Property, Real Estate, and Community Association
Opportunities should be best for those with college degrees
in business administration, real estate, or related fields and
with professional designations.
Good speaking, writing, computer, and financial skills, as
well as an ability to tactfully deal with people, are essential.
More than half of property, real estate, and community association
managers are self-employed.
Nature of the Work
Buildings can be homes, stores, or offices to those who use them.
To businesses and investors, properly managed real estate is a
source of income and profits; to homeowners, it is a way to preserve
and enhance resale values. Property, real estate, and community
association managers maintain and increase the value of real estate
investments. Property and real estate managers oversee
the performance of income-producing commercial or residential
properties and ensure that real estate investments achieve their
expected revenues. Community association managers manage
the common property and services of condominiums, cooperatives,
and planned communities through their homeowners’ or community
When owners of apartments, office buildings, or retail or industrial
properties lack the time or expertise needed for the day-to-day
management of their real estate investments or homeowners’ associations,
they often hire a property or real estate manager or a community
association manager. The manager is employed either directly by
the owner or indirectly through a contract with a property management
Generally, property and real estate managers handle the financial
operations of the property, ensuring that rent is collected and
that mortgages, taxes, insurance premiums, payroll, and maintenance
bills are paid on time. In community associations, although homeowners
pay no rent and pay their own real estate taxes and mortgages,
community association managers must collect association dues.
Some property managers, called asset property managers,
supervise the preparation of financial statements and periodically
report to the owners on the status of the property, occupancy
rates, expiration dates of leases, and other matters.
Often, property managers negotiate contracts for janitorial,
security, groundskeeping, trash removal, and other services. When
contracts are awarded competitively, managers solicit bids from
several contractors and advise the owners on which bid to accept.
They monitor the performance of contractors and investigate and
resolve complaints from residents and tenants when services are
not properly provided. Managers also purchase supplies and equipment
for the property and make arrangements with specialists for repairs
that cannot be handled by regular property maintenance staff.
In addition to fulfilling these duties, property managers must
understand and comply with provisions of legislation, such as
the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing
Amendment Act, as well as local fair housing laws. They must ensure
that their renting and advertising practices are not discriminatory
and that the property itself complies with all of the local, State,
and Federal regulations and building codes.
Onsite property managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations
of a single property, such as an office building, a shopping center,
a community association, or an apartment complex. To ensure that
the property is safe and properly maintained, onsite managers
routinely inspect the grounds, facilities, and equipment to determine
whether repairs or maintenance is needed. In handling requests
for repairs or trying to resolve complaints they meet not only
with current residents, but also with prospective residents or
tenants to show vacant apartments or office space. Onsite managers
also are responsible for enforcing the terms of rental or lease
agreements, such as rent collection, parking and pet restrictions,
and termination-of-lease procedures. Other important duties of
onsite managers include keeping accurate, up-to-date records of
income and expenditures from property operations and submitting
regular expense reports to the asset property manager or owners.
Property managers who do not work onsite act as a liaison between
the onsite manager and the owner. They also market vacant space
to prospective tenants through the use of a leasing agent or by
advertising or other means, and they establish rental rates in
accordance with prevailing local economic conditions.
Some property and real estate managers, often called real
estate asset managers, act as the property owners’ agent and
adviser for the property. They plan and direct the purchase, development,
and disposition of real estate on behalf of the business and investors.
These managers focus on long-term strategic financial planning,
rather than on day-to-day operations of the property.
In deciding to acquire property, real estate asset managerstake several factors into consideration, such as property
values, taxes, zoning, population growth, transportation, and
traffic volume and patterns. Once a site is selected, they negotiate
contracts for the purchase or lease of the property, securing
the most beneficial terms. Real estate asset managers review their
company’s real estate holdings periodically and identify properties
that are no longer financially profitable. They then negotiate
the sale of, or terminate the lease on, such properties.
