There’s a common misconception that a real estate property manager’s job simply involves collecting rent payments. However, there is more to this role than meets the eye.
When property owners don’t have the time or the ability to manage their investment properties, they hire professionals to make things easier; that’s where a property manager comes in.
A property manager serves as the middleman between landlord or property owner and tenants. Responsibilities and duties of property managers include handling tenants, collecting rents, repairs, and maintenance of the building, among other things.
Being a property manager can be a rewarding career if you have excellent problem-solving skills and enjoy dealing with a wide range of people every day. It has great earning potential, and good property managers are often compensated with bonuses.
However, as with any career, being a property manager also has its share of challenges, as managing client expectations is not always easy. It can also be difficult to navigate tricky situations that you might encounter as a property manager. (e.g. disputes, evictions, legal actions, etc.)
In this article, we look at a day in the life of a property manager, and answer some commonly-asked questions about property management.
What are the roles and responsibilities of a real estate property manager?
To understand how a property manager’s working day goes, you have to first understand the role’s duties and responsibilities.
Here’s a quick overview of the main duties and responsibilities that a property manager carries out:
- Determine the rent price
- Schedule routine inspection
- Prepare vacant units
- Advertise rental vacancies
- Screen and approve tenants
- Prepare and enforce a lease agreement
- Handle tenant complaints and issues
- Collect and adjust the rent
- Carry out property maintenance and repairs
- Supervise on-site employees
- Take care of the rental property
- Handle evictions and process move-outs
- Ensures that the property is legally compliant
- File taxes
- Keep records and create regular reports
What skills/qualities are needed to be a good property manager?
Anyone who has worked in property management knows it is a competitive industry. The role requires a wide range of skills that beginners might not expect to need in the profession.
To have a successful property management career, here are some of the skills and qualities you will need to have:
1. Good communication- Good communication skills is a must to be a good property manager. This role is all about coordination, and that requires you to listen and deliver messages and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Property managers must be able to communicate effectively with people on all levels, including landlord/owner, current/prospective tenants, contractors, tradespeople, and other real estate professionals.
It also can come in handy when resolving disputes to be able to deal with property-related issues promptly, and when you need to liaise with the property owner on required items in a timely manner.
2. Organisational skills- Property managers are expected to deal with all types of people: landlords, tenants, and contractors every day. In order for things to go smoothly, property managers should be highly organised at every task they undertake.
A property manager who is committed to organising all relevant documents can have a huge impact on the success of an investment. In order for an investment property to be profitable, every cent that comes and goes needs to be accurately documented.
Because being a property manager also means handling several tasks simultaneously, it’s important to make sure that all deadlines are met and that all matters are handled in a timely and efficient manner.
3. Problem-solving skills- A property manager’s ability to think outside the box and manage problems is a crucial skill. With this line of work, you can expect things can always go wrong – tenants go missing in action, or tradespeople don’t arrive. That’s why it’s important that property managers can find alternative solutions on their own without inconveniencing their clients.
4. Knowledge of relevant laws - It’s important that property managers are up to date with the current legislation. They need a strong understanding of the relevant state laws to ensure the legal protection of both landlords and tenants.
5. Local market knowledge- Having strong local market knowledge is another important quality of a good property manager. Insight into the local scene helps a property manager understand the value and potential rent of the property. It will also help a property manager become well-versed in particular regulations enforced by the local council.
6. Basic technical property know-how- While property managers have different backgrounds, one of the most common denominators people in the profession have is that they have some basic level of understanding about how buildings work, particularly the technical aspects.
This is a prerequisite for well-documented inspections of properties, as their technical understanding and know-how will help to map typical and expected problems at rental properties. This way they can be resolved proactively and urgent maintenance issues can be prioritised based on their urgency.
7. Marketing skills- Property managers need to advertise vacant apartment units and need to be able to write about them compellingly. If you have no background in marketing or advertising, don’t worry. There are plenty of available resources online or courses you can take to improve your marketing skills.
Aside from these skills, property managers must also be able to portray the ‘characteristics’ of a good property manager. But you may be asking, how is portraying certain characteristics related to property management skills?
As a property manager, you are required to show a certain kind of personality and character traits in different circumstances. On one hand, property managers need a lot of patience and flexibility, while they should also be assertive and decisive on the other.
As the person responsible for screening tenants, collecting payments, and keep vendors/contractors on track, there are moments where you need to show patience and flexibility. Ask yourself, how would you react if your contractors run late, your tenants stop paying their rents, or the property owner expects urgent reporting?
