Credit: Behringer Harvard

Dallas-based Behringer Harvard announced last week that it named Margaret (Peggy) Daly as Senior Vice President of Property Management for Harvard Property Trust, an affiliate of Behringer Harvard. Daly, who has been with the company since May 2010, will be responsible for the development and leadership of the newly minted Behringer Harvard Residential property management platform for Behringer Harvard multifamily assets.

Daly comes to Behringer Harvard from Atlanta-based Place Properties, where she was executive vice president of Property Management. Prior to Place, Daly spent 20 years at Chicago-based AMLI Residential. She was also a former divisional vice president of property management with Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential.

“In serving both our investors and our residents and by achieving the critical mass that we are finally at which is in excess of 9,000 units, it was really time for us to implement the plan for creating an in-house property management arm,” says Behringer Harvard chief administrative officer Jason Mattox. “Of course, we needed the right general, and that is what we found in Peggy with her long experience with Place Properties as well as with AMLI.”

Daly says her familiarity with the Behringer Harvard executive team—largely comprised of individuals with an AMLI pedigree—will help to catalyze plans for bringing Behringer Harvard assets under internal management. “I’ve had a very long tenure working with Behringer Harvard executives in my previous life,” Daly says. “We already have an established rapport that dispels any learning curve about how we think and what our expectations are going to be about building this organization.”

Behringer Harvard will employ a hybrid property management model as it brings communities under the Behringer Harvard Residential umbrella over the course of 2011. Properties located near the firm’s home office in Dallas will be internalized first while the company standardizes operating systems and procedures and trains personnel in more distant markets for eventual transition.  

“We have already identified what we believe are the best-of-breed property management systems and support services that make us cutting edge, that keep us as green and paperless as possible, and keep us as efficient as possible,” Daly says. “Now we are ready to move forward, but we are going to do it in a rather slow, strategic, and methodical way, attacking the Texas markets first and then continue to graduate out into other markets.”

According to Daly, the hybrid model will be applied to Behringer Harvard’s West Coast and Northeast properties during the transition process. “We have the opportunity then to bring them internally much quicker once the operating platform and people are in place, so instead of one-by-one, we will bring them in large groups.”

Daly identified her top agenda items on the human resource and marketing side, specifically pointing to property management recruitment and the creation of a Behringer Harvard Residential brand identity. “We are working diligently on getting top-tier property management talent as one of our key goals for 2010 and 2011,” Daly says. “We also want to take our Behringer Harvard platform and create a brand in essence, but we are not going to re-branding and renaming all of our assets. We think the Behringer Harvard assets are a collection of very unique properties with different personalities, and we want to keep that intact.”

Behringer Harvard watchers and others familiar with the REIT launching process have speculated that creation of the internal property management arm could signify Behringer Harvard’s move toward an eventual IPO, a prospect that the firm remains noncommittal on. “Our prospectus provides for a variety of liquidity and exit options for our multifamily portfolio. Within that, what we are really accomplishing here is a culmination of continuing to serve our investors and our residents,” Mattox says. “As far as the portfolio opportunities, there are many, and we think we are building a portfolio that is extremely attractive on a number of levels, and we like to think that we’ll continue doing that.”