One of the more hidden roles within the property industry is that of the property manager. Everyone wants to be a negotiator, showing luxury apartments and driving fancy cars, but without the support of a residential property manager, none of that is possible.
A residential property management company looks after property portfolios on behalf of its client base, which can range from first-time landlords through to people who rent out hundreds of homes. Typical duties might include advertising properties, finding and vetting tenants, drawing up legal tenancy contracts, checking that tenants are looking after the property, dealing with maintenance and repairs, managing rent and finances, and acting as liaison between the tenants and landlord.
Unlike their estate agent colleagues, property managers earn a flat basic salary (so no worry about earning commission) which is usually benchmarked at a higher rate than those in sales and lettings receive. Plus there can be bonuses, good career progression and no weekend working. What’s more, recruiters are crying out for them. With increasing numbers of people renting in the UK right now, the services offered by property management companies are in high demand – most landlords (many of whom might live overseas) want to make their own lives easier, with the added benefit of knowing everything is compliant and legal, so willingly devolve all responsibilities to the property manager.
With that in mind, we thought we’d share some insight into what you can you do to improve your prospects, combined with some advice from three property management experts. Here’s how to become a property manager.
Get (some sort of) qualification
As we’ve written previously, a qualification isn’t necessary, but it can help your application stand out. Michael Paul, managing director at Strangford Management confirms that: “As the industry is famously non-regulated, qualifications are not essential.” That’s the good news.
That said, a relevant qualification can show recruiters that you are serious about the profession. Plus it will equip you with a certain level of knowledge that the non-qualified competition won’t possess. It can also help you advance once you’ve secured that first job, as clients will certainly be looking – at the very least – for membership of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents).
Never fear if you’re changing career or have only just realised that property management is your passion – there are plenty of opportunities to boost that CV or to strengthen your knowledge of the industry while on the job. Some employers may include the chance to study for a qualification as part of the job offer.
Have relevant experience
Experience can be just as – if not more so, in some cases – important and impressive as qualifications; especially as the role involves so much. Michael adds that “you truly have to be a jack of all trades, covering accountancy, insurance, building design and maintenance, and so on.”
The debate between qualifications versus experience has raged for many years now, but possessing a mix of the two certainly seems to be that ‘something extra’ which would make an application worth a second glance.
“The type of character we look for is not only someone with a traditional real estate degree but someone who is very customer service-focused, who understands personal engagement and has social awareness,” Michael continues. “This has led us in the past to look for individuals coming from industries such as hotel management or airline staff… that are more tech savvy, who understand why social presence and personal client relationships retain customers over the long term.”
You may not have considered a career in property management previously, but as Michael says, it’s possible to transfer the valuable experience gained in other industries to the property sector, making you an attractive proposition to recruiters. Relevant experience – no matter where it was obtained – is key.
Demonstrate you have the desirable competencies
Naturally, recruiters scan CVs and listen out in interviews for evidence of certain competencies which match the job requirements. As such – and this goes for any role – you should take care to demonstrate how those desirable skills and characteristics show that you can meet the demands of property management. Going through the job description and person specification should give you a clear indication – if you haven’t been supplied with these, ask your recruitment agency to obtain them for you.
Common competencies include excellent communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to prioritise, self-motivation and keeping calm under pressure. Problem-solving skills are essential; in property management, things can go wrong, so the ideal candidate must be prepared for every eventuality and maintain a level head, while simultaneously keeping track of all activities, to ensure that everything runs smoothly. It’s a fantastic job for people who love solving problems and thrive on pressure.
For that extra insight, however, we asked our panel of experts about any other attributes they look out for.
Daniel Latto, former lettings agency owner and founder of property coaching business www.daniellatto.co.uk, told us: “The most important aspect was that someone could follow the systems put in place, and that when things got tough, perhaps with unhappy tenants, that they could negotiate their way through and reach an amicable outcome. An ability to take whatever the day may throw at you therefore is an essential requisite for a property manager.”
William Parry, director at The London Residents Club, London’s leading Airbnb management service, says: “We look for property managers who have an eye for detail and are very reliable. When looking after other people’s most valuable asset, it must be treated with the utmost respect.
“Nowhere is the old adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ truer than in the property management world,” William continues. “By spotting problems early, money, hassle and time are saved. Reliability helps property management companies run smoothly and is held in the highest regard.”
It’s simple really: if you can show recruiters that you have what they’re looking for, there’s no way your application will get dumped in the reject pile.
Make sure you stand out
This is applicant advice 101, but to increase your chances of being progressed to the next stage in the recruitment process, you need to ensure there’s something on your CV that differentiates you from the pack. We don’t mean print your CV on neon paper or use a jazzy font, nor do you need to create a video resume. Your attributes and behaviours should speak for themselves.
“In order for an applicant to stand out,” Daniel says, “an applicant must be presentable, articulate and have a likeable personality.”
He adds that it’s important at interview or in a cover letter to be able to give examples of certain scenarios, to show that you have relevant experience – even if it was gained in a different sector entirely. An example “that displays your skill sets… is vital,” he says.
Emphasising an ability to cope with whatever life may throw at you may also be a good idea – you never know what you might encounter, especially in a role where you will be dealing with people from all walks of life – be it a demanding landlord, challenging tenants, blue chip companies or maintenance contractors.
“Property management really is all about people,” Michael says. “We would rather hire someone with exceptional social/customer service skills and teach them the technicalities of property management.”
How to become a property manager: a quick recap
A property manager needs to be able to deal efficiently with a wide range of different people’s needs and expectations. We’ve given you a lot of advice on what you need to secure that role, but the main point is that candidates must exhibit strong problem solving abilities, plus relevant transferable skills and experience. To recap, these are:
If this sounds like you, then why not give property management a closer look? One thing is for certain; your day would never be dull.
If you’d like to find out more, call us on 01784 451464 or browse our current property manager jobs.