Careers in Property Management

Have you ever considered a career as a property manager? This career path is definitely not for everyone, however it is a solid career choice in a growing field. This means that once established, property managers have a good level of job security as well opportunities for growth and advancement. Jobs are usually easy to find and secure for qualified individuals with a degree, experience or both.

Property management carries some unexpected challenges. It also has a variety of unique benefits. The right individual will find this career rewarding and will be well equipped to handle the variety of tasks that property managers are required to complete. Before considering a career in this field an individual should carefully examine the position and its requirements to be sure that this job is a good fit. The many demands of this job can prove overwhelming some individuals. The right individual will be able to complete a variety of diverse tasks and will be available all hours.

What exactly is a property manager?

Basically, a property manager takes care of a property. This means that they manage all vital elements of this property including: maintenance, finances, tenants, customer relations, and emergencies. While all tasks are not necessarily completed by the property manager directly, the manager is required to oversee and coordinate these and other needed tasks for the property.

Property managers are often employed by apartment complexes, rental agencies, and businesses with extensive property holdings. Sometimes they oversee one singular property while other property managers will have stewardship over multiple properties. It all depends on the size of the property and level of care desired.

What type of education and training is required?

Managers generally are college educated and have a degree. A degree however is no way a requirement for the position. Experience in related fields can compensate for a lack of education. Any experience in management, finance, repair or related subjects will prove useful to a property manager as they undergo daily tasks. Much job training will come on the job. Some property managers take courses in addition to on the job training to further hone their skills.

Many property management professionals begin their career as assistant manager and learn the field while helping a current property manager with their daily tasks.

There is potential for advancement in this field. Many managers start in the field in smaller, lower-paying jobs. However, as experience grows they are able to secure more complex positions and manage more expensive properties. This generally results in an increase in compensation and associated benefits.

What is the schedule like?

This job is a job that knows no schedule. Emergencies will happen at all hours, and a manager will need to be available to fix them. This field is likely not a good fit for someone who would be unable to wake up in the middle of the night for a problem. Potential tenants will typically work a traditional schedule and will require property showings during evening and weekend hours. Repair and maintenance crews typically work during the day. This complex schedule will result in very non-traditional hours.

Managers need to be ready to work at all times. When an emergency situation arises, they need to remain calm and collected to help the issue resolve. Tenants will call at all of the day and night with problems and complaints.

Are there any special skills a property manager should possess?

A calm disposition under pressure is essential. Managers work with a variety of people in many situations. They need to be able to calmly negotiate fees with contractors, kindly resolve customer complaints, and explain leases and legal issues to potential tenants. Each of these situations can be complex and requires a strong set of people skills.

Property managers also have to be able to handle pressure. They are responsible for collecting unpaid rent and resolving tenant complaints. They also act as a salesperson for the property when new tenants are needed. This position requires an adaptive personality that can handle a variety of situations and changes. They must be able to multi-task and quickly change tasks as needed.

How is the work environment?

A property manager will have the opportunity to work both in and out of an office. Some tasks like bookkeeping will occur in the office. Other tasks like property inspections will occur out of the office. This is a good position for someone looking for variety and the opportunity to move around. Some managers oversee properties alone. Others work with a team. The work environment will largely be determined by the specific needs of the assignment.

What is typical compensation?

While property management isn’t the best paying job around, it does pay well. The average salary for managers is around $46,000. The US Department of Labor reports that half of the property managers in the United States are compensated in the range of $31,730 to $68,770. Property management professionals also generally get employment perks like free rent especially when managing an apartment complex. Vehicle compensation is also commonly provided when the position requires extensive use of a personal car.

They work hard for their money and often work long hours or overtime. Managers are constantly on call. They are often understaffed, and required to pick up any work that is not accomplished.

Is property management the career for me?

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Make Finding a Property Management Company Easier on Yourself by Asking the Right Questions – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 4 part series where we have outlined important questions to ask a property management company before hiring them.

Series 1 Companies Credentials
Series 2 Property Management Services
Series 3 Property Management Fees
Series 4 Tenant Screening Process

Property management companies come in all sizes, capabilities and expertise. Just because one works for one investor does not necessarily mean they will work for you. Below we have outlined some important questions to ask a company during your initial interview process regarding services they provide. Their answers to these questions will give insight into their business capabilities and can provide you with an understanding of the type of services they offer which are important to you.

Series 2 – Property Management Services

Properties they manage – Property management companies are as different as car dealerships are to each other. For example, a Mercedes dealership will have the best inventory and the most knowledge of the latest selection of new Mercedes. You could visit the Toyota dealership in your neighborhood, but chances are you will not find what you are looking for. Of course, they would love your business and will try and talk you into why a Toyota is a better fit for you than a Mercedes.

