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Meet Steve Howe and Karen Martinez of ASPM-San Diego

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Howe, Karen Martinez.

Steve, Karen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Our family began investing in real estate in San Diego in 1971, and this ultimately evolved into establishing a property management company. As property managers and real estate investors we have a vested interest in the health and growth of the market. This underlying goal is characteristic of the array of services we offer our clients, to provide them with every tool at our disposal to improve their quality of life.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The greatest challenge we face as property managers has been identifying and resolving systemic failures within our industry that adversely impact our clients. To minimally address this, the most meaningful change we made first was to redefine our company as a service company rather than just a property management company. This philosophy was instilled from the very top hierarchy through the newest employee. Next, in the absence of any industry model or guidance, we created and implemented an evolving set of scalable practices for our company to follow. This is a critical need in an industry that is unregulated, which has very little oversight, and largely operates with unlicensed professionals tasked with managing billions of dollars of homeowner assets.

An additional challenge facing our industry is providing the skills necessary to help property owners address downward spiraling property values caused by the practice of deferring maintenance that has accumulated over the last several decades. Reversing the deferred maintenance trend has now become so complex that clients hardly know where to start.

Enacting regulation and requiring professional licensing are both crucial to the integrity and evolution of our industry. While continuing education should be required for individuals, this is not a substitute for standards and legislation that hold individuals accountable for the services they provide. It’s long past time that industry leaders collaborated to produce a scalable property management model that produces minimum standards for property managers to meet.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ASPM-San Diego – what should we know?
While ASPM-San Diego is probably best known for managing the highest percentage of homeowner associations in the county, we are also emerging as the expert in our field not only for providing construction management oversight, but for helping properties in distress that are struggling financially or are unable to meet maintenance obligations.

We responded to these needs by using our general contractor’s license and offering a broad range of property-related services. But with ageing and declining HOA communities over the last few decades, our construction management skills have been an invaluable resource to clients in the rehabilitation and restoration of their communities to their formerly beautiful conditions.

One of our earliest successes was the post-litigation reconstruction of the Porto Siena HOA community in Little Italy in 2014. Porto Siena’s challenges demonstrated the need for property managers to provide a diversity of disciplines in order to fully address all of our clients’ needs. Working with the Porto Siena board to achieve such dramatic results was a tremendously rewarding experience that set us on this path to fill that void.

We’ve achieved several milestones over the past few years, but our most meaningful success really began with redefining our company four years ago with customer service as our highest priority. This philosophical shift has yielded us the best customer reviews among our peers, and is an important factor in leveling the playing field. You can tell someone how great you are, but that carries little weight until it’s validated by independent sources.

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