REAL ESTATE PROPERTY MANAGERS


Common Q&A

Find answers to commonly asked questions and learn more about what property managers can offer you. Choose an area of management, or a question category using the Q&A box on the right.

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Do property managers have flexible hours so they can meet the schedules of tenants, potential renters and owners?

Yes. Property, real estate, and community association managers often must attend evening meetings with residents, property owners, community association boards of directors, or civic groups. Not surprisingly, many managers put in long workweeks, especially before financial and tax reports are due. Some apartment managers are required to live in the apartment complexes where they work so that they are available to handle any emergency that occurs, even when they are off duty. They usually receive compensatory time off for working nights or weekends. Many apartment managers receive time off during the week so that they are available on weekends to show apartments to prospective residents.


How do property managers keep track of so many properties?

Many property management companies use property management software and property management programs to keep track of repairs, rent collection, communications, inspections and lease renewals.


How does one become a property manager?

Many people enter property management as onsite managers of apartment buildings, office complexes, or community associations, or as employees of property management firms or community association management companies. As they acquire experience working under the direction of a property manager, they may advance to positions with greater responsibility at larger properties. Those who excel as onsite managers often transfer to assistant property manager positions in which they can acquire experience handling a broad range of property management responsibilities.
Previous employment as a real estate sales agent may be an asset to onsite managers because it provides experience useful in showing apartments or office space. In the past, those with backgrounds in building maintenance have advanced to onsite manager positions on the strength of their knowledge of building mechanical systems, but this is becoming less common as employers place greater emphasis on administrative, financial, and communication abilities for managerial jobs.
Although many people entering jobs such as assistant property manager do so by having previously gained onsite management experience, employers increasingly hire inexperienced college graduates with bachelor's or master's degrees in business administration, accounting, finance, or real estate for these positions. Assistants work closely with a property manager and learn how to prepare budgets, analyze insurance coverage and risk options, market property to prospective tenants, and collect overdue rent payments. In time, many assistants advance to property manager positions.


Interested in a Property Management Career?

A career in property management involves handling all aspects of the upkeep of an income-producing real estate property (or properties), and ensuring it maximizes its financial potential. In short, a property manager's goal is to make the property run as efficiently and profitably as possible on behalf of its owner. Properties such as apartment complexes, office buildings, retail centers and community associations all require daily management. According to Salary.com, in the U.S., the expected salary for a property manager can range from $64,530 to $92,443; as of July 2008, the median salary was quoted at $76,9571. Moreover, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, over half of property managers are self-employed2.

Property management is a growing career field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook, states there were approximately 329,000 managers of property, commercial and real estate properties in 2006. The report goes on to say that property management career employment is slated to have a higher than average increase between 2006 and 2016 of up to 15% (approximately 50,000 jobs)3.

The day to day tasks of property management are diverse. Financial transactions and requirements include the collection of rent or late fees, processing deposits and refunds, and maintaining the property's insurance policies and overall budget. Property maintenance like lawn care, janitorial services, ordering site supplies, and waste and recycling removal are arranged and overseen by the manager. Coordinating more unusual repairs such as for plumbing and electrical issues also fall under a manager's responsibilities as well as the resolution of any issues or complaints of current tenants.

An onsite manager is generally responsible for the marketing, advertising and touring of available spaces. Concurrent with marketing, the manager must be aware of building codes, fair housing laws, current legislation and any legal issues surrounding the property.

Offsite managers coordinate with onsite managers, and are able oversee multiple properties. In an article from the "Journal of Property management" it analyzes how different factors affect how many properties a single manager can realistically operate. The type of property, geographical location, or the level or types of services provided are all aspects to be taken into consideration. Once the value of each component is factored in, it allows the manager (or company) to determine his property market niche.4

Taking these duties, requirements and factors into consideration, a strong basis for a successful career in property management often includes a degree in real estate, accounting, finance, or business administration. In fact, most states in the country require a property manager to have a real estate license or operate under a broker?s license to be qualified to receive rent or property related payments. Proficiency in administrative tasks, financial organization and customer service are desired qualifications; backgrounds in real estate, finance and building maintenance are all excellent foundations for this career, although experience is not always required for entry level assistant.


