In the 1980s and before, it was often said that a man who was honest and good with a wrench became the property manager, and his primary job was to collect money and keep cost low. Today, for the people who own buildings in varied areas such as retail, office space, shopping centers or industrial spaces, the quality of the tenant relationship is more important than cheap maintenance. Usually professionals are hired to manage and maintain the properties and all associated daily operations. These professionals are called commercial property managers, a title and reality that is a far cry from the “supers” of yesteryear.
Donald Trump has made a point of saying that college is near mandatory, but there are no nationwide educational requirements for becoming a commercial property manager. Of course a person should have at least a high school diploma and some business experience, particularly in the areas of accounting and or real estate, sales experience may also be helpful. A BA will certainly help set you apart from the less qualified competition. Licensing in real estate also tends to offer more opportunities to the prospective manager, partially because real estate law and liability are fairly specific and can affect the viability of the project.
The Responsibility Ahead of You
Accounting for the income and expenses of the property would be a given. Depending on the size of the operation, the manager may have to make the notations him/herself, but there will often be additional staff in multi-property operations. Aside from the accounting, a property manager will have to visit and inspect the properties, order maintenance, and assure good relations with the tenant. As with any job, there is always that “..and other duties as assigned” clause in any job description, but on the whole, the job is straightforward. You make sure that the property is in good working order, that all the rent is taken in, all the expenses are accounted for and that the tenants have no reason to move, if possible.
Working conditions are generally peaceful with a few interesting detours along the way. For the most part, you can expect an office, a nominal staff and most holidays and evenings off. The interesting detours would include wearing a suit to work when a pipe breaks in a property. You might call professional help or you might find it more practical to take a wet-van in hand and solve the issue yourself. There may be some travel involved, depending on the number of properties you manage and there locations. Once in a while, you may find it advantageous to take a tenant to lunch in the name of good relations. In this position, you are expected to work quickly and to multitask, all the while providing outcomes for the operation.
Property manager is a jack of all trades, one of the few such positions left these days. You can reasonably expect a salary in the area of $50,000 for your efforts, but that varies between size of operations and location. One would expect that the manager of the Empire State Building in New York City would make considerably more than the manager of a small strip mall in Enid, Oklahoma. Then again, that is the beauty of this career; there is that much variety in it.
The career requires that you have good people skills and the ability to deal with the inevitable minor crisis efficiently and promptly. The job is relatively simple in concept, but it requires that you do everything well because a minor lapse in your management can decide the profitability of an operation, and profit is why the property exists, and why you have a career.
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