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The Challenge Facing Asset Managers In Accessing Qualitative Data

Today we turn to another asset manager who shares experiences in managing multifamily portfolios.

How can you successfully find issues before they bubble up and affect your properties? In this segment, we interview Curtis, an asset manager overseeing 15 properties on the west coast.

How do you stay on top of your portfolio?


ResiDesk:
How do you work with your property management teams to stay on top of risks? 

Curtis: I oversee the regional managers who stay on top of our property managers and leasing agents. My managers provide me a picture of how things are going at each property. They give occupancy statistics, which indicates cash flow. They also provide general qualitative feedback on big issues, such as how the eviction moratorium in effect right now is affecting our properties.

ResiDesk: How do you isolate the most pressing issues to focus on?

Curtis: It's really easy to say occupancy at a property is 85%, but the question becomes why is occupancy 85%? We have to dig in and ask:

"What is the team specifically doing in terms of leasing the property?
What concessions are they providing when people come in?
What are prospects saying?
How are prospects reacting?
Why are prospects not moving forward?"

To the extent that delinquency is a factor, we have to establish how the team follows up with happy residents. How many residents are losing their jobs right now? Some of these are sensitive issues that my teams do not always come right out and tell us.    

ResiDesk: Do you filter through PMS data or refer to external sources like Google Reviews to understand a property's health? 

Curtis: My approach is more collaborative with the property management team. My goal is to maximize property performance and not so much judge team performance in regular meetings. I want the team involved in the discovery process. 

"But yes, to some extent, we get involved in the weeds in trying to get a clear picture of what may be going wrong at a property."  


ResiDesk:
There are two-steps to data - raw data and interpretive data. When your property management teams report, how deep do you unpack those figures? 

Curtis:

"[Unpacking data from the noise] is actually kind of a sore point. I really only have a high-level view. [...] There is no data that we can look at like where we can divine 'this is why they did not lease from us'."

Sometimes I'll hear general feedback that rent is too high, or a prospect doesn't like a waiting period or a property's looks, but there's not a lot I can do with that information.

My regional managers and I do not have specific reasons–or least the reasons a particular tenant or prospect gives–for why people are vacating or are not moving in. There is no data that we can look at like where we can divine "this is why they did not lease from us".

So, in the absence of that level of detail, we use training to encourage property teams to ask probing questions to learn where we are missing opportunities or failing to deliver. 

"[even with proper training]...we find that property teams are only asking probing questions 40-50% of the time."  

What do you report to senior managers and investors?


ResiDesk:
When you hear details of why a tenant is moving on or a lead is dropping off, how does that translate to information you give to investors, LPs, or senior management?

Curtis: It depends on the investor. We typically provide very quantitative information, and then every quarter, we offer a brief synopsis of how the property is doing. However, some investors reach out looking for more detail. For those, we have to dig a bit deeper.

In reporting to senior management, I make quarterly recommendations on property improvements and investments. I take what qualitative information I can and put together a status overview. It is not extensive.

 

ResiDesk: When you make recommendations to senior management on where to improve, how do you get the budget to execute?

Curtis: When we have our check-in meetings, I will present where I think we should invest money and why. I try to demonstrate the return–the rationale and pros & cons of my recommendations. I do my best to illustrate the need and back up my suggestions. 

"I'm turning to ResiDesk to get that qualitative information without diving into every correspondence at a property. [so I can] illustrate the need and back up my suggestions. Senior management can see the numbers, but they want to understand the why. They want to go beyond the data they already see." 

 

And my specific challenge is to find a way to automatically get that qualitative information without taking the time to dive into all the correspondence behind the various situations at a given property.  

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The challenges that Curtis faces affects most asset managers. There are a lot of strong PMS tools out there, but unfortunately there is nothing that allows asset managers to filter all the noise and get to the heart of where they should be spending their time each day to make things better. 

This is what ResiDesk does best! Our software gives asset managers insight into property performance and what requires immediate attention to mitigate risk. We turn the barrage of emails and diluted information asset managers get from their property teams into actionable insights they can pinpoint to prevent turnover and maximize lease conversion rates. Reach out to learn more!

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Additional Resources

Ruthlessly Prioritize Your Day - Which Properties Need Your Attention Now?
The Pulse of Your Properties at Your Fingertips

Asset Managers Now Access Powerful Community-level Data