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11 Tips For Prospective CRE Managers



Photos of featured members.

Commercial real estate (CRE) management can be a professional nightmare when you’re just starting, as it can encompass a wealth of issues difficult to address. From contract negotiations to building upkeep and maintenance, each facet can have a thousand smaller tasks that serve as prerequisites to achieving the larger goal.

For new commercial real estate managers, the small details can be difficult, if not impossible, to figure out. Prospective professionals should prepare themselves for a long road when learning about the industry. Below, 11 experts from Forbes Real Estate Council share tips for CRE managers entering the industry.

1. Leverage Consistency And Transparency

Consistency, dependability and transparency are key for everyone involved! With tenants, be clear with the processes they will find important and make them as automated as possible, i.e., fast online applications, virtual tours, automated text communication around rent and maintenance. Create a strong community! For owners, be 100% transparent and send weekly reports with rental stats! – Sarah Sullivan, SuGo Capital LLC

2. Focus On Quality Customer Service

Especially for property managers of luxury apartment buildings, customer service is paramount. These residents are used to hospitality quality, white-glove customer service. Anything less will feel like the building is missing the mark. – Aaron Galvin, Luxury Living Chicago Realty

Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?

3. Treat Tenants Like Clients

The two keys to success are treating tenants like they are your clients and routinely checking the maintenance of the property. A healthy and long-term relationship with tenants translates to lower vacancy, less headache during negotiations and repeat business from the tenant’s sphere. Routine maintenance checks help alleviate small maintenance issues that can spiral into much larger ones. – Deniz Kahramaner, Altasa

4. Communicate Regularly and Build Relationships

Consistently communicating and cultivating relationships with tenants is invaluable. Tenants can be great allies if there is mutual respect. They can help inform you of repair and maintenance issues in a timely manner so you avoid bigger problems due to deferred maintenance. They can also be a great referral source, helping fill any vacancies if they are happy with their space and the property. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate

5. Take A Empathetic Approach

Property management is above all a people business. You must create a trusting and caring relationship with your clients, vendors and tenants. This caring and empathetic approach will set the stage for long-term success. – David Welch, Robinson Weeks Partners

6. Conduct Thorough Research

Prepare prior to starting by doing your research on the best property management software companies, having a vendor list ready that has been vetted, having your forms ready and learning about your tenants. In great detail, discuss with the owner their concerns and past problems so you have no surprises and are prepared to handle them! – Galit Ventura-Rozen, Commercial Professionals, Inc

7. Embrace Automation Platform Solutions

Rather than point products, embrace platform solutions that automate operational tasks in order to gain a competitive advantage. Though much of your job is rooted in the physical world, don’t disregard technology. It’s critical in managing the day-to-day workflows and the information you need to reduce operational costs, helping evaluate performance toward tenant satisfaction and maximizing revenues. – Tim Curran, Building Engines

8. Shadow An Experienced Property Manager

Find an experienced property manager to shadow. The fastest way to gain experience is to work for another property manager. Nothing beats real field knowledge, and by partnering up with somebody that has been in battle before, you can shrink your learning curve in half. Ask them the horror stories, listen and take notes. Knowing how they dealt with the hardest problems is priceless. – Chris Ryan, Beyond Properties Group (eXp Realty)

9. Connect With Quality Contractors

Property managers and property owners managing apartments and single-family homes generally recognize that maintenance and renovations are key to attracting and keeping tenants. However, maintenance and tenant buildouts are just as important in industrial properties, office buildings and retail. Keep relationships with quality contractors. Manage work orders with the same software platform as leases. – Kristin Geenty, The Geenty Group, Realtors

10. Develop A Clear Process

Having a clear process to handle occupancy, marketing, leasing, collections, work orders, construction and upgrades is key. It impacts the experience of the tenants in the community. Just define your KPIs—look for them in weekly or biweekly reports, create a budget and identify the variance from the budget. It is important to know what you are measuring and how it impacts performance. – Chander Mishra, Accel Equity Group LLC

11. Know Local Real Estate Laws

It is extremely important to know the real estate laws governing the state you manage a property in. If you own/manage the property for long enough, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Consult with an experienced real estate attorney and other experienced managers on landmines they have uncovered. If you have a contingency plan for each of these scenarios, you should rest reasonably assured. – Saurabh Shah, InstaLend

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Real Estate

A Monument To Catalan Modernism Asks $5.9 Million In Barcelona



Palau de la Musica

The distinct architecture of Barcelona, with its curved shapes, floral motifs and ornamentation, is defined by its Catalan Modernism. The aesthetically pleasing style was a major force in the larger Modernisme movement, which also permeated art, theater and literature at the end of the 19th century.

