Commercial Property Management – Checklist for Property Management Handovers

When you take over the management of a commercial or retail property today, the information that you gather from the outgoing property manager or landlord will be critical to the establishment and future success of your property management processes.

Information is Critical

Lack of information in the handover process means problems and potential errors in the future. On that basis you should have a specialised handover process that you can implement on and with the handover of every property type within your local area. A checklist will help your activities as you bring in the new property to the management portfolio.

Here are some ideas to incorporate into your handover checklist:

  1. Get complete and comprehensive details of all leases and licensed occupied areas within the property. You will need to check these against the tenants physically in occupancy and the rental invoices that are raised for tenancy payment. Everything has to cross relate accurately.
  2. Copies of lease documents should be checked against the original documentation. Also look for side agreements for any extension or variance documentation relating to the original lease.
  3. Copies of correspondence relating to existing tenancy matters should be handed to you. Ask for this specifically and drill down on the details of each matter.
  4. Get copies of the current rental invoices and cross reference these to the tenancy schedules for the property. It is not unusual to come across in errors in the tenancy schedule or the rental invoices.
  5. The tenancy schedule should be checked against the actual leases and other occupancy papers and the signed documentation between the landlord and tenant.
  6. Check all outgoings charges and expenses that are applied to the tenancies within the managed property. The charging process should be shown on the rental invoices; you will need to check this amount and the process of recover that is adopted. It is not unusual to see errors in the outgoings recovery with tenants in managed properties. The process of checking will involve you getting copies of the current outgoings budget and the recent outgoings reconciliation.
  7. The arrears that apply to the property and any tenancies should be identified as part of the handover. They are sometimes discharged at the time of settlement, although the question should be raised in case you are taking over the ongoing pursuit of the arrears with any existing tenants. If that is the case you will need copies of all previous correspondence and claims.
  8. Current vacant tenancies within the premises may be the subject of lease negotiation. You will need copies of the lease offers that are or have been made and the status of the existing negotiations.
  9. Details of the maintenance issues within the building will be required. The essential services within the building will be critical maintenance contracts to identify early in the Handover. Any threats to the stability and function of essential services should be identified and addressed immediately. The maintenance contractors for the building will understand the function of the existing plant and machinery; get details of these contractors and then set up meetings as quickly as possible.
  10. Ask about any orders or notices that apply to the property or any part thereof. Check out any encumbrances, rights of way, or easements that apply to property usage.

So these are some of the main items that apply to the property management handover process. There will always be more issues and items to look at although these items listed above are the big ones to immediately get under control.

Commercial Property Managers – What Skills Do They Need and Why?

In commercial real estate agency, the property management division is a key part of the agency performance. In real terms the successful division can bring in significant and stable income to the agency on a regular monthly basis. That being said, a good commercial or retail property manager is highly skilled and should be selected for the property management role based on key performance criteria and hands on experience.

Far too many real estate agencies have average or poor performing property managers. In real terms this is a real threat to the stability of the division income, and the quality of the service provided to the landlords. Unskilled property managers do not last in commercial or retail property; it’s that simple.

Cadets and Training Processes

There is a place for ‘cadets’ that learn the roles and the skills of complex property management. The process itself takes a couple of years during which time the person should be exposed to all property types and situations under the guidance of an experienced manager.

So what does a good commercial or retail property manager look like and what skills will they have? To a large degree they will need to bring to you as agency principal, the skills needed for the managed property type and local area.

If the property manager does not know much about managing the required property type, then do not let them manage it; the errors made can destroy your relationship with the landlord and ultimately the management appointment.

Different Skill Sets

There is a large difference in management style and skill required between retail, office, and industrial property; industrial property being the easiest to manage and retail being the most intense and difficult. The skills required in a retail property manager is diverse and deep; they are the best in the industry.

