Home News Finding An Apartment Is Hard. Finding Workers For Those Apartments Is Much Harder

Finding An Apartment Is Hard. Finding Workers For Those Apartments Is Much Harder

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A renter looking for an apartment, or a retiree looking to choose a retirement home, can attest to a surprising amount of apartments. market demand to managed housing, and the increasing costs associated with that demand. But this understaffing, which users don’t see, hurts their profit margins and prevents them from delivering the services residents expect.

The shortage of workers, especially maintenance staff, has become the number one issue discussed by owners and operators. National Apartment Association Chairman and President Don Bruner, CEO of BRG Apartments.

It’s “everyday conversation” for the industry, and the organization’s June meeting included extensive discussions on how to train, recruit, and hire staff. Shortages of workers to fix broken pipes, fix and flip vacant apartments, and perform routine maintenance have resulted in a nationwide labor shortage in commercial real estate. Just one of many problems.

“The competition for talent, and the shortage of talent, it’s all real.” National Housing Council Sarah Yausi, Vice President of Business Strategy, said: Bissnow.

Maintenance workers, including repairing HVAC units, are in short supply.

An August survey by Zego, a proptech company that provides industry software solutions to 600 property management firms, found that participants experienced a staff turnover rate of 50% last year, and tenant turnover. Rates were getting worse and costing us a lot. Research suggests that each sale costs the owner his $4,000. Stephen Bakerthe company’s president and general manager.

It’s not just multi-family homes. Hotels and senior living suffer from similar labor issues. All of this means less satisfied tenants and guests, an inability to meet rising demand, and higher costs to retain and attract staff in a very challenging labor market.

There are no good data sources on the total number of employees employed in onsite and property management roles, but Bruner says the industry average of about one maintenance worker and office staff for every 100 tenants is a significant figure. suggesting a workforce. We are withered by burnout, early retirement, and resignation in search of better opportunities. Average age of property managers is 47When Maintenance supervisors earn an average of about $49,000 annually.

Work was a CRE challenge before the pandemic. Positions like leasing agents, with low wages and high turnover, have long been difficult to fill. But burnout from often working on the front lines during a pandemic, skyrocketing labor costs, new job opportunities with more competitive salaries in other industries, and a perception of outdated technology combined. So hiring a property manager today is especially difficult.

It is especially hard for those left behind. Grace Hill CEO Kendall Pretzer Said. Workers running understaffed buildings not only face heavier workloads, but often higher expectations. Young residents, in particular, have high expectations for services as they will continue to use apps for their consumer lifestyles. Also, tenants are paying far more for the same apartment than they did years or months ago. Owners have tried to stem the tide with higher wages and incentives to keep jobs, but Bruner said it hasn’t made a dent.

“It’s a really difficult point right now,” Yausi said. “People are moving in with higher salaries, partly caused by minimum wage adjustments, and owners and operators are struggling. It’s happening.”

Increased revenue from skyrocketing rents doesn’t make it any easier (especially because, in part, it’s due to the high level of occupancy, which requires more support and maintenance). Pretzer said some owners are now worried because residents understand labor issues and “we don’t mind having a few angry customers because the income is high, the rent is high, and the occupancy is high.” He said that he takes the position that it is acceptable to be understaffed. “

At the same time, however, Grace Hill research shows that tenant problem resolution figures are declining and revenue increases are being driven by supplies, utilities, insurance and labor, the latter two rising at 10% annually.of National Apartment Association suggest The owner earns 9 cents for every dollar of rent.

The senior living sector, which has also faced long-standing staffing issues, faces additional challenges due to the 24/7 nature of care and the medical challenges brought on by the pandemic. National Investment Center for Elderly Housing and Care Chief Operating Officer Chuck Harry.

Turnover within the industry has reached 80%, which, in addition to costs, breaks trust between long-term residents and caregivers. His recent NIC survey found that more than 22% of his operators “do not have enough hands on deck”, limiting entry due to staff shortages, severely limiting potential income. , found that there was a shortage of necessary housing for the elderly.

LeadingAge, which represents non-profit senior service providers, found in a June snap survey of its members that the workforce pipeline is not improving, with 60% of members reporting ongoing workplace issues. and found that nearly all nursing staff had agency workers fill their shifts. Better wages and burnout are the top reasons workers leave the field.


Technology is making the workforce more efficient, but it can’t replace the physical work of fixing and refurbishing an apartment.

In many ways, technology frees up property management workers to spend less time sitting at desks and overseeing tenant packages, making scheduling easier, improving efficiency and enabling more consistent communication. I made it It also helps in the bottom line. In the second quarter results, Equity ResidentialREIT, which manages more than 300 properties, increased its utility and maintenance costs, but used technology to reduce overall costs by nearly 4%.

But many critical roles, such as medical staff in nursing homes, building maintenance specialists, and technical staff across the sector, cannot be easily replaced or enabled by apps.and many Survey of property managers Frustrated with the technology deployed in many portfolios, both large and small.

“Managers in the field don’t have the ability to do some of these shifts themselves,” says Pretzer. “A lot of big tech transitions in big companies are done at the corporate level or through small-scale testing. Managers are basically stuck trying to empty the boat with a thimble.”

The pandemic has been a catalyst for communication with tenants and the deployment of new technologies for the use of socially distanced facilities and remote communication with dozens of units at the same time.

“The purse strings are never loose.”[owners and operators] They have a lot of cash that they can invest in,” Lucas Holdeman said. smart rentwhich provides automation services to apartment owners, has doubled its revenue year-over-year.

Automation and centralization are increasingly needed and expected, especially in high-end rental units. Offices in buildings have fewer regular schedules, fewer people sitting at desks, and more cases of podding and moving employees floating between different buildings.

Zego’s Baker compared the evolution of the entire industry to changes in air travel.

“Years ago, everything was done at the counter,” he said. It’s all on the phone now, and if I had to call someone, it would be such a pain. ”

Haldeman said these changes will create a more professional property management team in the long run. Fewer leasing agents due to increased efficiencies and rising labor costs means staff members are likely to handle more properties, make more money and see more career paths in their positions. Assistant property managers are becoming like accountants and he sees the future of the industry in the six figures, he said.

Long-term solutions are somewhat elusive, as training for many in-demand roles cannot always scale quickly, and no one is predicting quick solutions to current persistent labor market challenges. is. Training of his staff, especially maintenance, requires a large investment and a longer period of time. Seen as a way to increase efficiency and get things done with a smaller workforce pool, technology solutions can help, but they can also add to the burden.

“I think technology has definitely proven to be a coping mechanism,” Yaussi said. “I think many operators thought this was going to be temporary. With all the rising costs of , there is limited money that can be put into it.”

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