What is a Property Manager?

Property managers take care of the many aspects of residential, commercial, or industrial properties. They make sure the property looks nice, operates smoothly, and preserves its resale value. Property managers usually work in an office environment, often onsite. About half of all workers were self-employed in 2010, and their work schedules may include evenings and weekends.

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What does a Property Manager do?

Property managers typically do the following:

  • Meet with, and show properties to, prospective renters
  • Discuss the lease and explain the terms of occupancy
  • Collect monthly fees from tenants
  • Inspect all building facilities, including the grounds and equipment
  • Arrange for new equipment or repairs as needed to keep up the property
  • Pay or delegate paying of bills, such as mortgage, taxes, insurance, payroll, and cleaning
  • Contract for trash removal, swimming pool maintenance, landscaping, security, and other services
  • Investigate and settle complaints, disturbances, and violations
  • Keep records of rental activity
  • Prepare budgets and financial reports
  • Know and comply with local fair housing laws; not discriminate when renting or advertising.

When owners of homes, apartments, office buildings, or retail or industrial properties lack the time or expertise needed for the day-to-day management of their real estate properties, they often hire a property or real estate manager or a community association manager. Managers are employed either directly by the owner or indirectly through a contract with a property management firm.

What does it take to be a Property Manager?

Many employers prefer to hire college graduates for property management positions, particularly for offsite positions dealing with a property’s finances or contract management. Employers also prefer to hire college graduates to manage commercial properties. A bachelor's or master's degree in business administration, accounting, finance, real estate, or public administration is preferred for these positions.

Managers of commercial properties and those dealing with a property’s finances and contract management increasingly are finding that they need a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration, accounting, finance, or real estate management, especially if they do not have much practical experience. Experience in real estate sales is a good background for onsite managers because real estate sales people also show properties to prospective tenants or buyers. Real estate managers who buy or sell property must be licensed. In a few jurisdictions, property association managers must be licensed. Managers of public housing subsidized by the federal government must hold certifications.

Many property managers get professional certification showing competence and professionalism. Oftentimes, employers require managers to attend formal training programs from various professional and trade real estate associations. Employers send managers to these programs to develop their management skills and expand their knowledge of specialized fields, such as how to run and maintain mechanical systems in buildings, how to improve property values, insurance and risk management, personnel management, business and real estate law, community association risks and liabilities, tenant relations, communications, accounting and financial concepts, and reserve funding.

Managers also participate in these programs to prepare themselves for positions of greater responsibility in property management. With related job experience, completing these programs and receiving a satisfactory score on a written exam can lead to certification or the formal award of a professional designation by the sponsoring association. Obtaining these certifications also can help in getting a job.

What is the workplace of a Property Manager like?

About half of property managers are self-employed. Nearly all work out of an office. However, many managers spend much of their time away from their desks. Onsite managers, in particular, may spend a large part of their workday visiting the building engineer, showing apartments, checking on the janitorial and maintenance staff, or investigating problems reported by residents. Real estate asset managers may spend time away from home while travelling to company real estate holdings or searching for properties to buy.

Property managers often must attend evening meetings with residents, property owners, community association boards of directors, or civic groups. As a result, long hours are common.

Some apartment managers are required to live in the apartment complexes where they work, so that they are available to handle emergencies, even when they are off duty.

Most property managers work full time. Many apartment managers get time off during the week so that they can work on weekends to show apartments to prospective renters.

How much does a Property Manager earn?

The median annual wage of property managers was $51,480 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $26,180, and the top 10% earned more than $111,320.

Learn more about being a Property Manager