Starting Your Own Career as a Property Manager

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Oct 12, 2020

Oct 12, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

If you’re interested in forging your own career path, you might consider becoming a property manager—especially if you want to invest in your own properties. The idea is simple; you’ll spend your time keeping rental properties in ideal shape, collecting rent, making repairs, and generally keeping tenants renting and happy. If you’re managing properties for others, you can collect a fee, and if you’re managing your own properties, you can pocket whatever rental income is leftover from expenses. 

There are many advantages to this career. You’ll get a chance to work independently, becoming your own boss (in most situations). You’ll be able to put your home maintenance skills to good use, or cultivate those skills through experience. You’ll also be able to scale your business and efforts so you can make more money and rise to become a leader. 

That said, starting a career as a property manager can be challenging, and you’ll need to be prepared for the hurdles if you’re going to be successful. 

Key Strategic Considerations

These are some of the most important strategic considerations to keep in mind before deciding to become a property manager

  • Personal properties or client properties? First, do you want to manage your own portfolio of properties, or do you want to manage client properties? If you manage your own, you’ll have much higher profits, but you’ll also face more risk—and you may struggle to acquire the properties you need without an influx of cash to start. If you manage client properties, your long-term prospects may be limited. 
  • Time horizon and growth. How long are you planning to be a property manager, and what are you planning to do with this career over time? Are you interested in hiring other employees and making your company more prominent in the community? Or do you just want to keep yourself busy full-time? 
  • Portfolio size and scope. What kinds of properties do you want to manage, and how many can you handle? Some property managers handle a single large apartment building almost exclusively, while others delve into commercial properties, or manage a wide range of properties. 
  • The endgame. What’s your vision for the endgame? Are you hoping to grow a property management business then sell it? Are you interested in selling your properties for cash when you retire? Or are you going to hand the reins of your company to someone else after a period of time? 

What Property Managers Do

What is it that property managers do on a regular basis? 

These are some of the most notable responsibilities: 

  • Find and screen new tenants. Rental properties only make money if they have happy, paying tenants. Part of your responsibilities will include finding new tenants, setting rent prices, screening tenants, and helping them get moved in. 
  • Collect rent. You’ll also be responsible for collecting rent. There are many ways to do this, and with online payment collection and automatic withdrawals, this element of your job should be easy. 
  • Conduct maintenance. Your properties will stay in much better shape if you conduct routine maintenance. That means cleaning the gutters on a regular basis, cleaning and checking the HVAC system, fixing small things before they become big things, and inspecting for points of damage or deterioration. 
  • Coordinate repairs and renovations. Occasionally, things are going to go wrong with the property; there will be major fixes to make and items to replace. When this happens, you’ll be responsible for issuing or coordinating repairs. You’ll also need to handle certain renovations, which could add value to the property
  • Respond to tenant requests and complaints. When tenants complain or have requests, you’re the person they’ll reach—and you’ll be responsible for responding to them and addressing those comments. 
  • Handle moves and evictions. It’s also your job to handle move-outs. In extreme cases, if a tenant doesn’t pay rent or if they’re exceptionally problematic, you may need to coordinate an eviction. 
  • Hire and coordinate employees. As you gain more experience or as your business begins to grow, you’ll also be responsible for hiring employees to handle the above responsibilities, and coordinating them. 

Getting Started

If you’re interested in becoming a property manager, what’s the best way to get started? There are a few options, depending on your goals and your current level of experience. For example, you could start by purchasing a small rental property of your own and managing it, learning through experience. If you don’t have much experience, you could work for an existing property management company as an employee, or you could shadow a mentor and learn from them directly. In any case, it’s going to take time to learn the ins and outs of the profession.