I would like to switch careers and become a property manager in Southern California, but I am unable to find useful information on how to make that transition. Aside from getting a RE realtor/broker license, what else do I need to do?
Becoming a property manager in California technically just requires that you get your broker license, or you get a realtor license and work under a broker. Additionally, you’ll have to meet other requirements that are imposed on all businesses, such as getting a business license, and complying with any other state and local ordinances for setting up and operating a business.
There are also some things you should consider, but that you aren’t required by law to do. Real estate education doesn’t really focus on property management, so I’d consider taking some property management courses with the National Association of Residential Property Managers or with the Institute of Real Estate Management.
Both of these organizations should have some state and local chapters that are in your area, so try contacting them. Not only will the classes give you valuable information, but you could get a property management certification (for example, this certification from NARPM) that could give you an advantage over your competitors, and you’ll have some great networking and continuing education opportunities.
It might also be a good idea to try working for a reputable property management company for a while for a few reasons:
- A broker license will be required if you’re going out on your own and not working under a broker. To get the broker license, you’ll first need a real estate salesperson license and some real estate experience (last time I checked, California requires two years experience), among other things. You can get the real estate experience working for a properly licensed property management company in California.
- Working for a property management company would be a great way to get some valuable experience while you’re meeting the broker requirements.
- You’ll need to develop a whole slew of forms (lease agreements, tenant applications, evictions forms, financial reporting forms, and many, many more), and state laws often require property managers to meet certain requirements, such as having a trust account.
- You’ll also have to be very familiar and comfortable with California’s Landlord/Tenant Law, the Fair Housing Act and state and local ordinances affecting rental management.
- Getting an idea of what forms will work for you and how to comply with these laws under the guidance of an experienced and respected property manager could be invaluable.
Note that real estate licensing requirements change pretty frequently, so the best way to get current information is to call the California Bureau of Real Estate and talk to a specialist there.
Author of the Landlord Chronicles blog, Tracey March provides stories and “lessons learned” from her experience as a self-managed rental property owner. She helps owners decide if partnering with a property management company is beneficial.