What is a Property Manager?

When owners of homes, apartments, office buildings, or retail or industrial properties lack the time or expertise needed for the day-to-day management of their real estate properties, they often hire the services of a property manager.

Property managers are employed either directly by the property owner or indirectly through a contract with a property management firm.

What does a Property Manager do?

Property managers take care of the many aspects of residential, commercial, or industrial properties. Their services offer the perfect solution for real estate investors that don't want to be hands-on with tenant and property maintenance issues.

A property manager sitting at her desk and talking on the phone.

Property managers look after the advertising, showing, and leasing of vacant units, as well as the monthly collection of rent. They coordinate building maintenance and work orders, and resolve any tenant concerns and complaints.

Awareness of local building codes and ordinances that impact property management is particularly important in the profession. As potential safety hazards on a property can result in lawsuits, property managers are expected to regularly inspect and immediately address issues.

By ensuring that properties are cared for professionally, and that issues are dealt with promptly, property managers ultimately preserve a property's resale value.

Among potential employers are:

  • Property management firms
  • Real estate brokerages
  • Government agencies (at all levels of government)
  • Corporations (including condominium corporations)
  • Individual property owners
  • Investor pools and real estate investment trusts
  • Apartment buildings and large, multi-unit office buildings

The following are examples of specific kinds of property managers:

Community or Homeowner Association Managers
These managers work on behalf of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives. They manage buildings’ services and common property – any part of the land and buildings shown on the strata plan that is not part of an individually owned strata lot.

Onsite Property Managers
Onsite property managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a single property, such as an apartment complex or office building.

Property and Real Estate Managers
These professionals manage the operation of income-generating commercial or residential properties and ensure that real estate investments achieve their projected revenues.

Real Estate Asset Managers
These property managers plan and direct the purchase, sale, and development of real estate properties on behalf of businesses and investors.

A property manager's responsibilities may include the following:

  • Meet with, and show properties to, prospective renters
  • Discuss the lease and explain the terms of occupancy
  • Collect monthly rent from tenants
  • Inspect all building facilities, including the grounds and equipment
  • Arrange for new equipment or repairs as needed to keep up the property
  • Pay or delegate paying of bills, such as mortgage, taxes, insurance, payroll, and cleaning
  • Contract for trash removal, swimming pool maintenance, landscaping, security, and other services
  • Investigate and settle complaints, disturbances, and violations
  • Keep records of rental activity
  • Prepare budgets and financial reports
  • Know and comply with local fair housing laws; do not discriminate when renting or advertising

Are you suited to be a property manager?

Property managers have distinct personalities. They tend to be enterprising individuals, which means they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. Some of them are also conventional, meaning they’re conscientious and conservative.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if property manager is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Property Manager like?

About half of property managers are self-employed, with the other half working for property management firms. Their offices are usually used as a base, but they often spend a considerable amount of time away from their desks.

Property managers may find permanent or contractual work with a variety of businesses and organizations that manage condominiums, office towers, shopping malls, warehouses, and other buildings.

Onsite managers, in particular, may spend a large part of their work day visiting the building engineer, showing apartments, checking on the janitorial and maintenance staff, or investigating problems reported by residents.

Property managers often must attend evening meetings with residents, property owners, community association boards of directors, or civic groups. As a result, long hours are common.

Some apartment managers are required to live in the apartment complexes where they work, so that they are available to handle emergencies, even when they are off duty. Many apartment managers get time off during the week so that they can work on weekends to show apartments to prospective renters.

Real estate asset managers may spend time away from home while travelling to company real estate holdings or searching for properties to buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I become a Property Manager?

Because the responsibilities of a property manager are so varied, this is a career that calls for a considerable and diverse skill set. Before committing to entering the field, be certain that you either possess or are able and prepared to develop the following attributes and aptitudes:

Interpersonal, communication, & presentation skills
Property managers must often speak with tenants and owners; interact with service providers; hire workers; and deliver presentations to strata councils and homeowner or community associations.

Customer service skills
Providing quality customer service allows property managers to build relationships with and keep existing clients and win new ones.

Organizational, coordination & multi-tasking abilities
Working with multiple properties and tenants demands excellent organizational skills. Property managers must have within reach at all times contact information for owners, tenants, maintenance staff, contractors, and vendors. They must be able to prioritize and coordinate multiple tasks and develop suitable timelines to complete numerous property-related projects.

Property managers must maintain a calendar of due dates for inspections and payments, prepare financial reports for owners, and present lease renewal contracts to tenants on schedule. This multi-tiered portfolio of responsibility calls for one more skill: stress management.

Attention to detail
Property managers who pay strict attention to detail will ultimately protect both clients and tenants. Laws concerning handicap accessibility and fair housing evolve and change, requiring managers to stay abreast of any federal or state amendments.

Awareness of local building codes and ordinances that impact property management is, of course, particularly important in the profession. As potential safety hazards on a property can result in lawsuits, property managers are expected to regularly inspect and immediately address issues. Simply stated, a successful property manager anticipates problems, takes steps to prevent them, and never becomes complacent.

Problem-solving skills
The ability to think critically and solve problems is essential for these professionals. Property managers need to be able to mediate and resolve disputes between residents, homeowners, or board members.

Negotiation skills
One of the most common duties of a property manager is to put out bids for work or service on properties. The capacity to negotiate favourable cost estimates is vital. This skill is also useful when it is necessary to deal with angry tenants or owners.

Working knowledge of the local area
It is, of course, beneficial for property managers to be familiar with the city and neighborhoods in which they work.

If the above prerequisites describe you, you may be suited to the role of property manager, also known as a juggler of many tasks.

What are Property Managers like?

Based on our pool of users, property managers tend to be predominately enterprising people. This is no surprise, as the occupation calls for its practitioners to do a bit of everything.

The job of property manager is not a humdrum nine-to-five undertaking. Property managers are not glued to their office chairs all day. They deliver service over a wide spectrum of areas, including association operations; systems and equipment maintenance; finance and budgeting; resident relations; contractor and vendor management; compliance; and more. Such a varied portfolio can only be handled by resourceful, industrious, and enterprising individuals.

Are Property Managers happy?

Property managers rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 28th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Career Explorer members only.

While we have no hard data to confirm the reasons for this low happiness quotient in the profession, one could speculate that, for a certain percentage of property managers, the occupation’s extremely broad spectrum of responsibilities, hectic demands, long hours, and never-ending stress are contributing factors.

How long does it take to become a Property Manager?

From high school to college; from licensure to experience; from certification to seniority in the field, the road to a career in property management calls for focus, commitment, and stamina.

After completing high school, it generally takes between four and six years to become a property manager. The first component of the educational track is commonly a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, Real Estate Management, Business Administration, or Accounting.

This may be followed by state licensure and voluntary professional certification. Some students pursue an additional two years of study and complete a Master’s Degree in Real Estate Management.

Property Managers are also known as:
Professional Property Manager Estate Manager Residential Property Manager Commercial Property Manager Industrial Property Manager Property Management Specialist