Developers are facing a skills gap with not enough property managers equipped to face the challenges of modern mixed-use developments.
A panel convened for the Deverell Smith Property Summit agreed that the reporting commercial management was “much slicker” with transparency and reporting functions that residential peers needed to take on board for the sector to develop.
Demand for urban dwelling has fuelled a boom in high value flats but mixed use developments are now centre stage across cities – particularly London. Income generated through retail, office and leisure supports development finance but creates a host of complexities for management.
Robert Soning, Founding Partner and Coo at Londonnewcastle, said: “Higher prices have fuelled higher expectation and our focus is not on finding residential management agents anymore – but estate management.
“We need a better understanding of how mixed-use works as it’s difficult finding those agents. Traditional agents are at a turning point and need to move on.”
Andrew Deverell-Smith, managing director of Deverell Smith Recruitment, said: “As a global city, London needs to provide – and then expertly manage – mixed use developments to attract a diverse range of investors and end-users. Getting the right skills in place is crucial and the key to this is to look at broader service industries, like hotels and high-end retail.”
Mark Vaughan, Managing Director, Notting Hill Home Ownership, said: “Low salaries are fuelling a skills shortage and it is an issue. To skill up our people – we have to recruit people really without the expertise. Currently, we bring in bright talented individuals and train them in-house – but it’s a real challenge because once we’ve skilled them up they often get poached.”
Sonning added: “We need to embrace the customer – we far too often interact with people at arm’s length and don’t listen to what they want on he ground. Agents have to get to know the customer and we need to better reflect the US-style service culture.”