  1 Salary Wizard Basic Report. (2008, July). Retrieved November 21, 2008, from Salary.com for Property Manager: http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layouthtmls/swzl_compresult_national_FA06000553.html#readon (visited November 21, 2008).  
  2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm (visited November 21, 2008).  
  3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm (visited November 21, 2008).  
  4 Cottingham, H. R.; Muhlebach, Richard. (2007, November 1). "How many properties can a property manager manage?" Retrieved November 21, 2008, from AllBusiness.com: http://www.allbusiness.com/real-estate/commercial-residential-property-property/6630328-1.html
 



What are the responsibilities and duties of offsite property managers?

Property managers who do not work onsite market vacant space to prospective tenants through the use of a leasing agent or by advertising or other means, establish rental rates in accordance with prevailing local economic conditions, screen tenants, negotiate lease agreements, collect rent, arrange for maintenance, repairs and upkeep of the building and grounds, and deal with problem tenants.


What are the responsibilities and duties of onsite property managers?

Onsite property managers are responsible for day-to-day operations for one piece of property, such as an office building, shopping center, community association, or apartment complex. To ensure that the property is safe and properly maintained, onsite managers routinely inspect the grounds, facilities, and equipment to determine if repairs or maintenance are needed. They meet not only with current residents when handling requests for repairs or trying to resolve complaints, but also with prospective residents or tenants to show vacant apartments or office space. Onsite managers also are responsible for enforcing the terms of rental or lease agreements, such as rent collection, parking and pet restrictions, and termination-of-lease procedures. Other important duties of onsite managers include keeping accurate, up-to-date records of income and expenditures from property operations and submitting regular expense reports to the asset property manager or owners.


What is a certified property manager?

A certified property manager has taken a series of examinations from an accredited continuing education organization.


What is a commercial property manager?

A commercial property manager oversees income-producing commercial properties, such as retail or office spaces, shopping centers, industrial spaces and storage facilities.


What is a community association manager?

A community association manager manages the common property and services of condominiums, cooperatives, and planned communities through their homeowners' or community associations.
In many respects, the work of community association managers parallels that of property managers. They collect monthly assessments, prepare financial statements and budgets, negotiate with contractors, and help to resolve complaints. In other respects, however, the work of these managers differs from that of other residential property and real estate managers. Community association managers interact on a daily basis with homeowners and other residents, rather than with renters. Hired by the volunteer board of directors of the association, they administer the daily affairs, and oversee the maintenance of property and facilities that the homeowners own and use jointly through the association. They also assist the board and owners in complying with association and government rules and regulations. Some associations encompass thousands of homes and employ their own onsite staff and managers. In addition to administering the associations' financial records and budget, managers may be responsible for the operation of community pools, golf courses, and community centers, and for the maintenance of landscaping and parking areas. Community association managers also may meet with the elected boards of directors to discuss and resolve legal issues or disputes that may affect the owners, as well as to review any proposed changes or improvements by homeowners to their properties, to make sure that they comply with community guidelines.


What is a property manager or real estate manager?

A property manager, or real estate manager, oversees the performance of income-producing residential or commercial properties, and ensures that real estate investments reach their expected revenues.


What is a residential property manager?

A residential property manager oversees income-producing residential properties, such a single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, apartment complexes and mobile home parks.


What is an asset property manager?

An asset property manager supervises the preparation of financial statements and periodically reports to the owners of the rental property on the status of the property, occupancy rates, dates of lease expirations, and other matters.


What type of training is required to be a property manager?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, property, real estate and community association managers benefit most from degrees in business administration, real estate or related fields1; however, many colleges and universities have started to offer two or four year programs in real estate property management in their business or liberal arts programs. Still, the most widespread form of property management training appears to come from online, distance learning and correspondence training courses.

