Responsibilities of a Real Estate Property Manager
Written by: Lana Williams, Property Management Specialist - Updated: Aug 18, 2022
Managing real estate property takes quite a bit of time and effort. The actual owners of the property may be too busy to handle these responsibilities, or it might be difficult because they live in a different area — either way, people who own investment properties often hire someone else to take care of them. Indeed, there are currently over 300,000 property management firms in the United States, and these companies generate around $88 billion in annual revenue.
But what does a real estate property manager do, exactly? In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about the day-to-day responsibilities of this increasingly popular profession.
The Main Responsibility Areas of Real Estate Property Managers
Almost every task that real estate property managers are responsible for falls into one of four categories: managing tenants, maintaining properties, managing finances, and ensuring compliance.
Property managers have a dual responsibility — they help tenants get the best value for their money, and they must also help owners get the biggest return on their investment.
The owner, of course, only makes money when their properties are occupied and tenants are paying rent. The first step to finding new tenants is to inform the general public about properties that are available, so property managers need to know how to attract new tenants through advertising and promotions. Once these marketing efforts are successful and people begin to show interest in the available units, the property manager is then responsible for arranging tours and taking the time to show units to potential tenants. And whenever these potential tenants end up applying to rent the property, the property manager will need to perform background checks to ensure there aren’t any red flags, such as particularly bad credit or a criminal record.
After the property manager finds a new tenant for a vacant unit, they have other responsibilities to keep them busy. They need to continually monitor the activity at their properties to ensure no one is breaking any of the lease requirements, and they must mediate conflicts between residents. It’s also important to respond to questions and requests from tenants in a timely manner — property managers should regularly assess tenant satistication to see if there are any extra amenities or other improvements that would help them compete against other properties in the area. Property managers may also need to deal with late payments and evictions as well.
A lot of work goes into keeping a property well-maintained. Landscapers are needed on a regular basis for tasks such as mowing grass and trimming shrubs, plumbers should be called in to inspect drains for clogs before they can cause a leak, etc.
In addition to initiating these maintenance jobs, property managers also need to handle maintenance requests that are submitted by tenants. Such requests should be dealt with as quickly as possible — delayed maintenance can be a terrible experience for tenants, which in turn leads to lower lease renewal rates as well as negative reviews on Google and other online platforms.
Property owners invest in real estate in order to collect rent, and property managers are responsible for making sure this rent is actually collected and deposited into the appropriate accounts. They’ll also need to collect security deposits and then determine whether the deposit should be returned to the tenant at the end of the lease.
Many of the tasks described in the sections above, such as advertising vacant properties and hiring plumbers for repairs, cost money. Depending on the property management contract, there may be a set budget for all of these miscellaneous expenses, in which case property managers will need to evaluate their available options for each task so that they can make the most of their budget. Property managers might also need to perform general accounting tasks like recording transactions and inventory, generating financial projections, making sure unit numbers are correct on invoices, etc. The property manager may be asked to organize tax documents and even file taxes as well.
Finally, real estate property managers are responsible for making sure that the property is administered without breaking any applicable landlord-tenant laws. For example, they need to follow federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act in order to avoid costly penalties.
There may also be state laws that need to be considered — this is where property managers can be especially valuable for out-of-town owners, as they can offer expertise about these state-level laws that the owner may not have much experience with. And whenever paperwork needs to be filed, property managers must make sure that it is done so correctly and on time.
Different Types of Real Estate Property Managers
The general responsibilities outlined above apply to most property managers, but it should be noted that not all property is equal. Depending on the type of property, property managers may have other responsibilities than those listed above. There are also property managers who specialize in a particular aspect of this business. The list below breaks down the unique responsibilities of the most common roles within this area of real estate and property management:
- Residential: This type of property manager focuses on single-family residences, multifamily residences, and apartment buildings. People rely on these properties as a place to live, so managers must be especially proactive about maintenance and responsive to tenant requests. Interpersonal skills are also important, as they generally need to interact with more tenants than commercial property managers.
- Commercial: Office space, industrial facilities, and retail businesses are overseen by commercial property managers, who are responsible for ensuring that they maintain the projected gross income. The leases for this type of property tend to be much more complicated than the leases for residential units, which can make a commercial property manager’s job more difficult. But one benefit for these managers is that commercial properties usually aren’t open 24/7, which means they don’t need to be “on call” as often.
- On-Site Manager: At large properties, such as apartment buildings and office complexes, a property manager will usually be employed to oversee the day-to-day operations in person. On-site managers are responsible for supervising employees to ensure that they know their expectations and work efficiently. In the case of an apartment complex, lodging at the site may be included with their compensation for the job. In addition to filling vacant units and keeping their existing tenants satisfied, they’ll inspect the property regularly and communicate with the owner (or a higher-level manager, as we’ll discuss below) to provide updates.
- Asset Manager: Although tenant relations are usually an important part of property management, this role is focused solely on the financial side of the business. Asset managers in this field help the owner increase the return on their real estate investment, so they must know how to identify market opportunities, optimize leasing rates, and evaluate how changes in financial developments can affect the owner’s properties. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance with zoning laws.
- Regional Manager: Property management is big business. When large organizations invest in property, there may be a few steps between the on-site manager and the actual owner of the property. For example, a management firm will often employ regional managers to supervise multiple on-site managers who work in a particular area.
- Executive Manager: These professionals are at the very top of the property management ladder. They’re responsible for making “big picture” decisions that ensure the long-term profitability of an organization’s real estate investments, and they may have several regional managers who work under them. Executive property managers report directly to a management firm’s owner or CEO, and the best way to contact them is usually through the executive assistant.