The Fiduciary Duties of Property Managers

There’s a common saying that property management companies use when pitching their services to potential owners. “We will manage your property as if it were our own.”

If you’re like most landlords, you probably roll your eyes at such a claim and begin searching for the proof. After all, no property manager can truly value and look after your property with the same level of care and attention to detail as you do, can they? How can they substantiate this bold claim?

In fact, many service based businesses will use similar guarantees when talking about their services. “We work on your car as if it were our own.” “We will clean your house as if it’s our own.”

The problem with statements like these is that they’re almost impossible to justify. Those are subjective claims and taking care of something like it’s “your own” infers that you have the same standard as the person for whom you are doing the work. If you trash your car or your house and then guarantee that you will treat the customer’s house or car the same, the statement is worthless.

So when a property manager claims that they will take care of your home as if it were their own, is it a meaningless guarantee?

In the real estate industry, they actually can make this guarantee and stand by it, all because of one specific term: “fiduciary.”

What It Means To Be A Fiduciary Agent

According to the Law Offices of Stimmel, Stimmel & Smith, a fiduciary duty is the highest duty one person can owe another and imposes the highest degree of loyalty and obligation to the person enjoying the benefit of the duty. This is the duty that a parent owes to their child. Just as a child trusts the parent to do everything in their best interest, so should a homeowner be able to trust their property manager.

When you enter into a real estate contract, whether selling or leasing your house, you are establishing what is known as a fiduciary agency with your property manager/real estate agent. The term “fiduciary” implies that the agent is both ethically and contractually obligated to act in your best interest.

When investors select financial managers as agents to manage their assets, they establish a fiduciary relationship. The same goes for selecting a property manager to manage your home. One way to gauge whether or not a property manager is good at their job is whether or not they take their fiduciary responsibilities to their clients seriously.

In California, property management companies are real estate brokerages, meaning they are regulated by the California Department of Real Estate to act as a fiduciary agent on behalf of the principal (you) when they do anything in regards to your home.

Failure to perform fiduciary responsibilities can result in loss or suspension of license by the California DRE. In fact, in most real estate transactions, you will sign a “Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationship.” These disclosures are required by the DRE as a protection for you as the seller, buyer or landlord with an agent and they detail the duties of the fiduciary agent.

It All Boils Down To Trust

Obviously you aren’t naturally going to believe that someone you just met is truly going to act in your best interest at all times. There has to be trust.

Establishing trust is the job of the property manager. Telling you they will act in your best interest is all well and good, but if you don’t trust that they will, it’s meaningless. It may be true that you have a contract with them that mandates that they must act in your best interest, but this won’t put most landlord’s minds at ease.

Ask your property manager for testimonials from current or prior clients. Read their online reviews and see what other landlords have to say about how they handled their rental home. You also need to make sure expectations are set clearly from the beginning with the property manager. Communication is key so make sure there is an established method and frequency of communication.

Trust is only built over time and as issues arise and your property manager handles them either with or without your involvement, you will begin to gauge just how well they are fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities. Because of the time element of trust, be wary of any company that wants to lock you into a long term contract or won’t offer any service guarantees. If trust isn’t established, you may end up stuck with a bad property manager who isn’t fulfilling their duty to you.

The Long Term Benefits Of Trust

As time goes on and your property manager establishes trust with you, the burden of responsibility of being a landlord will melt away.

No longer will you have to worry about whether or not you are renting out your property in accordance with all laws or if that plumber you had to send out to replace the water heater is doing a good quality job without ripping you off. With a property manager acting honestly as your fiduciary, things like this will be handled not how you would handle them, but in your best interest. This often means they will be handled better than you would handle them.

Imagine if you received your monthly rent from your property management company and it was half of what the normal amount was. It’s the middle of the Summer and temperatures have been over 100 degrees for weeks. You check your statement and see that over $1,000 was spent to repair the AC unit.

