When you think about the ideal community manager, typically a unique combination of personality traits springs to mind. They are professional and courteous with residents, yet firm with vendors. They know their way around a spreadsheet, but also have basic working knowledge of major systems like plumbing or heating and cooling. They know how to help the homeowner association (HOA) board stay focused on the big picture, but are also adept at taking you through the details of even the most complicated budget plan.
What about other qualifications? Is there some sort of stamp, seal of approval or designation you should look for in a good property manager? Yes, there is. Like any profession, property management is a regulated, controlled discipline where only those who are qualified and licensed are allowed to practice it. Though, please know licensing and qualifications vary from market to market. These education and certification levels can vary, however, so here’s what to look for in a good community manager.
This is the minimal requirement for any property manager. In most states, a license is required to practice in the field. If you live in a state that mandates licensing, make sure that the property manager you’re considering has satisfied this requirement and is state licensed.
A wide variety of training programs are available to community managers. These courses help them strengthen their knowledge of topics ranging from engineering to legislation, but they also cover essential areas such as budgeting, insurance and ethics. Many of these programs are offered at local colleges, property management seminars or through online courses. And while a degree in property management isn’t required, it does indicate an elevated level of commitment.
Individual property management professionals can further their careers by achieving enhanced levels of certification through organizations like the CAI. These tiered designations begin with Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) and then progress to Association Management Specialist (AMS) and the highest certification, Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). Once property managers have achieved this designation, they are also eligible for specialty certification as a Large Scale Manager (LSM), which is granted to experienced, certified managers who focus on a portfolio of large communities and projects.
A professional property management company’s commitment to its staff training speaks volumes to the firm as a whole. FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company, provides professional development courses through its FirstService Residential School of Professional Development. A combination of hands-on learning at the property level, classroom experiences and online coursework, the School enhances team members’ skills across a broad range of topics including time management, financial statements, technical training, leadership, customer service skills, communication, logical problem-solving and group decision-making.
Look for licensing, education, accreditation, certification and a commitment to ongoing professional development in your property management company. Together, it’ll make a big difference in the level of service your community association board experiences. For more information on choosing the right community manager, contact