This recently refurbished Modernist house is located in the area of Tibidabo Mountain, the tallest hill in Collserola Natural Park, an expansive green space within Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia.

Villa Paula, as it is known, was designed in 1912 by Spanish architect Jerome Granell Manresa. He is known for creating the stained-glass windows of Barcelona’s famed concert hall, Palau de la Música Catalana. Other examples of the stained-glass maker’s work can be found locally in the landmark Navàs House and the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul.

Manresa’s use of sgraffito on stucco exteriors—to create contrasting color designs by scratching through the facade to reveal the layer below—remains in evidence on select residential buildings today.

The more than 8,200-square-foot home retains such original and restored Modernist features as the facade, the mosaic tilework, the high ceilings with moldings, the stained-glass windows and the Arabic-style roof crowned with green tiles. The four floors are accessed by a marble staircase and an elevator. The watchtower can serve as a guest house, an office or a studio.

The light-filled rooms have hardwood, marble or mosaic-tile floors, air-conditioning and in-floor heating. There are eight bedrooms, a conservatory, a home theater, a gym, a wine cellar and eight bathrooms.

The 10 acres of grounds contain gardens, terraces and mature trees. A gently curved staircase off the house leads to a terracotta veranda surrounding an infinity pool. A wooden deck below the pool level creates another outdoor lounging space. Views take in Barcelona and the coastline along the Mediterranean Sea. 

A two-car garage and a workshop complete the gated property.

Cristina Martinez of Immobiliaria Rimontgo is the listing agent for the estate, priced at approximately $5.93 million (EUR 4.95 million).

Villa Paula is located about five kilometers, or three miles, from Barcelona’s city center. International flights are available from Barcelona–El Prat Airport, about a 20-minute drive away.

Immobiliaria Rimontgo is a founding member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.

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Real Estate

Here’s Where Property Taxes Are The Highest And Lowest



Mansion in San Francisco

Buying a home is exciting, but it’s also a huge commitment. And one of the responsibilities of homeownership is paying real estate taxes. How much you will end up paying can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors — from how much your home is worth to where you live.

To illustrate just how much variance there is in the amount of property taxes people pay, LendingTree looked at the median amount of real estate taxes paid in each of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. In doing so, the online lending marketplace found that homeowners in some metros can expect to pay thousands of dollars more per year than homeowners in other parts of the country.

“Different county and state governments assess property value in different ways, which can contribute to why tax amounts vary so significantly across the country,” says Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, explaining that individual areas also have different tax rates and offer different tax breaks to homeowners, which can also affect how much people are paying in real estate taxes.

Revenue generated from property taxes is generally used to fund local projects and services such as fire departments, law enforcement, local public recreation, education, street maintenance and sanitation.

The median real estate tax amount in Las Vegas — where homeowners pay the least in property taxes — is about $7,700 cheaper than in New York, where real estate taxes are highest.

Las Vegas and Birmingham, Alabama are the only two metros where median real estate taxes amount to less than $1,000 a year. The median property tax amount paid by homeowners is $696 in Las Vegas and $892 in Birmingham.

Besides New York, homeowners pay the most in property taxes in expensive cities like San Jose, California and San Francisco. The median amount paid is $8,400 in New York, $7,051 in San Jose and $6,181 in San Francisco.

“Despite these regional differences, how much homes are selling for in a given area is usually the most important factor in determining an individual home’s value, regardless of where you live,” says Kapfidze. “As a result, places where home prices are higher like New York and San Francisco are more likely to pay higher real estate taxes than other parts of the country, even adjusting for variations in tax rate or appraisal practices.”

