Strategies for gaining and sustaining property management mandates in Zimbabwe's real estate industry
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Real estate agents firms in Zimbabwe like Knight Frank Zimbabwe are losing property management mandates to subsidiary property investors’ in-house management teams, contrary to the trend worldwide, were most corporates are now outsourcing corporate real estate functions such as property management. The purpose of the study was therefore, to investigate strategies that can be used by estate agents’ property managers to gain and sustain property management mandates in Zimbabwe. The research approach was both quantitative and qualitative. Seven interviews were carried out with senior property managers in-order to investigate the problems and strategies to sustain and gain property management mandates. Three further interviews were carried out with key informants in-order to inform the policy recommendations. Over and above that, 400 interviews were carried out with commercial tenants through questionnaires in-order to analyze the challenges facing the property users, which also lead to the loss of property management mandates and their responses were analysed through the SPSS package. The qualitative data was analyzed through thematic and content analysis. The study found out that the major property owners in the CBD of Harare have lost a considerable size of property management mandates as a result of the property investors strategic shift, high voids, high rentals, high operating costs and the alarming increase in tenant default on lease obligations. The study also found out that, not only are property investments reeling from increasing voids, the occupied space is not operating at optimum level due to rent defaults and in some cases tenants simply abscond after accumulating large amounts in arrears. The challenges facing tenants include high rentals and operating costs, parking challenges and the prevailing challenging economic environment. The study further found out that, the strategies to gain and maintain property management mandates include taking advantage of sales activities within and outside the organisation, leasing activities within the organisation and new property development in the area, in-order to pitch for new management mandates. Other strategies include the retention of current services, marketing and communication, dialogue with tenants and management innovation. The study recommends that a tenant credit bureau be set up in-order to reduce rental defaults and that, the property management players engage the government on various policy issues. It is hoped that the findings will help the real estate agents to turnaround their current fortunes.