Generally speaking, retail shopping centre managers today are also the busiest in the industry. The role is very hands on and unrelenting in intensity. Here are some core skills of a well skilled and placed property manager:

  1. The ability to read and understand leases and occupancy documentation for all property types.
  2. The marketing of the property to the local community and customers will be a factor that is critical to retail property. It this way sales are encouraged for the tenants; this underpins the rental for the landlord.
  3. Sound skills in financial analysis and reconciliation so a property performance tracking process can be set up for all managed properties.
  4. Good communication skills are essential. Property managers must be accurate, confident, and decisive, in keeping with laws, legislation, and the instructions of the clients that they act for.
  5. Attention to detail is required in all property negotiations and tenancy matters. Without good records and accurate information, the ‘wheels fall off’ the division and its services. Landlords soon see through mistakes and inaccuracy.
  6. Marketing of vacancies happens all the time in larger properties; importantly the frequency of vacant space is minimised and the times without a tenant are lessened.
  7. Income optimisation and expenditure controls are at the centre of property financial performance. The manager must know what is happening and why in all managed properties, when it comes to the cash flow and reporting to the landlord.
  8. All reporting processes and communications to the landlords we act for today must be detailed and accurate. Property compliance and maintenance, energy consumption, lease and vacancy matters, tenant and landlord lease covenants, outgoings performance, and environmental matters are just some of the factors that are controlled and reported on each month.
  9. Computer technology needs are increasing in the available property performance and management systems today. The property manager must be familiar with, and comfortable learning more about all the software and computer based technology that is used in the industry.
  10. Work hard and with focus each and every day. The hours that a manager will put in the job are long and intense; however they are the experts and should recognise the value that they bring to the job.
  11. Maintenance decisions and controls are made daily and should encompass the instructions of the client and the laws of property ownership and function. The manager needs to know what is required and should competently handle the decisions and communications with contractors, tenants, landlords, and fellow employees.

So how do you find one of these highly skilled people? They are out there and should be carefully sourced. They will be an asset to your agency function and performance.

Tips for Outgoings Management and Budgets in Commercial Property

When you manage commercial real estate, the outgoings within the property will require focus and financial control. When the property market slows or gets tougher, managing the outgoings is really important; the outgoings form part of the financial strategy for the landlord and will impact the net income for the property. If the outgoings get too high, the property will be hard to lease and hard to sell.

Set Some Rules

You can split the outgoings into a number of categories and this is normally done to identify and track the cash flow by expense streams. Most importantly there are two sides to the outgoings equation. Some of the items will be controllable and others will be uncontrollable. This means that the landlord can exercise control on only some of the outgoings.

The uncontrollable outgoings are those which are imposed on the property and have to be paid without any opportunity for cost savings, adjustments, or budgeting. Those uncontrollable items are normally council rates, land tax, and water rates. To a degree, insurance and energy costs will also fall into that category although some cost controls are possible with these items.

To manage the property outgoings effectively it pays to adopt a process similar to the following:

  • Create a budget for the property prior to the commencement of financial year
  • Track your expenditure to budget monthly. Adjust expenditure when you see a need and reason; early adjustment prevents bigger blowouts.
  • Look at the history of the property expenditure over the last few years to identify any excessive spending or items that are beyond the averages in the local area. The history of the property will allow you to adjust your budgets and cash flow expectations.
  • Make sure that you have removed the capital expense items from the normal repairs and maintenance for the property.
  • Talk to the owners of comparable properties in the same area. The outgoings between your property and their property should be similar. If not, you need to know why and take steps to fix that. Share information of outgoings costs with other similar property owners for this very reason.
  • Monitor the annual valuations for rating purposes. When these valuations are done, you will soon see the statutory charges and council rates rise soon after. It is not unusual for landlords and property managers to dispute the valuation in an effort to keep the statutory charges at a lower rate.

In preparing an expenditure budget for the property, you should time the expenditure so that the larger costs are expected; hence ensuring that the cash flow is suitably adjusted in preparation.

The controllable outgoings are those that the landlord can exercise decision and timing. Normal items of repairs and maintenance together with the contractor maintenance will fall within this category. If the landlord chooses to delay the expenditure with the controllable outgoings, then they can spread the impact of those items on the net monthly income from the property.

In summary, the property manager working on behalf of the landlord should exercise due care and diligence in the budgetary process for property expenditure. A well-managed landlord cash flow in an investment property is a correct balance of income against expenditure given the tenancy mix pressures on the building and the existing vacancy factors.

