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One of the lesser known roles within the real estate industry is that of a property manager. Property managers are responsible for the management of residential and commercial real estate.

For this profession, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an employment growth of about 11% by 2026. That means demand for real estate managers will continue to exist in the foreseeable future.

What Does A Property Manager Do?

As a real estate manager, your job is to organize and manage the leases of residential, commercial and retail properties on behalf of their owners. Other duties you’re expected to perform include:

  • Handling lease-ends
  • Handling property visits
  • Handling evictions
  • Managing all issues surrounding the property (improvements, maintenance, repairs)
  • Collecting rent on behalf of the landlord
  • Finding tenants for vacant properties

Some rental managers are hired to manage properties on behalf of real estate investors. Others have their own properties to rent out. Either way, you should have a background in business administration and real estate.

If you have a strong desire to work with people, are looking for job security, and want a decent salary, read on to find out what you need to do to become a property manager.


The Requirements To Become a Property Manager


Expand your knowledge base

Educational requirements vary according to the type of property manager you want to be. Generally, it’s a good idea to have a college degree in public administration, business administration or real estate. However, the requirements may differ depending on the company you work for.

We recommend that you take higher education classes. Doing so will prepare you for the workforce, as well as network with like-minded people. Ideally, you’ll want to network with those who are aspiring to work, or already working, in property management.

Studying to become a certified property manager

Property Management Companies Require a Real Estate License

If you want to start your own property management company, you’ll definitely need some form of higher education. Most states require property management companies to have a real estate broker license.

The licensing requirements vary depending on the state. For example, Montana, Oregon and South Carolina issue a property manager’s license, but not a real estate agent license. On the other hand, states like Maine, Vermont and Idaho don’t even require real estate managers to be licensed.

We recommend that you do your research for your specific state before starting a property management company.


Common property management certifications


Residential management professional

Created by NARPM, this is one of the most recognized certifications for property managers. To be eligible for it, you need to complete at least 25 units, have at least 2 years of experience and a real estate license in good standing.

Picture of NARPM Logo

Certified Manager of Community Associations

Created by the CAI, this certification helps members stay abreast on the latest local laws. Members need to undergo continuing education to remain in good standing. It’s currently awarded by the National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers.


Certified Apartment Manager

Awarded by the National Apartment Manager, this is ideal for those who work for bigger companies or larger apartment buildings. To obtain the certification, you need to complete a project, take a series of classes and pass a final exam.


Certified Property Manager

This is one of the most difficult certifications to obtain. Created by IREM, it shows that you already have a real estate license, or are not legally required to hold one. You also need a considerable amount of experience in real estate management and/or investing to become a certified property manager.


Consider joining a property manager’s or realtor’s association

In real estate, networking is essential. Joining associations will help advance your career and business. Also, signing up for workshops and seminars is a great way to expand your knowledge.

Realtor Association

When you join property management associations, you can:

  • Gain access to the latest real estate technologies, tools and vendors
  • Stay up-to-date on industry news and changing regulations
  • Network and share knowledge with your peers
  • Have the opportunity to earn certifications that help you stand out from the competition
  • Gain access to resources and continuing education opportunities
  • Receive nationally recognized designations. For example, you can be a Residential Management Professional, Certified Maintenance Coordinator or Certified Support Specialist.

Different Types of Real Estate Managers

There are different kinds of real estate managers. You have onsite property managers, community association managers, residential managers and commercial property managers.

1) Onsite property manager

The onsite property manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a single piece of real estate, like shopping centers, office buildings and apartment complexes.

As an onsite real estate manager, you’ll be required to:

  • Keep accurate, up-to-date records on property operations
  • Enforce the terms of lease agreements. Examples include enforcing termination-of-lease procedures, parking and pet restrictions, rent collection and the like.
  • Meet with residents when handling requests for repairs and maintenance.


2)  Community association managers

A community association manager handles a condominium or homeowners association. These professionals are responsible for the daily operations of a planned community.

To become a community association manager, you generally need a college education. Licensing depends on your state’s rules and regulations.

If you want to be this type of manager, here are some of the duties and responsibilities you’re expected to take on.

  • Collecting dues and managing the books
  • Hiring personnel to maintain the grounds or conduct repairs
  • Evaluating service bids
  • Enforcing community rules and regulations


3) Residential and Commercial Real Estate Managers

Commercial and residential property managers have similar roles. Except for the type of property they manage, both of them work with individual investors. 

Residential and commercial managers generally have the following responsibilities:

  • Administration and risk management
  • Marketing your property
  • Tenant screening
  • Maintenance management
  • Collection of rent
  • Eviction process
  • Financial records


What Skills Are Needed To Be a Property Manager?

To stand out as a real estate manager, you need something that differentiates you from the competition. Specifically, you must be likable, articulate and presentable. Aside from those, here are 5 essential skills you need to excel in this field.

1. Understand the basics of marketing

Having general marketing experience is a must. As a property manager, you’ll need to attract new clients and fill your vacant properties. Having a general understanding of marketing will help you write a great rental description, which in turn will bring in more qualified leads.

 Marketing vacant properties

2. Exceptional Organization Skills

Managing real estate can be pretty hectic, so it’s important you have good organization skills. Without these skills, you’ll be unable to keep up with things like maintenance and repair schedules.


3.  Responsive customer service

Since you’ll be dealing with people a lot of the time, it’s important to be responsive and understanding. Being able to sympathize with people’s issues will help you provide excellent service to tenants and landlords alike.


4.  Strong communication skills

Your ability to interact with people from various backgrounds will make a huge difference in your success as a property manager. The stronger your communication skills, the more people will want to deal with your company, and the more business you’ll be able to bring in.


5.  Basic handyman skills

As a property manager, you’ll be dealing with repair and maintenance issues on a daily basis. If you can at least have a general idea of what to do in these situations, you’ll be able to better serve your clients.

Other necessary skills include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Self-confidence
  • Reliability
  • Initiative
  • Technological savviness


What is the career outlook for property managers?

Employment of property, real estate and community association managers is projected to grow 11 percent between 2016 and 2026.

Growth rate in the industry

The trend is largely due to these factors.

1) Rental owners are becoming more aware of the importance of property management firms.

2) More people are moving into condominium buildings.

3) The types of real estate managed by homeowners or homeowner associations are increasing.


Where do property managers work?

Rental managers work in a wide variety of companies. Some of these include:

  • Property management companies
  • Offices of real estate agents and brokers
  • Local government
  • Professional, social, civic and similar organizations


Go Get Started!

Once you obtain the necessary certifications, it’s just a matter of finding the right real estate management company. Look for companies that have a solid reputation. You’ll be learning a lot on the fly, so it’s important to find a company that excels in its field.