Most full property management training programs cover a variety of interrelated subjects ranging from: how to assess and choose real estate investments; the preparation of leasing terms and conditions; and daily administrative processes; to overviews of complete fiscal and operational duties. Whether from a four year program, online education course, or certification program, general areas of study include the following: financial and property analysis, marketing, leasing, tenant relations, human resources, legal forms, operations and procedures, and maintenance.

There are countless online programs that offer complete property management training for interested individuals, or specific classes designed as continuing education options for current managers and business professionals. These programs and classes can last anywhere from one day to over a year and can often be completed in the candidate’s spare time. A wide array of professional designations are also available from organizations like the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), the National Apartment Association (NAA), The Community Associations Institute (CAI), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM).

Property management training comes in many forms allowing candidates to pick the one best suited to his or her situation. With the need for property managers expected continue its robust growth, certification and training will help managers stand out from the crowd.


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm



What types of certifications are available for property managers?

There are many different types of certifications for property managers. Look for membership and credentials from the following organizations:
  • The National Apartment Association
  • The Community Associations Institute
  • The Institute of Real Estate Management
  • The Building Owners and Managers Association
  • National Association of Residential Property Managers



Who do property management firms hire as property managers?

Most employers prefer to hire college graduates for property management positions. Entrants with degrees in business administration, accounting, finance, real estate, public administration, or related fields are preferred, but those with degrees in the liberal arts also may qualify. Good speaking, writing, computer, and financial skills, as well as an ability to tactfully deal with people, are essential in all areas of property management.


What is a property management agent?

 A Property management agents, also known as property managers, are hired by owners or landlords of income-producing properties to run the day to day requirements of their real estate. Agents, or managers, are capable of overseeing a wide range of projects including residential investment properties, commercial buildings or complexes, and land development projects. With over 329,000 property, real estate, and community association managers in the U.S. in 2006 and faster than average growth expected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,1 property management agents will continue to be in high demand.

A property management agent is responsible for maximizing the value and income of an investment property. Regular duties might include some or all of the following: advertising and marketing available space; collection of rent and updating financials; execution and extension of leases; enforcement of lease terms and building rules; overseeing repair and maintenance schedules; and regular and timely communication with current tenants. Agents might also be responsible for tasks like generating financial reports, extended rental and lease services, and property market analysis. As a liaison for landlords or property owners, agents should be licensed if the state requires it, and aware of all local, state and federal regulations and building codes.

Property management agents benefit from college degrees in property management, business administration, real estate or other related fields,2 and further from recognized professional designations. With employment in this and related fields expected to grow up to 15% by 2016,3 property management remains a robust and dynamic industry.


1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm
2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm
3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm



What is a property management expert?

Property management experts are management professionals who have extensive experience in and knowledge of property related issues. These experts have often been in the management trade for many years, and sometimes hold multiple professional designations. With approximately 379,000 property, real estate and community association managers expected to be working in the U.S. by 2016 (up 15% from 2006),1 the industry continues to grow rapidly and experienced experts are becoming more and more accessible every day.

Property managers in general handle the day to day aspects of running an income-producing property and ensure it is maximizing its financial potential. Duties of a property manager might include these: accounting tasks such as the collection of rent, payment bills, and management of the mortgage, tax and insurance; upkeep of the building and grounds making certain all maintenance work is scheduled and the property and grounds are clean and kept up; advertising, marketing, and showing available spaces in the property or complex; acting as the liaison to the building tenants and dealing with any complaints or issues that may arise; and regularly reporting to the landlord or owner of the property the status of his or her investment.

Eventually, these managers might become authorities, or experts, in different areas of building or real estate management and can act as consultants for other companies, organizations, or in a court of law as a witness. Here are some examples of the areas in which these property management experts specialize: standards of care, industry practices, habitability, maintenance, health and safety, contracts and leases, fair housing laws, tenant and landlord disputes, and the practice of real estate transactions.

With the professional industry as well as the education sector for property management growing so rapidly, it is no wonder the interest in experts is growing. Qualifications, experience and knowledge will set these professionals apart in their field and identify them as the resources to tap for complex property management issues.


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm.



Are there college programs available for property management?

