With more than 317,000 jobs across the US and 11% projected growth from 2016 to 2026, property management is a great career choice for professionals with a background in sales and customer service who have solid administrative skills and can lead projects from beginning to end. If a property manager career interests you, read on to learn about what you can expect in terms of duties and salary as well as the difference between a commercial property manager and an apartment property manager.
Property managers – also called real estate or community association managers – oversee a particular property or group of real estate assets for their employers. Their primary purpose is to maintain the property and make sure that it remains in proper working order for leasing or resale. Simply put, property managers must represent their employers (the property owners) at all times and make sure their interests are looked after.
Regardless of what type of property they are in charge of – which may be commercial, residential, or industrial – the responsibility of a property manager is to maximize the health and return of the facility, building, or portfolio under their care.
A property manager’s day-to-day duties can range from collecting rent payments and managing tenant files to coordinating major maintenance and repair projects. They must be equally comfortable fielding phone calls from prospective renters and negotiating contracts with vendors and construction companies.
In addition to top-notch people skills, a property manager must be well organized as they’ll need to keep control of all files associated with a particular property including tenant records, tax and accounting documents, permits, and other paperwork. One other trait that is extremely important to the property management field is attention to detail. This is especially vital when it comes to conducting thorough property inspections to identify repair needs and ensure buildings and grounds are appropriately maintained.
The average property manager salary depends on location and experience, just as with any other position. When it comes to answering the question “how much does a property manager make,” the reply almost has to be “it depends.”
Even top resources for salary research can’t seem to agree. The BLS puts the median property manager salary at just over $57K per year, but Payscale lists it a bit lower at $46,570. Salary.com has their median property manager salary at almost twice that much: $92,173 per year. According to Glassdoor, the average yearly salary for a property manager is somewhere in the middle at $73,742.
So why is there so much of a difference between all these numbers? Some types of property managers have higher earning potential than others (see the property manager career options in the next section). If you remove data from commercial property managers, regional property managers, and senior property managers as Payscale has done, the median salary will go down. Conversely, if you put all types of property managers into the same basket as Salary.com has done, the median salary will rise.
Differing numbers aside, property management is a great career path from a financial standpoint. Most starting salaries may be a bit low (as entry-level compensation tends to be), but you’ll have the potential to earn a six-digit salary in a relatively short period of time with the right experience.
You may begin your property manager career as an assistant property manager, office coordinator, or leasing assistant, but once you progress to a full-time property management role, you’ll have the opportunity to become a bit more specialized if you wish. Two common paths that will be open to you are in commercial properties and apartment management.
Commercial property managers run larger complexes such as office parks and shopping malls. These professionals may oversee a single facility or a portfolio of multiple different properties. Either way, many of their responsibilities are essentially the same as a property manager who works with residential tenants: collecting rent, finalizing leases, inspecting units, and coordinating maintenance and repair activities. The biggest difference is that they deal with businesses rather than individuals and families.
In some ways, handling commercial tenants can be easier – most offices and stores have set operating hours, so the property manager doesn’t have to worry about getting a call at 3:30 in the morning complaining that the heat is out. However, because these tenants have a business to run, commercial property managers are under a lot more pressure to get issues fixed immediately. After all, a store can’t serve its customers with no lights or a hole in the roof.
Commercial property managers usually receive better compensation than their residential counterparts. Payscale puts the median salary for a commercial property manager at $60,485 vs. $46,570 for residential property managers.
Apartment property managers are in charge of residential complexes that may have a few dozen tenants or hundreds of individuals and families. This job can be a 24/7 responsibility, and many apartment property managers live in the same complex they oversee so they may be available to resolve issues during non-business hours. Although this may come with free rent, most apartment property managers do not make much – Payscale lists their median salary at $35,555 per year.
The type of tenants in a particular apartment building can make the property manager’s job easy or exceptionally difficult. In addition to marketing the complex to potential occupants, monitoring vacant units, organizing maintenance/repair tasks, conducting routine inspections or property tours, and updating records/documentation, an apartment property manager must also serve as a mediator when it comes to disputes between tenants.
Depending on the size of the apartment complex, the apartment property manager may also complete some of the maintenance and repair duties themselves. Although not as common as they once were, these superintendents – or “supers” – can still be found all over the US.