What does a Real Estate Manager do?

Kurt Inman

A real estate manager oversees the condition and profitability of real property owned by clients. He may work for himself, individual owners, a property management firm, a real estate brokerage, a bank, or a large corporation. Real estate manager duties vary, depending on the needs of the properties and the clients — one may maintain the same building every day, while another manages dozens of real estate sites nationwide. Real estate managers are typically detail-oriented and very good with people; they often have solid business backgrounds in real estate, investment or construction as well.

A real estate manager may help a telecommunications company purchase real estate for building cell phone towers.
A real estate manager may help a telecommunications company purchase real estate for building cell phone towers.

Many real estate managers are responsible for the daily physical and financial health of residential properties. Commonly known as property managers, they may maintain individual homes, a condominium association, or hundreds of apartments. They may do basic repairs, improvements and landscaping themselves; on larger properties, managers often hire, train and supervise others. They usually collect rent payments, manage expenses and keep the books. As the representative of the owner, a property manager often finds and approves new renters, and he normally handles existing tenant issues and evictions as well. Some property managers also live on-site, while others travel between properties frequently.

A real estate manager may also oversee shopping malls, office towers or industrial warehouse space. This work generally requires specialized knowledge. The tenant leases can be very complex, based partially on corporate revenue. Properties are often owned by large groups of investors, requiring substantial record-keeping and reporting. Industrial and manufacturing sites can also include intricate equipment; this machinery frequently needs to be maintained under precise environmental conditions. The manager is typically responsible for security, janitorial and even reception contractors as well.

Another type of real estate manager acts as a long-term investment advisor to banks, insurers and other large institutions. Also known as a real estate asset manager, he closely tracks the value of his client's real estate portfolio. When he feels it is prudent to acquire, develop or dispose of a property, he facilitates the deal. He generally does not act as a real estate broker, but works directly with agents, brokers, attorneys and others on each transaction. The portfolios he manages often include hundreds, if not thousands, of properties. Financial planning is his focus, rather than day-to-day property management.

Some corporations own or lease hundreds, or even thousands, of specialized real estate parcels in order to perform their business. For example, telecommunications companies acquire land for every cell phone tower. Other examples include fast food and retail franchises, which lease or purchase land for every new store. A corporate real estate manager researches these locations, analyzing their business potential. He uses his industry-specific knowledge and real estate experience to recommend the best choices for future development. Once a choice has been approved by his corporate employer, he facilitates the acquisition and development of the site.

Real estate managers and property managers are often required to have a real estate license; some may also need an investment license, depending on the nature of their work. Many colleges offer property management programs in addition to real estate classes. Several related certifications can be earned through trade associations — the Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) is a common one in the US.

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