At the other end of the spectrum, you also have nerves of steel for unpleasant conversations. Because as any experienced property manager will tell you — those conversations will have to happen. Rental property managers must track late rent payments and handle evictions of problematic tenants. So, before getting into this profession, make sure you are ready to be assertive when it is needed.
Safe to say, being a property manager is a balancing act and requires a great level of professionalism and tact. Cultivation of social intelligence can also help property managers adjust their behavior according to any given situation and people they are dealing with in their day-to-day routine.
Do property managers work long hours?
As a property manager, don’t expect that you’ll be stuck at your desk from 9 to 5 every day.
The amount of time spent in the office during the day varies, but oftentimes property managers will find themselves out of the office and at properties.
But on some days, you may also find yourself stuck at your desk answering emails, doing admin work and paperwork, or answering calls for the whole day.
One upside to this profession is that working hours are flexible. Some property managers may take time off during the weekdays because they will be showing units to prospective residents after work hours or on weekends. Long hours should be expected when tax filing season comes around or when financial reports are due.
Additionally, if you are managing several properties, you should remember that every property differs from the other. Tenant issues range depending on the type of tenant you are dealing with. Whether you’re self-employed or work for a property management company, there is a long list of tasks. Be ready for off-duty tasks or dealing with emergencies or urgent repairs as well.
The point is, there isn’t really a set routine/schedule for how to manage rental properties that can be applied every day for every property.
If this sounds like a disaster for your goal of achieving work-life balance, a good workaround is to join a property management company that has a systematic approach to doing business. Keep in mind of course that this is an ideal work scenario and not necessarily true for all property management companies.
Before joining a property management firm, check if they have the following organisational structure:
- Does the firm have dedicated teams for specific inquiries? (i.e., maintenance, rent, advertising.)
- Does the company have existing procedures to handle the routines?
- Is there a customer service team that works on shifts, so the property managers do not need to be on call to an emergency?
What are the perks of working as a property manager?
Aside from having flexibility in your work schedule, here are some upsides to working as a property manager:
- It’s a high demand industry
Because of the broad skillset requirements and the role’s importance in the real estate industry, there is a huge demand for good property managers.
Given the currently robust property market conditions, property managers with good connections and solid years of experience are sought after, particularly in the bigger capital city markets that have high levels of investments, such as Sydney and Melbourne. Areas with high potential for growth are also seeing an increase in demand for the job.
- Great earnings potential
According to talent.com, the average property manager salary in Australia 2021 is $100,000 based on 759 salaries submitted to the website. Entry-level positions are estimated to have a starting salary of $75,000 per year, while most experienced managers make up to $141,495 per year.
However, the figures can go up and down based on the property type/size, location, experience, certification, and other factors.
For example, in salary.com, the average salary of a property manager in Melbourne is around $170,000 (as of 2021 March 19), but the range can be between $125,456 and $212,212, all depending on the aforementioned factors.
- Good career stepping stone
Being a property manager is a good stepping stone into the real estate industry. Most people in the industry start their careers in admin roles which gives a good basis from which to learn how the industry works. Afterwards, a property management role can be a good next step.
What are the downsides of being a property manager?
Like any other career path, being a property manager has its set of challenges.
- Time-consuming profession.
Having flexibility in their work schedule serves as a double-edged sword for property managers.
Most of your work will be done during regular business hours, but remember that there is no set schedule for a property manager. They are expected to work nights, weekends and even holidays when the need arises.
And because every property differs from the other and not all tenant-landlord issues are the same, there is no standard amount of time you might need to settle an issue. If an emergency develops in the middle of the night, you’ll be responsible for handling it on the spot.
- Dealing with bad tenants and bad landlords.
Not all landlords are reasonable and not all tenants are friendly and sometimes you may need to deal with unreasonable requests. You should also be prepared to oversee disputes, medical emergencies or deal with tenants who may get violent during the eviction process.
How do I become a property manager in Australia?
An individual that aims to work as a property manager in Australia is required to have a real estate certificate of registration and/or a real estate licence, which can be done through the Real Estate Institute in your state or territory.
But first, you will need proof that you completed training in the form of a certificate. You can complete a Certificate IV (QLD and NSW) or a Certificate of Registration or Licensing Program (all states). You will also need to be 18 years old or over to qualify.
You don’t have to be employed in the real estate industry in order to undertake a course. You can simply enroll and complete your training, then apply for registration.
Additionally, some upfront fees will be charged, which range from $600 to $1,300, depending on the state or territory you choose to be certified in.
You will be required to complete the registration course and get a statement proving you’ve done so, plus complete and submit your registration certificate application to the Office of Fair Trading.