21 August 2019

Q & A: Property manager to the core

When she finished high school in 2009, Tiana Mueller was focused on starting a career as a band manager. But it wasn’t long before a change of heart put her on a whole new career path – and she’s never looked back.

Did you always want to work in the real estate industry?

Real estate wasn’t on my radar. During my school years, I was heavily involved in creative arts. I studied dance and drama for my HSC and, when I finished high school in 2009, I headed off to JMC Academy to study entertainment business management. I lasted eight months! I realised it just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t see myself doing it forever.

My father was working in building management at the time for Towers Building & Property Management in Sydney. They had a small portfolio of about 150 properties and were looking for a property officer. Dad encouraged me to apply. I started working for them one day a week, but after a month it turned into a full-time position.

For the first 12 months, I was working at reception and learning the basics. Then I started communicating with landlords and signing up tenants, and it grew from there. Soon, I was managing the entire portfolio.

Why did you choose to specialise in property management?

Early in my real estate career – and still sometimes now – I was asked, “when are you going to move into sales.” The assumption being that property management is a stepping stone to sales, not a career in itself. For me, property management is the career. It’s not a stepping stone. This is it.

“I’m also proud of the fact that I now have family and friends asking me to manage their properties. It’s a testament to the reputation I’ve built and how far I’ve come."

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I moved to Wollongong in 2013 and that’s when I started working at Peter Fitzgerald Real Estate, where I still am today. I manage a portfolio of residential and commercial properties and take a lot of pride in always trying to exceed my clients’ expectations.

I love the fact that no two days are ever the same in property management. There are different people to deal with, different challenges thrown my way and different problems to solve. I have to admit that I get a real kick out of being presented with a problem and then coming up with the best solution. I’m also a self-confessed control freak, so the routines, processes and systems that go along with property management appeal to me.

I also really love the communication side of things. Every landlord and tenant is different and you have to adapt your communication style to suit each person and situation. A conversation that might take three minutes with one client, could take 30 minutes with another. But you have to account for that and communicate accordingly.

I’m also proud of the fact that I now have family and friends asking me to manage their properties. It’s a testament to the reputation I’ve built and how far I’ve come.

What are the key skills needed to be successful in your job?

Without a doubt, mental toughness. Property management is certainly not for the weak. It can be tough. You have to be prepared to have hard conversations and deal with complicated situations.

You also need to be passionate. I wouldn’t have lasted almost 10 years in property management if I wasn’t passionate about it.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Without a doubt, being appointed to the REINSW Property Management Chapter Committee. A year in and I’m still gobsmacked that I’m sitting with this group of accomplished and knowledgeable property management professionals. I’m really honoured to be part of the Committee.

What are your goals for the future?

I want to take more of a leadership role in the industry. I want to mentor property managers who are just starting out. I want to encourage them to view property management as a long-term career. My 10-year goal is to establish myself in the industry as an acknowledged property management mentor.

What’s the best advice you would give to your younger self?

Every situation doesn’t need a reaction.

I’m happy to admit, when I was younger, I was quite fiery. I’d have a strong reaction to everything, which was the wrong way to go about things. Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all.

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