Michael Frias had been in the property management business with John C. Formant for about thirty years. This past summer, Formant, owner of the former John C. Formant Real Estate company, made the decision to change his business focus. In July, the newly named Formant Property Group began operations, moving away from property management and focusing exclusively on brokerage, development and investment.
This provided Frias with an opportunity to create his own property management company, the Tiber Realty Group (406 H St. NE).
“John had his own vision about wanting to concentrate on brokerage sales, and that kind of opened up an opportunity for me to take over the property management,” said Frias of the creation of the two separate companies. “It wasn’t necessarily planned –it just kind of fell together in a good way.”
‘Put My Clients into Good Hands’
Formant’s shift in direction clarified Frias’ own professional purpose, Frias said. He formed the new company, keeping the Formant property management team together.
“Because John wanted to go into brokerage sales, it got me wondering what it is that I wanted to do and after having done this for thirty years, I’m a property manager and I can’t change that now,” Frias laughed.
When Formant made the decision to focus on brokerage, he spoke with Frias, urging him to consider his own company.
“He turns to me and said, “Michael, I’d like to put my clients into good hands. I don’t know where to go,” recounted Frias. “If you want, talk to the people in the office, and maybe they’ll work for you and you can continue that with your own vision.’”
Frias did just that, and when Formant Property Group opened at 406 H St. NE, the Tiber Realty Group opened across the hall.
All four members of the property management department, including Frias, Erin Foster, John Glacken, and Christie Bauckman continue their work with Tiber. Frias hired one more member to the team, a communications person, in August.
‘Could You Watch Our Property While We’re Gone?’
While Tiber handles many different kinds of property throughout the District, including investment properties, small rental buildings and condo management, Frias said that most of their clients are families who purchased houses intending to live there, but then found a job that takes them out of the area. Those homes are usually single-family dwellings, often with an accessory unit such as a basement suite, Frias said.
“They give us a call, saying “Michael, I’m going to be gone for three years. What does it take to place a tenant? How do we manage property from where we are? We intend to come back one day –could you watch our property while we’re gone?’ That is far and away the most common scenario.”
The company can help property owners through the entire process, guiding them through legal requirements, marketing, and assessing and maximizing rental value. The firm also helps to select high-quality tenants. Once a tenant has been selected, Tiber also offers day-to-day property management and financial oversight.
All About Communication
While Tiber retains familiar faces from Formant Real Estate, Frias said that the agency is also working to evaluate ways they can get better. Specifically, Frias said that Tiber is working to leverage technology for more effective communication between themselves and property owners and residents.
“I think this business is all about communication,” said Frias, “and particularly with changing technology there are always ways that we could be thinking about doing better at communicating with both our tenants and our property owners as well.”
The company uses a web-based software that centralizes finances and service requests for both owners and tenants. Frias said that this allows agents to spend more time focusing on property management and less on paperwork.
Management by Association
Tiber also wants to do more association management, or property management for condominium associations. While Tiber does some work in the area, until now this had not been a focus. Frias said an area of interest is a growing need for management of smaller condo buildings. Clients have communicated to the agents that this is an area of real need throughout the District.
“For the past ten years, I’ve been receiving calls once a month from associations asking if we do association management, and we’ve been turning them down, because we didn’t think that it fit what we wanted to do,” Frias said. “It’s one of the things that I’d like to change, and it is our goal to find a few associations on Capitol Hill that we can manage.”
Frias said that condo buildings located on the Hill often have difficulty finding a good property manager precisely because they are relatively small.
The name has changed, but clients still come back to Tiber, relying on trust developed over decades. Frias said that a woman visited a short while ago with questions about a rental property that the team had been managing for years, questions that could only be answered by a team familiar with her and her family.
“She was looking for something that she could purchase for her son, and wanted to know if this building could be something that her son would be interested in,” said Frias. “We did rentals for her 25 years ago on Capitol Hill, and she came back to us to ask.”
The client did not know that Formant’s property management had become Tiber, Frias said. “It hardly makes any difference because the Formant team is right in our office, so she could come in to talk to us,” said Frias. The Formant team sent her across the hall to Tiber, where the agents spent time catching up.
“It’s very satisfying when somebody remembers you after that many years and looks you up and comes back and spends half an hour trading stories –and maybe we’ll be working together again in the future,” said Frias.
Learn more about Tiber by visiting their web site at tiberealtygroup.com, or call them at 202-355-6500.