By Caroline Kane, CEO
CKR Property Management
Owning and overseeing a property management company in Houston comes with challenges that real estate professionals in other markets don’t run into as often. The city’s 627-square miles means a company’s properties could easily be located over an hour’s drive from one another. In addition, Houston’s infamous lack of official zoning rules often cause confusion. All of this compiled with the most destructive storm in the country’s history with $190 billion in damages occurring here in Houston last August makes for a challenging market in which to do business.
Still, there are some issues that come up no matter where a property management company is located. As a professional who has been active in the local real estate industry since 1991, I’ve learned that mastery of certain questions concerning geography, investments, and integrity is truly important. It can mean the difference between being “that” company that no multi-family investor wants to do business with -- and being a truly successful management team that everyone, from investors to tenants to apartment staff, trust and want to be a part of.
For instance, knowing whether an area is worth investing your time, money, and effort is key. ‘Is there new development happening in the area’ and ‘How are the property’s competitors doing compared with the subject property’ are both questions you should be asking before expanding your portfolio to a new part of town.
If there is money going into development in that same area then that’s a good sign, whether commercial or residential. And don’t forget about the projected growth of the city or area of town. Make sure to check local government, real estate databases, as well as discussions with local home and business owners to confirm you’re in a suitable area that will sustain your proforma.
It doesn’t need to be said that a proper due-diligence is essential to confirm how much money you’ll need to bring to the table in order to bring a B or C-Class property up to par. Make sure you know what kind of construction costs you’re looking at based on an inspection of all mechanical, roofs, unit interiors as well as driveways and building exteriors. Also, look for efficient ways to renovate or remodel and never forget the landscaping. It’s an element of curb-appeal that many people put on the backburner, but I frequently prioritize landscape renovations on the majority of our rehab properties.
Finally, integrity is huge in the property management world. Not letting maintenance requests back up, having the grounds picked up before the property opens, and treating staff and contractors with professionalism will get you far – farther than you’d likely think. Prompt communication shows you care and signals that you’re truly involved and therefore trust-worthy as a property management leader. Clearly, it’s valuable to remember that your integrity is who you are when no one is looking. I run every property I manage like I own it and it’s propelled CKR Property Management to ongoing, sustained growth.