Earl Lacey Career Background
What is your biggest career achievement?
- My largest career achievement to date was the ability to navigate my property and team as the Property Manager during the most difficult part of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020 as schools went virtual, the University student housing sector in my area was devastated. Many of the students on-campus lived only a short distance away from the campus, causing a large flux of students to leave back home. There was an opposite effect as well with other students including those international that did not have anywhere else to go.
Many leases were broken, threats of lawsuits from parents and tenants, and even being on the local news for the backlash during that period of time, as many others were under the same scrutiny. My property was also a private partnership property so received limited assistance from the University itself, leaving the on-site team to take the brunt of concerns. This was only part of the equation. In student housing, you have to also manage the student tenants and student staff. Providing leadership and direction for both were critical in keeping the community operating efficiently.
Having a staff of 9 student community assistants, 4 maintenance staff, and 500 student/staff tenants who may not have all chosen to live together, becomes a monumental task during a pandemic. Convincing students to stay and providing them virtual events and interaction, but also providing this for students who had nowhere else to go, was important.
From the social aspect to scheduling and maintaining social distancing during work orders, moving our office operations virtual for a period of time when it wasn't initially feasible to do it with our current resources, and keeping everyone safe with health protocols, this was an accomplishment and experience I will hold as something that took resolve, determination, and care to fight through.
What is your ultimate career goal within the rental housing industry?
- My ultimate career goal in the rental housing industry is to continue to learn and grow from the variety of experiences I have had, to eventually move to owning and managing my own properties overseas in the Philippines (my birthplace) and domestically in America. I believe the roles that I have had through my career play as parts of connected gears to a well-oiled machine that is a property, or management company, or owner.
The key pillars I believe to the success of a property in a microcosm are accounting/finances, maintenance, marketing, and residence life. I've played each of these roles and continue to grow and understand them each day.
I've experienced heading large-scale renovation projects, property acquisitions, and ultimately what it takes at the most difficult level to efficiently run a property efficiently. My goal is to take these skills to acquire a rental or vacation property, sync my logistics processes, show scalability and return, and continue growth by applying my proven practices to new acquisitions.
While I have had numerous roles and am currently in a role with a property management system company, this still gives me additional insight on the backed of how to implement and efficiently use the systems, not necessarily as an end-user. From here, I would love to continue to attend industry events, learn from my peers, and continue to look for ways to advance not only myself career-wise, but personally, with the goals I described.
What's one rental housing trend you have your eye on?
- I believe an emerging trend that can change the rental housing industry is the fast-growing sector of technological partnership products that integrate within a property management system. Examples can include online lease execution with digital signatures, embedded renter's insurance sign-up within resident portals and applications, and credit reporting by apartment communities for positive payment history. These services not only let the property offer more for their tenants competitively but can also be managed by the property within their own management system. These are not the only products that I believe we will see continue to grow and expand into the rental housing space.
The amount of renters is growing, and the demand for efficient leasing tools, a quality online curb appeal, and resident benefits (outside of amenities) are too, with properties not even getting a phone call if they don't check these boxes. Outside of physical amenities, apartment communities have found ways not only to gain a higher return from the resident per unit increasing their NOI by offering ancillary products but also provides the competitive advantage over communities slower to adopt that do not offer such services. This trend does not only apply to the above. Integrations and partnerships will continue to grow and branch (as they have already) to examples like remote smart thermostat control to monitor unit temperatures and adjust remotely as needed to conserve electricity, to roommate matching in student housing, and signing up for services like cable/internet directly on a resident portal before move-in.
The most important part of this trend for the industry is that properties will be able to offer more, while also managing these services through their main property management system. Property management companies and owners will continue to demand additional products and services that allow a higher return, the services offered by different technology companies will continue to grow and expand within their integration into different property management platforms, and the property management software platforms will continue to partner and streamline the integrations with the properties they service and sell to in order to offer a higher return for the company or owner. I believe this trend will continue for the foreseeable future, especially with the forced adoption of technology services for properties during the pandemic.