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Should You Be a Residential Property Manager? A Career Guide for Prospectiv

May 21, 2019

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Did you know more U.S. households are renting than at any point in the last five decades? To keep up with this demand, property developers are building more rental units.

As an aspiring residential property manager, this is exciting news. A thriving housing market means the demand for property managers will keep increasing.

Now that you know employment opportunities are there, how do you break into this career?

Continue reading for a complete guide on what it takes to become a residential property manager.

Know What the Job Entails  

The first step to deciding whether a career in residential property management is right for you is to understand what these managers do. What’s a typical day on the job like?

Let’s look at their duties:

  • Ensuring the residential properties under their management are clean and well-maintained
  • Advertising rental properties to prospective renters or buyers.
  • Meeting with renters and showing them the available units
  • Conducting tenant screenings 
  • Preparing rental and lease agreements
  • Handling tenant complaints – includes investigating violations and disturbances
  • Collecting rental payments and other monthly fees from tenants
  • Serving as a liaison between tenants and the property owners/landlords
  • Overseeing tenant evictions
  • Maintaining positive relationships with service providers, such as cleaning and security companies
  • Preparing financial reports
  • Staying abreast of property and housing laws.

The roles can vary depending on the type of residential property you’re managing. If you choose to specialize in condo management, for instance, you’ll be reporting to a board of directors instead of a landlord. Discover the specific roles of these managers to gain more insight.

That said, residential property managers typically work from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. However, they are usually available to handle renter complaints on the weekends or during odd hours.

These managers spend most of their time in an office environment, but the job does involve fieldwork. They often travel to inspect properties and show available properties to prospective renters.

Pursue a Course in Property Management

A decade or two ago, it wasn’t uncommon for property owners to hire people with just a high school diploma and substantial real estate experience to manage their properties.

Today, though, entry-level standards are higher. Employers are looking for managers with advanced training in property management.  

As such, pursuing at least an associate’s degree in this academic field will give you the best preparation for this job. You’ll learn about:

  • The business of real estate
  • Economic and planning aspects of property management
  • Property marketing
  • Owner relations management
  • Lease management
  • Specialized housing
  • Property insurance.

Evidently, this program will equip you with the professional knowledge you need to become a competent residential property manager.

As part of the program requirements (especially if you elect to pursue a bachelor’s degree), you might be required to complete an internship. Consider this your opportunity to earn real-world experience.

Focus on finding an internship position at an established property management firm instead of reaching out to individual property owners and asking them to hire you. At a firm, you’ll learn more about the job from experienced managers.

Nurture Your Occupational Qualities and Skills

You can graduate top of your class, but without the necessary occupational skills, you won’t be a well-rounded residential property manager.

First, you need excellent customer service skills. At the end of the day, the job of a residential property manager largely involves dealing with tenants (customers) and ensuring they’re happy. If you don’t have the skills to effectively serve tenants, they will find other properties to rent or buy.

Strong interpersonal skills are vital. As a property manager, you must be able to easily and quickly build rapport with property owners and tenants.

You also need impeccable communication skills to write up proper rental agreements and be able to explain complex terms in a way that’s easy to understand. 

To hack this job, you must be a competent problem-solver. Tenants will raise complaints day in day out, and it’s your responsibility to find effective resolutions in a timely manner.

Keen attention to details and good organizational skills will come in handy when you’re dealing with paperwork. You must keep accurate property and tenant records; otherwise, a small clerical or filing error can cause you trouble later on.

Get Licensed to Practice in Your State

Armed with property management knowledge and skills, you’re ready to find your first job.

However, depending on your state’s laws, you might need to obtain an occupational license before you can start practicing. If you live in a state where residential property managers need to be licensed, then you must meet the state’s licensing requirements.

Advancing Your Career

After you find employment as a residential property manager, what next?

It really depends on your ambition.

If you’re all about staying in formal employment and taking the next step upwards, you could rise through the ranks and become a property firm manager. This will typically require you to rack up vast property management experience and earn an advanced degree, such as an MBA.

Alternatively, you could dive into self-employment and start your own property management firm or real estate agency. This requires adequate capital and a sound business plan.

Get Started as a Residential Property Manager

As long as there’s a need for housing, the demand for residential property managers will always be there. This is an ideal career to pursue, especially if you’re passionate about real estate.

What’s more, we’ve fleshed out the steps you need to take to qualify for employment. Now the ball is in your court. Take action!

Keep tabs on our blog for more career tips and insights.