Who is a Real Estate Community Manager?
In my many travels to India and multiple interactions with Indian real estate professionals including developers, designers and brokers I have observed a certain excitement about the future of real estate development in India. It became even more apparent at the recently concluded National Association of Realtors India real estate conference in Bangalore, where I was privileged to be a guest of honour representing the Middle East. The speeches and panel discussions all cited the rising expectations of both Indian residents and non-residents. There is no doubt that as the incomes, global exposure and aspirations of the middle and upper middle class are on the rise in India, more and more developers are seeking to build all-encompassing townships for families that provide a wholesome and international living experience.
Whether it is the majestic Lodha Luxuria in Mumbai or the massive Shantiniketan Prestige Development in Bangalore, developers are building never-seen-before towers, blocks and communities in India. Exciting as it may seem, it is very vital to note that as real estate communities become bigger and more sophisticated, the demands and requirements to maintain the living experience in these developments will need also evolve. It is no longer good enough just to design, develop and construct amazing buildings and infrastructure, there must be proper systematic and professional management of such communities commensurate with the vision of the developer and the needs and desires of the homeowners and residents. This is where the concept of real estate ‘Community Management’ will play a rather significant role.
Often people confuse Community Management with Facilities Management or Property Management, and while there is certainly an overlap perceived in some areas, there are major differences which beg different definitions for each role. Even though these terms are often interchangeably used, they are three very different professions requiring different skills and expertise.
So the question is ‘What is Community Management?’
As Indians, we are familiar with ‘Housing Societies’ or ‘Apartment Associations’ where the concept of co-ownership is well understood. Typically, such housing societies comprise homeowners taking on various roles for the management of the affairs of the community and are typically elected every year. The collection of such representatives is often called a Board or Committee. In the international context, these types of co-ownership models go under different names such as Homeowners Association or Condominium Associations in the USA, Body Corporates in Australia, Owners Associations in Dubai and Owners Unions in Bahrain. For the purpose of making it simpler, I will be referring to all the above as ‘communities’ to maintain brevity in the article.
Regardless of which country one lives in, the co-ownership concept is essentially almost identical, where the owners all together form an association of sorts amongst themselves and elect a small number of owners (typically between three to nine) to represent the interests of all the owners.
While these representatives may be experts in their own chosen profession, they are typically laypersons when it comes to the management of real estate communities. This is where the professional Community Manager comes in. The Community Manager (or the Community Management company) is hired by the Board of the community to manage the day to day affairs of the community on many fronts including Technical, Administrative, Financial, Customer Service and Social.
- Community Management, therefore, is a profession dedicated to protecting the best interests of the owners to achieve the following primary goals:
- Protect, maintain and enhance the common areas of the community including its common assets and equipment.
- Ensure and enhance the safety and security levels in the community
- Manage and maintain all the technical assets and equipment of the community and plan for its eventual refurbishment and replacement
- Maintain and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the community
- Comply with all the rules, regulations and requirements set by the community’s governing documents and the regulatory bodies.
- Plan annual budgets, invoice owners and collect funds to ensure there are enough financial resources to maintain and manage community
- Create and execute projects and social get-togethers to foster a feeling of happiness and a sense of belonging among the owners and residents
- Become a single point of contact for owners and residents to air their grievances, share their thoughts and resolve matters pertaining to their living in the community.
As the Community Manager reports to a Board or Committee that comprise of elected owners of a community, it is the Board that sets the guidelines by which the community is to be governed. That means that the involvement of time and effort of the owners is significantly reduced as the execution duties are taken over by an expert who is well-versed with the law and international best practice.
So what will be the future of Community Management in India? That is exactly what we will discuss at the pioneering IRECMS conference on 20th Feb 2019 at Taj Lands End, Mumbai with Indian Real Estate thought-leaders. I look forward to meeting many of you there.
About Jeevan: Author, speaker and trainer, Jeevan D’Mello is popularly known as the ‘Father of Community Management’ in the Middle East. He has had a wide-ranging international career which included a 15-year stint with Emaar Properties. He has worked on several internationally renowned projects in the UAE and around the world, the majestic Burj Khalifa is one of them. An internationally sought-after speaker and trainer, he will be speaking at IRECMS too. Register today to hear this legend in person.