While many are interested in having a career in real estate, not everyone wants to become an investor or an agent. If you’re one of those people, fortunately, there are countless other real estate careers that you can choose from – one of which is becoming a property manager. This is a great option for someone looking to make money from real estate properties without actually owning one. If you’re new to the industry and want to learn how to become a property manager without experience, this guide is for you. But before going into the actual steps of getting into property management, let’s explain who a property manager is, what his/her duties are, and why you should consider becoming one.
As the name suggests, a property manager is an individual or a company that oversees the daily operations of a real estate property. It could be an income-generating residential rental property, a commercial real estate property, or an industrial property. Another party owns this property but is unwilling or unable to manage it. For example, some real estate investors don’t live close to their investment properties or don’t enjoy dealing with tenants. For them, hiring property managers is the ideal solution to ensure that their real estate investments achieve their projected revenues and ROI.
But Why Should You Consider Getting into the Property Management Field?
In simple words, this sector of the real estate industry has great demand and is expected to grow. In fact, employment of property, real estate, and community association managers is projected to grow 10% from 2016 to 2026 – faster than the average for all occupations according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. One reason for this growth is that more people will want to live in apartments which, typically, property management firms are responsible for operating. Plus, property owners are becoming more and more aware of how important good property management is.
What Does a Property Manager Do?
Property managers do a lot more than just manage. They carry out various tasks and provide a range of services to real estate investors and rental property owners. Here are the typical duties of a professional property manager you need to know when learning how to become a property manager:
- Setting the rental rate for the property and setting up a system for collecting rent from tenants
- Marketing and advertising rental properties and making them appealing to attract potential tenants
- Following up with applications, screening tenants and showing them properties
- Discussing the lease and explaining the terms of occupancy or ownership
- Maintaining consistent and current communications with owners and residents
- Performing house visits and doing quarterly or biannual property inspections
- Ensuring the adequate maintenance, preservation, appearance, and operation of the property
- Taking care of some of the expenses that are part of running a rental business like paying bills
- Preparing budgets, financial reports, property status reports and keeping owners in the loop
- Settling complaints/emergency repairs and maintenance requests from the tenant
- Handling lease renewals, tenant retention, move-ins/move-outs, and the eviction process
- Staying up to date on the latest landlord-tenant laws, rules, and regulations to protect the owner
- Performing basic accounting duties and assisting the owner with filing taxes for the property
- Maintaining records regarding the property including income and expenses, signed leases, any complaints, records of repairs, records of rent collection, etc.
How Much Does a Property Manager Make?
With all of those duties and responsibilities, how much do property managers earn? This is probably the most asked question that comes to mind for someone wondering how to become a property manager. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for property, real estate, and community association managers was $58,340 in 2018. However, what you’ll earn depends on certain factors including your level of education, what certificate you have, whether you’re a full-time or a part-time property manager, the type of property you manage, the number of properties you manage, and the number of years you’ve been in the real estate industry. Of course, where you’re located will also affect how much you’ll make when you manage properties. This is because property values, rental rates, and the level of competition in the market differ across locations.
How to Become a Property Manager Step by Step
Do you think you can handle the above property manager responsibilities and are seriously considering a career in rental property management? If you’ve answered yes, here are the 5 steps you need to take to get started:
Step 1: Research Your Legal Requirements
The first step before jumping into any career in the real estate industry is to know what is required from you by law. This applies to those interested in investment property management in the US because the specific requirements vary by state. For example, most states require property management companies to have a real estate broker license. That’s because a lot of the duties of a property manager are similar to actions a real estate agent performs. However, some states (like Montana, Oregon, and South Carolina) only require a property manager license. Other states (like Idaho, Kansas, and Maryland) don’t have a licensing requirement!
Furthermore, there are different laws that may or may not apply depending on the type of real estate property you’ll want to manage. It’s entirely up to you to know which laws and regulations apply to you. And to become a licensed property manager, states typically require that you meet certain requirements regarding age, real estate education, experience, residency, and you may even have to pass an exam. Check out this guide that breaks down the requirements by state to learn more about how to become a property manager in your area.
Step 2: Get the Needed Real Estate Education
Property managers typically are not required to have a particular educational background and a high-school diploma can be enough for some people to hire you. Having said that, the number of property management companies who prefer to hire college graduates is growing. So, you should preferably earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in real estate, business administration, public administration, finance, or accounting. This will help you gain the needed skills in real estate like strategic management and marketing which will increase your prospects of becoming a property manager.
