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February 1, 2023

Santa Barbara, California — Researchers finally understand an unusual phenomenon where property managers are more likely to incur a lightning strike than have current bookkeeping.

The “Hazards of Accounting” study, a joint venture between the Weird Happenings Organization (WHO) and the Bookkeepers Reasonable Assumptions Taskforce (BRAT), finds high volumes of paperwork, extraordinary critical thinking demands, and the need for industry-specific accounting expertise, gives property managers naturally higher neurosynaptic electrical activity. As a result, when combined with cortisol, the stress hormone, the average property manager’s brain becomes more conductive, i.e., a natural grounding rod during thunderstorms.

It’s a remarkable phenomenon, with meteorologists, statisticians, and accountants scratching their heads. “We’re still assessing both the cause and its secondary symptoms.” Dr. Polly C. Holder of WHO explained, “It’s simple quantum statistics, but the critical variable seems to be a lack of property accounting specialists. The difficulty involved with property management tech and the shortage of qualified expertise makes property managers’ likelihood of up-to-date bookkeeping rarer than lightning strikes!

At a 2022 AppFolio conference, while waiting to start a panel discussion on ”The Impact of Past Due Accounting” (the panelists were late), the Master of Ceremonies, and BRAT chairwoman, Tammy Hammer, filled time with a round of Never Have I Ever to break the ice.

While polling the audience, MC Hammer noticed remarkable commonalities among the attendees. As expected, many struggled with software solutions and had overdue accounting, but a statistically relevant plurality had also been struck by lightning, many experiencing multiple strikes.

It’s a confluence of biology and bum luck, as none of the control group—property managers with outsourced accounting and current books— had ever experienced a lightning strike. “I never think about past-due accounting or lightning—I get my daily anxiety from the news,” said Serge A. Head, who offloaded his books to professionals in 2017.

Property managers with past due accounting experience low-level dread and lingering stress that compounds exponentially the longer books are delayed. “It’s become a vicious cycle,” says Arty Fischel, “I’m afraid of everything now! Storms, electricity, thunder, balance sheets…I started avoiding accounting when it rains, but I live in Seattle, so I avoid accounting a lot. It’ll take a miracle or a drought to get caught up.”

Most property managers in the study claimed they’d rather be struck again than untangle their back books. Additionally, the cohort overwhelmingly developed a combination of technophobia and arithmophobia —a fear of numbers— with many slipping into dissociative states at the mere mention of owner reports or end-of-month closing.

“Originally, we thought technophobia —specifically of property management software— was a symptom, but it was prevalent in our control group as well.” Dr. Holder continues, “I began my career as a property accountant, but the excessive amount of paperwork is more complicated than quantum statistics and neuroscience. After spending time configuring owner reports, we realized avoiding real estate software is merely common sense.

The findings make sense to property manager Helen Hywater, even after her second lightning strike. “I still wait until the last minute to do my accounting,” she explains. “There’s a limited pool of talent, it’s extremely time-consuming to get new hires up to speed on the software, and there’s so much paperwork! I usually went from procrastinating happily to remembering my overdue accounting, then procrastinating unhappily. I promise though; I’ll get current, come hell or—” (our interview was cut short when Hywater’s power went out.)

You’re four times more likely to get a perfect score on your SAT than be struck by lightning. Oddly enough, several property managers interviewed for this study had perfect SAT scores, and even as math whizzes, they avoid bank reconciliations. “Frankly, I’d retake AP Calculus,” said S. Park, who was struck by lightning while procrastinating on journal entries in 2019.

As climate change makes thunderstorms more frequent and less predictable, property managers face a conundrum: catch up on accounting or stay indoors. While many have chosen to remain indoors, others have chosen to outsource their bookkeeping to the property accounting experts at Proper for efficient catchup at half the cost of in-house accountants.

Disclaimer: This is a satirical article; any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental. The only true aspects of this piece are: 1) the decks are stacked against property managers when it comes to accounting, 2) Proper saves hours and up to 50% on property accounting costs. Learn more about our services here.