The benefits of engaging in professional real estate portfolio management
Real estate investments can be a powerful tool to grow and maintain a thriving portfolio. Whether real estate holdings—from commercial properties to residential ones—are acquired through strategic purchases or inherited, it’s important that they’re managed well to maximize their returns.
To that end, Whittier Trust’s Real Estate division’s work is twofold: they find and vet real estate investment opportunities on behalf of their clients and they oversee the assets clients already own. Whittier Trust Senior Vice President of Real Estate Juliana Ricks takes a holistic approach to all of her client relationships and notes that engaging a real estate portfolio manager can provide significant peace of mind. “Whether they’ve purchased the holdings or inherited them, their portfolio is a legacy they want to be able to pass to the next generation,” she says, noting that her goal is to make that happen through strategic planning and oversight.
Some investors start small, with turn-key properties that practically run themselves. For example, a savvy investor might buy a shopping center in a thriving area where all of the storefronts have long-term leases. In a case like that, Ricks says, many clients think, “Why would I pay someone to manage my holdings?” However, as the demographics of an area change, it might be prudent to consider selling to maximize profits or when all of the leases roll over, what once required almost no day-to-day management could become a time-consuming headache. Aside from this dramatic situation, there are myriad reasons and benefits for engaging a professional real estate asset management team to maximize your investments and minimize the challenges. Here are just a few.
While most commercial properties engage a property manager or management firm to handle the day-to-day management and maintenance of any given property, third party asset managers for real estate are focused on strategy. Instead of having to build out a full staff or managers, strategists and executives, Whittier Trust’s team acts as your real estate holding company’s C-suite. It’s almost like an agency dedicated to maximizing profits—all without you having to handle any hiring for those roles.
“We focus on thinking and acting strategically for the good of the assets,” Ricks says. “If the property management firm isn’t performing, we can help make a change. If a lease proposal needs to be improved, we help with that. If the debt is coming due on the property, we can either refinance or find a replacement lender. We focus on the bigger picture items.”
Whittier Trust’s real estate investment management clients have wholly owned properties spread across the country, including shopping centers, office buildings, development projects, hotels, apartment buildings, industrial properties and more. The Whittier Trust Real Estate team of seven seasoned professionals has worked in markets around the country and makes it their business to stay current on all of the factors (including interest rate fluctuations, individual market conditions and more) that could impact the performance of a property. “We bring a knowledge base that no individual would have on their own,” Ricks says.
Sometimes, within a family, the division of labor and effort can become unbalanced when it comes to managing real estate holdings. Perhaps one family member was appointed the trustee or another has a natural aptitude for the tasks at hand and spends a significant amount of time working on the project. Such a scenario can cause unintended strife in family relationships. “Having a third party corporate trustee can be helpful for family dynamics because it lifts the burden off of a particular family member,” Ricks says. “We’re always looking to minimize tension by taking that burden away.”
While no third-party investment advisor should guarantee a higher return from working with them, properties and portfolios managed by an expert often see higher returns over time. “We have a system that improves the performance of the property and accountability of the onsite managers, as well as the information flow to the client,” Ricks says. “We’re able to present information to our clients in a clear manner and that can help streamline their decision-making process.”
Peace of Mind
Perhaps the best reason to work with an expert real estate portfolio manager is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that there’s a team wholly dedicated to helping your portfolio achieve peak performance. “Our team is committed to maximizing the performance of the properties and we have more access to real-time market conditions, so we can best advise our clients,” Ricks says. “Our services as professional third party asset managers really gives clients peace of mind that someone is watching over those properties.”