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Early Engagement of a Property Management Firm in Multifamily Development

Why a Property Management Firm Is Essential to Multifamily Property Development
When it comes to developing multifamily properties, the importance of early engagement with a property management firm cannot be overstated. This strategic partnership ensures that the end result is both attractive and functional for residents. Let’s explore how involving property management from the outset can be a game-changer for multifamily developers.
Resident-Centric Design
Property managers bring a unique perspective to the table by evaluating designs from the lens of a resident. They focus on how residents will perceive and interact with the space on a daily basis.  Property managers also bring focus to how a resident accesses the building and, equally important, how to prevent access to non-residents. From virtual walkthroughs to analyzing floor plans, property managers assess critical aspects such as accessibility to amenities, placement of utilities like trash cans and recycling bins, and the overall flow of the living space.
Consider a scenario where the architect planned closet doors to swing out in smaller units. A property manager's insight might highlight the need for sliding closet doors to accommodate essential furniture like nightstands, enhancing the livability of the space. These nuanced adjustments can significantly impact resident satisfaction and comfort.
Marketability and Flexibility
Engaging property management early also ensures a more marketable product. By understanding diverse resident preferences, management firms can advise on design elements and issues that appeal to a broader audience. For instance, in a community with varying needs, suggesting a mix of townhomes with and without garages can enhance market penetration and cater to different lifestyle preferences.  Some prospective residents may prefer the garage for additional storage while others may prefer additional conditioned space, in lieu of the garage, for a den or home office.   
Early collaboration also fosters flexibility in design choices. Management firms can anticipate operational challenges and suggest solutions during development. These can include optimizing systems for trash disposal and considering maintenance access points, as well as placement of mailboxes to ensure USPS requirements for access and design are met. Addressing these issues early mitigates future operational hurdles over the lifetime of the property.
Cost-Efficiency and Risk Mitigation
One benefit of engaging early with property managers is more cost-efficient design decisions. Identifying potential maintenance issues upfront, such as inaccessible water supply lines or impractical appliance placements, prevents costly change orders down the line. Understanding and anticipating resident needs can help developers ensure that the property is not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional, reducing the likelihood of resident complaints and turnover.
Holistic Approach to Project Management
Beyond design input, property managers contribute to a holistic approach to project management. They help ensure small details that can have a big impact on residents aren’t overlooked. For instance, developments that include the creation of new roads not only require registration of road names with the municipality, but also with online resources such as Google maps. Miss this step and new residents may become frustrated when delivery and transportation services cannot find their location.
Property management firms help integrate marketability, branding, and operational strategies into the development process, aligning the project's goals with resident expectations and industry standards. This comprehensive approach ensures a smooth transition from concept to delivery and seamless ongoing management post-construction.
Ensuring Long-Term Sustainability
By challenging architects and design teams, property management firms advocate for long-term sustainability. They prioritize not just visual appeal but also durability and functionality, ensuring that the property remains attractive and operational for years to come. This proactive approach minimizes future maintenance issues and reinforces the property's value proposition.
In the end, making a strategic investment upfront to engage property managers early in the development process can yield multiple, long-term benefits. From enhancing resident satisfaction and marketability to reducing costs and ensuring long-term operability, this collaborative approach sets the stage for successful property development, efficient ongoing management, and resident appeal and satisfaction. By bridging the gap between design vision and resident experience, management firms can play a pivotal role in shaping thriving communities.


For more information about WPM’s pre-development consulting services, email us at [email protected].