Ask the Expert: Jason Paul

Jason Paul is a partner at Arch Companies and head of Arch Asset Management, a subsidiary of Arch Companies, focused on asset management activities for both Arch and third-party owners. Paul and his team are involved in the development of each asset’s business plans and oversee all property-level management and budgeting as well as coordinating with internal and external marketing, construction, and development professionals engaged on all transactions associated with the properties.

Paul has a proven track record of successful and long-standing client relationships in the multifamily and mixed-use market. Over the course of his career, he has developed a network of contractors, vendors, property managers, commercial tenants and real estate professionals across the US. Prior to Arch Asset Management, Paul was a partner at Sugar Hill Capital Partners, where he specialized in multi-family and mixed-use residential property.

How has asset management changed over the years?

As markets are changing, we are seeing much more diversified portfolios in farther-reaching locations. Teams that were really focused hyper-locally are now looking to enter new markets and different asset classes. That new reach dovetails with the fact that we’re dealing with a far better-informed investor class with higher expectations with respect to reporting and returns. Real-time data analytics and reporting software better inform investors on how investments are starting to line up and how they’re performing more quickly than ever. Technology advancements are also allowing for asset managers to be further in the weeds and ensure that the portfolio is performing on all levels. What was once considered to be unusually hands-on is now the norm, and it is improved technology and communications channels that are allowing for this greater oversight and contributions from asset managers.

Has the investor class changed?

The investor class has expanded. The institutional investors were already out there, both on the local and international level, but over the last ten years, there has been a pickup in smaller investors. What we’re seeing is that the investors who may only be making a small investment in a single asset are much better informed and have higher expectations. We are in a cycle of the stock market when people have seen outsized returns far exceeding an 8% coupon that may have been enticing in the past. This has led to a more informed class of investors with higher expectations.

What tools are you using to ensure that your properties are being run cost-effectively?

With our specific platform, we’ve integrated both the asset management and property management operations. Our third-party property managers all use the same property management program, RealPage. The platform allows us to complete all the reporting on our side and to run daily reports tailored to specific deliverables being tracked. Inside RealPage, we can systematize procurement and purchase orders, using best practices with respect to inventory control, and to receive the best pricing available from our vendors. Also, within RealPage, we use SmartSource Accounting, which allows us to integrate the payment platform, so our accounts payable function operates more effectively. Another tool we use is Smartsheet, a real-time project management software which operates in the browser and allows us to communicate without emailing spreadsheets back and forth. It provides the ability to track all of our deliverables and hold the teams accountable for all items relating to the budget, scope and timeline of the projects.

What technologies intrigue you?

There’s so much technology now that there’s almost an answer for every question. We like to take a little bit more of a global view. There is a changing landscape with respect to the clientele and the residents. We’re interested in any new communication channel that allows for improved engagement, resident relations and community which we believe increases resident retention. It’s a secondary approach that people may be neglecting because there’s a focus on the bottom line. But, as you increase engagement and retention, it affects your bottom line significantly, especially in areas where there hadn’t previously been that engagement.

What markets provide the greatest opportunity?

It’s not only about the greatest opportunity, but also about downside protection. We’ve positioning our multifamily portfolio to focus on high-performing secondary markets that have large industry and strong market drivers behind them. We’re highly invested in Jacksonville, Florida, Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Greensboro, South Carolina. These are areas that have good job growth, and impressive year-over-year increases in population and wages. We’re not optimistic about the class A space. We’re finding that sweet spot to be the in that higher-level, better-forming Class C or Low B area, where there is room for growth if you improve both the condition of the property and the operational performance.

What keeps you up at night?

My email. Everything. We’re 24/7 and that makes every issue ever present. It’s both a positive and a negative, and it keeps us on our toes. I try not to stay awake too much about the macro, but we’re a growing business and we’re very much hands on. We’re in the weeds, we do everything on both on the property and asset management side. There’s no sitting back.

By: Mann Report

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Ask the Expert: Jason Paul

Jason Paul is a partner at Arch Companies and head of Arch Asset Management, a subsidiary of Arch Companies, focused…