Property management colleges are available both online and onsite to provide the training, certification and professional designations to candidates interested in the field of property management. Training for a career in property management can be completed in as little as a weekend, or as in depth as a four year degree depending on the foundation of the candidate’s knowledge. With faster than average growth expected in the industry1, colleges, training programs and property management organizations are popular and relevant resources for those wanting to pursue a property management career.

While there are many related fields which make a strong basis for property management like finance, business, real estate and public administration, property management college courses focus specifically on tasks and concepts encountered within property management. Some of these topics might include the following: property analysis; tenant relations; managing commercial property leases; forms and administration; legal issues within property management; marketing; economics of property management; apartment management operations; and procedures, systems and reports.2

After attending a property management college, many graduates seek further distinction by achieving a designation from one of the industry’s organizations. These organizations are the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), the National Apartment Association (NAA), The Community Associations Institute (CAI), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). Examples of these designations include Certified Property Manager (CPM) from the IREM, Residential management professional (RMP) from the NARPM, Real Property Administrator (RPA) from the BOMA, Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) from the NAA and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) from the CAI. The achievement of these designations generally requires a certain number of learning hours, industry experience, and the completion of written exams.

Property management schools today are looking to fit themselves into the busy schedules of today’s business workers. With more and more colleges offering online property management courses, it is becoming easier to receive the training, degrees and designations necessary to be truly successful in property management.


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm
2 Ulinks website. Accessed April 3rd, 2009.: http://www.ulinks.com/realestatepropertymanagementtraining-certifiedpropertymanagerschoolcareer.htm



What types of jobs are there in the property management industry?

Property management jobs can be differentiated in a number of different ways. Just as there are niches within every profession, there are ways to specialize in the concentrations within property management.

Property managers can be selective of their job specifics based on the size or type of property on which they wish to focus. Within residential property management, managers can aim small and work with single family homes, duplexes or small apartment buildings; in commercial property management, small properties might include single buildings or small strip centers. Midsize management are generally considered to be condominium, apartment, commercial, and office buildings, and large property management is anything from office and apartment complexes with multiple buildings to shopping centers and entire community associations with hundreds of units or houses. Indeed, offsite and senior property managers often oversee entire portfolios of properties and might have a combination of any of the above.

Managers can work onsite or offsite, part time or full time, depending on the property or properties they work with. Many managers are part of a property management team or company, but over half are self employed.1 In 2006, the median salary for a property, real estate or community association manager was $43,070, with the highest 10% earning more than $95,170 a year.2

The call for property management jobs expands with the development and demand of the nation. With so many different options, it is easy to see why the property, real estate and community association field is projected to grow to over 379,000 professionals nationwide by 2016.3


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed April 2nd, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm



What is a property management association?

Property management associations (also known as property manager associations) are organizations that support the community of property management professionals. Whether at a local, state or national level, property management organizations promote the interests of several types of property managers.

Major real estate property management associations include organizations like the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), the National Apartment Association (NAA), The Community Associations Institute (CAI), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). All of these organizations seek to promote the interests of real estate managers in some form or capacity.

These associations, with membership, provide some or all of the following: education opportunities; area conferences; a community and networking opportunities; lobbying representation at the state or national level; resources specifically designed for professional managers; and other helpful services. Education opportunities can range from seminars and workshops to training for professional designations; conferences can be for local independent chapters to network, or large, national scale events that draw managers from across the country. Many of these associations’ websites have forums and directories to make it easier for managers to connect, ask questions and share knowledge. They also provide online tools like reports, listing services, and free subscriptions to trade magazines and newsletters.

Another type of industry association which refers to itself as a “property management association” is the National Property Management Association (NPMA) which supports managers of personal property and fixed assets. Unlike real estate property management, these managers generally deal with assets that are ”not readily convertible to cash” like machinery and fixtures.1

Property management associations have long been a staple in the property management industry providing a community, resource and unified voice for professional managers across the United States, and in some cases, worldwide.


1 NMPA website. Accessed July 2, 2009.: http://www.npma.org/