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Property Manager Career Guide

What is a property manager?

A property manager is a professional assigned tasks that revolve around the management and maintenance of real estate properties. They deal with many different kinds, be it residential, commercial, or rental properties. Their primary goal is to keep them in excellent condition and ensure that their maximum possible value is retained over time. As such, they act as intermediaries between owners and tenants while providing a strategic vision for the property’s growth and maintenance.

Property managers are key to reducing stress and saving time for the owners. By handling operational responsibilities, the property manager lets owners focus more on their investment’s financial aspects. Additionally, they help tenants have an enhanced quality of life by ensuring their comfort and resolving any issues they face, adding substantial value to the community.

Duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a property manager are diverse. They are responsible for maintaining the property’s physical structures and outdoor areas, ensuring neatness and cleanliness. They also manage all aspects of the tenant-landlord relationship. This involves everything from finding and screening potential tenants, handling lease negotiations to swiftly resolving tenant complaints and concerns, and in severe cases, overseeing eviction procedures.

A property manager is also responsible for the financial management of the properties under their care. They handle rent collection, prepare financial statements, and make necessary payments associated with the property such as taxes, mortgages, and insurance. In some cases, they may also be involved in marketing the property to prospective tenants and conducting periodic property inspections to ensure their optimal upkeep.

Work environment

The work environment of a property manager can be highly variable since it depends on the nature and location of the properties they manage. They often work in an office, but their job requires frequent visits to the properties under their supervision. This means they could be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, conducting site inspections, meeting with tenants, or coordinating with maintenance staff and contractors.

Property managers may work for property management companies, real estate firms, or work independently. The stress levels can be high at times, especially in situations dealing with difficult tenants or addressing unexpected property issues. However, if one enjoys problem-solving, interacting with people, and has a strong interest in real estate, this job can be highly rewarding.

Typical work hours

Typically, property managers work full-time and their work schedule often exceeds the standard 40 hours per week. Their work hours can extend into evenings and weekends, particularly for property viewing or dealing with urgent property-to-tenant related issues. The necessity to respond swiftly to emergencies like property damage or maintenance issues means that property managers need to be on-call outside the traditional work hours.

While this might seem demanding, the flexibility in their scheduling often counterbalances it. Depending on the urgency of tasks and their client or tenant interaction requirements, property managers often have the flexibility to manage their own time and priorities. A significant level of autonomy comes with this role, which many individuals find appealing.

How to become a property manager

This career guide section outlines the steps to become a property manager. The key aspects of this profession involve real estate knowledge, business management skills, and excellent interpersonal abilities.

Step 1: Obtain a high school diploma

The first step in this career is securing a high school diploma. This is usually a standard requirement for positions and further educational endeavors. The coursework in high school such as mathematics, business, and English language can provide initial understanding of real estate concepts, communication skills, and financial management principles which come in handy in property management.

Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree

While not mandatory for all positions, having a bachelor’s degree can certainly give you an edge in this competitive field. Many property managers have degrees in fields such as business administration, real estate, or public administration. These programs typically cover topics like property laws, real estate marketing, financial management, and contract negotiation, all of which become useful in a property management career.

Step 3: Gain relevant experience

Next, building experience in real estate or property management can significantly advance your career prospects. This can be either as an assistant property manager, leasing consultant, or a similar role. The experience gained from these roles can offer practical understanding about property maintenance, tenant relationships, lease agreements, and other aspects of property management.

Step 4: Obtain related certification or license

An important step in becoming a property manager is getting certified or licensed. Laws vary by state, but many require property managers to have a real estate broker’s license or a property management license. Voluntary certifications, such as the Certified Property Manager (CPM) from the Institute of Real Estate Management, can further enhance your credibility in the field.

Step 5: Grow your network

Building a strong professional network is a key factor for success in any field, including property management. Becoming a member of property management associations or attending industry events can help expose you to potential job opportunities and industry trends. It also allows exchanging knowledge with other professionals and building relationships that could lead to potential collaborations in the future.

Step 6: Stay updated

Property laws, landlord-tenant rights, and real estate market trends change over time. A property manager needs to stay updated with these changes. This can be done through regular reading, attending workshops or seminars, or getting additional training. Continual learning is an important behavioral trait in this profession.

Step 7: Apply for property manager positions

After fulfilling the above steps, you can apply for property manager positions. Start by preparing a compelling resume and cover letter highlighting your relevant skills, experiences, and education. Many employers use job boards or professional networking sites to advertise these positions, so check these platforms regularly. Finally, prepare for your job interviews to illustrate your aptitude for the role.

How much do property managers make?

Property manager salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Certain factors such as property size, the type, number of units managed and its geographical location are particularly influential in determining compensation.

