What does a RPM certification mean? And what are the benefits of getting one?
It’s awarded to licensed real estate agents who have completed a rigorous professional development program in property management, and who also have a level of hands-on experience actually engaging in property management, in the field.
To get the designation, you must complete 18 hours of NARPM-approved courses, plus an ethics course. The ethics course is three hours. Each of these below subjects is six hours in length:
- Habitability Standards & Maintenance
- HR: Start to Finish
- NARPM® 101: Basics of Property Management
- Office Operations
- Operating an In House Maintenance Company
- Maintenance: Basics and Beyond
- Owner/Client Relations Essentials
- Owner/Client Relations Advanced
- Personnel Procedures Essentials
- Personnel Procedures Advanced
- Risk Management Essentials
- Risk Management Advanced
There are additional requirements, as well: candidates can choose between publishing a professional article, attending NARPM conferences, work within the professional community.
Obviously, the treatment of each of these subjects is much more in depth than what you get with your basic real estate licensing. It can also do a lot to fill out the gaps in your experience level – especially for those currently working as employees in property management companies whose personal focus in the course of their employment may be narrow. For example, if you spend your whole day creating advertisements on your property management company’s behalf, you aren’t likely to learn much about the insurance world.
The course on marketing could be particularly valuable even if you choose to leave the property management world. Knowing how to prospect for new business by itself will make you a valuable asset in almost any industry.
To qualify for the RMP, you must have held a real estate license for the two previous years, in states that require a real estate license to manage properties.
You must also demonstrate 100 unit-years of property management experience over the two previous years. So you should be averaging 50 different units under your management each year prior to applying.
In addition, you must maintain 25 units under your management while you are studying for the RMP, and have 25 units under your management at the time of designation.
Once designated, you must take an ethics course every four years to maintain your RMP designation.
Do employers value it? That varies. However, someone who can show they’ve completed RMP training applying for a property management job will almost always have a leg up on a competing applicant with nothing but a resume, a real estate license, and maybe some work history.
You must also submit three sealed letters of recommendation from property owner clients, and two more from RMP or Master Property Manager designees. NARPM also provides the Master Property Manager designation.
The fact that you’ve taken the initiative to complete training on your own time also shows employers that you’re serious minded and willing to invest in yourself and your property management career. All other things being equal, it’s the applicant who has been taking the time to pursue independent professional development who is going to get the call back.
Also, the “unit-hour” requirement assures employers that you’ve been around the block a time or two. If you have managed 50 units each year or more for two years, chances are you have a fairly good base of practical knowledge and experience to draw from.
That sets you apart from people with nothing but ‘book learning.’
Is it necessary? No. You can have a fine career as a property manager and not get the certifications, other than your license if your state requires it. Indeed, many excellent managers won’t qualify because they manage properties with too few units to qualify for the unit-hours requirement.
But it certainly helps – and when it comes to legal compliance, something you learn in a class studying for the RMP might help you avoid a liability-generating and possibly career-harming mistake!
Here’s an application checklist. There’s also an applicants’ fee of $150, and you have to be an active NARPM member.
Meet the requirements? Visit NARPM’s page on the RMP certification here!
Writing about personal finance and investments since 1999, Jason Van Steenwyk started as a reporter with Mutual Funds Magazine and served as editor of Investors’ Digest. He now publishes feature articles in many publications including Annuity Selling Guide, Bankrate.com, and more.