Property Management Blog

How to Become a Property Manager in Washington

System - Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Updated December 2017

More and more people across the United States are choosing to rent their homes as opposed to buying, which means one thing: now is one of the best times to become a property manager.

Property management jobs are great careers for strong leaders who want to work hard and communicate with a variety of different people from all walks of life. It’s also a career in a state of growth: the Bureau of Labor Statistics has officially projected the property management industry will continue to grow by at least 8% by 2024.

This following list of guidelines will give you the next steps for becoming a property manager in the state of Washington.

What is a property manager?

Property managers are in charge of operating a real estate property in lieu of the owner. They are paid by the owner. A good property manager will be on call 24/7. The job is demanding, but rewarding.

Some of the key responsibilities include:

  • Collecting monthly rent from tenants
  • Hiring maintenance personnel to work around the grounds of the property
  • Showing apartments and other living spaces to prospective renters
  • Developing marketing materials to attract new tenants
  • Performing routine building inspections
  • Create lease agreements and respond to issues or complaints that tenants have while renting

Steps to a Career in Property Management in Washington State

Getting started in the career of property management is not difficult, but there is some education and licensing required upfront. We’ll walk you through those below.

  1.  Legal requirements

In Washington, property management is considered a real estate brokerage activity that is listed under the state’s real estate licensing laws. Therefore, property managers need to hold a real estate broker’s license.

You may be open to exemption, however, if you are employed by a managing broker and limited in performing any of the following property management duties:

  • Delivering a lease application or lease and any lease amendment
  • Receiving a lease application, lease, security deposit, or rental agreement that is made payable to the real estate firm or the property owner
  • Showing a rental unit to a person, executing leases or real estate agreements, or acting under the instruction of the owner or managing broker
  • Offering information on security deposits, rental amounts, or a rental unit or application for lease to prospective tenants
  • Assisting in administrative, financial, maintenance, or clerical duties
  1. Start studying

For the most part, companies who hire property managers are looking for people with at least a Bachelor’s degree in real estate, business administration or finance.

Other companies look for people who have received real estate training or even have a real estate license.

For those who don’t want to go back to school full-time, you can take a vocational real estate training course in subjects like real estate finance, property management, real estate management, affordable housing administration and real estate development.

You can do these courses online or in-person in just about every city. They are not required, but  they will give you a leg up on other candidates.

If these options are not viable for you, there is always the possibility of accepting an entry-level property management position and learning through experience. Many great property managers got their start doing just that.

  1. Getting Certified

Getting the proper certifications might not be required where you live, but it will always convey expertise to hiring companies and property owners.

Some of the certifications you are going to want to look into obtaining include a Certified Property Manager, Residential Management Professional, Certified Manager of Community Associations and Certified Apartment Manager.

Many times professional property managers will get a real estate license on top of their specialized certifications. This qualifies them for more lucrative possibilities within other realms of real estate.

  1. Gaining experience

Once you’ve gotten your credentials, the next thing you’ll have to do is find the right company that is best for you. This is where you’ll have to put on your networking suit and get out there!

Conventions and other events that potential employers will be at are a great start. Two excellent organizations to look into are the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and your city’s Chamber of Commerce.

At Zenith Properties, we are always looking for talented people to come on and help with our real estate and property management. You can read more about our story and services and see if you’d like to join our team!

Traits of a successful property manager

There isn’t one “set personality” for a successful property manager. The position does bring duties though that are best suited for people with certain traits. Here they are:

  • You have people skills.You are dealing with a range of people here and there’s a good chance you will see occasional problems and disputes. You need to be able to deal with unhappy tenants in a calm, respectful, levelheaded way. A good property manager is typically a great communicator and can navigate through tense conversations.
  • You are a problem solver. This is a huge responsibility of property managers. You need to be able to think quickly and be a resource for issues that arise.
  • You have a head for business. Owning and managing a property requires serious intent and good business sense. Businesses, in general, are all about knowing what it takes to be competitive, keeping realistic goals in mind and, ultimately, keeping an eye on the bottom line so you can turn a profit.
  • You take initiative. The best property managers are proactive, meaning they schedule maintenance regularly and are on top of vacancies. They seem to be one step ahead of the curve.
  • You are accountable. You want your tenants to know they can rest assured you’ll take care of repairs and maintenance issues in a timely manner. They also have a reasonable expectation that you will enforce general rules of tenancy and any policies contained in the lease.

Quite simply, you need to feel certain you’re equipped to handle the job. That entails doing some research and learning all the ins and outs of managing a property. If you’re comfortable reaching out, you might even contact a landlord or two and ask if they can spare a few minutes of their time giving advice to a first-timer.

Things to Consider Before Becoming a Property Manager

Before you launch into your new career, there are a few final things to consider. Taking care of these now can save you some time and set you up well for a start in property management.

  1. You’re going to need adequate landlord’s insurance. You may have regular residential insurance, but it won’t apply if you have tenants living there without the knowledge of your insurer. When purchasing a landlord insurance policy, you should pay attention to possible clauses that might obligate you to conduct regular inspections of the property during periods when it isn’t occupied.

Also, consider whether you need both building and content insurance. Building insurance on its own may not cover carpets, drapes and furniture if you’re renting a furnished apartment. In addition, you’ll want to make sure your policy covers you against damage or vandalism and – in case the place becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss such as fire or flooding – loss of rent. Lastly, make sure you’re covered for liability in case a tenant is injured on your property.

  1. You need to get permission from your lender before you can rent a mortgaged property. This applies even to something as seemingly trivial as renting out a single room in your home. You’re risking repossession if you don’t. You’re also leaving your tenant in a precarious position if the property goes into foreclosure, because the lender will have no legal obligation to honor the tenancy.
  2. Carefully consider reasonable ground rules. For instance, a lot of landlords recommend limiting the number of occupants that can reside on your property. The more noise to bother neighbors, the greater likelihood of difficulties and problems in general.
  3. Do some research and learn your state’s laws governing landlords and tenants. Just reading on tenant laws for a few minutes online should reveal a lot of what you need to know.
  4. You’ll need to do background checks on prospective tenants. The cost is minimal – maybe $20 to $30 – and well worth it. Experienced landlords say they mainly want to know if the prospective renter has a history of evictions. The great ones can look for specific red flags in the tenant.

Ready to launch a career in property management?

Once you’ve got the necessary licenses and education, you can check out our resources for getting started, such as tenant rights and best practices for new property managers. Our expert team is experienced, friendly, and ready to answer your questions! Contact us today!