Luxury property comes with a unique set of expectations and priorities for a property manager. It can also teach them some valuable lessons about other types of real estate, as we’ve learned in the last year since taking over a larger luxury portfolio.
In 2019, I wrote an article about all of the ways property managers should manage luxury property differently than other residential property and a lot has happened since then—both globally and in our industry. But one thing I hadn’t predicted when I wrote that piece was just how much my management of luxury property would affect how I approached management in general.
Going Above and Beyond
One way the lens of luxury changed our view of all management was through special requests from owners. We knew when we started managing significantly more units on the luxury side that high-net-worth individuals tend to expect versatile management, service that often goes outside the usual work of maintaining rental property. For instance, a client living out-of-state recently asked one of our property supervisors to go in-person and purchase a white grand piano for him and arrange to have it transported to his property. Not only did the supervisor oblige—he also negotiated a significant discount on the piano, saving the client $8,000 and effectively paying his management fee for a year. Adopt the mentality of “what can I do for my clients” rather than “what do I have to do for my clients,” and you’ll find your client retention rate improving. Another client, who lives abroad, requested that one of our representatives drive his Rolls Royce across town to have it serviced, which we did. Even though it might not seem to have anything to do with property management, it has everything to do with accommodating a client in a way that builds rapport and trust. We don’t just field calls like these from owners of upscale property. You should always strive to go above and beyond the typical job description of a property manager.
See Through Owners’ Eyes
Another key practice we’ve applied since moving further into the luxury property management sphere is seeing the property through the client’s eyes. Is it a point of pride for them, or primarily a source of income? It was a bit of a re-education for all of our property supervisors, getting a sense for how all our owners view their properties. Frankly, not all multifamily owners care deeply about the aesthetic and visual appeal of their property—whereas most luxury owners do. But it’s important to ascertain the preference of all owners, because it will help you know whether or not to propose certain beautifying maintenance measures to them. One owner might be thrilled that you came up with a concept for a new fountain in their building’s courtyard, while another might view it as unnecessary. This all comes down to clear communication with an owner and perception of their needs.
If you haven’t branched out into luxury management, I recommend doing so for the bump in quality it will add to all of your service. The saying that “a high tide lifts all boats” applies here. Your team won’t answer the phone and think: “Is this a luxury owner/tenant or a different kind?” They’ll simply serve whoever it is at the highest level they know how. For instance, none of our technicians walk into our clients’ homes without first covering their shoes with surgical footwear.. For luxury properties, this is standard practice—for others, it’s a sign of respect. Furthermore, we inspect more closely than we used to for ways to improve a property or the owner’s experience. If you’re managing luxury the right way, it will sharpen your eye and make you and your team more creative with ways to serve your customers.
David Crown is the C.E.O. of Los Angeles Property Management Group, and has over thirty years of experience managing all types of income properties. A hands-on leader who has managed properties in 16 states, Mr. Crown has been asked to serve as an expert witness in property management matters, and currently serves on the Forbes Real Estate Council. He can be reached directly at 323-433-5254.