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Being a High Value Employee

Most of us at Spectrum have been shaking hands and taking notes for several years now.  It’s always a pleasure to meet new people.  It’s almost always a pleasure to see them again and again over the years. In fact, If you like to meet new people,  have strangers make your bed every day, eat out every night, talk a lot, walk a lot, write a lot, and drive a lot, then a job as a tax credit monitor could be just the thing for you.  This has nothing to do with my topic, I just think I have a really good job.  Even though eating out every night gets old really fast, and sleeping well in a hotel room is exceedingly rare.  Everything else is okay.

Not that any of that has anything to do with what I wanted to write about. I wanted to write about being a property manager, more specifically part of what it takes to be a good property manager. Property Management has a pretty high “churn” rate, particularly at the site level.  It’s a hard job.  Managers have to deal with the whole range of humankind and collect rent checks from all of them.  I do not envy the site manager.  Been there, done that, thank you.  To those of you who do your job really well, I congratulate you.  I also want to thank you.  You make my job sooo much easier. Let me offer some suggestions in the hope of making your job easier.

Actually read important documents.

Chapter 5 of the most recent version of the 4350. Download this and save it to your desktop.  Put it on every computer in the office.

Same with 8823s and you. These are searchable and fun to read.  Don’t know how to search a .pdf document?  It’s easy.  Look towards the very top of the page for a little white box with the word find.

 Just type in a key word like “student” or “annuity” or “self employment” and hit ENTER. Then just use the up and down arrows and the page will automatically go one by one to every instance of the word or phrase.  It SAVES A TON OF TIME and AVOIDS GUESSING.

The very best experts in this industry don’t know everything they need to know about tax credits, but they do know how to find it.  Check your reference materials.  If I had a nickel for every manager that said, “yeah, I have a copy of the (insert important lihtc document here) somewhere around here!”  I’d have a lot of nickels.  In fact, I don’t remember the last time someone could actually put their hands on their copy without having to scan dusty shelves.

Helpful Hint:

If you can quote the relevant portion of a regulation or law or guide when you respond to a potential finding, you are way more likely to see a favorable outcome.  Primarily because you are unlikely do something that goes counter to the regulation in the first place.

Want to move up the food chain as quick as possible in property management?  Get your tenant certifications done right the first time.  Supervisors/Regional Managers, etc. notice whose work needs to be checked and rechecked. More importantly for a good manager who wants to move up-They notice whose work doesn’t need to be re-checked again and again. Not every tenant leads an easily verified lifestyle unfortunately, so it’s unrealistic to expect the 8823 guide and the 4350 to address every nuance and particularity.  That’s when you’ll need to expand your resources.  We do it at Spectrum all the time.  On any given day, someone will walk into someone else’s office and start running scenarios past each other.  Why, just the other day at the office a few of us were on the veranda overlooking the ocean, we were sipping our lattes when someone came in and started a discussion about stipends. Our staff Barista freshened up everyone’s drink and we proceeded to play out various scenarios and look for consistency.  This was an interesting topic. Can it be a resident stipend if the resident is a paid employee?  My point is: Don’t be afraid to ask questions of anybody who is in a position to help you. 

Good Managers use all their resources and strive to do things right the first time, and then move on to the next issue at hand. Good Managers take advantage of opportunities to ask questions of people who should know. Regionals and district managers (and other higher ups) notice those who actively try to improve their value. Don’t shy away from getting noticed- especially when you’re trying do your job better.

Other thoughts:

It’s easy to forget something simple.  We’ve all had our “duh” moments.  No shame in it.  Funny when it happens to someone else, though.

 I had the honor of walking one tenant down the aisle at her wedding.  That was nice. I’ve also been told I ran a tight ship by some of my older tenants. That means a lot coming from the people you are there to help and it really made my day.  I’d be interested to know if anyone reading this would share a similar happy experience they’ve had.

It has been a dozen years since I ran a big apartment building.  I still see old tenants of mine.  Some of them still hate me. Oh well, just doing my job, Thanks for doing yours btw.

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