In addition, knowledge of the real estate industry and the local housing market is critical. This is why some companies seek out candidates with vocational real estate training or a real estate license. Therefore, experts often recommend beginners to take courses related to real estate development, management, finance, urban planning, and affordable housing administration. Taking real estate courses is great if going back to school is not an option for you as you can simply take online courses. Another good tip is to apply to a real estate brokerage or a property management company for on-the-job training or an entry-level position and work your way up the ranks as you build knowledge and experience.
Step 3: Obtain Specialized Certifications
This is an important step because even if you’re learning how to become a property manager in a state where a license is not required, you might be required to pass a certification test. Becoming a certified property manager will show companies and potential clients that you have a high level of professionalism and commitment. You’ll understand the best practices in the business and, most importantly, you will have knowledge that extends beyond the average property manager. This gives you an advantage and opens up opportunities for you as your career grows.
There are quite a few professional certifications available to potential property managers. The ones you should focus on as you’re getting started are the:
- National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) certification: which teaches new property managers the skills to become more proficient and effective at their jobs
- Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) certification: which is targeted at onsite managers who are often the only property managers that apartment residents will deal with on a daily basis
- Certified Property Manager (CPM) certification: which is usually attained to distinguish you from competitors while being a helpful certification for starting a property management company
- Master Property Manager (MPM) certification: which is the highest distinction a residential property manager can attain. With this certification, you’ll be recognized as a leader in the industry and a versatile residential property professional.
Of course, you’ll need to complete specific requirements to obtain each certification and pass a test (or a series of tests). While it’ll take time and effort, learning how to become a certified property manager will definitely set you apart and move your career forward.
Step 4: Find Your First Property to Manage
After obtaining the proper certification, the next step in how to manage a rental property is, naturally, to get your first job. Finding a property owner who is in need of a manager is easier said than done. However, there’s a number of ways for savvy property managers to search for rental properties and find the right one. First off, start with informing your friends and professional contacts that you’re pursuing a job in property management and looking for a rental property.
Anyone starting a career in the real estate industry has to have a network of professionals in the business. These professionals are also a good source for a residential property manager. So, if you can’t find a real estate investor yourself, someone else may lead you to one. For example, investors consistently work with real estate agents, brokers, wholesalers, and developers. Get in touch with these professionals and introduce yourself as a property manager and ask for tips. This way, they’ll get to know you and have you in mind when they hear of any jobs.
Finally, you can always search online to find property management companies looking to hire and they’ll lead you towards your first client and rental property management job. You can even set up your own website, advertise it on social media platforms, and have clients reach out to you! Also, there are real estate websites that help anyone find rental properties for sale. While you’re not in the business to buy, real estate investors certainly are. So, after working with your first client, consider using websites like Mashvisor to find profitable rental properties for your client to buy and for you to manage. This is an easier way to get more properties under your belt without having to actively search for more clients.
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Step 5: Stay Updated on Best Practices
You don’t just want to learn how to become a property manager; you need to learn how to be a successful property manager. Successful managers don’t rest once they’ve got their first job. Many say that this is a job that requires you to wear many hats – meaning, you’ll have to do more than just the typical responsibilities that we’ve mentioned above. One extra duty you’ll have is to stay updated on the best practices for property management. This is something that you do for yourself, however, as it allows you to continually grow your skills and knowledge on real estate trends and the housing market in general, such as utilizing an Airbnb calculator for setting reasonable but competitive nightly rates.
In addition, real estate laws and regulations that affect rental properties can change at any time. Such changes, in turn, may affect your clients and their investment properties and it’s your job to keep them informed. Therefore, good property management entails staying up to date on any changes in the laws or regulations in the real estate industry. A good way to stay in the loop is by reading real estate blogs that cover topics such as news about everything impacting the housing market and offer tips on how to use new technology to attract new clients and grow your career.
