This article was posted on Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017

Dear Gabby: I knew being a property manager isn’t easy, but it’s proving to be a lot harder than I imagined. There are so many responsibilities to balance, but I’m still determined to be the best in the biz. Any tips?  Sincerely,  IWannaBeTheVeryBest

Dear IWannaBeTheVeryBest:

So you want to be a perfect property manager eh? The property management world can be highly rewarding one, but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. I’ve been working in the industry long enough to know what personalities and skill sets are better suited for this line of work.

Just call me the Mr. Miyagi of property management. Learn how to focus on your goals and start with the basics. The rest will follow. After all, someone who can catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks can accomplish anything (note: this is not an official requirement of being a good property manager, but it would make for a killer party trick).

It may seem like you have a long path ahead of you, but have patience young grasshopper. Let’s start with some of the imperative qualities of today’s successful property managers: 

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1. Communication

A property manager must have excellent communication skills. Residents must be able to reach the property manager for emergency and non-emergency related issues. Keeping the lines of communication open can be challenging when the phones are ringing, your email inbox is full, and residents and potential residents alike are lined up at your desk, but it’s important to do so if you want to build and maintain good relationships with your residents.

One way to streamline communication is by implementing a resident portal. This will allow residents to ask questions, make maintenance requests, find information, and pay bills online. Not only will this keep your phone from ringing nonstop, but it also allows you to closely track communication with your residents for better organization. Communication should be painless – no one likes playing phone tag. 

2. Stay in the Know

The multifamily housing industry is evolving every day. If you want to be a successful property manager, it’s important that you stay ahead of the latest trends and regulations.

Make sure you’re reading the latest trade journals, industry reports, and other news sources (hint, hint…my blog). It’s simple! For example, I read up on all my multifamily news sources while enjoying my morning coffee.

Because property laws change frequently – especially in big cities – you need to make sure you’re not missing something important that could undermine your business. We live in a fast moving world (just ask the Kardashians) and you have to move fast to keep up! 

3. Organization Skills

As a property manager, it’s up to you to make sure everything runs smoothly. Think the opposite of Taylor Swift’s love life and you nailed it. Keeping track of all your responsibilities as a property manager will help you stay organized. Remember, you’re responsible for things such as:

  • Rent: While you likely don’t have direct control over what your prices are, you do have the tasks of staying on top of rent collections, adjustments, and lease breaks.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Of course you have a maintenance team but at the most random of moments, you’ll have no choice but to get things done on your own, for the convenience of the resident and the team.
  • Supervising Employees: If you have employees that you manage, such as security personnel, you’re responsible for making sure they are doing their job… and keeping team morale high!
  • Residents: You’re involved in all capacities when it comes to managing your residents, from finding the new ones and dealing with complaints to renewing leases or initiating evictions.
  • Managing the Budget: Gross I know, but absolutely necessary.
  • Property/Renter Laws: These include laws regarding tenant screenings, lease terminations, handling security deposits, property safety standards, etc. Whew! I need a nap just thinking about it… or maybe just another latte? As a property manager, you obviously want to minimize the complications and chaos involved. Don’t let yourself be pulled in five different directions because you’re ill-prepared or misaligned with situations that can arise.

4. People Skills

You won’t ever make it in the property management business with a bad attitude. To be successful, you’ll have to learn to work well with people of all kinds. A property manager must have a friendly, positive attitude, and excellent customer service skills to build relationships with new and existing residents. Being a people person boils down to a few specific skills:

  • Patience: This is especially important when dealing with residents. Every day can bring a new problem or frustration, so you must be able to deal with them without losing your cool.
  • Good Listener: Listening without cutting off the other person is absolutely critical. Sometimes your residents simply want to be heard, even if it’s a complaint. Many problems can be resolved just by listening.
  • Relatable: In the property management industry, you’ll encounter all types of people in all types of businesses. Being able to find common ground with all of them will help you succeed.

By following these easy tips, you’re well on your way to being the best property manager your residents have ever had!


Gabby has 17+ years of experience in the multifamily industry. Reprinted with permission of