More than 200 Realtors descended on Charlottesville this week for the tenth anniversary of the Property Management Coalition Conference.  The Charlottesville Daily Progress stopped in and chatted with members on Wednesday.  Check it out:

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Led to other opportunities by a soft market, Realtors are starting to appreciate property management’s business potential based on its own merits.

“I think when the market started turning in 2007 and 2008, a lot of folks entered the industry by necessity because they weren’t selling enough houses,” said Duke Dodson, president of Richmond-based Dodson Property Management.

But without past experience or professional guidance, Dodson said, “ when things go wrong, those Realtors were exposed that they didn’t know what they were doing.”

Dodson was a featured speaker Wednesday at the Property Management Coalition Conference, which drew about 225 people to the DoubleTree hotel in Albemarle County .

Brad Conner of Montague Miller & Co., one of the local Realtors in attendance, said his growing interest in property management sprang from “the amount of potential business.” The conference, he said, represents a chance to get firsthand professional guidance.

With several large-scale student-oriented projects recently launched or under development, the Charlottesville area is on track to gain hundreds of residential units in the next few years.

Having founded his company in 2007, Dodson now manages more than 1,100 units in the Richmond area.

“Back in the day, all property management companies were mom-and-pop shops,” Dodson said. “But now with the technology we have, you can grow a company a lot faster. You can grow it more efficiently. It’s more popular now than it was five years ago.”

Dodson reminded the group that technology, especially social media, can work against company objectives.

“I wouldn’t even waste the time unless you’re going to do it right,” Dodson said of social media.

The same holds true for the fundamentals of property management, Dodson said. Gladys Fain, the director of property management at Prudential Towne Realty in the Hampton Roads region, agreed.

Fain, who has decades of real estate and property management experience, said some Realtors aren’t prepared — or quickly realize they would rather not deal with — the day-to-day issues that come with managing an occupied property.

“I think because of the economy … people are looking to save that management fee, but in doing so, some that don’t know what they’re doing then get themselves in trouble,” Fain said.

Regardless of why they’re interested, Dodson said, the industry outlook is good.

“It’s been a good business to be in the last five years, and I think it’ll continue to be for a while,” Dodson said.

Produced in partnership with the Virginia Association of Realtors and three other organizations, the conference, which is in its 10th year, continues through Friday.