There’s an iconic New Yorker magazine cover depicting Manhattan as the dominant area on a map of the United States. A strip of land beyond the Hudson River is all that separates it from the Pacific Ocean. It’s much the same pride of place that dominates our view today, which is understandable. The United States is the epicenter of the world. He is also at the forefront of property management. But is it…?
It’s easy to forget that property management is both a global and a local initiative, shaped by the culture, politics and business models specific to each country. Property management in one area of the world can differ widely from another, and it is this coming together of different experiences that shapes the profession.
Listen to some of our international IREM members to get an idea of the unique rendering of our profession from one country to another.
“Of the total population of the UAE, which is close to 10 million, only around 15% are UAE nationals,” reports Waqar Hasan, CPM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, President of Community Associations Institute Middle East and CEO of Itihad Community Management. “This high percentage of expats creates a sense of impermanence in the culture. People are here for work or leisure and will eventually return to their home countries. Sometimes tenants return to their country of origin without properly returning the property, in the worst case also missing the rent.
Or that of Pepe Gutierrez, CPM, CEO of Megafincas Alicante in Spain, which indicates two of the main points of differentiation. First, official recognition of the profession. “To be an administrator in Spain it is necessary to pursue university studies in this field for three years and with a multidisciplinary training.”
But there is also a lifestyle component at work in Spain, he explains: “Spaniards, and especially the Latino population, prefer to live in a community of owners, such as a condominium or HOA. In fact, this represents 80% of the population, which is very different from the Anglo-Saxon world, where it does not exceed 30%. This is why the property manager is mainly from the community of owners.
Or just think of what the lifting of apartheid in South Africa did both to challenge property management and to raise its profile for professionals once disenfranchised by politics. As Leah Misbin, Senior Director of International Programs at IREM, explains, property management professionals in this group have found a new level of trust and respect by joining our international organization with a meaningful certification program and code. rigorous ethics.
As we continue to expand our network around the world, the changing texture and nuances of property management in each country become clearer. We have found countries where property managers aspire to this code of ethics instead of government regulations dictating certification or even strict professional behavior laws. The laws we take for granted here, which keep people on the straight and narrow, frankly don’t exist everywhere. In these countries, a unified international code of ethics becomes essential for dedicated property managers.
Next, we discover countries like Japan, where (as in Spain) a recently passed law governing the registration of residential property managers demonstrates the government’s awareness of the importance of the profession. Serbia also reflects this same legislative support for private enterprise, with recently passed legislation to standardize community associations and condominium boards.
Another major point of differentiation between the United States and some other countries is the view of property management not as a stand-alone, single discipline, but as a kind of subset of the larger real estate industry. In these cases, as Leah explains, practitioners can transition a building from development to management without the latter as a specialty. As a result, regulatory oversight and management-specific licensing tend to be light or non-existent.
Despite these different interpretations of property management globally, I strongly believe there is an underlying commonality that unites us. Issues such as COVID-19 and more recently the war in Ukraine are shrinking our planet and bringing us together.
The pandemic has proven to be a great unifier in some ways. It has given rise to many common responses to shared issues such as the transition to the regulation of hybrid work and the increased security of places of public accommodation. And, of course, practically everyone is focused on the fate of the Ukrainian people, and from the point of view of individuals, companies and associations (including, but certainly not limited to, IREM, the National Association of real estate agents, BOMA International and real estate advisors), we bring our collective expertise to bear in support of the country and its people.
What else unites us? Waqar offers the following: “Finding quality maintenance providers, retaining quality staff, tenant backgrounds and credit checks are global challenges. Around the world, property managers face similar challenges created by advances in technology to deal with issues such as the consequences of short-term rental and sharing and charging ports for electric cars and scooters. . Detecting violations and then enforcing these and other community rules is a universal problem,” as is pursuing sustainability initiatives. “As governments have pledged to achieve ambitious goals, working towards them and achieving these sustainability goals is on every property manager’s bucket list.”
Pepe, too, sees a common thread in the growth of technologies. Customers today, he says, “demand speed and immediacy in responding to issues.”
But there is something more that unites us. “Managers around the world have moved from managing properties to managing people,” he says, with variations only in culture, economy and location.
Zoom, of course, has become the travel analogue of the past two-plus years. It is gratifying to see and hear in a Zoom call members from Dubai, Brazil and South Africa sharing their concerns and solutions. This, above all, lends even more credence to the shrinking world of membership in an international association.
The United States can no longer be the epicenter of real estate management. We make the world talk, and in that communication we find more things that bind us than divide us.
And isn’t that wonderful!
Barry Blanton is the 2022 President of IREM. Additionally, he is the primary problem solver and one of the founders of Blanton Turner in Seattle, Washington.