A property manager is the person responsible for day-today operations of an apartment or condo building. Their work entails property promotion, negotiation of contracts, collecting payments, and property upkeep. To become a successful property manager, you need to learn state requirements, take requisite classes, pass the exam, get a job, and consider professional certifications.
Aspiring property managers are often agents or other professionals who want to explore a new career. But making time for the required coursework while working can be a challenge. Fortunately, Real Estate Express helps soon-to-be property managers get the education needed for career success with flexible online courses. Find out more about how you can save up to $185 by registering for classes with Real Estate Express today.
Here’s how to become a property manager in seven steps:
1. Research Licensing Requirements for Your State
Research the licensing requirements for how to become a property manager by checking your real estate licensing board’s website. Some states, like California and Florida, require a broker’s license to become a property manager. Other states, such as South Carolina and Montana, require a property management license. Vermont and Massachusetts do not require any special license at all.
2. Find a Real Estate School for Property Management Prep
While specific educational requirements differ, most states ask aspiring property managers to take real estate coursework covering finance, law, and accounting. Once you know your state’s property management course requirements, examine the choices for real estate schools. Online and on-demand video real estate courses offer flexibility, while instructor-led onsite classes allow students who need hands-on learning to interact with a professor.
Here’s how to find the best real estate school for property management preparation:
Check Out Online Courses
Online real estate schools offer classes, exam prep, and testing through a website or app. Students can log into the provider website, complete their classes, and take their end-of-class exams all online. This type of coursework is ideal for students who want to learn without attending a class at a physical location. Find out more about the best online real estate schools.
Examine Video On-demand Course Options
Video on-demand classes are right for students who benefit from a visual learning environment and do not want to sit in a classroom. The video classes simulate being in a classroom with an instructor in each video, though unlike a live course, students can rewind to revisit concepts.
Consider Instructor-led Onsite Courses
Instructor-led onsite classes offered through a real estate education company like Kaplan is a benefit for potential property managers who need hands-on training and feel more comfortable in a classroom setting. These courses are structured in a traditional classroom setting with other students meeting at a set time every week. Homework is assigned and completed on a schedule with an instructor to answer questions during class.
3. Complete Coursework & Take Licensing Exam (if Applicable)
Once you have selected your school, sign up for and complete all required coursework within the time allotted. Each course has a minimum and maximum amount of time that you have to finish the course. Typically, there will be a test at the end of each course. Once you have passed all of the coursework tests, sign up to take either the agent licensing exam or the property manager licensing exam, depending on your state’s requirements.
Some students do not pass the exam on the first try. If you fail the exam, then study for your exam using real estate exam practice exam questions. Or, you can sign up for exam prep classes through a service like Real Estate Express to help you study concepts before you retake the test.
4. Submit Property Manager License Application
After passing your exam, you have to apply to the real estate commission in your state for a license. Some states require a background check and others only require the application with your passing test scores; check with your state’s real estate board for exact requirements.
When ready, apply for your license by going to the website for your state real estate board and clicking on the menu item for licensure. Complete the online application and submit the application fee. Applications are typically reviewed within two to four weeks, depending on the state.
5. Join Property Management Groups & Associations
After receiving your license, connect with your Chamber of Commerce or a realty office to ask about property management groups. If you have a specialty certification, then network with other professionals with that certification. These property management groups help you to stay up-to-date on trends and gain connections in your industry.
Look for property manager associations groups and associations like:
- Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA): With over 40 chapters across the United States, BOMA is an association focused on providing certifications and networking for property managers. Different chapters have different price points for joining.
- National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA): The NAHMA is an organization with 5,300 members offering courses, networking, and job postings. The cost to join NAHMA is $245 per year.
- Onsite Property Management Association (OPMA): OPMA is geared toward property managers of condos, townhouses, and short-term rentals; the association offers many educational opportunities and support resources. The fee to join is $595 to $795 per year depending on how many units you manage.
- National Apartment Association (NAA): The NAA is geared toward helping property managers of apartment buildings stay current on trends and network with other apartment managers. There are 72,000 members, many of whom connect via local chapter meetings. It costs $235 per year to join.
6. Find a Property Management Job
To find property jobs in your area, search Google, LinkedIn, property management associations, and Glassdoor for opportunities; unfortunately, there are no major real estate sites that offer a more focused job search. If you find a property manager position that matches your interests and abilities, then apply for that position by sending your real estate resume by email or mail. Be sure you have references at the ready if hiring managers request them.
Here are three places to look for property manager jobs:
- Google Jobs: Type “property manager jobs” and your city into Google for a listing of local open jobs. While not a focused way of looking for property management positions, many available opportunities will surface if you search the right keywords.
