Ken Doble

By on May 31, 2012 in People | 1 Comment

QRC's Ken DobleWith more than two decades of experience in the residential property management industry, Ken Doble, Partner at Atlanta-based Quantitive Realty Capital (QRC), is well-versed in what’s trending in multifamily today.

A technology-savvy executive who shares updates via his Twitter feed daily, Doble began his career 20 years ago as the on-site property manager of a 24 unit apartment community of Atlanta apartments. He’s also a military veteran, and served as a paratrooper in Panama and the Gulf War.

We asked for his insight on current happenings in multifamily in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, where QRC is in the process of acquiring more properties, including distressed assets that need improvements. Most of their current 12 properties are comprised of class B and C apartments.

There’s strong bidding competition among investors for class A inventory in the southeast, Doble noted, especially in top markets like Atlanta. QRC has focused on opportunities in the secondary markets and properties that need rehabilitation. In 2011, the company spent $7 million on renovations.  Improving those properties is Doble’s favorite part of the work he does today.

“I like seeing the transformation of the property. We typically go in and buy distressed properties that have deferred maintenance. I like to go in and do the renovations on those properties and see the properties come up from a low occupancy, say in the 60s, to the 95-96 range. I like to see the properties really stabilize, see the happy residents, and see the properties and staff really take off and perform.”

At the Parkview Apartments in metro Atlanta, where 18 units were down and there were crime, aesthetic and mold issues on site, QRC achieved a complete turnaround in just a number of months.

With large numbers of families in residence at QRC’s 2000 units, Doble and his team have found that one of the most desired amenities is not a business center or a game room, but an outside playground. (Fitness centers are also popular.) They’ve put high quality play facilities, of the caliber that you’d find at a nice city park, on old tennis courts that weren’t being used by residents.

“We put the playground on the center of the tennis court, and you’ve got the lighting from the tennis court area, you have to resurface the tennis court, but it really gives it an interesting look,” he noted.

As the former Chief Operating Officer of one of the largest privately held multifamily companies in the nation, Doble had 650 employees and oversaw a 20,000+ apartment unit portfolio in eleven states. Today, he often works directly with the property managers at QRC’s holdings. When we asked his overarching insight on industry best practices, he noted that selecting the right staff to hold those positions is key.

“Getting the right leader in place is so critical. It is 99 percent of the game. And you cannot train certain personality traits. This is a people business, and we get results with people. It’s so important that you pick the right person. It’s kind of like a marriage in some respects. It’s so important that you get the right people for it to work long term and be a good fit.”

As a close observer of technology in the industry, Doble has noticed a shift in how people find apartments.

woman using a tablet to search for an apartment“It used to be apartment  guides, the paper guides. Paper is dead and I’m seeing it more and more every day. I’m seeing Craigslist dominate. I’m still seeing drive-bys, that’s a very big indicator, but the Internet is taking over. I’m very curious to see how Facebook will play into this, and some of these other things like Google local and Bing local. But I’m definitely seeing a shift in how residents find out about us.”

He’s watching the evolution of location aware technology and expects big marketing shifts based on mobile user interfaces.  As a regular user of social media – Doble gets his news from 600 Google RSS feeds and has Google alerts set up for all the real estate topics he wants to keep close tabs on – he sees the value in immediate information sharing and the power of the Internet to transform the real estate business.

From a business intelligence perspective, he wants to mine the data that’s produced by programs like Yardi software to better his business’ performance. It just so happens that such performance will be possible, using Yardi Orion for Sharepoint.

“We’re getting drowned in data from all these computer systems. I love technology and think it’s incredible to see it transform our business and I can’t wait to see some of the big data things that are coming down the road, how we’ll be able to really data mine our information and pull it out so we can better manage our portfolios.”