Highest paying industries

  • Insurance Carriers – $77,810
  • Scientific Research and Development Services – $76,230
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises – $74,970
  • Computer Systems Design – $73,690
  • Securities Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage – $72,580

Highest paying states

  • New York – $92,290
  • Massachusetts – $88,500
  • California – $87,850
  • New Jersey – $85,320
  • Virginia – $80,150

Browse property manager salary data by market

Types of property managers

Below, we highlight the various career types and areas of specialization for property managers. This section serves as a launching pad to gain insights into the roles and responsibilities these specializations encompass.

Residential property manager

Residential property managers oversee properties used for living purposes. Duties typically include managing tenant relations, ensuring the property is in good living condition, coordinating maintenance and repair services, and collecting rent. They could manage various types of residential properties, including houses, apartments, and condominiums.

Commercial property manager

Handling non-residential properties like office buildings, retail spaces, and industrial properties falls under the purview of a commercial property manager. Their priority is maintaining a conducive business environment. They deal with leases, budgets, building maintenance, and sometimes, marketing of the properties.

Rental property manager

A rental property manager has the responsibility of managing properties that are rented out. Key duties include managing relationships with tenants, fix and maintaining the rental, and ensuring timely rent collection. They usually work closely with the property owner to maximize return on investment.

Lease administration manager

Lease administration managers specialize in overseeing and coordinating the lease administration process. They handle the operational side of leases, from initial negotiations to maintaining lease agreements. They ensure tenants comply with lease terms and keep track of expirations and renewals.

Homeowner association (HOA) manager

An HOA manager, or homeowners association manager, primarily deals with community-owned properties. They work closely with the homeowners association to enforce community rules and regulations, manage communal areas, oversee maintenance work, and collect association fees.

Real estate asset manager

Working more on the investment side of property management, a real estate asset manager aims to increase property value and return on investment for property owners and investors. This role involves market analysis, property valuation, and strategic decision-making related to the property’s financial and operational performance.

Top skills for property managers

This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a property manager. Property managers must have a mix of technical familiarity with properties, a strong understanding of customer service, and an exceptional grasp on management principles.

Technical skillset

A deep understanding of real estate, building systems, and property maintenance is essential. This knowledge will prove invaluable when inspecting properties, overseeing repairs, or directing maintenance work. A solid grasp of applicable local laws and regulations can also be a significant advantage. Notably, individuals with a background in real estate, construction, or facilities management may find their prior experience tremendously helpful in a property management role.

Customer service abilities

In this field, you’ll regularly interact with tenants, potential renters, and property owners. Consequently, robust customer service skills can be immensely valuable. The ability to communicate effectively, address complaints or concerns with empathy, and build worthwhile relationships is often key to achieving high tenant retention rates and customer satisfaction scores. Any past experience in customer-facing roles may come to your aid here.

Management and organization skills

Property managers must keep track of many tasks in their daily work, including tenant issues, property maintenance work, and often multiple properties. Therefore, excellent organizational skills can be incredibly beneficial. A good manager in this field would also need robust leadership skills to direct maintenance staff and resolve tenant disputes effectively. Any prior management experience might be particularly useful in honing these abilities.

Property manager career path

A career as a property manager can lead to a variety of opportunities in the future. While there are direct steps and lateral moves within the profession, there are also transitions that can be made into related fields.

Career advancement

Within property management itself, there is ample room for growth. Many professionals in this field may start managing a single-property portfolio and, over time, be entrusted with managing multiple properties or even larger properties such as commercial buildings or apartment complexes. With experience and a solid track record, there may be opportunities to progress into roles such as regional property manager, overseeing multiple property managers and properties within a specific geographical area.

Transition into real estate

Handling various aspects of property management can equip one with an exhaustive knowledge of the real estate market. This knowledge and experience could make a transition into real estate a natural progression. Roles like leasing consultant, real estate agent or broker are common transition points for many in the field.

Moving into corporate real estate

Entertainment venues, hotels, and even larger corporations often have numerous properties that require management. These roles often require a deep understanding of property management and stronger strategic and business skills. Working as a corporate real estate manager is an option after gaining several years of experience in property management.

Specializing in a niche

Property management career paths are not limited to residential and commercial properties. The field also includes managing specialized projects such as retirement homes, hospitals, or student residences. Specializing in such niches can open up opportunities for growth and diversification in roles, adding another layer to the career progression plan.

The property management sector continues to evolve, driven by trends in technology and changing tenant expectations. The use of digital platforms for rent collection, tenant screening, and property maintenance requests is now common. Consumer preferences for advanced technology features and sustainable living conditions influence property managers. As tenants demand more environmentally friendly living spaces, property managers are incentivized to make their properties more energy-efficient. Likewise, flexible rental models, like co-living and short-term rentals, disrupt traditional long-term rental models, adding a new layer of complexity for professionals in this field.

