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Four Ways to Unlock Savings in Your Multifamily Portfolio

As a third-party property manager, it’s imperative to keep your eyes on a building owner’s bottom line. Julie Brawn-Whitesides, who was just tapped by The ConAm Group to expand its 50,000-unit multifamily portfolio, shares some of her best practices.

1) Make It Easy for Tenants


Julie—who as EVP of property management is responsible for overseeing ConAm’s third-party and owned operations nationally—says it’s important to have policies and procedures in place to make payments simpler for residents. One way is through convergent billing, in which all service charges (like garage-use fees) are integrated with the rent on a single invoice rather than billed separately. “This streamlined process reduces delinquent payments.”

2) Utilize Vendors Nationally

If you have a portfolio spanning several regions (ConAm’s managed assets are in 12 states), consider contracting with vendors and service providers across multiple properties, Julie suggests. This can save owners thousands of dollars on a national level.

3) Explore Money-Saving Resources for Mandates


Above, Seattle's Array Apartments, one of the many buildings in ConAm's portfolio. If you live in an area that has state or local mandates for utilities and services, such as water reduction or recycling, see what resources municipal agencies have available to help you save money. For instance, Julie has implemented a valet trash system on some properties that has reduced the owners’ outlays for recycling and hauling trash to the local compactor.

4) Create Economies of Scale

If you have multiple assets within a city, consider sharing personnel and resources across them—one groundskeeper or marketing expert can be swapped among properties. “Our marketing team also shares availabilities with sister communities and refer to one another to keep our traffic up in a given market,” Julie says, which also keeps advertising prices lower.


Julie, a 22-year property management veteran, joined ConAm from FPI Management, where she oversaw an 80,000-unit national portfolio. (Her responsibilities now include properties like Rosemeade Apartments in Roseville, CA, above.) She was drawn to the industry after college as a leasing consultant. “I had a retail sales and banking background, and was very excited by the ‘free rent’ prospect,” she says. She discovered she loved the customer service aspect and has worked every on-site job imaginable, from marketing to management. Outside of work, Julie is mother to a pre-teen and teenager, whose sports and activities keep her busy. She’s also the second oldest of six children and loves spending time with her family in Lake Tahoe. Real estate’s not her only forte—she’s been a licensed vehicle dealer for the past 17 years and loves restoring older cars. (She, her husband and son are currently working on a ’67 Corvette and ’65 Mustang.)