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What Do Property Managers Do?

March 25, 2016 | Ron Gjerde

What do real estate managers do? If your top answer is “managing property performance”or “enforcing property operating policies and procedures”, you may be surprised.

Over 1,400 property managers across North America responded to our job analysis survey, which asked practitioners to rate the importance of 156 essential activities and 111 areas of knowledge in the performance of their job responsibilities.

The highest agreement among all respondent groups was not the real estate management-specific knowledge, but the importance of cross-functional skills. The term “cross-functional” is used because they are skills and knowledge that are needed to successfully perform a variety of industry specific tasks and responsibilities.

Of course, industry-related knowledge about finance, maintenance, risk management, marketing and leasing, and other property operations continue to be rated as important. What is telling, however, is that cross-functional skills (i.e., people or soft skills) rank even higher. Of the top 21 ranked knowledge statements, 19 are cross-functional skills (including all of the top 15 ranked items).

Top Rated Knowledge Statements

  1. Communications (e.g., oral, written, electronic)
  2. Problem solving
  3. Interpersonal skills (e.g., listening, diplomacy, responsiveness)
  4. Time management
  5. Customer service
  6. Critical thinking
  7. Business etiquette
  8. Conflict resolution
  9. Leadership
  10. Motivation
  11. Professional ethics
  12. Emotional intelligence
  13. Negotiation strategies and techniques
  14. Team building
  15. Delegating
  16. Property operating policies/procedures
  17. Coaching and mentoring
  18. Presentation skills
  19. Managing property performance
  20. Management styles
  21. Networking

By clustering cross-functional knowledge statements into a single “soft skills” function, we see the more expected industry-specific knowledge areas emerge, as seen below in the top ten task and knowledge areas for real estate managers.

Knowledge areas 

While the value of cross functional skills is certainly not unique to this industry, real estate management is a sophisticated business. It requires the utilization of the latest technology to increase operating efficiencies, maximize revenue streams, and monitor property performance. However, the survey results confirm that real estate management is still essentially a personal service profession. Real estate managers realize that because of the individual relationships they have with building owners, tenants/residents, and employees – managing people and relationships are just as important as managing buildings.

To dig deeper into what property managers do, and what they need to know, check out the new IREM publication What Property Managers Do: IREM Real Estate Management Job Analysis.

About the Author
Ron Gjerde is Vice President, Knowledge Center for the Institute of Real Estate Management. Ron oversees the production of IREM’s magazine, the Journal of Property Management, and the development of numerous text books and publications on real estate management. He also oversees government affairs and the Income/Expense program.

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