Real Property Management
The decision to own a residential investment property is something many Canadians consider but for some there is a hesitation due to concerns about the level of work it will entail. Professionals such as Real Property Management, with a vast level of experience and expertise, allay all of those concerns by managing properties on behalf of the owners.
Real Property Management is primarily focused on residential property investment management across five provinces. The company is a residential investment expert at the core of its operations although it also manages commercial, condominium, strata and vacation homes as well as industrial park properties. Currently there are Real Property Management offices in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. The office in Montreal is relatively new to the corporate system and has proven to be one of the company’s fastest growing locations.
The Canadian Business Journal recently spoke with Kap Hiroti, Vice President, Operations at Real Property Management from his office in Vancouver about the success of the organization that is still less than a decade old.
“We, at the corporate head office, are the ones finding and identifying specific individuals that would work well as franchisees and ambassadors of our brand across the country,” begins Hiroti. “We solely focus on the Canadian franchise. There is an entirely separate division for the United States.”
Hiroti says the company is able to capitalize on workplace efficiencies thanks to a robust crossover in terms of the technology, service and support that is invoked between Canada and the U.S. That said the Canadian operations are entirely independent on a daily basis, directing the management of each province and designating the franchisees.
The first office sold in Canada was in 2013 but Real Property Management has been up and running since 2009 in anticipation of the growth pattern across the country. The inaugural office opened in Edmonton with Hiroti as the franchisee. Soon thereafter another individual opened the first Ontario location.
“Because our first offices were based in Alberta and Ontario and we began to build the brand I think that’s why we have more of a presence in those provinces,” notes Hiroti. “We’ve had operations here for the past eight years but that first office came under the umbrella of the U.S. service and support centre, which is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah,” explains Hiroti.
With a tremendous amount of early success it stands to reason that Real Property Management has its sights on continuing to grow into other jurisdictions. There is a checklist that Hiroti and his team evaluate when considering a new location and an individual franchisee to be accepted into the fold.
“There are a number of factors that we look at including service demand, which is significant.
We’ve been able to find operators that come from different walks of life. They don’t all have to have a history in real estate or property management,” says Hiroti.
Hiroti and his team have the expertise to take people from many divergent backgrounds and train them on how to be property managers very effectively. It’s much more a case of where the demand is from clients and the prospective franchisee’s willingness to learn the procedures and how the corporate system operates. The new franchise model developed by Real Property Management has the capability to provide real estate agents with additional income streams and to build a property management portfolio that will be managed expertly and proficiently.
“We had the first agents come in under that model in Calgary, where it’s been very successful,” says Hiroti.
There is an immense demand for professional property management services not only across Canada but internationally. In the past it has been an industry that has often struggled with its identity, and oftentimes thought of more as a handyman driving around in a pickup truck, but Real Property Management has made great strides in dispelling that misnomer.
“We’ve focused on bringing the reputation of the industry into the next generation, which includes a lot more automation and technology-based support,” says Hiroti.
There remain numerous markets across Canada to target that have been identified as having great potential. The obvious markets would point to the larger municipalities, but Hiroti says it isn’t just the size that matters; there must be the right people in place to spearhead leadership and business growth. “We’ve been able to open offices in smaller centres where the right people happen to be. It’s why we’ve been able to open offices in places like Medicine Hat, Alberta, Kelowna, B.C. and Barrie and Windsor, Ontario,” he says.
Nationwide, Real Property Management has about 2,000 properties that are handled under the management umbrella across the national network. Most of the properties are single-family homes but some are multiple-unit dwellings. There has also been consideration about expanding further into other segments. Once a certain milestone is accomplished with single-family homes Hiroti believes it then makes sense to expand horizons and look to other types of properties to manage on a broader scale. However, delving into commercial and strata management does require a unique skillset.
“We had about 100 residential properties before we started taking in commercial,” he says. “I had commercial properties under management from as early as 2009 when I first opened my office. We work with our franchisees directly to ensure they build a solid base of what we refer to as our core business, which is residential owners that typically own four properties or less.”
The attractiveness of this type of business is that it has proven to be very recession-proof. It isn’t impacted the way other parts of the real estate market can be tossed around. Hiroti says that with so many investors looking to acquire properties they require expert management personnel to run the operations for them.
“We see ourselves more as asset managers as opposed to property managers. When we are given a property to manage on behalf of a client our goal is to eventually return that property back to the client in better shape and worth more money as an asset,” says Hiroti.
Real Property Management steers all of the marketing and presentation initiatives of the property as well as the leasing for their clients making it very much a ‘hands-off’ process for them, which is exactly what they want. Real Property Management’s full slate of comprehensive services also incorporates the accounting requirements and collection of the rents and dispersal of payments to vendors.
Eviction processing and handling is a big part of what any property management company has to be concerned about. It is imperative to always have the right people living on the property.
“We provide comprehensive screening and we are always confident that the people selected will be good for the property. But we do have the ability to conduct full eviction processing. Depending on the province we can either do it ourselves or licenced paralegals will do it. We have a very low eviction requirement,” says Hiroti.
Each candidate is considered on an individual case by case basis when joining Real Property Management. In B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan the potential candidate must be a licenced agent to open a full property management office, similar to real estate agents in Ontario. They are able to come onboard as a Real Property Management agent and be trained as a property manager and build a book of business and participate in commission splits. If they like what they are doing they can then develop into a mobile franchise where they become a franchisee and the book of business that they’ve been growing becomes a real asset. The impressive procedures and organizational setup is one of the noticeable aspects that have vaulted Real Property Management to the pinnacle of the industry.
“What differentiates us from our competitors is our size. We are the largest property management organization in North America, by far and our brand name is well established. That size brings with it a lot of benefits to our franchisees when they come onboard with us in terms of preferred vendors and discounts they would not normally receive from other contractor networks. There is also the collective mass of knowledge. They have 300-plus franchisees across North America that they can reach out to and have discussions about business development, marketing, sales and anything else relating to the work. We also provide all the training. It’s about growing and building together – not competing against one another. We always continue to provide ongoing support to ensure their success,” says Hiroti.
Real Property Management has received numerous accolades and awards including being named to the Incorporated 500 list of fastest growing companies. The company has also been profiled by the likes of Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes for its outstanding efforts in property management. Hiroti notes that Real Property Management was the first brand to enter the property management realm in Canada and with that there comes a responsibility to continue to drive the industry and elevate it to even higher standards on a national basis.
We’re very proud of our accomplishments and they are very much a function of the people that we have as franchisees,” states Hiroti. “We win a lot of awards applicable to veterans. We have an ex-military individual in Calgary that operates one of our franchises who had no prior experience in real estate. They come from all walks of life.”
In looking to the future over the next two to three years Real Property Management is aiming to be the undisputed No.1 choice in property management across Canada and in order to succeed with that plan Hiroti wants to have a presence in all of the major centres from coast to coast.
“Once we have operations in every major city across the country we would then have the ability to customize solutions for owners and investors that have holdings in multiple cities. There is no property manager that can do it – other than us,” says Hiroti. “We already have a diverse network of cities and offices but certainly we’re excited to move forward.”