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Why People Are Key To Exceptional Multifamily Property Management


The growth of U.S. multifamily rents is expected to accelerate in the second half of 2024 as construction rates slow, but that doesn’t mean buildings can stop competing for top tenants. 

Major U.S. markets have seen multifamily inventory increase by an annual average of 3.4% since 2020, and with so much piling up, building owners need to ensure they provide top-notch service to their residents to keep them re-signing each year. This is where companies like 33 Realty play a key role. 

The Chicago-based commercial and multifamily real estate firm and brokerage provides property management services backed by Poplar Homes’ national presence and corporate scale. This allows the company to leverage more robust back-office services at scale while continuing to deliver high-quality local service to both tenants and property owners, said Sean Story, who was recently named 33 Realty's multifamily executive vice president. 

Story will play a large role in bringing together the talents of the 33 Realty and Poplar Homes teams, as well as those of their sister company, Arizona-based property management firm Zendoor. He said the combination of the companies will allow 33 to help multifamily clients navigate a challenging environment. 

“From Covid to a rapidly rising interest rate environment and capital constraints,  building owners have had to navigate significant obstacles,” he said. “The overall goal for owners is to preserve and grow the value of their portfolios. We aim to create partnerships to help them do so.” 

Story comes to 33 Realty with leadership experience in strategy, management, finance and operations. He said being exposed to several different industries has given him a “real-world MBA.” 

“It’s one thing to learn concepts in the classroom and another to have hands-on experiences as you help build an organization,” Story said. “Each company has exposed me to vastly different leadership teams and groups of people, and learning how to collaborate with each unique team has been an incredibly valuable experience.”

While every company is different, they all have the same common denominator, he said: people. 

Story said that both 33 Realty and Zendoor have built strong regional brands by closely partnering with property owners to deliver exceptional service and create lasting value for their portfolios. In the “fragmented” third-party property management space, companies feel there is an opportunity to expand their service model into more markets, he said. 

“Through building a stronger back-office accounting and operational model, we look to deliver on an enterprise scale, without sacrificing the strong local, relationship-based service model we’ve built,” he said. “We want our customers to feel like bigger fish in a smaller pond. In doing so, we aim to build the premier middle-market property management company.” 

Story said that as the companies work toward this goal, his primary role will be to build the team and support it to create the organizational infrastructure to scale this offering. 

He said that both 33 Realty and Zendoor have talented teams of service-oriented people who built strong relationships with property owners in their local markets. Each company’s model fit the needs of midsized property owners and helped them deliver exceptional value enhancements in their respective portfolios.

“We feel that synergies exist in bringing these organizations together to build stronger back-end infrastructures that will allow greater overall scale and value creation for all the people we serve,” he said. 

He added that with similar operating models, 33 and Zendoor can leverage their brands to deliver cross-market services to their partnerships. Building off this multimarket presence allows the companies to look beyond Chicago and Arizona and tap into the many markets where Poplar has existing operations. 

“Our goal is to create cost savings for fee-sensitive owners, without having to jeopardize strong value-add relationships,” Story said. “But beyond cost savings, we want to create partnerships with our customers — helping them grow, navigate fluid market conditions and execute on integrated strategies.” 

As executive vice president, Story said his main priorities are people, culture and growth. While the companies are committed to growing their portfolios, processes and systems while leveraging scale and geographic presence, they will ultimately be driven by their commitment to people and relationships.

Often the focus in real estate tends to be related to location, geography, buildings and markets, he said. But ultimately, this industry — particularly the multifamily asset class — is driven by people serving people. 

“Everyone needs somewhere to live,” he said. “Owners need tenants to occupy their buildings, and both need companies like 33 and Zendoor to deliver exceptional living experiences and property management services. Our companies understand the value of hiring strong team members and building strong cultures, and how this translates into delivering value for customers.” 

This article was produced in collaboration between 33 Realty and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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