Real estate taxes are an average of $641 lower on homes without mortgages. Because property taxes are based in large part on home value and homes without mortgages tend to be worth less than those with mortgages, it makes sense why this is the case. Nonetheless, real estate taxes on homes without a mortgage can still be pricey, especially in areas like Salt Lake City and Seattle.

“I think it’s fair to say that knowing how much you’ll pay in property taxes is about as important as knowing how much your mortgage payment will be,” says Kapfidze. “After all, both are things you have to pay in order to keep your home, and both can be significant expenses.”

Many lenders will roll your property taxes into your monthly mortgage payments, and then use that money to pay your tax bill for you when it’s due to the government.

“As a result, while you should always double check to be sure you’re paying what you owe in taxes, you might only need to keep track of one payment a month,” explains Kapfidze. “If you’ve paid off your mortgage, then you definitely have to keep a closer eye on property taxes as you’ll likely no longer be able to count on your lender to keep track of them for you.”

Here’s the LendingTree report, including the methodology, and full list of cities where real estate taxes are highest and lowest.

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Real Estate

How Digital Technology Changed The Face Of The Mortgage Industry



Focused man and woman using laptop, checking financial documents

The rise of digital technology ushered in a new era for the mortgage application process as borrowers took advantage of historically low interest rates and lenders embraced digital mortgages more than ever before.

A new survey on borrowing and lending by ICE Mortgage Technology finds that the pandemic has permanently changed the way consumers utilize technology, and those looking to buy or refinance a home are seeking lenders who offer online tools to complete their mortgage loans from home.

The overwhelming majority (90%) of lenders believe that technology can help improve the mortgage application process, citing benefits that include simplifying the entire process (74%), reducing time to close (70%) and minimizing data entry (67%).

“Last year brought our industry a perfect storm,” said Joe Tyrrell, president of ICE Mortgage Technology. “You not only had COVID, which required lenders to shift to virtual workforces, but you also had to continue to conduct business in a safe and socially distanced way with borrowers, all happening at the same time that we were experiencing a historical increase in loan volume.” 

He added, “This caused many lenders to re-evaluate their technology partners, how they were leveraging technology, the systems that they employed, and the tools that they relied on. We heard many stories from our lenders across the country that had to completely and permanently shift the way they served borrowers.”

According to the survey, the importance of lenders offering digital solutions such as online applications during the lending process increased for borrowers in 2020, with 58% saying it would likely affect their lender decision (up from 50% in 2018). While still important, the offering of a mobile app specifically was less likely to influence borrowers’ lender selection, with 47% saying availability of one would factor into their decision in 2020 (compared to 40% in 2018).

Homeowners who used an online application appreciated the simpler application process (55%), reduced time to close (53%) and resulted in fewer in-person interactions (49%).

Not surprisingly, decreased in-person interactions grew in importance in 2020, as just 37% of consumers in 2018 cited “no need to meet in person” as something they liked about their online application process. Whether they had been through the mortgage loan process or not, 64% of consumers surveyed believe that an online mortgage process would make buying a home or refinancing easier than an in-person process.

“From a borrower’s perspective, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for a consistent, digital first borrowing experience,” said Tyrrell. “Signing documents electronically is quickly becoming the minimum, and borrowers expect a seamless experience from start to finish. In 2020, many lenders cobbled together different solutions to meet borrower demands, but that often led to a more confusing, fragmented process. Covid highlighted the need for a single consistent digital experience for consumers.”

Currently, online applications and online portals are the digital tools most offered among lenders, with more than nine in 10 offering both options to borrowers (91%). Of lenders who offer online applications, 64% said more than half of all loan applications are submitted online, while 38% said more than 80% of their applications were completed online in 2020. However, traditional loan application methods may be more common at larger organizations. Half of large institutional lenders, or those with 200 or more employees, indicated that less than 50% of their loan applications were submitted online.

Borrower respondents who were offered online and/or mobile options by their lenders took advantage of those tools during the mortgage loan process. Sixty-one percent of borrowers used an online application in 2020, slightly up from 58% in 2018. Sixty-one percent also used an online portal for electronically signing and notarizing documents, compared to 56% in 2018.

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