- LinkedIn: Search LinkedIn jobs for “property manager” and pick your ZIP code to zero in on local results. LinkedIn shows connections to the job poster that can help you get an interview. Also, your existing LinkedIn connections should be able to refer you to the right people if you ask.
- Glassdoor: Glassdoor lets job seekers apply for property manager positions and post their resume online for employers to review. They also offer reviews of companies so you can vet employers before reaching out.
7. Get Additional Certifications
After getting some experience in property management, consider getting certifications that allow you to specialize in a niche market, like property owners associations (POAs) or apartments. This keeps you up to date on the best practices in the community you serve. Revisit the schools in Step 2 for possible certification providers, and consider high-profile real estate organizations like the National Association of Realtors for additional certifications.
These are the most common property management certifications:
- Certified Property Manager (CPM): This is an overarching certification that gives property managers specific details on how to meet their job responsibilities.
- Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA): This specialty certification is focused on helping property managers learn to work with property owners associations (POAs) and homeowners associations (HOAs).
- Residential Management Professional (RMP): This designation is designed to help property managers learn to interact with home renters.
- Certified Apartment Manager (CAM): The CAM certification is for property managers of apartment buildings; it addresses their specific challenges.
6 Responsibilities of a Property Manager
From setting the rental rates to collecting the payments, property managers are responsible for representing the property’s primary owner(s) and making sure that everything is secure and well-maintained for tenants. Additionally, they handle contracts, safety, and advertising.
These are the responsibilities of a property manager:
- Establish rental rates: The property manager must constantly research the average cost of living and price of surrounding properties with similar features to set the rental rate.
- Advertise vacancies: Advertising unit openings and promoting the property is key to making property rental and sales profitable.
- Negotiating leases and contracts: Part of a property manager’s job is negotiating leases with tenants and contracts with vendors for services like mowing or security.
- Maintaining building safety and security: The property manager needs to make sure that the building and the grounds are safe for use. He or she handles any potential issues with the fire department, police, or other civil authorities and deploys preventative measures to make sure tenants aren’t disturbed.
- Collects payments: The property manager is responsible for tracking and collecting rent and other payments and making sure that financials are accurately reported.
- Reports to supervisor and owner: Property managers usually prepare a regular report for the owner and supervisor about any issues during the month, the amount of rent collected, and open units.
6 Qualities of a Good Property Manager
Property managers need traits that help them negotiate contracts and act in good faith to protect the property. The top property managers are good customer service representatives, clear communicators, problem solvers, expert time managers, and responsible employees.
In order to have a successful career as a property manager, you should be:
- Approachable and friendly: Property managers need to be good with tenants because this ensures they remain on-property for as long as possible, increasing long-term profits.
- A clear communicator: The property manager is responsible for communicating changes and expectations to tenants and reporting to supervisors and owners, so good communication is an essential quality.
- An effective time manager: Because property managers need to complete many tasks during the day, time management skills will help in prioritizing and streamlining results.
- A problem solver: Tenants will need help with problems around the property. Problem-solving skills can help property managers overcome bigger issues without derailing their day-to-day work.
- Responsible: A property manager needs to be responsible; hundreds of people depend on them to keep them safe and their neighborhood property secure. Also, the property owner depends on a property manager to deliver reports on a regular basis.
- A successful salesperson: Salesmanship is important for a property manager because they need to be able to continually “sell” units to renters and buyers. This keeps profits up.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need a real estate license to be a property manager?
Some states require property managers to hold either a real estate license or a broker’s license to get a job. Others require specific coursework related to property management. Check out your state’s real estate board for more details.
How much does it cost to become a property manager?
If your state requires you to have a real estate license to get a job as a property manager, then it costs between $200 and $700 for the prelicensure classes. The licensure exam costs around $75. The background check and licensure application cost about $150, depending on your state. These fees are based on the costs in the most expensive states, so it could be less depending on where you want to practice. Learn more about how to get a real estate license and the costs.
How much do property managers make a year?
According to PayScale, the national average salary for property managers is $50,000 after profit-sharing and commissions. Most property managers enjoy health insurance benefits, vacation, and get regular increases in salary with added experience and professional development.
Bottom Line: How to Become a Property Manager
Property management is a good career for those who want to explore multi-unit management in real estate or agents who want to start a new career. To become a property manager, candidates need to research the requirements, complete real estate licensure coursework, pass the license exam, find a job, and acquire valuable certifications and designations.
Finding a real estate school that allows you to take classes on your own schedule is important—especially if you’re working while slowly making the move to a property management career. Real Estate Express helps potential property managers get the knowledge they need to start their careers with flexible online classes. Find out more about the pathway to a job as a property manager and how you can take the first steps with Real Estate Express.