Same with a property manager, they are not created equal when it comes down to their property portfolios. You need to ask what types of property they manage and make sure your type of property is one they manage. If you own a single family home, a company that manages mostly large apartment buildings or commercial property would not be a good match. In this case, your best match would be a company that has a minimum 50% or greater of single family homes in their rental pool.

Some companies manage all types of investment properties…single family homes, apartments, commercial and community associations, but chances are they hold a specialty in one or two areas.

Inspections – A thorough property inspection should never be overlooked by a property management company. A property inspection needs to be conducted upon tenant move-in and at move-out. A property inspection can range from drive-bys, a walk-through or a video inspection. If disagreements arise between tenant and manager as to items missing or damaged, actual documentation from the move-in inspection and pictures of before and after hold validity versus a verbal agreement.

A video inspection of the interior as well as the exterior of property is the best option. Still pictures are good, but sometimes do not capture all areas of property. The video will not only capture all areas, but is easily interpreted and validated as the subject property. A signed checklist at move-in from tenant validates that tenant concurs with the inspection findings.

Maintenance – When it comes time to performing maintenance or repair work to their rental properties some property management companies have their own in-house maintenance personnel. These are usually employees of the company and are paid a salary through the company. The costs or hourly rate of any maintenance or repair work that is required will be dictated by the management company itself.

On the other hand, the management company may decide to outsource all or some maintenance work to outside vendors. These vendors could range from a handyman, specialized tradesman such as a plumber or a large facility that performs all types of maintenance work.

There are pros and cons to both and I do not advocate one over the other but will outline a few points of interest:

In-house Maintenance

Pros:
- More readily available, since they work within the management company
- Direct communication with management company and their policies
- More intimate with property…they are the “one” contact and know the history of your property

Cons:
- May be more of a “jack of all trades” versus being specialized in a certain field and having the appropriate licenses
- May not be as determined to perform or finish maintenance work in a timely manner as he/she is not being paid based on the job. Whether he/she finishes in 2 hours or 8 hours, its all the same.
- If in-house maintenance crew is not available, either the repair work waits or the company will need to search for a outside vendor on short notice

Outsourcing Maintenance

Pros:
- This allows the property management company the luxury of competitive bidding among vendors, which could equate to lower costs
- Vendors will be eager to sign contracts with a property management company that can bring stable business to them, and as a result will most likely perform quality work in a timely manner
- Most vendors will be specialized tradesman carrying all required licenses, insurance and being bonded

Cons:
- Some property management companies will add a surcharge or mark-up above the actual cost of any repair work to cover their time in acquiring these bids.
- If work was not completed properly, it may be difficult to get the vendor back on the job.

Another option is coordinating all maintenance work yourself. This may work for you if you have reliable contractors you have work with and are dependable. You can probably save yourself some money but this will involve a bit of your time on your part.

Accounting – Most full service property management company will offer as a customary service some type of accounting procedure. This usually comes in the form of a monthly paper statement itemizing all income and expenses funneled through the management company on your property for that particular month. It will show rental income and any expenses such as management fees, repair costs, lawn care service, advertising charges, lease renewal fees and possibly utility charges. The monies owed the owner also referred to as the net amount should be clearly spelled out on this statement. The monthly statements are usually mailed every month to the owner along with a deposit check for the net amount. You should also be provided with a end year statement along with a 1099 for tax purposes.

With the advancement of online technology many management companies are now offering their owners the ability to view and print their monthly statements via the company’s’ website or online portal. These portals have the ability to store other documents such as the management contract, vendor invoices, pictures of property, inspection reports etc…all at your fingertips.

Another great advantage of working with a savvy property management company is their ability to setup automatic deposit of your monthly checks. No more waiting for the postal service, your deposit checks can be deposited directly into your bank account. Chances are they will also have the ability to setup automatic debit of tenants rent from either a checking account or credit card.

Coming soon: Part 3 of 4 “Make finding a property management company easier on yourself by asking the right questions – Property Management Fees”

Karen McDaniel
Principal/CEO
Property Management Profile LLC

Property Management Profile offers the most up-to-date listing of full-service property management companies nationwide. We have become a wealth of information and resource for the first-time landlord as well as the seasoned investors. We should know what we’re talking about, as owner and creator of Property Management Profile, Karen McDaniel, has owned and managed many of her own properties. Today, all are managed by professional property management companies, so she now has more time to continue her work educating and helping others make better choices when it comes to finding a qualified property management company.

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