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 managers receive vocational training. Other managers must have a real estate license.
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 residential and commercial properties. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration, accounting, finance, real estate, or public administration is preferred for commercial management 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.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Experience in real estate sales is a good background for onsite managers because real estate salespeople also show commercial properties to prospective tenants or buyers.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Real estate managers who buy or sell property must have a real estate license in the state in which they practice. In a few states, property and community association managers must also have a real estate license. Managers of public housing subsidized by the federal government must hold certifications.
Property, real estate, and community association managers working in Alaska, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are required to obtain professional credentials or licensure. Requirements vary by state, but many managers working in states without requirements still obtain designations to show competence and professionalism. BOMI International, the Community Associations Institute, the Institute of Real Estate Management, the National Association of Residential Property Managers, and the Community Association Managers International Certification Board all offer various designations, certifications, and professional development courses. Most states require recertification every 2 years.
In addition, employers may 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 operate 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.
Many people begin property management careers as assistant managers, 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 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 often responsible for several properties at a time. 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.
Listening skills. Property, real estate, and community association managers must listen to and understand residents and property owners in order to meet their needs.
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.
Problem-solving skills. Property, real estate, and community association managers must be able to mediate disputes or legal issues between residents, homeowners, or board members.
Speaking skills. Property, real estate, and community association managers must understand leasing or rental contracts and must be able to clearly explain the materials and answer questions raised by a resident or group of board members.