Property Management Job Functions: Apartment Communities Vs. Office Buildings

More than 1,400 real estate management professionals from across the United States and Canada recently participated in a comprehensive study to help define the responsibilities and competencies for successful real estate managers. The analysis cuts across all property types in identifying the essential tasks and knowledge required of real estate professionals. While the results of this job analysis is still being fully analyzed, a few interesting items popped out as it relates to the differences between office and apartment property managers.

The types of job functions and knowledge required of apartment community and office building managers are generally similar. Putting together a budget for an office building might be somewhat different than putting together a budget for an apartment community, but it is a similar function common to both types of managers, as is the knowledge required to construct them.

However, there are some areas where the two types of property managers diverge in terms of what’s important for them to do and know. The office building sector is the only property type where over 50% of respondents ranked sustainability issues as important or very important. Most green building research and initiatives have been directed at office buildings, which may help explain the rankings in this industry sector. Among office building managers, site and regional/district managers gave sustainability tasks the highest rankings – which is understandable, since they would generally have the highest involvement in implementing green practices at properties.

Marketing and leasing functions are considerably more important for apartment community managers. This includes not only developing and implementing marketing and leasing plans, but implementing resident retention plans, and developing social media and reputation management strategies. For office buildings, the primary people responsible for marketing and leasing are brokers, rather than the property manager. It is also something that is likely to come up less often for office buildings, since office leases can be 5, 10, or even 20 years in length – rather than the 12 months or less for apartments.

Hiring, staffing, and employee engagement/retention is also more important for apartment community managers. Just as resident/tenant turnover is much higher in the multifamily industry, so is employee turnover (where some positions can experience over 50% turnover in any year).

For more interesting findings from the initial analysis, you can check out the IREM Job Analysis Executive Summary, and stay tuned for announcements when the full report becomes available.

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