Along with these challenges, the sector presents several opportunities. For instance, the growing popularity of remote work may lead to a surge in demand for home offices within rental spaces. Smart home technology, from keyless entry systems to fully integrated security systems, is another trend that may offer opportunities for upward growth. The demand to adapt these trends can lead to advancements in job roles within the property management industry.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of property, real estate, and community association managers is projected to grow 3 percent through 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. While an increase in the number of properties is expected to result in a greater need for professional managers, automation of some property management tasks may offset some of this increased demand. Job opportunities should be best for those with a college degree in business administration or real estate and those with professional credentials.

Property manager career tips

Get familiar with rental and real estate laws

As a property manager, you should have a thorough understanding of state, local, and federal property and rental laws. Topics may include property condition disclosures, insurance requirements, discrimination, equal opportunity housing, and eviction rules. Staying well-versed in these laws can help you avoid legal troubles while effectively managing properties.

Value communication

While working in your role, it’s vital to maintain open lines of communication with property owners, tenants, maintenance workers, and other stakeholders significantly. Strong communication and conflict management skills can significantly reduce misunderstanding and build lasting relationships, leading to a smoothly run property.

Embrace technology

The property management industry has been transformed by technological tools. Property management software, online market research tools, and digital communication platforms can help streamline your workflow, stay organized and increase efficiency. Getting adept at these technologies will make you an indispensable asset.

Attend relevant training and workshops

Property management is a dynamic field, and to stay competitive, continuous learning is key. Invest time in attending seminars, industry workshops, and certification programs that can enhance your expertise and keep you updated with the industry’s latest trends and best practices.

  • Certified Property Manager (CPM) by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
  • Residential Management Professional (RMP) from the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)

Build a professional network

Networking is vital in the industry. It’ll allow you to learn from your peers, gain insights into other’s experiences and even find potential job opportunities. Joining professional associations and participating in their events can drastically enlarge your network.

  • Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
  • National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)
  • Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA)
  • National Apartment Association (NAA)

Where the property manager jobs are

Top employers

  • CBRE Group
  • JLL
  • Brookfield Properties
  • Cushman & Wakefield
  • Colliers International

Top states

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Monster
  • LinkedIn


What skills are needed to excel in property management?

Property management calls for a unique blend of skills. Excellent interpersonal abilities are important, as you will frequently interact with tenants, staff, contractors, and owners. Organizational talents are equally important, ensuring smooth operation of the property, from maintenance schedules to financial management. Problem-solving and decision-making abilities are also essential, as this profession often requires swift and efficient response to varying challenges.

Is a specialist degree needed to pursue a career in property management?

Though not always required, obtaining a degree in real estate, business administration, public administration, or related fields can be beneficial. Some companies might prefer candidates with higher education qualifications. Additionally, professional certifications or licensure in property management can give individuals the edge in securing positions in this field.

What does a typical day look like for someone in this field?

The everyday routine varies depending on the properties being managed and the specific needs of the tenants and owners. Common tasks, however, include dealing with tenant issues, arranging maintenance or repair works, conducting property inspections, managing budgets and keeping financial records. The day could also involve meeting potential tenants for property showings.

Does this profession require working irregular hours?

The nature of the role does sometimes dictate non-traditional working hours. This is especially true when handling emergencies such as urgent repairs. Often, property managers need flexibility in their schedule to meet the various needs of landlords and tenants. Nevertheless, many tasks can be scheduled during normal business hours.

Is this profession predominantly fieldwork or office work?

It’s a mixture of both. Property managers spend part of their time in an office setting, handling administrative tasks like reporting, budgeting, and correspondence. However, they also frequently visit the properties they manage for inspections, maintenance supervision, and tenant interaction. The exact ratio between office and fieldwork can depend on the specific portfolio of properties being managed.

What tools or software are beneficial in property management?

Technology is integral to modern property management. Several software products can aid in various aspects of the job, such as bookkeeping, job tracking, tenant screening, and rent collection. Additionally, communication tools for liaising with owners, tenants, and vendors can be instrumental. Knowledge of standard office applications, such as Word and Excel, is also usually expected.

How important is communication in property management?

Communication is a key skill in this field. It’s essential to maintain clear and effective communication with property owners, tenants, coworkers, and contractors. This enhances tenant satisfaction, ensures the timely resolution of issues and helps maintain strong relationships with property owners.

Are property managers responsible for resolving legal issues related to the properties they manage?

While property managers are not typically expected to provide formal legal advice, they should have enough understanding about leases and tenant rights to avoid common legal issues. If a higher level of legal expertise is required for a particular situation, the matter should be referred to a qualified legal professional. Regularly updating their knowledge about laws and regulations relevant to property management is beneficial.

Is it necessary to have a background in real estate to become a property manager?

While having a background in real estate can be advantageous, it’s not always necessary. Many skills required for property management, such as excellent communication, organization, and multitasking capability, can be acquired in various fields. However, it will be necessary to understand property-related laws and regulations, which can be learned through targeted education and training.