Property Manager Skills You Must Have
While getting into property management can be challenging for some, it can be exciting for others. Those who have the right set of skills will find that being a property manager is both an enjoyable and fulfilling job. If you possess the following 6 skills (or are ready and willing to acquire them), then becoming a rental property manager is a suitable career path for you:
#1 Customer Service
As a property manager, you’re not only working with the owner of the investment property that you manage, but with the tenants or renters of this property as well. Tenants will, most likely, have something to request or to complain about. For example, a tenant will contact you if there’s a leak in the roof. As mentioned, one of your property manager duties is to handle this emergency in a manner that meets the needs of both owners and tenants. As a result, this requires customer service skills that include providing solutions, being attentive, patient, and doing all of this with a smile and a positive attitude. Providing excellent customer service will keep good tenants and win more clients.
#2 Communication Skills
Seeing as property managers get in touch with people every day, having strong communication skills is a must for anyone interested in how to become a property manager. How you communicate with others and the words you choose can make or break your growth in the real estate industry. While the properties you manage are an important part of your portfolio, your success relies greatly on maintaining a high rental income. You can do this by attracting new tenants and keeping existing tenants. Meaning, it’s the way in which you communicate and interact with tenants that will seal the deal.
You have to communicate clearly and respectfully, be a good listener, know how to read body language and use friendliness and empathy. This helps you resolve conflict, deal with rude behavior, and manage difficult conversations. You also need to have a process in place that allows tenants to contact you when needed. Simply keeping the lines of communication open is a great skill for property managers to build and maintain good relationships with tenants.
#3 Organizational Skills
As you’re managing rental properties, you could potentially field dozens of calls and answer hundreds of emails per day. You might need to attend board meetings, conduct inspections, and show properties all in the same day. Someone who is not detailed and organized will never be able to manage all of this work. As a result, you need to be extremely detail-oriented, know how to manage your time and have a high level of organizational skills in order to become a property manager.
In addition, you’re more likely to avoid difficult situations when you organize from the beginning. For example, a tenant won’t complain about a leaky roof if you or the property management company had an ongoing maintenance schedule that involves checking appliances, plumbing, and other problem areas in the property before renting it out. As you can see, having organizational skills allows property managers to plan, coordinate, and prioritize their work to ensure handling their responsibilities most effectively.
#4 Marketing Skills
Marketing rental properties to find potential tenants is one of the most important duties property managers are responsible for. This is why you must have a basic understanding of property marketing strategies and techniques. For example, you should know how to write a great property description that will attract a specific group of tenants. You also need to know how to prepare or stage the property for leasing before showing it to prospective tenants.
Today, most people start searching for rentals online. So, a property manager should know how to utilize social media platforms as well as listing services to reach the desired groups of tenants. So, do you know which digital marketing strategies you should use to find a tenant for a long-term or vacant rental? If you don’t, it’s highly recommended to learn more about real estate marketing as you learn how to become a property manager.
#5 Problem-Solving Skills
Successful property management companies are those who solve problems. When tenants come to you with a complaint, they want a solution as soon as possible. Therefore, the way you deal with problems can set you apart as a property manager. You have to be capable of making smart decisions, coming up with innovative ideas, and overcoming obstacles. This is probably the first thing real estate investors look for in a property manager. After all, buying an investment property is a big decision and they want to make sure that you can handle any issues quickly and take care of the property professionally. So, before starting a career in property management, ask yourself – do you have the problem-solving skills to keep your clients and tenants happy?
Just like the real estate industry as a whole, the property management sector keeps evolving. Today, there are numerous software solutions that offer different features and tools to make your life as a manager more efficient. To stay competitive, you have to use such innovative tools. This will become especially important as you grow and become a residential property manager of multiple rental properties, each with several tenants, and have to deal with different issues like keeping track of vacancies, repairs and making sure every tenant has paid rent on time. This is why successful property management companies use software solutions to stay organized.
You can find long term rental and Airbnb accounting software that helps you keep track of all profits brought into the management company, how much is paid out to vendors, contractors, and the property owners. Some rental property manager software provides tenants with certain services that make it easier for them to pay rent online using credit cards, report damages, and request repairs from the comfort of their laptop or smartphone. Mashvisor is also a real estate software that managers can use to find properties for their clients as well as communicate with them efficiently.
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In this guide, we’ve looked at how to become a property manager without experience and the skills you need to find success in this career path. If you don’t already possess these skills, you shouldn’t give up on becoming a property manager but, instead, start developing them. If you have the patience to learn and build your career over time, it’s only a matter of getting started to make money in real estate.