Many landlords would receive something like this and immediately pick up the phone and call their property manager, demanding why this amount of money was spent without their approval.

If there is established trust between yourself and your property manager and you believe that they are truly carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities to you, you won’t pick up that phone and call. You will know that if they authorized that repair, it must have been absolutely necessary. Why? because they wouldn’t have done anything without it being in your best interest.

By not involving you, they were able to save you from the stress of having to worry about getting a vendor out during a time when every AC vendor in the area was completely booked up. You didn’t have to pay a premium during this peak season because your property manager has their established vendor that does excellent work and doesn’t up their charge during peak season.

They were also able to get the job done faster without your involvement and keep the tenant happy. Happy tenants take better care of the property and are more likely to stay longer, decreasing your vacancy time and putting more money in your pocket at the end of the year. There are multiple reasons why taking care of this quickly and efficiently was in your best interest and it all had to happen with or without your involvement.

Summing It Up

At Mesa Properties, we take our fiduciary responsibility seriously. A typical property manager manages between 100-150 homes at any given time. That can be up to $60 million in assets managed. Real estate investments are often the most valuable and expensive assets that you can own, and you can rest assured that if we are managing your property, we are doing so with your best interests in mind at all times.

Just like your lawyer, accountant and portfolio manager, we are constantly working to act in your best interest and ensure your property maintains its value throughout the time that you own and rent it out.

Sawyer Shwetz

Property Manager

Sawyer is an Assistant Property Manager at Mesa Properties Inc. He focuses primarily on property management and improving “behind the scenes” processes. Sawyer obtained his Bachelors of Science degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona.

During his college years, Sawyer worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he designed and implemented new destructive tests for flight hardware prototypes. He also conducted heat treatment operations for projects including the Mars 2020 Rover, Mars Insight, and the ISS.

Sawyer has been involved in the property management business since High School. He enjoys business more than engineering, which is why he has decided to pursue a career in property management.

DRE: 02091893

Allan Miraflor

Maintenance Coordinator

Allan is our maintenance coordinator at Mesa Properties. He helps tenants with their maintenance needs, and coordinate with vendors with scheduling and completion of work orders. He has 10 years of customer service and sales experience in the financial industries, healthcare, telecommunications and satellite TV. He has studied business management for 3 years and holds a certificate for general education from Brigham Young University Idaho. Allan is a basketball fanatic and always want his Golden State Warriors to win every year in the NBA finals. When he’s not working he loves to spend time with his wife and two children going to Korean and Japanese buffets.

Meghan Miller

Accounting

Meghan is one of the newest members of our Mesa Properties Inc. Team and works in our accounting department. She studied accounting at Chaffey College. Prior to joining Mesa Properties Inc., Meghan was a bookkeeper for 6 years at a CPA firm that primarily worked with dairy farms. She enjoys working for Mesa Properties Inc. because she is able to use her accounting experience in whole new ways and also enjoys the friendly office environment that has been established here. Meghan resides in Rancho Cucamonga with her husband and two sons.

Rebecca Anthony

Administrative Assistant

Rebecca is one of our administrative assistants and is one of the warm and friendly voices you will hear when you call our office. She has a strong customer experience background from her past role with Sprint and loves assisting our owners and tenants. When she isn’t working, Rebecca loves to bake and spend time with her son and family.

Steve Shwetz

Managing Broker

Steve, the Managing Broker and Founder of Mesa Properties Inc. & Mesa Real Estate, began his real estate career buying, fixing and reselling distressed properties in Southern California. Seeing the long-term opportunity in a buy and hold strategy, Steve began acquiring residential real estate to build his own real estate rental portfolio. As a 10 year owner of an international service franchise, Steve saw an opportunity to take his experience in customer service and developing systems and processes and apply that experience to the world of property management and real estate. Prior to starting his own businesses Steve held various senior and advisory level sales positions with IBM Corp., B. Braun Medical, Insight Direct & Reach Local. Steve is a licensed real estate broker and holds a Bachelors in Business from the University of Southern California.

