“Tips for Being a Better Property Manager/ Project Manager”

By: Stephanie Diana Wilson- Gast
Like many in the real estate industry I have worked in various facets of the industry. From property management to mortgage origination to mortgage compliance I have done it all and seen it all. Although when I last toyed with the idea about a year ago on going back into full time property management/ project management I thought about all the condo projects I had worked on in the mortgage industry and apartment complex purchases and sales and how often I had to talk to property managers. I also looked on craigslist and many jobs wanted only a high school diploma or Bachelor’s degree with a CAM license. And in affordable housing they wanted the same educational background but; also certificates in tax credit and section 8.

Being curious what the CAM licensing qualifications were I looked what the qualifications are. According to my findings on the National Apartment Association (NAA) website, http://www.naahq.org/learn/education/certified-apartment-manager, there are only three requirements. They are as follows:
• worked in the apartment industry for at least 12 months;
• successfully completed CAM coursework (which total 56 ½ hours)
• meet all examination requirements within 12 months of declaring candidacy for CAM

There is no mention of needed skill sets or background education requirements just to do the above mentioned items. Although there are a few things that I would suggest to those who look to hire or are looking to work in the project management/ Property Management arena so that working in concert with mortgage professionals is smooth and you can detect issues quickly.

1. One sign up to get a certificate or classes in basic accounting principles. I can’t stress how often in my career from all vantage points I have had to deal with property managers who can’t even read and understand the HOA budget. Or even as a renter these people can’t do math and have misunderstood information on requested income verification documentation. Although this is also an advisement across the board in the financial industry because many in sales aren’t stressing about numbers unless it pertains to their checks.

2. Read once and a while the FNMA guidelines. I can’t stress enough how many times I have seen HOA’s have budgets way below the FNMA required 10% reserve rule or are running in the red and when this is presented to the HOA manager they say, “I don’t know anything about that”. If you don’t keep up with these guidelines to at least bring up to your clients you are doing a disservice to yourself and them. HOA’s are often made up of simple homeowners who have no clue about any of these things and they hire you to be their specialist. So, do your part and at least glance over the sections on the FNMA and FHA guidelines that are applicable to the types of properties in your portfolio. Although again I will admit this is a tip many across the board in the financial industry should follow.

3. Stay up to date on compliance and fair housing, lending, and credit rules. While working in property management I saw a lot of people get sued for saying or doing small things that were interpreted as discriminatory and they didn’t even know it. Keeping the following sites on your favorites and looking at them periodically might save you a day in court:

a. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws/yourrights

b. http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/category/fair-lending/

c. http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act

4. Also since jobs for those with affordable housing look into getting certified in those areas. It’s a rewarding career path and can help to further your career. This industry is growing and not too many have the certificates to fill these jobs. You can look up more information on http://www.nahma.org/. Also this can help you get additional information on the info on tip 3.

5. Also if you want to be able to both be a service to your company and move up someday do some research on what other educational degrees, certs or, licenses you can or should get. Such as on All Property Management.com article http://www.allpropertymanagement.com/propertylaw/property-management-law-in-california.html. On this it gives a list of requirements for property management companies state by state. Furthering your education is rarely a bad idea and knowledge truly is power.

Where these tips are just suggestions based on what I have observed from the different vantage points in the real estate field one thing is certain. All knowledge is relative. And the more we realize that as an industry the better we will become as a whole to benefit our employers, clients and ourselves.

For more on the topics discussed in this article please see the links within and the research cited below. Also check out my articles on Hella Bay Area at http://www.hellabaymgazine.com.


Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) (National Apartment Association)

Property Management requirements in California (Property Management requirements in California)

Fair Housing — It’s Your Right – HUD (Fair Housing — It’s Your Right – HUD)

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

Fair Credit Reporting Act (Federal Trade Commission)

National Affordable Housing Management Association – NAHMA™ (NAHMA)


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