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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What is the owner's employment relationship with the property manager?

Property owners either employ the property manager directly or they employ them indirectly through a contract with a property management firm.

Will I need a property management contract or agreement?

Yes; a property management agreement is a contract between the owner of the property and the property manager or management company hired to run the property. A standard requirement in property management, this legally binding document outlines the manager’s responsibilities as well as the tasks that remain with the owner.

In general, a property management agreement will always contain the same basic types of information. The agreement will name all parties involved and state the address and/or legal description of the property. It will outline the responsibilities of the manager or management team and include some or all of the following items: provision for advertising and renting the property; outline for maintenance, repairs and housekeeping; terms of financial tracking and responsibilities like the collection of rent or late fees; policies for responding to tenant issues and concerns; stipulations for 24 hour emergency services; requirements for ordering supplies for the building; and outline any rules and regulations to be enforced which were set forth by the owner in the tenant leases. The contract will also outline the responsibilities of the owner, which largely deal with communication with the manager or management team. All fees and commissions of the manager, and the term for which the contract is valid are also included in the contract. The agreement includes all contact information, the dates in which the agreement is in effect, and is signed and dated by both parties.1

For an owner-friendly template, Realtax.com2 suggests the inclusion of specific timelines for marketing plans, budgets, plans for improvements and the like. By making it a performance-specific document, it is easier to measure the success and positive impact the manager has on the owner’s property. While Realtax.com cites this as an advantage to the owner, it is clearly also a valuable tool for the manager as well. The more specific the document, the easier it will be for both parties to define their boundaries, and be able to carry out their responsibilities.

Basic property management agreements are available to be downloaded for free, but most if not all of these are boilerplate agreements and can be over-generalized or heavily favor either the owner or the manager.3 Some agreements are available online for as little as $9.994 and appear to have the same general language as those for free; what they do guarantee is professional formatting and accuracy. Wherever the template is generated from, it is a good idea to discuss the agreement first with an attorney and then with the property manager or management company to ensure it is fair and agreeable to both parties.

Property management agreements are an essential tool for both the owner of the property and the manager. Not only does it outline the working relationship of the two parties, but also sets the standard of performance for the building for the term of the agreement.

1 The Property Management Contract. Accessed April 3, 2009.: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Property-Management-Contract---What-You-Need-to-Know&id=571543
2 Realtax.com website. Accessed November 24th, 2008.: Accessed November 24th, 2008. http://www.realtax.com/investors_whattoinclude.html
3 Realtax.com website. Accessed November 24th, 2008.: http://www.realtax.com/investors_whattoinclude.html
4 Public Legal Forms website. Accessed November 24th, 2008.: http://www.ilrg.com/forms/property-mgmt.html.

Commercial property listings

Commercial property listings are commercial real estate properties for sale or lease. A commercial property, also known as an “income property” or “investment property” can be classified as any real estate unit (building or land) utilized to generate a profit; this might include categories like office and retail spaces, hotels, developable land and even some residential rental properties can be considered commercial properties.

When a commercial property is listed, it is put up for sale or lease and advertised in print and through online portals. Ads in newspapers or magazines and direct mail marketing are common print commercial property listings marketing tools. Three of the most popular online sites are Loopnet.com, Costar.com and CIMLS.com. Online sites are popular with the commercial real estate community as it allows the maximum amount of information to be available to the broadest pool of potential buyers/investors.

Listings generally include some or all of the following information: historical, structural, financial and administrative data about the property or space; former tenants and owners; building photos, maps, floor plans and square footage; and past and current pricing. Online resources like the sites stated above also offer additional tools to help both commercial property buyers and sellers including comparable sales, analytic information, and personalized search pages.

Commercial property listings both online and in print are a driving source of the real estate industry. Often utilized as an alternative investment to the stock market, bonds and mutual funds, commercial properties continue to impact the investment industry and the economy nationwide.

