A property manager oversees the management of properties. They can generally take care of the entire tenancy lifecycle from finding tenants to ending tenancy agreements. Property managers have become one of the linchpins of the real estate industry. They allow investors to focus on investing rather than being distracted by hands-on management. To explain further, Portfolio8 share their insight into property managers and their responsibility.
What property managers can do
The responsibilities of property managers tend to fall into four distinct categories. These are finding tenants, setting up tenancy agreements, managing ongoing rentals and ending tenancies.
Some property managers work as part of national groups. The individual branches will, however, all offer local expertise. This means they will know what demographic groups are active in it (and their proportions). They will also have a good idea of average rental prices for different kinds of property.
A property manager will therefore be able to guide you on what you should look to charge for your property. They will also point out if there are any steps you could take that would increase the yield on your property.
Once the property manager and the client have agreed on a strategy, the property manager will implement it. This has three significant advantages for the client. Firstly, it saves them time. Secondly, it ensures that the tenant-selection process is both robust and legal. Thirdly, it allows the client to keep their own contact details private.
Setting up tenancy agreements
Once a prospective tenant has been found, a property manager will manage the final screening. Assuming all goes well, they will set up a contract and take a deposit. They will also provide the tenant with a list of inventories for the tenant to check. If the tenant reports any issues with the inventory, the property manager will oversee them.
Managing ongoing rentals
Once tenants are installed, a property manager will continue to liaise with tenants and landlords as appropriate. Their tasks will include:
- Collecting rent (and undertaking the related financial administration)
- Managing credit control (i.e., handling any arrears)
- Arranging necessary safety checks and maintenance (and ensuring these are properly recorded)
- Making sure the contract terms are respected
- Organising any necessary repairs (including in emergencies)
- Mediating in disputes between tenants and landlords
- Renewing tenancy agreements as necessary
When a tenancy comes to an end, the property manager will ensure that the tenant has clear instructions about the process for leaving. Once the tenant has vacated the property, the property manager will check the condition of the property and any inventory.
If there is any damage (beyond reasonable wear and tear), they will take care of billing this to the tenants. This has to be done in a way that forestalls tenant disputes. The property manager will also arrange for the tenant to have their (remaining) deposit returned.
Skills property managers need
As with most jobs, property management requires a combination of hard skills and soft skills.
The main hard skills required are:
- Organisation/time management
- Knowledge of the local area in general and its property market in particular
- Law (as relates to property)
You also need to be reasonably comfortable using technology. At a minimum, you’ll need standard office skills. Going forward, you should expect technology to play more of a role in property management.
For example, it may become more common for property managers to do remote open houses on rental properties. Interested parties can then decide if they want to see the property in person.
All property managers need to have excellent communication skills both verbal and written. They also need to be able to adapt to different forms of communication. For example, property managers may use a combination of social media, long-form text on websites, instant messengers, emails and phones/videocalls.
Beyond that, property managers need to have good, all-round people skills. A large part of the job is working with tenants and working with owners.
Working with tenants
In most cases, the majority of a property manager’s interaction with tenants is going to be at the start of a tenancy. The property manager will help the tenants to find the right property for their needs, wants and budget. To do this, the property manager has to establish, quickly, what these are.
Once the tenants have chosen a property, the property manager will become their main point of contact for anything relating to it. For example, the property manager will inform tenants when safety checks are required. If necessary, they will work with the tenants to schedule an appropriate time for them.
In some cases, property managers will need to mediate disputes between tenants and landlords. If these cannot be resolved amicably, property managers may point the parties to the appropriate channels for further action.
Working with owners
The relationship between property managers and owners is often established on a case-by-case basis. The owner will advise whether they want the property manager to oversee all aspects of running the property. If they don’t, they’ll advise what specific tasks they want the property manager to perform.
The owner and the property manager will also agree on the frequency, nature and channels of communication. These are likely to vary between owners.
Probably the single, biggest challenge facing all property managers is time-management. Property managers have to manage a wide range of different tasks with different levels of importance and urgency.
Successful property managers, therefore, know how to prioritise. They also know what to do themselves and what to delegate. This can include delegating to automated tools. For example, they may use scheduling tools to make sure tasks get done on time.
Building a career as a property manager
There are several paths into property management. Some lean on qualifications and others on experience. Many involve a combination of both. Neither the qualifications nor the experience need to be directly related to real estate. For example, broader business qualifications and relevant experience may be acceptable.
With that said, gaining at least some experience in real estate can help to soften the learning curve. You will almost certainly need to demonstrate knowledge of real estate to any hiring manager.