The term "multi-tasking" may have been coined to describe property managers: their line of work requires its practitioners to know a little something about nearly everything, to have an impeccable demeanor, lightning-quick problem solving skills, and of course the patience of a saint.
How then, are these people identified, hired and put to task? The answer is twofold: some people are born with these extraordinary skills, and some acquire them from years of experience. Either way, the list of skills property managers use to keep residents and board alike happy and day-to-day operations of a homeowners association (HOA) running smoothly include an unprecedented ability to organize, coupled with attention to detail that would leave Martha Stewart reeling.
Nuts and Bolts
According to Rick Fry, a principal with RCP Management in Princeton, the diverse alliance of skills that come together to make a good property manager can be divided into a basic hierarchy—parts of which are put into practice every single day, while others simply make the job easier when unforeseen crises arise.
The first set of skills covers the absolute basics: reading, writing, and simple arithmetic. According to Fry, while it may seem obvious, good writing skills and the ability to easily translate one's thoughts onto paper or e-mail is an important tool good managers put to use all the time. A managing agent unable to communicate clearly in writing will find him—or herself frustrated, and will likely frustrate his or her clients as well.
Paul Santoriello, PKM, the president of Taylor Management in Morristown, and chairman of the Community Associations Institute (CAI)'s Political Action Committee agrees. "You need to have the ability to communicate. That is what we do—we don't cut grass, we don't hammer any nails; we are the great communicators. We communicate with everybody from the unit owner to the board to the vendors to the municipalities. So strong verbal and written communication skills are a must for a good manager."