If she could, Linda Masterson would put a basketball shot clock up in leasing offices across the Carroll Organization’s portfolio. Since being named regional VP for the Atlanta-based apartment owner and fee manager’s Southeast portfolio in June, Masterson has acquainted herself with her team’s strengths and, above all, stressed an earnestness to continue to improve occupancy and rent fundamentals.
“I do use a lot of basketball analogies with my poor staff,” says Masterson, an Atlanta Hawks and Michigan State Spartans fan. “But now, more than ever, you have to play like it’s the last two minutes of the game; you have to play to win. You need a sense of urgency to lease, renew, and collect, because it’s what you do toward improving fundamentals that puts money on the balance sheet.”
Masterson also isn’t fond of excuses, and while she’ll allow that her portfolio—approximately 6,000 units spread across Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Memphis—has seen some rougher recessionary exposure than most, she intends to play a role in motivating on-site staff, back-end admin, and even Carroll ownership to show resilience in pushing rents and occupancies.
“Companywide, we have many properties that are maintaining occupancies in the 90 percents and pushing rents back to 2007 levels,” she says. Within her specific portfolio, about 40 percent of the properties are battling in the 75 percent to 85 percent occupancy range but show a propensity to end the 2011 season in the 90s with strong rent growth.
Masterson says she sees immediate opportunities to gain competitive traction through refined marketing, particularly when it comes to Internet and social media communications. “The technology capabilities available via on-site programs such as Yardi are so night-and-day compared with where they were even a couple of years ago,” Masterson says. “Clearly, social media is critical. The faster you can provide a prospect with a solution, the faster you’ll be rewarded.”
As the Carroll Organization begins to bolster its 20,000 units under management with a burgeoning ownership portfolio, Masterson also hopes to bring to bear her past experience with dealmaking as VP with Boca Raton, Fla.–based Ventron Management Co. and as a regional property manager for Alpharetta, Ga.–based Pegasus Residential. “I have a lot of experience with buying and selling, and I like to think of myself as helpful in that regard,” Masterson says. “I think sales have already picked up, but there’s also some pent-up inventory that’s ready to sell.”
New properties coming into the Carroll portfolio take note: Masterson expects all company players to suit up and play a defining role in the firm’s growth goals as the clock starts ticking on a multifamily bull market. “If you want someone to lead the troops into battle, you call me,” Masterson says. “If you want a cog in the machine, I’m not your gal.”