DRE: 01881471

Sheryl Shwetz

General Manager, Administration

Sheryl helped to establish Mesa Properties Inc. with Steve. Today, she serves as the backbone of all things administrative for the company. Sheryl oversees all the details of running a property management company including on-boarding new owners, converting applicants to tenants, and paying all vendors. After earning her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, Sheryl worked for a software development company running the support and training department and writing user documentation. Sheryl also gained experience at an advertising agency servicing non-profit organizations where she drafted vendor instructions for merging customer data with various fundraising campaigns. Sheryl has 3 sons and home-schooled them through various stages of their K-8 education. Each one is now thriving in adulthood.

Sam Shwetz

Business Development Manager

Sam is the Business Development Manager at Mesa Properties Inc. focusing on engaging both new and existing owners of residential and commercial properties.  Sam is a U.S. Navy veteran having served in the Nuclear Field on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

After his military service , Sam worked for a lighting control company as a field service engineer on various projects including extensive work on Apple’s new corporate headquarters in Cupertino California.

Sam and his wife Sydney are homeowners in Ontario, CA where they live with their golden retriever.

DRE: 02069937

Verenice Guardado Alvarado

Lead Office Administrator

Verenice is the office administrator to our Mesa Properties Inc. Team. She is also licensed and manages properties in the high desert. She earned her Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from San Joaquin Valley College and used her skills working in customer service. Previously, Verenice worked 4 years with Target where she trained sales associates and developed strong communication and teamwork skills. Through her position at Mesa Properties Inc., Verenice strives to find the right tenant for each owner and the right home for each tenant.

DRE: 02036438

Mark Parmenter

Property Manager

Prior to joining Mesa Properties Inc., Mark worked in the construction industry as a member of the carpenters union. He holds an Associates degree in Business, he is a licensed agent, certified in property management and enjoys the unique challenges of property management. Mark is a homeowner himself and experienced with on site multi-unit management. He understands the delicate balance of working with tenants as a landlord, owner and neighbor.

DRE: 01981906

Joshua Long

Property Manager

Joshua is a property manager to the Mesa Properties Inc. team. With a background in sales, Joshua gained the strong communication skills necessary to be an effective problem solver when handling any situation he is faced with. Growing up, Joshua watched his mother work as an apartment manager for over 20 years. Now, as a property manager, Joshua focuses on addressing the needs of both renters and homeowners. He is a focused hard-worker who ambitiously seeks to become better in his position and to gain more knowledge at whatever task is at hand. Joshua is an Upland area native and is a licensed real estate agent. He currently holds 2 Associate’s Degrees and is working towards gaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from CSUSB.

DRE: 01998522

Bridget O'Gorman

Assistant Property Manager

Bridget is now a property manager to the Mesa Properties Inc. team. She currently resides in Victorville with her daughter. In 2014, Bridget obtained her Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from San Joaquin Valley College with a 4.0 GPA. Prior to working for Mesa Properties Inc., she has held various customer service jobs, where she gained better understanding of how to handle different situations and how to work with each person on an individual level. In addition, Bridget worked as a safety manager and recruiting assistant for a transportation company, giving her experience in processing applications and completing safety inspections. Bridget enjoys working for a company where she is able to assist others and to work in a changing environment, which is always giving her a chance for a new experience.

DRE: 02040663

Julia Morrison

Property Manager

Julia is a property manager to the Mesa Properties Inc. Team! Julia currently holds an Associates degree in Criminal Justice. She is currently enrolled at CSUSB with plans of going to law school after. Having worked 4 years in a customer service field, Julia has gained much experience in working with difficult situations and learned how to be a team leader. Prior to working in customer service, Julia worked for an HOA, where she gained computer & phone skills and learned how to handle an overflowing stack of paperwork! She enjoys working with people and assisting them in finding a home that they love. Julia became a homeowner in 2016 and currently resides in Upland with her fiance.

