Professional property management has become more important than ever in keeping businesses operating and maintaining healthy properties as the country continues to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the recent webinar organized by leading real estate service provider Santos Knight Frank in partnership with the Urban Land Institute Philippines (ULI Philippines).

Entitled “Building Resilient Buildings: Property Management Best Practices in Southeast Asia”, the webinar featured speakers from different industry players, namely Kuruvilla Abraham, Senior Executive Director and Head of Property Management in Knight Frank Malaysia; Jean De Castro, CEO of ESCA Incorporated and currently the National Chair for ULI Philippines; Edgardo Macalintal, Head of Property Management in Santos Knight Frank, and Nestor Correa, President of the Filipino Institute of Real Estate Managers & Administrators (FIRMA), while Rick Santos, Chairman & CEO of Santos Knight Frank, moderated the discussion.

Santos Knight Frank’s Property Management team manages over 200 million square feet of commercial and residential properties across the Philippines.

Redefining property management

Property management is the first line of defense of property tenants and owners. “From what used to be just providing space, four walls, and a ceiling, a property manager’s role now is to provide a customer experience that is being accelerated now as the market shifts in response to COVID-19 and redefined by the bigger demand in health, sanitation, and safety”, says Jean De Castro of ULI Philippines.

The scale of COVID-19’s impacts on public health and the economy has led property managers to review, revise, and improve their existing Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) to make sure they can address demands during the crisis. Ed Macalintal of Santos Knight Frank said it is important for property managers to craft their strategy based on three pillars of CPR: Communication, Preparation, and Response. This includes implementation of safety protocol plans in residential sites, re-occupancy strategies for offices, and continuous replenishment of resources. “Amid this kind of disruption, cash is king. There should be a continuity in operations in managed properties, and in the collection of dues, utility fees, and schedule of payments as part of the strategy, and at the same time, continuous services for employees in terms of transportation and accommodation,” emphasizes Ed.

The resiliency of property management

In Malaysia, health and safety have always been an integral part of property management even before COVID-19. Similar to the Philippines, Malaysia went through a series of quarantine phases with various strict measures for commercial and residential properties.  Knight Frank Malaysia manages over 20 million square feet of office, retail, REIT, and residential properties, including the largest twin condominium in Southeast Asia

Kuruvilla Abraham of Knight Frank Malaysia shared a number of key takeaways and best practices in managing properties.

  • Health and safety will be a major priority for everyone – property managers, landlords, and tenants
  • Usage of technology will be maximized
  • Landlords will be compelled to improve buildings to attract tenants
  • Transparency in communicating with stakeholders
  • Consistent compliance with SOPs and should be in full effect

“It is everyone’s collective responsibility to ensure that we can carry on to create a safe working environment and go back to the new normal as soon as possible,” Abraham adds, emphasizing the need for property managers, tenants, and landlords to work together

FIRMA President Nestor Correa shared how they went on crisis management mode and appealed to The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to label property managers and leasing managers as essential workers. Moreover, Nestor pointed out the need for landlords and developers to have more open living spaces and proper indoor air quality.

“Expect a slow recovery, but history tells us that the property management industry thrives in crisis in keeping distressed properties at shape,” echoes Correa.

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About Santos Knight Frank

Santos Knight Frank provides global real estate services. Since the company first opened its doors in 1994, it has become the Philippines’ first and largest fully integrated real estate services provider, with clients that include multinational corporations and institutional investors, as well as occupiers, owners and developers of real estate locally and across the globe.

The company’s partner, Knight Frank, is the largest independent global real estate consultancy. Founded in 1896 and headquartered in London, Knight Frank operates in more than 523 offices in 60 countries across the globe, including the strategically important partnership with Newmark Knight Frank in the U.S. (with Newmark Cornish & Carey in the West Coast).