Property management contract

A property management contract is a legally binding document between the owner of a property or portfolio and the property manager or management team hired to oversee it. A management contract is a standard requirement when hiring a manager to take over an investment property; a fair contract will protect both the owner and the manager, and clearly define each person’s role for the term of the agreement.

In general, a property management contract will always contain the same basic types of information. The contract will name all parties and give the address and/or legal description of the property. It will define the responsibilities of the manager or management team and include some or all of the following items: provision for advertising and renting the property; outline for maintenance, repairs and housekeeping; terms of financial tracking and responsibilities like the collection of rent or late fees; policies for responding to tenant issues and concerns; stipulations for 24 hour emergency services; requirements for ordering supplies for the building; and an outline of any rules and regulations to be enforced which were set forth by the owner in the tenant leases. The contract will also outline the responsibilities of the owner, which largely deal with communication with the manager or management team. All fees and commissions of the manager, and the term for which the contract is valid are also included. The agreement includes all contact information, the dates in which the agreement is in effect, and is signed and dated by both parties.1

Property management contracts are a staple of the real estate management industry and they are an essential and valuable way for a property owner to protect himself and his investment. Regardless of the type of property, a strong, fair, management contract is the foundation for a successful working relationship between an owner and property manager.

1 The Property Management Contract. Accessed April 3, 2009.: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Property-Management-Contract---What-You-Need-to-Know&id=571543

Homes for rent

There are millions of homes for rent across the nation, whether you are a student looking for temporary housing, a new resident to the area, or a visitor on vacation. Renting a home can be a short term or long term commitment and can be found through a realtor, real estate broker, online, in the paper, or even just by looking for signs in the desired area.

In Q3 2008, the median asking rent for the nation rose only 8.45% to $719 from the same time a year before, and vacancies for rental houses rose slightly from 9.8% to 9.9%1. Despite this “sluggish” behavior, renting homes is still a common occurrence due to the benefits to the renter. For example, when renting a home, the renter can have the amenities of a house and lot without worrying about the stresses of homeownership like repairs, improvements and, of course, the mortgage. Moreover, for many, renting allows for a quick and easy transition to a new neighborhood or the ability to move to an area where he or she cannot yet afford to purchase a house.

Also, for homeowners who have just bought a new home and are having difficulty selling their old ones, renting rather than selling might be a reasonable option to cover the mortgage and retain the equity of the house. While it puts them in the position of landlord, with the varied and sometimes time-consuming responsibilities, it can be a steady second income. If a homeowner wants to rent, but doesn’t want the responsibilities of being a landlord, a property manager or management team can be hired to oversee the leasing process and upkeep of the property.

Homes for rent are found in every city throughout the country. If you are looking for a place to vacation, a short term place to live, or long term housing, renting a home is an easy, affordable solution.

1 Global Property Guide.com Last accessed April 20th, 2009.: http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/North-America/United-States/Price-History

Property management school

A property management school can describe an institution that offers two year or four year degrees, online courses which allow for distance learning, home study and correspondence courses, and programs that train candidates for professional designations. These schools have a broad spectrum of programs to fit many needs: high school graduates who want to obtain a degree; business professionals looking to specialize in property management; and continuing education for those already experienced in the property management industry.

Courses in a property management school are focused to address specific areas within the industry which might include these: 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.1

Professional designations are certifications and credentials 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). 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 require a certain number of learning hours, real world experience, and the completion of written exams. While these might not strictly be considered “property management schools” their educational programs undoubtedly qualify as options for professionals in the property management arena.

With faster than average growth expected from the property management sector2, property management schools and education will no doubt continue to expand as well. Indeed, a property management school is becoming a popular choice for those who want a strong start in a challenging and diverse career.

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


An apartment is most easily defined as a room or set of rooms used as a place to live, found in a building with other residences. Apartments are a very common housing type in the United States with approximately 19% of renters living in structures of 2-4 units, and 44% living in structures with five or more units1. Indeed, apartments can be as small as only 2 separate units or include hundreds of residences in a building or complex; they can be found in both low income areas and as high end options in cities. Some places also offer short term vacation apartment leases for savvy travelers.