Tips for Securing Commercial Lawn Mowers for Commercial Landscaping Properties

A lawn care or landscaping company with the knowledge and experience needed to handle the care for large commercial properties needs the right tools at their disposal in order to handle these commercial landscaping properties. That means only the best commercial lawn mowers designed specifically for large-scale properties. You want your handiwork to speak for itself whenever you drive off from a freshly-manicured commercial property, so here’s how to not just secure new commercial property owners as clients but how to keep them by providing the best service you can.

Don’t Be Afraid to Scout While On the Job

The life of a professional landscaper entails a lot of driving from job to job, and this represents an excellent opportunity to scout out new possible properties to approach to see if their owners are looking for landscaping services. Commercial properties with large, neglected lots are always ripe for the plucking, especially as sometimes the companies that occupy properties, such as law offices and similar professional services, are responsible for their own landscaping and do not have a property management company to rely on. Once you’ve gotten a good list of what might very well end up being new clients, you’ll have to track down who it is you’ll have to talk to in particular about landscaping services. Whether it is a grounds manager or a business owner, you will need to do some Googling – or better yet just knock on doors and strike up conversations with receptionists or other staff at the front desk.

Be Yourself with Prospective New Clients

It’s important to be genuine when you’re looking to forge new connections with potential clients. Business owners are inclined to be friendly with a fellow business owner, especially when they present themselves honestly and professionally. Being open and honest can help show prospective clients that it will be easy to work with you, even if it just means that you’re proficient at making small talk. However, when it comes time to get down to brass tacks, you’ll need to be straightforward and simple about what you can provide to a company, what types of commercial lawn mowers and other equipment you use on a regular basis, and how much all of these services will cost.

Don’t Lose Hope

Finally, don’t get discouraged if you keep asking around and all you’re getting is rejection after rejection. Not every business out there cares or even thinks about the landscaping on their property. Moreover, those who do reject your offer will sometimes give you feedback as to why you were passed over, providing you an opportunity to hone your sales pitch and strengthen your positions for future endeavors.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how well you can smooth-talk a client unless you have the equipment to back it up in your trailer. Make sure to use only the most safe and efficient commercial mowers that can stand up to the strain of large, robust commercial.

Commercial Property Management – Tenancy Schedule Tips Tools and Tactics

The tenancy schedule is the tool of choice for a property manager or leasing manager in a commercial or retail property investment. It is the tenancy schedule that will keep the property manager up to task on forthcoming events and dates.

Often you find that the tenancy schedule is not up to date, so if anyone gives you such a document, treat it with the caution it deserves, and check it out completely before you act on the information contained therein.

So let’s say that you have a great tenancy schedule that you know is totally accurate. I get many questions about what I would want to see in a tenancy schedule. Here are my main priorities:

  • Details of the tenant name, lease, and full contact detail for emergencies
  • Tenancy identifier or suite reference that comes from the plan for the property
  • The area of the tenancy in m2 or ft2 (depending on your unit of measurement)
  • The % of the tenant area to the building net lettable area
  • The rent $’s per annum, per month, and per unit of measurement (m2 or ft2)
  • Lease start date
  • Rent start date
  • Lease end date
  • Term of lease
  • Option term of lease
  • Anniversary dates and reminders for rent reviews, options, expires, renewals, renovations, and make good obligations
  • Outgoings charges for each tenant on the basis of area and monthly charge
  • Outgoings budget for the building
  • Total outgoings recoveries for the property on a currency and % basis
  • Types of outgoings to be charged to the tenants
  • Insurance obligations of the tenant
  • Rental guarantee details or bonds held
  • Provision for critical dates relating to any important lease term or condition
  • Maintenance obligation details of the tenants

This list is not finite and you can add your own extra priorities, I would however make sure that it is totally correct and maintain it to the highest level of accuracy. When you do this you can stay on top of important upcoming events that will impact the occupancy or rental of the property.

Whilst you can buy ‘off the shelf’ software programs that display this above information, that can be quite expensive for those commercial and retail property managers that are first entering this type of property. The alternative is to create some simple spread sheet that contains the data; in saying that, it is essential that great care is taken to maintain the spread sheet that you create. Any errors in the tenancy schedule can destroy your landlord, your business, your tenant, your reputation, and the property. Accuracy is paramount.