New Condo Development in Miami and Toronto Will Change the Way Properties are Managed

Hector Vargas is President of Miami-Dade High-Rise for FirstService Residential in Florida

Tasso Eracles is Chairman of FirstService Residential in Ontario

In many major North American cities, construction cranes have found a place back on the skyline as downtown core areas are seeing a rapid growth in development—especially the development of new high rise condos. With so much activity under way, the discussion among community leaders and real estate experts has centered on the impact that new construction is certain to have on local economies and urban infrastructures. As new residents arrive in downtown centers, the demand for additional businesses—from grocery stores and bank branches to restaurants and pharmacies—will surely grow, while at the same time the use of public transportation and other services will also increase.

While a great deal of the dialogue about new condo buildings has focused on their general economic value, less attention has been paid to the specific benefits and challenges that await those responsible for managing them. As new properties hit the marketplace, new property management jobs will be coming on line—and new kinds of management responsibilities will define the work of making condominiums successful.
Two cities in particular—Miami and Toronto—offer important lessons about the degree and nature of change that will confront property management at many new condos. According to brokerage and analysis firm Condo Vulture, there are an estimated 22,000 condo units in development in South Florida; 7,000 of which are luxury condo units that will spread across 20 different high rise buildings currently under development in downtown Miami alone.  Once these exclusive luxury high rises are completed, FirstService Residential predicts that more than 500 new property management jobs will be created.

In Toronto, home to one of the largest condo growth stories in all of North America, FirstService Residential conservatively expects that as many as 1,500 new management-related jobs will result in the Greater Toronto area, which has more than 200 high-rises under construction representing more than 55,000 condo units.

While new positions will be created, new job descriptions will also have to be written. The fact is that the growth in the luxury condo sector means that new customer-centric services will become paramount, and a new level of workforce sophistication will be required. Training programs for management employees must reflect the need for better interpersonal and communication skills; a deeper understanding of the expectations of residents; and a greater focus on timely and professional responses to resident requests, and in some cases, demands.

In addition, many new individual owners at luxury properties are from countries and regions around the globe, and have chosen their new condo purchases as second or third homes. These individuals require that management possesses not only a deeper understanding of the traveling resident and of other cultures, but a proficiency in another language as well. In response to the international clientele comprising condominium buyers today, developers are requesting that property management speak at least a second, if not third language.

In Miami, the seasonal influx of South American buyers and Canadian snowbirds is prompting a demand for bilingualism in Spanish, Portuguese and French. In Toronto, where Canada is already a bilingual nation in English and French, the push has been for Mandarin-speaking management and staff.

As the luxury condo construction sector grows, and new jobs and job descriptions are established, the work of operating these properties will also grow in complexity. Only the most efficient, responsive and forward-thinking resident-oriented and professional services will win the day.

Hector Vargas is the President of Miami-Dade High-Rise for FirstService Residential in Florida. He brings more than 20 years of industry-related experience to his role overseeing the operations of 125 associations throughout Miami-Dade County, business and employee retention, hospitality training and community outreach. Tasso Eracles is Chairman of FirstService Residential in Ontario. As a 30-year veteran in the condominium management industry, he oversees governance aspects and large-scale strategic initiatives for the company’s property management portfolio of more than 280 residential and commercial condominiums.