Apartment buildings are also a common commodity for real estate investors. Apartment building owners can choose to manage the property themselves, or hire a professional property manager to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the building.

Apartments account for over 30% of all of the rental housing units in the nation2 and provide an easy, cost-effective solution for millions of renters across the country.

1 National Multi-Housing Council website. Last accessed April 21st, 2009.: http://www.nmhc.org/Content/ServeContent.cfm?ContentItemID=1152
2 U.S. Census Bureau website. Last accessed April 21st, 2009.: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-qr_name=ACS_2007_1YR_G00_S2504&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=ACS_2007_1YR_G00_&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false

Property asset management

In order to understand property asset management, it is first necessary to break down the terms. “Asset management” refers to coordinating or overseeing the acquisition, management and disposition of assets in such a way as to maximize the financial value of the asset to the investor. An “asset” can refer to anything “of economic value” like cash, inventory, or office equipment, but in this case refers to real estate property.

Keeping this in mind, property asset management involves a property asset manager overseeing investment properties for the owner for the life of the investments, and in some cases making decisions about acquisitions, management, and dispositions on behalf of the owner. As stated above, these decisions should always maximize the value of the owner’s portfolio. Property asset managers might also act as the investor’s real estate agent when properties are being bought or sold, advise clients on a consulting basis, or be employed on retainer if an investor is bidding on a long term property development project.

Quality property management

"Quality Property Management" is a company name often utilized by professional management companies within the management and real estate industries. Quality, which is most easily defined as "a degree of excellence" denotes the company's commitment to providing exemplary services to their customers and clients.

Companies within the industry also often use the term "quality property management" in their tag line or mission statement to reinforce their promise to clients to provide a superior level of service and product. These management companies might offer services including residential and commercial property management, real estate acquisitions and dispositions, mortgage services, help with relocation, and the like.

It is, of course, essential to find a property management company that provides quality services in order to ensure that your investment property, home or portfolio is well taken care of. Quality property management services are often the extra support needed to ensure an income property's success, or the sale of a home.

Property management associates

In general, the term "property management associates" is another way to describe property managers or management professionals. In some cases, it might denote that the manager is less experienced, or just starting at the company. Still, associates tend to handle the same responsibilities and tasks property managers do; indeed, associates oversee all types of choice and distressed real estate and investment properties including residential, commercial, retail and industrial. From daily duties like collecting rent and coordinating maintenance to long term projects like budgeting and negotiating leases, associates are capable of handling all of these.

The term "associates" is often utilized in the name of real estate and property management companies across the country; they are most commonly used for LLCs, LLPs and corporations. The term generally denotes a team management style or a 'team atmosphere.' Indeed, many companies include the term "associates" in their company name to provide recognition to their employees and as a marketing aspect to potential clients.

Property management apartments

Property management apartments are apartments that are overseen by professional property management companies, or other non-private owners. Such managers might include professional property managers, specialized apartment managers, university housing and other management experts.

Apartment property managers have the particular experience and training to maximize the value of a multifamily housing property. Apartment managers can be onsite or offsite. Their duties include being the first point of contact for tenants, managing the daily upkeep and maintenance of the building, and making sure all administrative, financial and legal information is recorded, organized and kept current.

It's also worth noting that when searching online, it can seem like "property management apartments" refers to a certain type of property, but it is often just the search engine stringing together the common search terms in the results. The term "property management apartments" can refer to large or small complexes, furnished or unfurnished units, and apply to properties that are designed for low-income housing all the way up to luxury, high end units.

Property management professionals

Property management professionals can most easily be described as any person working in the property management industry who has the necessary training or experience to work as part of a property management team or as an independent property manager.

Property managers, whether onsite or offsite, or for a residential or commercial property, handle a broad range of tasks that ensure an income property is running smoothly; the tasks can include administrative, financial and operational duties. In addition, managers become the "go to" source for the owner, current tenants and prospective tenants for the property.

