What does it take to become a strata property agent?
Is a career in strata property management for you? Yes, if you enjoy working in a high opportunity career that is never boring! You’ll need credentials relating to real estate management and a personality that values autonomy and problem solving opportunities working on behalf of clients.
Strata Property Manager: Job Description
A strata property manager typically manages a portfolio of buildings (residential, commercial or mixed use) and acts as the liaison with strata councils who have contracted with a property management company for their services. The role involves scheduling, preparing, attending strata council meetings, recording meeting minutes and attending annual general meetings and special general meetings.
Strata property managers work with strata councils to draft and approve annual budgets, and analyze forecasts and expenses, including the contingency fund. They work with strata councils and owners to advise them on issues and how these are dealt with via the Strata Property Act. They also provide general supervision and deal with maintenance and trades people to ensure the buildings are well maintained in a timely manner. A big part of this role is communication skills and specific expertise in finance, building maintenance and law depending on the responsibilities.
A Day in the Life:
Strata Property Manager – Building Community
SPABC recently talked with Paul Merrien B.A, CPM, of Proline Management Ltd., a thriving, family-owned property management company with four locations on Vancouver Island and both residential and commercial strata portfolios.
Paul moved to Canada in 2009 from the U.K. where he worked for law firms, dealing with and preparing regulatory submissions and following up on various infractions primarily within the liquor licensing system. In the summer of 2009 he joined Proline. Today, along with maintaining a strata management portfolio, mostly for residential strata clients, Paul manages Proline’s Strata Department and a team of licensed professionals, while also training others who are in the process of getting licensed. He is also a managing broker at Proline and part of the Executive team.
Paul has his Certified Property Management (CPM) designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management. This is the highest recognition of professionalism in the property management field awarded in North America. Both the CPM and managing broker courses require several years of industry experience before they can be attained.
We wanted to share Paul’s perspective on the industry and his personal experience so we asked him a few questions:
Why did you choose to work in the field of property management?
I’ve always been interested in real estate. That was the first indication I wanted to get into the industry. But what really draws me to this industry, and in particular strata, is the ability to help people in their homes, to help strata councils and corporations strategize and prepare for the future and maintain their buildings and community. It’s the community building aspect I really enjoy.
What does a typical day look like for you?
In terms of a day in the life of a property manager, mine is obviously a lot different to a typical strata manager purely based on the fact that I supervise a number of people, I have other strategic duties as well as a portfolio, so any thing that comes into my realm I have to act upon pretty quick. Thankfully, those issues are pretty minimal.
I get to work around 8:30 a.m., and from there it’s kind of a cycle of things that need to happen to ensure I’m prepared for the day, week and month. On any given day, I would probably have a set of [strata council] minutes to dictate because I typically I’d have met with a strata council the night before. So I take care of dictating the minutes and then I see if any immediate action items need to be dealt with. This then allows me to plan the rest of my day without having that on my mind.
“I get many emails every day and it’s ultimately making sure I respond
in a timely manner or delegate to the person who can deal
with the questions in a more timely manner.”
I also do a lot of strategy planning with the executive team with the goal of continual betterment of the company. We are always looking to improve and provide more to our clients.
Typically in a day I also have new business enquiries, either from existing strata corporations or working with developers to budgets for new buildings. The challenges are when an emergency happens, such as a water damage, and you have to deal with that immediately. So you have to be a step ahead all the time, there are so many moving parts to a strata property manager’s day that it’s difficult to pinpoint any real structure, but it is important to plan weeks ahead so that in the moment, if there is a surprise to deal with you are not completely derailed. Planning your year, month, week and days are so important if you want to be in control of any given portfolio.
A lot of strata councils meet after hours, so does your job involve a lot of evening work?
Yeah, I’m quite often going to council meetings in the evening, and they can last anywhere from an hour to a couple of hours and obviously you can end up with some significantly long days. The good thing is, that if you are prepared and have planned your weeks and days well, you can have some flexibility on your schedule, so that is nice.
I imagine those meetings really bring your people skills to the forefront?
Yes, it’s important to realize everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different opinions. I find most people involved in strata councils really want the same things, to protect their investment and make their place a better and pleasant place to live. So you need to find that common ground and channel your energies toward identifying what everybody on a council wants and help them achieve a decision in the best interests of everybody. I love this part of the role.
For people who are interested in property management as a career, what advice do you have?
When I first started I didn’t really know anything about strata management. I came to Canada from a different country (the U.K.) and it was very much a trial by fire for me, which was great and I had great teachers, but if I knew more about the industry it would have been very helpful in those early months to know what was going on.
So it is really important to do your research on the industry itself, because I find that a lot of people who apply for roles haven’t had too much experience related to strata property management. They end up a little bit blindsided as to what the challenges are coming into the industry. And this industry really does challenge you to learn and grow and become a leader in many different ways — and that’s what I found here at Proline. The challenges are really excellent opportunities to grow and learn.
Any other advice?
If you are considering this industry, it’s important that you really want to help people, that you really want to engage in communities and would treat any building you work on as if this was your own residence. It’s caring about the people you serve, and if you have that innate calling to help people you are going to do really well in this industry. It’s really rewarding but it’s also very challenging — and because it’s challenging, when things go well …the reward is so great. I would be happy to chat with anyone interested in the industry and provide advice on how to get into it. Look me up on our website.