How to Become a Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager
A bachelor’s degree in business or real estate management is often required for positions.
Although many employers prefer to hire college graduates, a high school diploma or equivalent is enough for some jobs. Some property, real estate, and community association managers have vocational training. Knowledge of property management is required.
Many employers prefer to hire college graduates for property management positions, particularly for offsite positions dealing with a property’s finances or contract management. Employers also prefer to hire college graduates to manage commercial properties. A bachelor's or master's degree in business administration, accounting, finance, real estate, or public administration is preferred for these positions. Managers of commercial properties and those dealing with a property’s finances and contract management increasingly are finding that they need a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration, accounting, finance, or real estate management, especially if they do not have much practical experience.
Experience in real estate sales is a good background for onsite managers because real estate sales people also show properties to prospective tenants or buyers.
Real estate managers who buy or sell property must be licensed by the state in which they practice. In a few states, property association managers must be licensed. Managers of public housing subsidized by the federal government must hold certifications.
Many property, real estate, and community association managers get professional certification showing competence and professionalism. Oftentimes, employers require managers to attend formal training programs from various professional and trade real estate associations. Employers send managers to these programs to develop their management skills and expand their knowledge of specialized fields, such as how to run and maintain mechanical systems in buildings, how to improve property values, insurance and risk management, personnel management, business and real estate law, community association risks and liabilities, tenant relations, communications, accounting and financial concepts, and reserve funding. Managers also participate in these programs to prepare themselves for positions of greater responsibility in property management. With related job experience, completing these programs and receiving a satisfactory score on a written exam can lead to certification or the formal award of a professional designation by the sponsoring association.
Obtaining these certifications also can help in getting a job.
Many people begin property management careers as assistants, working closely with a property manager. In time, many assistants advance to property manager positions.
Some people start as onsite managers of apartment buildings, office complexes, or community associations. As they gain experience, they may advance to positions of greater responsibility. Those who excel as onsite managers often transfer to assistant offsite property manager positions, in which they can gain experience handling a broad range of property management responsibilities.
The responsibilities and pay of property, real estate, and community association managers increase as these workers manage more and larger properties. Property managers are responsible for several properties at a time. As their careers advance, they gradually are entrusted with larger properties that are more complex to manage. Some experienced managers open their own property management firms.
Customer-service skills. Property, real estate, and community association managers must provide excellent customer service to keep existing clients and expand their business with new ones.
Interpersonal skills. Because property, real estate, and community association managers interact with people every day, they must have excellent interpersonal skills.
Negotiating skills. Real estate asset managers must be adept at persuading and working with people and good at analyzing data to assess the value of potential future value of a property.
Organizational skills. Property, real estate, and community association managers must be able to plan, coordinate, and direct multiple contractors at the same time, often for multiple properties.
Speaking skills. Property, real estate, and community association managers must understand leasing or renting contracts and must be able to clearly explain and answer any questions a tenant may have.
Tact. Property, real estate, and community association managers must be able to mediate disputes or legal issues between residents, homeowners, or board members.