When managing a property or portfolio becomes too large a task for a single property manager, a management team can be hired. A management team is often comprised of specialists in each area of management to ensure all aspects of the investment are constantly being taken care of. These specialists, also considered property management professionals, might include the following: an accountant, legal counsel, certified support specialist, professional administrator, facilities manager or coordinator, real estate agent, systems maintenance administrator, office manager, asset manager, risk management specialist, and other financial, administrative or operational experts. Many of these positions require additional training or professional designations and are integral to the success of a management team.

Also, "property management professionals" is a popular tag line and advertising point for many property management companies as it emphasizes the training or experience their managers have.

Elite property management

"Elite Property Management" is a popular name for professional management companies as "elite" is commonly defined as "the best of a class." Multiple property management companies across the country have chosen this as their central marketing characteristic as it encapsulates their commitment to providing "superior" or "exceptional" services and products.

Elite property management companies deal with all types of real estate properties and investment services—from residential and commercial rentals to association management and property sales. These companies might offer full service management, partial services or even consulting options to their clients.

Property management professionals enable a property owner to retain the benefits of his or her property investment without having to give up the time necessary to manage it. Indeed, professional property management services in general guarantee a level of excellence in service, performance and results. Therefore, elite property management companies, whether in name or performance are a staple of the industry.

Property management rentals

"Property management rentals" are units overseen by property management companies or professionals. In other words, they are rental properties not managed directly by investors or owners. The term "rentals" in this case generally refers to residential units such as single family homes, apartments, townhouses and condominiums.

The full service management of rentals requires handling financial, administrative, and operational duties like collecting rent, updating and maintaining records, and facilitating the maintenance of the property. Property managers in charge of rentals are also responsible for advertising and marketing to ensure maximum occupancy for an owner or investor; for managers of rentals, this involves showing units, negotiating leases and being available to tenants.

Property management rentals sometimes also refer to vacation properties and units. Managers of vacation rental properties have similar duties to that of a residential rental manager, though their marketing and advertising requirements take up much more of their time as vacation rentals are engaged for shorter terms than the average residential lease of six to 12 months.

Resort property management

Resort property management can refer to the care of individual vacation rental properties, or entire resorts. This type of property management covers a broad range of tasks that are also found in both the hospitality industry and other types of property management.

Resort managers deal with a wide range of responsibilities in addition to traditional vacation or residential property management services, including timeshare management, homeowner or condominium association management, rental or vacation unit programs, and developer relations. These property management services will all fall to a resort property manager due to the options provided by typical resort properties.

For example, some vacation unit owners may want to rent their property out while they are not using it, or perhaps they own only a timeshare and need help facilitating maintenance and updates with the other owners. Or, many resorts with individually owned units operate under HOAs or community associations that require extensive daily management, short term and long term planning, and maintenance to ensure all common areas and services are running smoothly regardless of how many homeowners are present at any given time. In addition, resort property managers might assist developers with the sales or transition process from development to individual ownership.

Resort property management encompasses a wide range of management responsibilities due to the flexibility of resort real estate. From maximizing revenue from vacation units to assisting with capital plan improvements, resort property managers have a much more varied set of tasks than the typical property management professional.

Real property management

"Real Property Management" is a company name commonly utilized by many different types of property managers within the industry. The term "real property" refers to a given parcel of land and any permanent fixtures including trees, buildings and the like. Therefore, a company titled "Real Property Management" might specialize in any of the following management niches: residential or commercial units; community associations and developer services; or even real estate services like acquisitions and dispositions.

One franchise in particular named Real Property Management provides services for property managers, owners, prospective tenants, investors and even those looking to start their own property management franchise. They are a large company which serves both the U.S. and Canada.

It is important to do your research with property management companies with similar or identical names as most of these companies serve different areas and will offer different services. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request quotes or interview multiple candidates.