DRE: 02040250

Autumn Janda

Tenant Screening

Autumn gained her real estate license in 2011, but has been in the property management field since 2005. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from CSUSB in 2009. Prior to joining Mesa Properties Inc., Autumn gained much of her experience being an assistant property manager for commercial properties for six years! She also spent five years working in a company that worked with commercial, industrial, and apartment properties. Autumn enjoys working for Mesa Properties Inc. because she gets to work with new tasks everyday and likes meeting new people. She is currently a homeowner in Arizona, where she resides with her husband and daughter.

DRE: 01765918

Donna Pulver

Receptionist

Donna is the receptionist to our Mesa Properties Inc. Team since November of 2016! Her tasks include answering calls, scheduling showing appointments, processing adverse action letters, assisting with applications, and assisting customers in the front desk. Having worked over 25 years for a real estate appraisal company located in Covina, Donna has gained much experience in providing great customer service. Donna currently lives in Victorville.

Carmen Franco

Administrative Assistant

Carmen is one of the newest members to the Mesa Properties Inc. Team! Her tasks include showing available rental properties, assisting with phone calls, and completing inspections. Carmen graduated from University Preparatory High School in 2011. She has earned her certificate in Business Administration from San Joaquin Valley College with a 4.0 GPA. Getting to know the team at Mesa Properties Inc., Carmen has been inspired to pursue a career in property management. She is eager to learn more about property management and prides herself in bringing a positive and caring attitude to everyone and everything she does. Carmen resides in Apple Valley with her husband and 2 children.

Amairani Palacios

Transaction Coordinator

Amairani is the transaction coordinator to the Mesa Properties Inc. Team! Her main role is coordinating real estate transactions for the real estate agents. Her other tasks include assisting the property managers with inspections, calls, and emails. Having been a member in the AFJROTC program for Victor Valley High School for 3 years, Amairani has gained experience in coordinating tasks and working with other team members as a Team Leader. Amairani has completed the needed real estate courses and is working on obtaining her real estate license.

DRE 02049281

Michael Melendez

Real Estate Agent

Mike has been practicing real estate in Southern California since 2006. His family and friends have always been involved in home loans, new construction, and rehabilitation projects, deepening his knowledge of all aspects of the industry. As a Realtor, Mike’s service’s consist of helping buyers and sellers obtain property that best suits their interests. Finding his clients great deals, maximizing their proceeds and finding them the right home is what he does best. Mike understands that real estate is one of the biggest purchases and sales that can be made, and choosing the right agent is an important decision. He has both the experience and technology to help his clients meet their goals.

DRE: 01781635

Sonya Dod

Real Estate Agent

Sonya Dod has been a licensed real estate agent since 1989, Sonya is an agent who facilitates successful transactions for buyers as well as sellers, boasting a solid reputation for making deals with honesty and integrity. Since Sonya was raised on a Texas farm, she isn’t afraid of hard work and long hours. After her parents moved to California 40 years ago, they started buying investment properties. So she grew familiar and comfortable with the process of finding, fixing up and selling properties at an early age. Having served as an underwriter, processor and loan officer, Sonya has the knowledge and experience necessary to help sellers and buyers avoid wasting time opening meaningless transactions. What’s more, sellers are protected by her expertise as she requires buyers to provide written permission to speak directly to lenders. This unique approach fosters quickly closed deals and eliminates false representation.

DRE: 01055445

Raymond Palacios

Administrative Assistant

Raymond is an administrative assistant to the Mesa Properties Inc. Team! His tasks include performing inspections, showing properties, serving documents, and assisting with phone calls. Raymond holds a Bachelors in Business Management from California State University of San Bernardino. Having worked 4 years at a customer service field, Raymond has gained much experience in assisting and providing great quality customer service. Prior to working in customer service, Raymond volunteered and worked 6 years for a food distribution center where he gained the experience in efficiently coordinating important tasks within a company.