Like most kids my age at the time when I finished Year 12 I set off on a new adventure at Uni to study Psychology. When choosing my electives at the age of 15 I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, it was no different when I finished year 12 and began my first year at Uni. And whilst it all seemed like good fun I completed my undergraduate degree and woke up one morning realising that I had no real motivation to study on and become a psychologist. Instead I completed my Agent’s Rep at night school and got a job as a real estate receptionist. It seemed like a really glamorous and classy job and I moved quite quickly into leasing and then on to property management.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this job which is why now 15 years later I’m still here and growing my own business as passionate and motivated as I was back then when I first started in the industry but let me tell you something, there’s no glitz or glamour here! It might be different for those super successful sales agents on the big commissions who drive the fancy cars and wear the expensive suits but it’s a different life on the flip side for a property manager.
Since the beginning of time property managers have been undervalued by almost everyone they come into contact with, seen as those who collect rent, occasionally visit properties for inspections and who open the doors on weekends to show people through. I’ll admit from the outside that may be exactly how it looks but when the outside world realises just how much goes into the day to day life of a property manager they are truly surprised.
So yes, whilst I often unlock front doors on weekends and collect rent on behalf of landlords on a daily basis let me tell you a little bit about the many other hats I wear in my role. I’m a mediator between tenants and landlords, landlords and tradespeople, tenants and tradespeople – the list goes on. I’m a counsellor, everyone has a story and for some reason they love to share it with their property manager so whilst following up on that maintenance request I’m also a sympathetic ear here to give advice on your next path in life. I’m a lawyer, yes that’s right, at some point in our lives we all end up at VCAT representing our clients and there’s no $300 an hour solicitor there to represent, it’s all me. I’m an insurance broker, you’d be surprised how often I guide both landlords and tenants in their decision as to which insurance they should take out. I’m a handyman, there’s not one property in our portfolio where I haven’t, at some point or another, had to pop out to the car to grab a screwdriver to fix a toilet roll holder or adjust a hinge. I’m a cleaner, sometimes a vacate clean is ‘reasonably clean’ but not quite clean enough so who is responsible for that extra vacuum and mop or surface wipe down? Me. That’s who. I’m a building inspector, a large part of my role is inspecting properties prior to their construction completion with the builder and although I learn a lot about construction it also helps me within my role as property manager to deal with maintenance and regulations. I’m a safety officer, whilst a routine inspection may seem, to the outside world, a quick walk through the property it’s far more than that. Routine inspections are one of the most important tasks for a property manager to adequately report back to owners on maintenance that ensures that safety of their tenants and their property.
I could go on with another 30 tasks that get absorbed into my role on a daily basis but my point is, Property Managers have long been undervalued and unappreciated. Managing investment properties is a massive task, you are entrusted by a landlord to take care of their asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and you are entrusted by tenants to ensure the safety of their family in their home. This is a job that doesn’t end at 5pm, you’ll find most property managers work until well after the sun has gone down and all weekend in some way shape or form. Being a property manager is tough, you need a strong work ethic and thick skin and it really does take a special kind of person to be able to adapt to all situations and be successful because the truth is just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, life throws a curve ball at you.
With all of this in mind you’re probably now asking yourself why on earth would anybody do it?
I love my job because every day is different, there is never a dull moment, every single day I am faced with new challenges. Every day I learn something new and I am constantly meeting new people. Every landlord is a new relationship to nurture and grow, and you quickly reach a point where a phone call enters is 24th minute and neither of you has any idea as to the point of the call because you’re too busy chatting away and catching up on how things are going with the other person- this is absolutely one of my favourite parts of my job. Every tenant is a new member of our little community. From a stranger at an open for inspection a tenant becomes someone who I will visit in their home, watch their families grow and change over time and wish them well when it’s time to move onto their next chapter in life. All the tough days are always far outweighed by the good days when I get a thank you card at a routine inspection, a phone call from a landlord just to say thanks or get to enjoy the cheeky smiles of the little faces in the homes I’ve inspected that day. Being a property manager has made me a better person, a stronger, more independent woman who has patience, compassion, understanding and empathy. To be honest, there’s actually no place in the world I’d rather be.