Select property management

"Select Property Management" is a name used by several property management companies across the country. The term "select" is used to imply "preferred" or "elite" and set these companies apart from others in the business. Companies that utilize this name or term can be found in all property management niches—from residential and commercial properties to community associations, asset management and real estate sales and acquisitions.

A full service property management company will handle all of the administrative, financial and operational tasks needed to run a rental property or community association at its highest possible level of performance. Services might include some or all of the following: keeping historical and current data organized and updated, taking care of financial tasks like collecting rent and deposits; overseeing the regular and emergency maintenance of the property; and handling advertising and marketing responsibilities when needed. Managers from these "select" companies might also offer partial services, or even act as consultants.

Preferred property management

"Preferred Property Management" is a name often utilized by property management companies within the industry as it implies both trust and a general positive opinion about the business. Property management businesses who use this as their name or as part of their tag line or mission statement are promoting themselves as an experienced, established company in the industry.

These companies can specialize in a number of different property management niches. From residential properties like single family homes, apartments and condominiums to office spaces, commercial units and even HOAs and community associations, 'preferred' property management companies operate throughout the management business.

It is important to research companies with similar or identical names in the property management industry as businesses will differ according to location, ownership and services offered. Don’t be afraid to request quotes from multiple companies and even conduct interviews of potential property managers to ensure you are hiring the manager or management team that will best suit your needs.

Total property management

"Total Property Management" is a company name used by several property managers in the real estate industry as it readily indicates both full service management and a complete range of service options.

Most property management companies offer "total" management as one of their options which generally include most or all of the following services: becoming the first point of contact for tenants, building workers and maintenance contracts; researching comps, setting rental rates, marketing, showing available spaces and leasing the property; maintenance for the interior, exterior and grounds of the property; collecting rent and fees from tenants and managing the property’s budget for both the short and long term; maintaining contracts, issuing purchase orders, paying invoices, purchasing supplies, and general accounting and banking needs; and administrative tasks like reporting and keeping data organized-- which might include profit and loss statements, annual reports, rent roll, occupancy reports, and historical records. Management companies which advertise "total property management" might also offer services including consulting, asset management and property sales or acquisitions.

American property management

"American Property Management" is a popular name for professional property management companies across the nation. Not only does it acknowledge the country, but also associates the sense of pride and qualities generally valued in the U.S.A. with the management company.

Companies that boast the name "American Property Management" are found in all categories of property management. Indeed, these companies might specialize in any of the following property types or services: residential properties like apartments, single family homes and condominiums; commercial properties like office spaces and retail suites; association management for HOAs, condominium associations or communities; assisting mortgage companies, government agencies or other fields with asset management; or even working with parcels of land and developers.

The term "American property management" might also be used by overseas investors interested in having their property investments within the U.S. professionally looked after by managers in the country. Due to our straightforward purchasing laws, many foreign investors purchase investment or retirement properties in the United States.

Apex property management

"Apex Property Management" is a company name commonly utilized within the property management industry. Property management companies who use this name might specialize in any of the different types of real estate ranging from residential properties like single family homes, townhouses and condos, and commercial properties like offices and retail spaces, to HOA and community associations, vacation rental properties and others.

Management companies offer different levels of services from full time management or partial services to consulting. For example, full service property management generally includes some or all of the following: administrative duties like keeping data organized and updated; financial tasks like collecting rent and overseeing the property's budget; operational requirements like coordinating routine and specialized maintenance; and advertising and marketing to maximize occupancy. Partial services and consulting might include any of the above.

Regardless of a company's name, it's important to research your options before selecting a property manager for your investment or association. Take the time to choose multiple candidates and request quotes, meet and interview your potential manager and don’t be afraid to keep looking until you find the manager or company that best fits your requirements and budget.

City property management

"City property management" is sometimes used as part of a management company's name when the company wants to be associated with a particular urban location. Companies that use this term in their names are found in all types of property and real estate niches including residential and commercial units, HOA and community association services, real estate sales and acquisitions, asset management and more.

