possess? And perhaps even more importantly, how will property management itself change in the coming months, years and decades?
The Not-So-Distant Past...
In the past, there were real estate people and management people. Now, following an historic recession that dealt a crippling blow to home sales and property values and slowed the real estate industry to a near standstill, more realtors than ever began making the jump to management. “We see a lot more real estate people [entering the field],” says Judi Allen of KW Property Management & Consulting in Clearwater. “The loss of income on the sales side is pushing them to look for other streams of income.”
Others entering the industry include former apartment complex managers. “They’re often coming from the rental side,” says Allen. It sometimes can be a difficult transition, however, as they learn that community associations are often more about persuasion than authority. “They had more leverage in a rental than an association manager does. For example, they have the power to evict a tenant.” In the world of condominium ownership, things are rarely that black and white.
More people are entering the management profession mid-career as well, says George Chismark, associate executive of the Institute of Real Estate Management’s (IREM) South Florida Chapter in West Palm Beach. “We see more people in their 40s and 50s who are changing careers,” he says.