In many respects, the work of community association managers
parallels that of property managers. They collect monthly assessments,
prepare financial statements and budgets, negotiate with contractors,
and help to resolve complaints. In other respects, however, the
work of these managers differs from that of other residential
property and real estate managers. Community association managers
interact with homeowners and other residents on a daily basis.
Hired by the volunteer board of directors of the association,
they administer the daily affairs, and oversee the maintenance,
of property and facilities that the homeowners own and use jointly
through the association. They also assist the board and owners
in complying with association and government rules and regulations.
Some associations encompass thousands of homes and employ their
own onsite staff and managers. In addition to administering the
associations’ financial records and budget, managers may be responsible
for the operation of community pools, golf courses, and community
centers and for the maintenance of landscaping and parking areas.
Community association managers also may meet with the elected
boards of directors to discuss and resolve legal issues or disputes
that may affect the owners, as well as to review any proposed
changes or improvements by homeowners to their properties, to
make sure that they comply with community guidelines.
The offices of most property, real estate, and community association
managers are clean, modern, and well lighted. However, many managers
spend a major portion of their time away from their desks. Onsite
managers in particular may spend a large portion of their workday
away from their offices, visiting the building engineer, showing
apartments, checking on the janitorial and maintenance staff,
or investigating problems reported by tenants. Property and real
estate managers frequently visit the properties they oversee,
sometimes on a daily basis when contractors are doing major repair
or renovation work. Real estate asset managers may spend time
away from home while traveling to company real estate holdings
or searching for properties to acquire.
Property, real estate, and community association managers often
must attend evening meetings with residents, property owners,
community association boards of directors, or civic groups. Not
surprisingly, many managers put in long workweeks, especially
before financial and tax reports are due and before board and
annual meetings. Some apartment managers are required to live
in the apartment complexes where they work so that they are available
to handle any emergency that occurs, even when they are off duty.
They usually receive compensatory time off for working nights
or weekends. Many apartment managers receive time off during the
week so that they are available on weekends to show apartments
to prospective residents.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most employers prefer to hire college graduates for property
management positions. Entrants with degrees in business administration,
accounting, finance, real estate, public administration, or related
fields are preferred, but those with degrees in the liberal arts
also may qualify. Good speaking, writing, computer, and financial
skills, as well as an ability to deal tactfully with people, are
essential in all areas of property management.
Many people enter property management as onsite managers of apartment
buildings, office complexes, or community associations or as employees
of property management firms or community association management
companies. As they acquire experience working under the direction
of a property manager, they may advance to positions greater responsibility
at larger properties. Those who excel as onsite managers often
transfer to assistant property manager positions, in which they
can acquire experience handling a broad range of property management
Previous employment as a real estate sales agent may be an asset
to onsite managers because it provides experience that is useful
in showing apartments or office space. In the past, those with
backgrounds in building maintenance have advanced to onsite manager
positions on the strength of their knowledge of building mechanical
systems, but this path is becoming less common as employers place
greater emphasis on administrative, financial, and communication
abilities for managerial jobs.
Although many people entering jobs such as assistant property
manager do so by having previously gained onsite management experience,
employers increasingly are hiring inexperienced college graduates
with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in business administration,
accounting, finance, or real estate for these positions. Assistants
work closely with a property manager and learn how to prepare
budgets, analyze insurance coverage and risk options, market property
to prospective tenants, and collect overdue rent payments. In
time, many assistants advance to property manager positions.
The responsibilities and compensation of property, real estate,
and community association managers increase as these workers manage
more and larger properties. Most property managers, often called
portfolio managers, are responsible for several properties at
a time. As their careers advance, they gradually are entrusted
with larger properties that are more complex to manage. Many specialize
in the management of one type of property, such as apartments,
office buildings, condominiums, cooperatives, homeowners’ associations,
or retail properties. Managers who excel at marketing properties
to tenants might specialize in managing new properties, while
those who are particularly knowledgeable about buildings and their
mechanical systems might specialize in the management of older
properties requiring renovation or more frequent repairs. Some
experienced managers open their own property management firms.
