Tips for communication in real estate today.

“Glad I finally got a hold of you!”

“Sorry, we are slammed.”

“Well, I understand but you said you would get the wall repaired last week.”

“Other things came up but you are next on my list. I will send you an email with the exact time and date.”

“OK, I will keep an eye out for it,” knowing that I would probably have to find someone else.


Sound familiar? Well if you are in property management, or really in the real estate industry, you have probably had a similar conversation with a contractor.

Just to be clear: all you property managers need to get off your high horse because I have been on the other side of a similar conversation with many property managers when I was doing lender inspections. They were just as uncommunicative.

Honestly, I can be faulted for this also. I don’t mean to, I just forget sometimes. We are all busy and inundated with stuff. No getting on my soapbox today. We all drop the ball at some point in our lives.

That being said, it still happens way too often in the real estate industry. Tenants, and property owners rely on us to manage/construct/fix/upgrade their properties, and sometimes lack of communication can cost a lot of money.

Don’t Fear the Phone

We are all busy, but a simple phone call during your lunch break while you are on the job site is all that is needed. Or a (hands-free) call while you are driving to a meeting to say you are going to be a few minutes late can make all the difference.

As a property manager and property owner, I have seen it from both sides.  I am especially sensitive to the scourge of poor communication.  As a service provider, I have to work extra hard to make sure I don’t do it to others. It could mean the difference between me keeping the contract or losing important business.

Property Management in the Age of Dinosaurs (20 Years Ago)

When I was younger, I lived in a house for a long time. During that time, I did not meet the landlord/property manager once. Any time a problem happened at the home, I would do my best to fix it but I was busy so I didn’t really put much effort into it. It wasn’t my house and the home owner obviously didn’t care so why should I, I thought. I was a pain in the rear when I was younger.

After time the maintenance would lapse because the owner was absent. Only after move out did the owner complain about all the problems with the house! I gently reminded the owner of all the emails and phone calls that I had made about the problems. The landlord just grumbled. I think that they had to put a lot of work into the house, which would have been considerably less if they would have communicated more.

In that story I was younger and probably could have done more, but what did I know?  It just shows that being a property manager and property owner means communication. Communicating with your tenants, contractors, among others is vitally important for all of us.

Systems & Technology

So what can we do to fix this problem? After doing a little research I kept running across the same answer over and over again. Technology. If there is something in your business that you can automate, do it. Things like monthly reports from the property manager, sent like clockwork, without much of your help.

When the tenant notices a problem with one the showers–for example–the report is included in your maintenance log so all parties are aware of it and your maintenance personal can be scheduled to look into it. Often all of these chores are done without any actual contact. Communication doesn’t always mean we have to be talking, as long as the issue is being taken care of.

With that in mind, I think it is vitally important that we continue to orally communicate. Email is great, but often misconceptions can happen over an email, and only through a phone call can we get all the information. Emails/PMs help to answer questions or convey little bits of information but when you need to get the full story make a phone call. You will often find that what was originally the problem was actually a bigger hidden problem that you can only deduce when you have more information.

As a property manager, this last one is the secret sauce, are you ready?

The Secret

Meet your property owners/tenants in person. I know crazy right? But it works, I promise. By creating that personal relationship with someone they are more willing to trust and open up. Maybe you will end up solving a problem before it happens.

Don’t forget: an email is a way to say hi, a phone call is a way to exchange more information, and a personal meeting is a way to cement a relationship. That last point is probably the most important for those who deal with real estate.

Note: This whole blog post is me on my soapbox, but in consideration of your eyes, I will not italicize this whole post. Just know that I was thinking it while writing.

Got questions? Contact me. Email is great. 😉 

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