What is that X factor or set of property management skills that make others succeed while others fail?
Anyone who has worked in property management knows it is a competitive industry. Property management requires a wide range of skills that beginners might not expect to need in the profession.
So, what are the skills needed to be a property manager? Read our list of 10 property management skills you will need to succeed as a rental property manager. This list puts together the fundamental core skills that will get you up to speed in no time and ensure you embark on a successful property management career.
#1 – Strong Communication Skills
On our list of the “must-have” property management skills, communication skills take first place. Without strong communication skills, your job as a property manager will be cumbersome. In fact, this skill can make or break your property management career. A residential property manager has to communicate effectively with people on all levels, including property owners/ landlords, current and prospective tenants, various contractors, the whole property management team, and other professionals. This role is all about coordination, and that requires you to listen and deliver messages and ensure everyone is on the same page.
#2 – Organization Skills
The work of a property manager often includes several simultaneous tasks and this requires good organization skills. These are some of the most essential property management skills. Being able to set up procedures that help you streamline the workload and keep several balls in the air at the same time is a must.
Let us think of a real-life situation: how would you manage your schedule while simultaneously screening prospective tenants and interviewing them, inspecting vacant apartment units, making sure everyone has paid their rents and that the security guard you contracted is doing the job as agreed? Without the ability to organize, the workload can feel stressful and your work will look rather sporadic to others. Well-organized property managers define their duties and create organized checklists and deadlines to make sure they will not miss a thing.
#3 – Knowledge of Relevant Landlord-Tenant Laws
Guess who both tenants and property owners often go to with their real estate related inquiries? You guessed right, the property managers. These property management skills are very important because you as a property manager should know real estate and tenant legislation in-depth. Imagine the owner’s or your tenants’ impressions if you cannot answer their basic questions. You should also realize that these laws can change, so it is property managers’ responsibility to remain up-to-date on all legal and regulatory aspects of property management. Also, remember that sometimes it is okay to admit that you do not know the answer. A good property manager will look for the information and come back with an answer. This leads us to the next important skill: customer service.
#4 – Customer Service Orientation
Customer service orientation is also one of the key property management skills. Property managers, in essence, serve their customers (i.e. tenants and property owners). Customer service is about being present and handling your customers’ inquiries.
A good property manager makes her or himself available to tenants, for example, through a web portal where tenants get to ask questions and find relevant resources. When your tenants or the property owner ask questions about the rental property, they should be answered as soon as possible. In terms of complaints, property managers will also need to take urgent action and fix tenants’ problems. A pool of reliable contractors will be useful for unexpected repair and maintenance work. Good property managers do not hide behind the organizational processes of property management, but they prioritize people over other responsibilities and reap the benefits with better tenant retention.
#5 – Marketing Skills
While some property manager skills are more self-evident than others, marketing skills are often ignored when property management skills are concerned. Why does a property manager need marketing skills? Property managers need to advertise vacant apartment units and need to be able to write about them compellingly. They also need to know where to list them to reach the desired groups of prospective tenants. This is marketing!
Luckily there are good resources online for learning real estate marketing. Indeed, there is plenty of support available if you feel your core competencies lie within other property management functions. Marketing is a skill, and it can be learned too.
#6 – Technical Property Know-How
Property managers may have very different backgrounds than one another, but the key denominator for all usually is some basic level of technical understanding of how buildings work. This is a prerequisite for well-documented inspections at the rental properties that keep them safe and secure. Property managers’ technical understanding and know-how help to map typical and expected problems at rental properties. This way they can be mitigated proactively and urgent maintenance issues can be prioritized based on their urgency. Therefore, technical know-how is one of the essential property management skills owners and tenants expect managers to possess.
#7 – Portraying Characteristics of a Property Manager
How is portraying certain characteristics related to property management skills? Being a property manager requires you to show a certain kind of personality and character traits in different situations. Property managers need a lot of patience and flexibility on one hand and assertiveness on the other. Their patience, especially, can be often tested when working with various stakeholders with different expectations. How would you react if your contractors run late, your tenants stop paying their rents, or the property owner expects urgent reporting? These are the moments where you need to show patience and flexibility.
On the other hand, the role of a property manager does from time to time require you to be tough. Rental property managers must track late rent payments and handle evictions of problematic tenants. Safe to say, this is a balancing act and requires a great level of professionalism and tact. Cultivation of social intelligence can also help property managers adjust their behavior according to any given situation and people they are dealing with.
# 8 – Think Like Investors
A key consideration for property managers should be that they are in fact managing the properties of investors. This means they need to manage the property as if they were the real estate investor. To this end, they must understand the goals for owning a rental property: to make money out of it.
Cultivate an investor mindset by making sure you know the basic investors’ tools for analyzing the property. Do you already know what net present value (NPV) is or how to calculate cap rates and cash on cash returns? Will you be able to find more properties for your clients and expand your business? Essentially, having an investor-friendly mindset means that you can make important business decisions for them. An experienced real estate investor might ask these from you already when evaluating whether to entrust the property to your property management company. Knowing these fundamentals can determine whether you get the property management assignment in the first place.
# 9 – Tech-Savviness
This skill might not be so self-evident, but anyone who is working in real estate and property management knows that the industry is quickly becoming digital. This of course also impacts the property management skills managers are expected to master. New technological tools are introduced frequently that can assist you, your tenants, and the rental property in various ways. Good property management uses these tools to create additional value for their customers’ experience. But it is not only about the added value, as several fundamental responsibilities of property managers require the use of digital channels and tools. What is certain is that today’s tenants are used to different kinds of digital conveniences. So stay up-to-date on the digital property management tools you could utilize for better customer experience and competitive advantage.
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#10 – Professional Development
The only thing certain is change. This also applies to the real estate industry and your property management career. A good property manager is committed to ongoing education, which supports and further develops the skills listed above. So, check some of the latest professional development books and other resources out there that ensure you are up-to-date with industry developments and your job description.
So, how to be a successful property manager? To summarize, a good property manager has a wide set of different skills. It can even seem impossible to find all of them in one person. However, a person dedicated to becoming a successful property manager cultivates and develops these 10 core skills, and it often shows. What kind of property management skills would you prioritize? Let us know in the comments below.