Persons most commonly enter real estate asset manager jobs by
transferring from positions as property managers or real estate
brokers. Real estate asset managers must be good negotiators,
adept at persuading and handling people, and good at analyzing
data in order to assess the fair-market value of property or its
development potential. Resourcefulness and creativity in arranging
financing are essential for managers who specialize in land development.
Many employers encourage attendance at short-term formal training
programs conducted by various professional and trade associations
that are active in the real estate field. Employers send managers
to these programs to improve their management skills and expand
their knowledge of specialized subjects, such as the operation
and maintenance of building mechanical systems, the enhancement
of 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. The completion of these
programs, related job experience, and a satisfactory score on
a written examination leads to certification, or the formal award
of a professional designation, by the sponsoring association.
(Some organizations offering such programs are listed as sources
of additional information at the end of this statement.) In addition
to seeking these qualifications, some associations require their
members to adhere to a specific code of ethics. In a few States,
community association managers must be licensed.
Managers of public housing subsidized by the Federal Government
are required to be certified, but many property, real estate,
and community association managers who work with all types of
property choose to earn a professional designation voluntarily,
because it represents formal recognition of their achievements
and status in the occupation. Real estate asset managers who buy
or sell property are required to be licensed by the State in which
Property, real estate, and community association managers held about
361,000 jobs in 2004. More that one-third worked for real estate
agents and brokers, lessors of real estate, or property management
firms. Others worked for real estate development companies, government
agencies that manage public buildings, and corporations with extensive
holdings of commercial properties. More than half of property, real
estate, and community association managers were self-employed.
Employment of property, real estate, and community association managers
is projected to increase about as fast as average for all occupations
through the year 2014. In addition to job growth, a number of openings
are expected to occur as managers transfer to other occupations
or leave the labor force. Opportunities should be best for those
with a college degree in business administration, real estate, or
a related field and for those who attain a professional designation.
Job growth among onsite property managers in commercial real
estate is expected to accompany the projected expansion of the
real estate and rental and leasing industry. An increase in the
Nation’s stock of apartments, houses, and offices also should
require more property managers. Developments of new homes increasingly
are being organized with community or homeowners’ associations
that provide community services and oversee jointly owned common
areas requiring professional management. To help properties become
more profitable or to enhance the resale values of homes, more
commercial and residential property owners are expected to place
their investments in the hands of professional managers.
The changing demographic composition of the population also should
create more jobs for property, real estate, and community association
managers. The number of older people will grow during the 2004–14
projection period, increasing the need for various types of suitable
housing, such as assisted-living facilities and retirement communities.
Accordingly, demand will rise for property and real estate managers
to operate these facilities—especially those individuals who have
a background in the operation and administrative aspects of running
a health unit.
Median annual earnings of salaried property, real estate, and community
association managers were $39,980 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent
earned between $27,190 and $59,360 a year. The lowest 10 percent
earned less than $18,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more
than $89,840 a year. Median annual earnings of salaried property,
real estate, and community association managers in the largest industries
that employed them in 2004 were as follows:
Offices of real estate agents and brokers
Activities related to real estate
Lessors of real estate
Many resident apartment managers and onsite association managers
receive the use of an apartment as part of their compensation
package. Managers often are reimbursed for the use of their personal
vehicles, and managers employed in land development often receive
a small percentage of ownership in the projects that they develop.
Property, real estate, and community association managers plan,
organize, staff, and manage the real estate operations of businesses.
Workers who perform similar functions in other fields include
administrative services managers, education administrators, food
service managers, lodging managers, medical and health services
managers, real estate brokers and sales agents, and urban and
regional planners. See the Career
Database for more information on these careers.
Sources of Additional Information
For information about education and careers in property management,
as well as information about professional designation and certification
programs in both residential and commercial property management,
Institute of Real Estate Management, 430 N. Michigan Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.irem.org/
For information on careers and certification programs in commercial
property management, contact: