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AMO® program established 75 years ago amidst global crisis

It was 1945. World War II was coming to an end, and more than 60 of the roughly 600 individual IREM® members were in the Armed Forces. Coming out of a global crisis, the Institute was struggling to become financially stable and to establish property management as a professional service worthy of respect. This was the environment in which the Accredited Management Organization (AMO) was created.

When the Institute was founded in 1933, its members were companies rather than individuals. Soon after, and only after much heated discussion, IREM’s leaders reached the consensus that true professionalism rested more appropriately on the shoulders of individuals rather than companies; thus, in 1938, the CPM® designation was created. This enabled individuals as well as organizations to be members of IREM. 

But it didn’t end the debate about how professionalism was perceived at the company level versus the individual level, particularly within the context of how to best serve the property-owning public. The AMO program was the culmination of this debate and acknowledgment that professionalism has meaning from both an individual and corporate perspective.

And so, on September 6, 1945, at a special meeting of the governing council in Chicago, IREM approved a change to its bylaws that created the AMO accreditation and ended its organizational category of membership. The original minimum standards for those companies seeking the accreditation were “aimed at protecting the public from unethical and improper management practices and techniques.” Here’s what was required of a company that wanted to be one of the first AMO firms:

  • It shall be reputably engaged in the business of property management in the locality in which it operates;
  • Its management policies and techniques shall be established by individuals who are experienced and qualified in property management;
  • It shall cover all money handling, accounting, and disbursement personnel by proper and adequate fidelity bonds;
  • It shall segregate the funds of its clients, at all times, from those of the organization by deposit in a separate bank account which shall always contain 100 percent of the funds of every client;
  • It shall not receive a commission, rebate, discount, or other benefit without the client’s knowledge;
  • It shall not make any misleading or inaccurate representation to the public;
  • It shall have a Certified Property Manager in an executive position relating to its property management activities;
  • It or one of its principals shall be a member of a local board, or an Individual member, of the National Association of Real Estate Boards [which later became the National Association of Realtors].

The initial roster of AMOs contained 162 companies, most of which had held organizational membership before seeking accreditation. To promote these companies and their professional stature, IREM committed to “carry out a program to acquaint the property owners and investors with the safeguards provided by their management organizations which meet the accrediting requirements.”

Today, 75 years later, the AMO program’s commitment to serving the public and protecting it from unethical and improper management practices remains intact, as attested by the 563 firms that bear the accreditation and benefit from holding it. In a survey of AMOs conducted last year, 75 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “being an AMO differentiates my company from my competitors,” and 69 percent said their companies “saw value in the AMO accreditation.”

The launch of the AMO was officially announced in the spring 1946 issue of Journal of Property Management, which said the AMO was established as a public service “for the benefit of owners of real estate . . . so that an owner might select an organization to manage his property in his own or some distinct city with the ability and integrity to render outstanding service.” Although much has changed over 75 years, the desire for real estate owners to identify reputable management companies “with the ability and integrity to render outstanding service” hasn’t changed–and neither has the ability of AMO companies to deliver on this promise.

Comments

Very impressive write-up. I would like to apply for AMO status for my company. What is the process.

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