Property management companies, regardless of location, generally offer a broad range of services and options to their clients. Indeed, from full service or partial service management to consulting and retainer services, property managers are a valuable asset to countless real estate investors across the nation. For example, full service management involves overseeing the responsibilities of a rental property including everything from collecting rent and dealing with tenants to setting budgets, planning capital improvements and coordinating maintenance contracts.

Regardless of their niche or specialty, these management companies are easily accessible and more affordable to the average investor than one might think. Often times, the benefits of having a professional property manager or management company far outweigh the associated costs.

Executive property management

"Executive Property Management" is a company name used by multiple property managers in the country. Managers that utilize this name are not necessarily connected and might specialize in one or more of the property management niches within the industry like residential, commercial, or industrial properties, office or retail complexes, or community associations.

In general, an executive property manager does not differ in responsibilities from a generally titled property manager. Indeed, these management professionals oversee the daily processes of a rental property, portfolio or community association and ensure the operations run smoothly, tenants are happy, and all necessary data and paperwork is kept up to date. In addition, professional property managers strive to help property owners lower the operating costs of their properties while optimizing operations and maximizing occupancy.

Though it is rare to find similarly or identically named property management companies in the same area, it can sometimes happen, so always be prepared to do a little research. In fact, regardless of company name, it is recommended to research and compare companies and services in order to find the professional manager who will best fit the needs of the investment property.

Keystone property management

"Keystone Property Management" is a popular company name in the professional management industry as it highlights the company’s role as an integral part of the success of a given rental property. Indeed, a "keystone" is known as the piece within an arch that holds all the other parts in place. Therefore, a property management company that takes on the keystone title whether in its name or mission statement reinforces its goal to be the central part of an investment owner’s property’s success.

Property management companies in general offer a wide range of services and options. For example, property owners can choose to hire a professional manager or management team for full service management or partial services. Full service management includes the manager taking over entire responsibility of the operation of the asset, whereas partial services are more suited for investors who have vacation properties located too far away to easily manage themselves, or buildings that do not require constant attention.

Lake property management

"Lake property management" is a term used in part or in full by countless property management companies in their business names to designate their location or management niche. These management companies often deal with vacation rental properties as well as traditional management properties as lakes are a popular destination to visit or own a second home.

As lake properties are more likely to be vacation rentals or second homes, many of these companies offer specialized services in addition to traditional property management like regular unit inspections, cleaning services, community association management, check in and check out options, fridge-stocking, or even more specialized services like dock and boat maintenance.

Still, some lake property management companies, depending on their location and focus, can deal with non-residential types of investment properties (like commercial or retail spaces) and some offer related real estate services in addition to general property management. For example, companies might also help with asset management, real estate acquisitions and sales, or land development.

Property management agencies

Property management agencies are companies that manage rental income properties. Agencies can offer general management for all types of rental properties in a given area, or specialize in a particular type of property like residential, commercial, or industrial. These companies can be large or small in size and employ only a few property managers, or complete property management teams depending on their scope and specialization.

A management agency provides all of the services necessary to make an investment property successful and generate income. From advertising and marketing the property, showing spaces and negotiating leases, to handling maintenance requests, updating property data and collecting rent, property management agencies are able to completely oversee the tasks of running a rental property.

When searching for a property management agency to handle your rental property or portfolio, it is important to do your research and find the agency that you feel is best suited to your property and financial needs.

Realtor property management

"REALTOR® property management" is a property management business overseen, or controlled in full or in part by a REALTOR®, also known as a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). While commonly interchanged with the term "real estate broker" or "real estate agent," REALTOR® is a trademarked title technically reserved for members of the NAR.

A REALTOR® can have many different occupations within the real estate arena. In fact, the NAR supports and encourages all types of real estate occupations including real estate agents, property managers, mortgage bankers, appraisers, real estate counselors and other niche occupations within the industry.1 In addition, NAR members can earn professional designations from the association itself or nine of its affiliated programs; these designations appear as letters or acronyms after their names.2

In short, property management REALTORS® generally have extensive professional training and experience; however, it is always a good idea to do some research prior to signing a management contract with anyone. Don’t be afraid to request quotes from companies or interview managers before selecting someone to manage your investment property.

