Turning Buildings Into Communities: How Property Management Teams Foster Connection Among Residents
Multifamily residents are looking for more than just an attractive apartment — they want a sense of community. A 2022 study of more than 1,500 renters across the U.S. found that 57% said that having local friends and a sense of belonging in their neighborhoods were key factors that would drive them to renew their leases.
Wendy Drucker, managing director of Drucker + Falk, a multifamily and commercial management and brokerage company, said she believes property managers play a key role in creating true multifamily communities. Drucker + Falk strives to create a home that people feel truly connected to, a place they want to stay for years to come.
“We work hard to foster healthy, inviting and respectful communities where every resident feels connected,” Drucker said. “The more valued and taken care of our residents feel, the longer they stay with us. And that’s good business.”
Drucker is the third generation of her family to run this Newport News, Virginia-based firm, which manages more than 40,000 apartments in the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest. Bisnow sat down with Drucker to learn more about the history of the company, its commitment to fostering a sense of community and why she believes professional property management is the most essential element for optimizing a multifamily investment.
Bisnow: How did Drucker + Falk get its start?
Drucker: A. Louis Drucker and Emanuel E. Falk came from different backgrounds. Drucker was a British immigrant to the U.S., who served in the Merchant Marines before opening a grocery store in Newport News, Virginia. “Manny” Falk, a Newport News teen, met Drucker and applied for a job as a fill-in clerk at the store. When Falk was away at college, Drucker was accidentally locked in the grocery’s walk-in freezer, significantly damaging a lung. To recover, his doctor recommended that Drucker go to a high-altitude climate. With funding from disability insurance, a policy he had the foresight to purchase, he took his family to Switzerland.
When they returned, he decided to sell insurance, and Manny Falk returned to Newport News where he was buying and selling property. In 1938, each with an investment of $100, Drucker + Falk opened its doors offering insurance and real estate services.
Bisnow: Why is the personal connection with residents such an important aspect of Drucker + Falk’s company culture?
Drucker: Drucker + Falk’s founders built this firm around the traditional business values of integrity, transparency and a “service to others” mentality. It’s ingrained in our culture and is the legacy they left us that we continue to foster to this day. What was true then is true now. Resident satisfaction and bottom-line net operating income are inextricably linked.
Bisnow: Why is multifamily property management an essential part of keeping apartments occupied and helping multifamily communities stay together?
Drucker: Property management is a tightly connected chain of activity within a culture of over-the-top service, where one weak or missing link can profoundly impact the bottom line.
Leasing apartments, making sure they are move-in ready, collecting and accounting for rent, paying bills, taking care of residents’ maintenance needs, negotiating contracts, coordinating and overseeing capital improvements, and understanding and following landlord/tenant and fair housing laws are all part of what we call Property Management 101.
The intangible, but equally salient part of our job, is how we make residents feel. Every day, Drucker + Falk has the privilege of impacting more than 100,000 people where they live. Without regard to income or property type, we treat every resident the same. Whether it’s through the use of site amenities or participating in social gatherings and service projects we coordinate — Wine Down Wednesdays, pet contests, holiday gift wrap stations, to name a few — our goal is to connect residents with each other and with us, building a community.
Bisnow: Can you discuss any challenging projects where you were able to succeed despite the adversity?
Drucker: Two that come to mind were each plagued by deferred maintenance and management neglect and, unfortunately, affected a lower-income resident profile.
A problematic partnership and unpaid taxes on one of the last HUD co-ops in the nation made it impossible to secure the funding needed to renovate the property. Drucker + Falk took this assignment because it was the right thing to do for the owner and residents. We helped secure legal and other professionals to untangle and dissolve the partnership, connecting the remaining partner with lenders who helped finance property interior and exterior renovations including a clubhouse/fitness/business center and an area for after-school activities. The property is now thriving.
The second case involved a very large owner-managed community. Vacancy and delinquency were high, work order requests were not being completed timely and there was extensive deferred maintenance on the property. Drucker + Falk assumed management and deployed our Property Management 101 processes, including picking up trash, meeting with residents and working with them to bring their accounts current, completing work requests correctly the first time, hosting resident events and opening the amenity areas for the residents to enjoy, to name a few. The community was turned around and stabilized within 18 months, and owners were able to then facilitate a sale.
Bisnow: What do you see for the future of Drucker + Falk? What do you think its legacy will be as it heads to its fourth generation?
Drucker: The traditional business values on which the firm was founded and our commitment to doing what’s right by our clients, residents and employees will continue to ensure Drucker + Falk’s success and growth. Though we have grown from humble beginnings to now managing over 40,000 apartments in 11 states, our goal has never been to be the biggest. It has always been to be the best.
This article was produced in collaboration between Drucker + Falk and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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