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Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Manager

Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Manager

Education and Training: Bachelor's degree

Salary: Median—$39,980 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Property and real estate managers administer commercial and residential rental properties such as apartment buildings, office complexes, and shopping centers. Some manage the services and communal areas of condominium and community associations. Most property managers handle several properties at a time, acting as the owners' agent and adviser. Some managers purchase and develop properties for a business owner or investors.

Managers are responsible for the financial administration and daily supervision of the properties. They oversee everything from the marketing of vacant space, the negotiation of leases, and the collection of rental fees to trash removal, maintenance, and other services. Property managers often negotiate contracts for on-site management personnel such as janitors and groundskeepers and monitor their performance. They also handle all bookkeeping duties, including taxes, mortgages, and insurance.

Larger properties, especially apartment complexes, have a full-time on-site manager who reports to the property manager or owner. On-site managers train, supervise, and assign duties to the maintenance staff, handle daily service and repair problems, and keep records of operating costs. They must understand and comply with city, state, and federal legislation pertaining to local building codes, fair housing laws, the Federal Fair Housing Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Condominium managers or homeowner association managers may have additional responsibilities that include maintaining streets, parking areas, and grounds as well as operating pools, golf courses, and community centers. Public facilities rental managers negotiate contracts with organizations that wish to lease public arenas, auditoriums, or stadiums. They also oversee scheduling, operations, and maintenance.

Education and Training Requirements

A college degree, usually in business or public administration, finance, real estate, or a related field is preferred, although a liberal arts background is acceptable. Good speaking, writing, and interpersonal skills are essential.

Managers of government-subsidized public housing must be certified. Various professional and trade organizations offer short-term formal training programs for managers to improve their skills and learn about specialized subjects, including business law and risk management. Completion of these programs—along with job experience and the successful completion of a written exam—can lead to certification or a professional designation such as registered apartment manager.

Getting the Job

Most employers hire college graduates with experience and a business background for property and real estate manager positions. Prospective managers usually begin with entry-level jobs as assistants to property managers, on-site apartment managers, or community association managers. Internet job sites and newspaper want ads list openings in this field. Interested individuals can also apply directly to community associations or commercial real estate firms.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

After gaining experience, assistants can advance to property manager positions. On-site managers can move from managing small apartment buildings or associations to handling more complex management duties at larger properties. Some managers advance further by specializing in the management of specific types of properties such as retail properties or office complexes. Others open their own property management companies.

Job openings for property, real estate, and community association managers are expected to increase as fast as the average through the year 2014. The growing demand for office and retail buildings, condominiums, and apartment complexes will produce more positions for property managers. A trend toward organized homeowner and community associations also will contribute to growth in this occupation.

Working Conditions

Although property managers work in offices, they spend much of their time at the properties they manage, sometimes on a daily basis. On-site managers, for example, must regularly check on building maintenance. Evening meetings are often held with property owners or association members. Many apartment managers must live in the complex they manage.

Where to Go for More Information

Community Associations Institute
225 Reinekers Lane, Ste. 300
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-8600

National Association of Residential Property Managers
184 Business Park Dr., Ste. 200-P
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
(800) 782-3452

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings of property, real estate, and community association managers vary widely depending on their level of responsibility. Managers who are certified in the field earn higher salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for property managers was $39,980 in 2004. Property managers may also receive benefits such as the use of a company car or a rent-free apartment.

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