EDITOR’S NOTE: Happy Accidents

By Teresa O’Dea Hein, Managing EditorDo you remember “The Accidental Tourist,” an Academy Award-nominated film based on the novel of the same name by Anne Tyler? It prompts me to propose a sequel, “The Accidental Property Manager.” When interviewing an industry’s movers and shakers, I always like to find out how they got into the business in the first place. On several occasions, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find out that these successful people got into property management by accident. You’ve probably heard the same thing—perhaps you can even say the same thing!For example, IREM’s new president, Pam Monroe, who is interviewed in this issue of MHN’s Property Management e-newsletter, found her way into this profession during her summer off when she was a teacher.But to help other people directly find their way into this rewarding profession, the National Apartment Association’s Education Institute (NAAEI) has launched an outreach effort to make this a “career by choice.”In these economically challenging times, industry observers agree that the skills and talents of property managers are needed more than ever. “The national vacancy rate has risen the most since 2001 and deterioration in performance will intensify even more in the near term as the U.S. economy struggles to recover,” reports Gleb Nechayev, vice president and senior economist at CBRE Torto Wheaton Research, Boston. “Rental completions are edging higher as developers shift focus away from condominiums and single-family. Aside from rental supply pressures, glut of unsold single-family homes and condominiums and increasing affordability of owning vs. renting makes it harder for apartment owners and operators to raise rents (or even stay put in some markets) and it will likely take over a year to regain pricing power.”Nechayev does have some optimistic predictions. Based on his research, he expects above-average rent growth in 2009 in Boston, Denver, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia (among some other markets). We’ll rely on professional property managers to make that happen!What conditions are you expecting in the new year? Please email me (thein@multi-housingnews.com) about what your company is doing to cope with these challenging times. What advice would you share with your fellow property management executives?