Q&A With Clark Real Estate Property Manager, Ellen Sifonios

Q&A With Clark Real Estate Property Manager, Ellen Sifonios

What kind of hours do you work as a Property Manager? Do you have to work long days?

I always joke that “office hours don’t apply”. I learnt early in my career that Property Managers essentially work 24/7 (and coffee becomes your staple diet). You need to be on call in case of an emergency, as well as being available for your customers when it suits them. We have many clients who are shift workers or live overseas so we could be working 7am on a Saturday morning, or 8pm on a Thursday night. 

A lot of people have the impression that Property Management is fairly hard job in terms of constant complaints? Is this true?

I don’t think that complaints are an issue in Property Management, rather that you tend to deal with people at very stressful points in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely not a job for the fainthearted! It really comes down to how proactively you do your work and how prepared you are to deal with high stress situations. If you don’t know how to speak to someone who is forced out of their home due to a domestic, or when it is 10pm at night and they don’t have any power, then you will find that you are dealing with complaints on a regular basis. 

How do you cope with a lot of negativity?

When someone in the office is having a tough day the team will always make sure we bring that person back up. We bounce off each other a lot in Property Management so having the team to support you is a massive asset. We all have our own stress releases at the end of a long week as well. I find that playing baseball is perfect for me. You spend your Sunday mornings with great people and the fact that you get to hit things with a stick definitely releases that built up negativity!

What is your favourite part of what you do?

It may sound crazy but my favourite part is dealing with the conflict…negotiating a solution when it looks as though something may be a lost cause. Problem solving and mediating are essential to what we do, so all of our Property Managers need to be highly skilled in these areas. The best feeling is when you can turn an unhappy customer into someone who will thank you and refer you to their friends and family.

What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a little girl?

I think that I would be lying if I said a Property Manager! I actually wanted to be a ballerina when I was little but after 3 months I decided it was not for me and took up sports. This was probably one of the proudest moments for my dad seeing his 8 year old daughter wearing cleats instead of tap shoes!

What do you look for when hiring a new member of your team?

Attitude is the number one thing that we look for when we are looking to grow our team. At the end of the day the legislation can be learnt, but you can’t teach someone emotional intelligence. In this role it is almost as though you need to be a therapist, a teacher, a building inspector, a salesman, an accountant and a lawyer. We need people that are able to deal with people at the most stressful points in their lives, while still being able to master all of the tasks set in front of them each day.

How do you time manage your day? Is it difficult?

I live out of my diary. Every appointment, phone call, task and even thought is written down for me to be able to organise, track and complete. In Property Management you do need to be able to adapt your schedule as there will always be something unexpected that you need to deal with. Multi-Tasking is the most fundamental skill that I learnt and it is the only way you can do this job.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering into Property Management?

I think that if you are good with people and not afraid of a challenge then you should go for it! Like most people in Real Estate, I fell into this career. It ended up being the greatest risk that I have ever taken and I have never thought of doing anything else. You never know unless you give it a go.

Do you have a stand out story in your career?

I think that my stand out story has to be my first Tribunal Case. We had to apply to Court for a debt recovery order on a tenant that had been 3 weeks’ behind in her rent and we were successful. We were eventually able to gain access to the house and found that her husband had passed away the month prior and she became a hoarder during her depression. Her husband’s death initiated her obsession which also resulted in the debt that she accumulated. It was the most eye opening experience for me walking through that house. I realised that even if we learn every piece of legislation, you cannot plan for everything in life.

How important is a good team in Property Management?

Our office cannot run if the team is not working together. It is that simple. Most agencies have a very different structure where their property managers are segregated and almost competing with each other. I think that this always ends up hurting the clients and the customers because they only have 1 person to rely on. By having a team, our clients have 6 people loving and caring for their investment. There are 6 sets of eyes on every possible risk, every transaction, and 6 different people working together to lease a vacant property. At the end of the day everyone benefits when one of our staff does a good job, and I think that our clients and customers benefit the most.