Property Managers Talk about Rental Help, Trade Challenges Introduced by COVID-19

Property Managers Discuss Rental Assistance, Industry Challenges Brought by COVID-19

CHICAGO (Nov 17, 2020) – As the National Association of Realtors® continues to push for nationwide rental assistance programs, it today welcomed representatives from the Institute of Real Estate Management to discuss how industry professionals are responding to rent reduction requests in the United States.

Ted Thurn, Director of Government Affairs at IREM, interviewed Barry Blanton, CPM®, President-Elect of IREM 2021, and Mindy Gronbeck, Member of the IREM Executive Committee, CPM®. Wanting to provide advice to property managers facing similar challenges, the trio focused heavily on the Centers for Disease Control's eviction moratorium. The order was immediately rejected by the NAR and IREM after it was issued on September 1.

"The property management community has worked with tenants and local residents throughout the pandemic to find solutions to financial difficulties that work for them and property owners," Blanton said. "In view of the ongoing economic recovery, we would like to see additional government stimulus in the near future to ensure the stability of the real estate industry."

NAR has worked to lead the industry in the battle over rental assistance programs that are claimed to protect tenants' households without creating a crisis for property owners whose livelihoods are also at stake in the face of COVID-19.

"While NAR continues to support and applaud efforts to keep families in their homes, we maintained our position that rental subsidies, rather than a broad, unsustainable eviction moratorium, would help thousands of families in difficulty avoid evictions while ensuring that property owners continue they can provide housing for Americans for the months and years to come, "said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc. in San Francisco, CA.

Thurn went beyond eviction and rental assistance guidelines and asked Blanton and Gronbeck to provide guidance to other property managers by highlighting some of the lessons they had learned since the pandemic began.

"Pivoting is probably number one. We had to pan fast and sometimes we didn't even know where to pan," said Gronbeck, who is also the director of property management at Hawkins Companies. "For me, that was what you had to learn – you had to change and be ready to change."

Gronbeck's firm manages 4.2 million square feet of retail, charter school, and office space in 26 states, but was largely able to avoid major financial disasters during the pandemic, which it attributed to the willingness of its employees to work with and speak to tenants individual situations unique.

"We really had to spend time with each of our tenants and every situation was so different," said Gronbeck. "We work with our tenants and listen to them. And if that means an hour and a half on the phone with a tenant of my day, then I'll do it too."

The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association and represents 1.4 million members who work in all areas of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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