1 National Association of Realtors website. Accessed August 3rd, 2009. : http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/careers
2 National Association of Realtors website. Accessed August 3rd, 2009. : http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/AboutUsDesignations?OpenDocument

Realty property management

"Realty Property Management" is a term used in part or in full by several property managers in their business names and company profiles throughout the country. "Realty," is another term for real estate, and can be used to describe all types of rental properties and spaces property managers might oversee including these: residential properties like homes, apartments, condominiums and townhouses; commercial spaces like office and retail suites; community associations, real estate portfolios and retail or office complexes; and REO (real estate owned) properties. Moreover, "realty property management" can be used to describe both companies that specialize in a particular property management niche, and also those that might handle all types of properties, but only in a specific geographical area.

Property managers are all different, and finding the one that fits both your requirements and the needs of the property can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to shop around, compare services and even ask for quotes or conduct interviews; giving up control of your investment property is a huge change and should be undertaken with care and consideration.

Real estate

The term "real estate" has different definitions depending on the context in which it is used. The term might refer to a portion of land including all buildings and permanent "improvements" upon it, the industry of developing, buying, selling or renting property, or sometimes even a professional’s occupation. In common law, the term "real estate" can be interchanged with the term "real property" which also refers to land, built improvements and other permanent fixtures.

Indeed, real estate, whether as undeveloped land, or with improvements, is a popular commodity in today’s economy. Real estate encompasses all types of properties from residential buildings like single family homes and apartment complexes, to commercial spaces like offices, retail suites and industrial buildings. Moreover, there are a broad range of professional occupations within the real estate industry including brokers and agents, appraisers, mortgage specialists, property managers, lenders, landlords, attorneys, and many more. These professionals provide services ranging from developing land and buying and selling properties, to overseeing investments, facilitating loans and the like.

Property management education

Education to be a property manager comes in many forms; from a university degree, to an online or distance learning course, or a continuing education weekend seminar, training for property management can be shaped to fit anyone’s schedule and needs. Still, regardless of the type of program a candidate chooses, there are a number of subjects and skills that must be learned in order to be a successful property manager.

Most full property management education programs cover a variety of subjects generally including all of the following: how to evaluate and select real estate investments; the preparation of leasing terms and conditions; daily administrative processes; and in depth training in fiscal and operational duties. Indeed, whether from a four year program, online education course, or certification program, general areas of study include these subjects: financial and property analysis, marketing, leasing, tenant relations, human resources, legal forms, operations and procedures, and maintenance. In addition, 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).

The importance of focused education for property managers continues to grow as the industry expands. It is becoming more and more common for managers to have full training from a college, online program or similar, though there are also managers who transfer from related industries like real estate brokerage, business administration and finance.

In sum, property management education, whether as a basis of knowledge, or a continuing source of information for seasoned professionals, is an integral part of the management industry. With managers making anywhere from $20,000 to more than $95,0001 per year, a strong basis of knowledge and broad skill set is a must.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Accessed August 6, 2009.: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos022.htm

Property management cost

The cost of property management differs greatly depending on location, property type and management company. For most companies, the management fees consist of a percentage of the rent on occupied units (anywhere from 6-12% in general), and additional fees for advertising and leasing services. However, some companies opt to charge flat monthly fees and itemize more specific costs in their management agreements.

It’s always important to read your management contract carefully when negotiating with a management company and ask questions about unusual fees. If a company is charging commissions on vacant units or marking up repair costs beyond reasonable levels, it might be a sign that the company is not as experienced or successful as you would like. Don’t be afraid to look for other management candidates to compare fee structures, or reject a company on the basis of their management contract.

Overall, the benefits of employing a professional property manager far outweigh the average property management cost for a property or portfolio. A professional manager can generally lower operating costs while maximizing occupancy and revenue, making their services well worth the price.