Real estate (property) management is one profession amongst the few, that has no formalized regulatory body in South Africa, and has no formal qualification to guide the aptitude requirements of the role. As it was, and currently still is, many property firms in this industry have relied heavily on skills-set of other similar, if not complementary professions, such as accounting, law, engineering, and finance to provide guidance and leadership to the industry. Although an apt stance, considering that property management is quite dynamic and requires frequent analytical skills, our profession cannot remain in the periphery, whilst other professions infiltrate and dominant our industry. This sentiment initiated in years gone by, where property management was never recognized as a science and therefore it was relegated to those who did not qualify to hold some form of professional designation, whether that be chartered accountancy, actuarial science, PR. Eng, etc. However, the tides have shifted indeed where research also now alludes to property management not as a science but rather as an art. Because property management cuts across various disciplines, the artistry of the profession is clearly articulated by the dynamism and fast-paced nature of the role. It requires the real estate manager to have, at a minimum, numerical literacy, basic legality concepts, a fair understanding of the built environment stretching from soft and hard-services, basic technical aptitude, basic accounting principles, basic economic analysis, basic marketing fundamentals, merchandising functionality, customer service and centricity, etc.
This neglect that has plagued the property industry is not unique to South Africa, globally, property management has had low stature and recognition. A simple question to illustrate the point is to ask yourself, “What does a property manager do? Or What is the role of property management?”. This question not only flummoxes the lay, but also perplexes individuals, who themselves are called property managers. This subject is not exclusive to South Africa but has been an ancient issue since skyscrapers were developed and the phenomena of investment property became a prevalent investment stream. IREM being a global institute that advocates for ethical and sound property management has been professionalising this field for over 8 decades. They promote and facilitate continuous professional development of the property manager to ensure that they continue to manage investment property for investor in a way that the investor still achieves their objective, but under the capable and trusted hands of the designated/certified property manager (CPM). The CPM designation, just as it would be with the Chartered Accountancy designation (CA) or the Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS), IREM bestows this designation on those of have met their stipulated educational and professional requirements, and have taken an oath to uphold ethical behavioural practices in their management of property.
Annually, IREM hosts the global conference for its members, where the agenda is built upon knowledge and skills transference. The summit engenders programmes that equip property managers with the latest best practices and seminars that are thought-provoking. There are various workshops members can attend from excel-training to panellist discussions on industry-specific topics, etc. Exhibitors are also invited to come showcase their latest innovation in the industry that would provide property managers with cutting-edge tools in their endeavour to manage their real estate portfolio. The summit is also used to celebrate newly inaugurated CPM members, and also recognize individuals and country chapters that have made a difference in their country. Our South African chapter also got recognized this year by being selected as a finalist chapter for the “Chapter Innovation Awards”. In sum, the IREM is a global body for those wish to join an organization that is serious about property management, and the summit is a platform from which members can share and even draw property management knowledge, not only from the institute but also from fellow-peers across various countries.
By Boitumelo Ramushu