Fort Features: Property & Asset Management

With property and asset management, it is important to have a game plan to start executing immediately after acquiring an asset. Moving Property Management, in-house has improved Fort’s efficiency, productivity, and tenant satisfaction. Here is more information on how we recommend thinking about Due Diligence, Onboarding, and Execution in the first year after acquiring an asset.

What is property management?

Property Management is taking care of an asset and ensuring its success. It entails working closely with both tenants and vendors, and you are on 24/7. Property Managers are responsible for everything related to the property, such as upkeep, rent, overseeing the budget, maintenance, and tenant management. Typically, they are the liaison between the property’s owner and the property’s renter. At Fort, we decided to close that gap by bringing property management in-house in 2020.

What is asset management?

Asset Managers handle investments on behalf of others. Their role is to determine what investments should make and maintain for the optimal performance of their client’s portfolio. They must stay aware of the asset’s performance, and the market as a whole, to ensure the portfolio’s greatest success.

They are like the quarterback of the team. When the acquisitions team hands off a new deal to asset management, they execute the underwritten business plan. They coordinate all parties (including property management) involved with the asset to ensure the business plan is executed correctly. Along the way, they adapt the business plan as needed. Quarterly, Asset Managers also underwrite deals based on performance.

What are the advantages of bringing property management in-house?

One of the best benefits of having PM in-house is gaining direct access to your customers, the tenants. This allows for better data as well as a more direct influence on customer satisfaction. Overall, it is a huge help in underwriting acquisitions when done in-house. Additionally, the property management team gets involved with the asset at the very beginning, giving them a head start on service contracts and communicating with customers, helping the transition of ownership be more seamless. Last, there is a stronger sense of accountability and transparency this way.

How do asset management and property management work together during the due diligence phase?

They work together on the CapEx plan primarily, but also on the plans for vacancies and budgets. Property management works directly with asset management as they visit the properties and decide what improvements are urgent and which could possibly wait. When these parties work well together, the tenants ideally don’t miss a beat and see a better quality of service.

How do you set up the best due-diligence checklist?

Make the list as detailed as possible. Keep an eye out for COVID amendments when buying a new property. Use this DD time to dive deep and gain a full understanding of the property.

Click here to view our due-diligence checklist.

How do you identify red flags about an asset?

We have multiple huddles throughout the deal process. There is a preliminary huddle as soon as the PSA is signed, then there are more huddles based on red flags that stand out. The team talks through the causes of concern, and they make an action plan before leaving the room.

How do you build a budget for an asset?

When you underwrite and put together a Cap-ex plan, think about the projected Cap-ex and build a budget. First, update the Excel model and ensure the numbers are correct. It is important to get on-site, talk to tenants, and see the property before finalizing the budget.

Why is it so critical to review each lease individually?

Not all leases are created equal. Because there are different caveats for certain tenants hidden in some leases, it is important to underwrite the things you want to change during the transition of management. While the number of tenants affects whether or not you interview each tenant, you should keep an eye out for tenants who take up more space or are in near-term roles so you can be in communication with them.

What happens during the onboarding of an asset?

All tenant contact information is updated to ensure accuracy. A time is scheduled to visit the property and meet the tenants to begin a relationship in person, depending on their comfortability with that due to the pandemic. It is best to meet the vendors on-site and send a series of welcome letters to the tenants. These tell the tenants how to pay their rent, what to do in extreme weather, how to file work orders, and more.

How do you determine who will be leasing your assets?

First, talk to your existing relationships. Talk to at least three different groups and walk the building with them to see if their thoughts and feedback align with yours. Then, identify the best option for who to partner with. You continue relationships with leasing brokers by talking at least weekly and being accessible.

How are you able to lease spaces prior owners weren’t able to?

When you purchase properties that have had the same owners for a long time, they probably had no debt and didn’t want to invest more money in their properties even if it means ultimately adding value. It is crucial to come in with a well-capitalized and well-defined business plan to get spaces leased. When you improve curb appeal and don’t leave improvements up to the tenant’s imagination, it is a lot easier to lease properties.

What is the reforecasting process and why is it valuable?

At the end of each quarter, the models and files are updated. You send quarterly reports to investors showing the current IRR, profits, and what the multiple is going to be. Analyze how the asset has done for the past quarter, but also zoom out and look at the performance over the last few quarters or years. This is valuable because it gives you a better understanding of the asset overall. Reforecasting gives a full picture, allowing you and investors to make better decisions.

Property Management Expectations

We have ‘2-24/7’ internal expectations. This means we strive to contact the tenant within two hours of receiving their work order. Then our Property Manager’s or a vendor puts eyes on it within 24 hours, and the work order is closed or taken care of in 7 days or less. As a property manager, it is invaluable to be responsive and efficient when dealing with tenants.

How do you think about vendor management?

Finding subcontractors and vendors that are dependable will be a lifesaver. When you have built relationships with them and they have gained more business from your properties, you can negotiate pricing. Communicate with them, letting them know what you are forecasting for the year, and ask for their help. Find out if they can handle more work and if they are ready for the additions you are planning. The best way to have a good relationship is to pay them on time, and they will follow you anywhere.

Tracking Leasing Activity

At Fort, we utilize Fort Operating Systems (FOS) to create dashboards. FOS is a big data ecosystem of cloud technology, powered by Google, that facilitates the flow of information through Fort. It utilizes machine learning and blockchain technology, allowing Fort to move faster and make smart decisions by centralizing investment information into one platform.

Each team is able to input data, then they can be aggregated onto visualizations. This allows anyone to look at the dashboards at any time, constantly updating and displaying everything you need to know. Examples include –

1. A dashboard displays six months out if a lease is needing to be renewed, so you can know which tenants to start having intentional conversations with about their plans for that renewal.

2. For asset management, it shows expirations across the portfolio and links to the information. By displaying the leasing activity through these dashboards, we are able to increase efficiency and communication.


Through utilizing FOS and bringing property management in-house, Fort has brought all the good things from an institutional side but kept the small business mentality that allows us to act extremely fast while still making institutional level decisions. To hear more about Fort’s due diligence, onboarding, and business plan execution on assets, listen to episode #97 of The FORT with Chris Powers.

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