Make property management easy with ButterflyMX


Key takeaways

  • Quick property management definition: it’s the process of overseeing the daily operations of a real estate investment. The property manager is the person responsible for the day-to-day activities of that building.
  • The four types of property management are residential, multifamily, commercial, and industrial.
  • You can become a property manager by meeting your state’s licensing requirements and having the right qualities.
  • Property management is important because it benefits owners and investors by maintaining and improving ROI, improving tenant experience, handling daily operations, planning for the future, and maintaining property safety.


If you’re seeking a complete and comprehensive property management definition, look no further.

Read on to find out what property management is and the many types of management out there. Additionally, discover what property managers are and what they do. Plus, learn how to become a property manager and why property management is vital to the real estate industry.

This post covers:


What is property management?

Property management is defined as the act of supervising and overseeing the daily operations of residential, commercial, or industrial real estate.

In most cases, a property manager is designated to handle the operations of a property, but a company may also be responsible. Responsibilities typically consist of regular maintenance, marketing the building to new tenants, increasing revenue, and overseeing daily operations. Above all, it’s up to the property manager to maintain the profitability of the property.


Learn the difference between a condo and an apartment:



What are the 4 types of property management?

Property management’s definition is divided into four types, each dealing with a different type of real estate.

The four types of property management are:



In general, residential property management concerns real estate that has long-term residents.

Some examples include:

  • Single-family homes
  • Townhouses
  • Condos



In the case of multifamily properties, managers usually care for real estate with yearly rental leases. Condos and townhouses also technically fit into this category but see significantly more long-term residents than yearly renters. Additionally, many multifamily properties see high turnover, so it’s up to managers to mitigate vacancies as much as possible.

Multifamily property management covers:

  • Apartments
  • Student housing
  • Mixed-use properties
  • Retirement communities



Commercial property management concerns real estate rented or owned by businesses. Most of the time, clients are business owners looking to move their company into an available unit.

Some examples of commercial properties to expect are:

  • Malls or shopping centers
  • Office buildings
  • Coworking spaces
  • Hotels


property management definition: a shopping center



Lastly, industrial property management covers manufacturing and industrial facilities. These require you to maintain strict building codes and regulations.

Some properties that fall under this category are:

  • Food packaging facilities
  • Automotive assembly
  • Steel mills
  • Warehouses


What is a property manager?

A property manager is an individual or a company responsible for the daily operations of a property.

Owners or investors delegate responsibilities to property managers to maintain the operations of their real estate investment. As a result, it’s up to the property manager to oversee a wide variety of tasks a property may require. Property managers may handle all the duties on their own, but in many cases, they hire employees to work alongside them in completing property jobs.

For example, most apartment buildings have their own team of maintenance staff to fulfill work orders from residents. It’s challenging for a single property manager to handle such requests on their own, especially without technical knowledge. So, hiring a maintenance team is a good way of meeting residents’ needs to achieve the manager’s goals of increasing occupancy and revenue.


What do property managers do?

A property manager does a wide range of tasks for a single property, ranging from adhering to a budget and creating reports to ordering supplies and collecting rent.

More specifically, the most common property manager duties include:

  • Marketing and leasing units. Arguably their biggest task, property managers must continually market vacant units to prospective tenants. When units are empty, owners lose money. So, property managers need to list available units, schedule tours, and quickly lease up the property.
  • Adjusting and collecting rent. Property managers determine the appropriate rate for the available units and collect rent from existing tenants. Managers often collect rent through online portals for faster, more convenient transactions.
  • Abiding by laws and regulations. Typically, property owners are too busy to keep up with the latest laws and regulations regarding tenants. So, property managers have to stay educated and updated on the latest local legislation. That way, owners can prevent any legal issues from occurring.
  • Performing maintenance and upkeep. In order to keep tenants happy, managers must maintain appliances or systems in each unit — and across the property. Moreover, properties require different upkeep from summer to winter. That’s why many property managers choose to hire dedicated seasonal employees to handle short-term needs.
  • Fostering relationships with tenants. Since owners are off-site, property managers must develop and maintain relationships with tenants. This involves resolving complaints, communicating with tenants regularly, and delivering a positive tenant experience.
  • Hiring and supervising employees. A majority of property managers are unable to perform every duty at a property, so they’ll hire staff to assist. Maintenance staff, groundskeepers, and leasing agents are common professions that work underneath property managers.


Property manager vs. landlord

In summary, landlords are owners of the property that manage and maintain it on their own, whereas property managers are hired by landlords to oversee the property.

With that said, property managers and landlords have other key differences:

Property Manager Landlord
Doesn’t own the property Owns the property
May work on-site or off-site Primarily works off-site
Paid by the landlord based on a percentage of rental income Receives income from rent and other fees
Hire maintenance staff for work orders Typically performs work orders themselves
Knowledgeable of the industry and housing laws Knowledge of the industry will vary



What does a property management company do?

Property management companies have the same goals and responsibilities as individual property managers. However, instead of a single person overseeing building operations, a dedicated team from a single organization manages it.

Property management companies are best suited for larger properties, such as apartment complexes with hundreds of units. Another reason to choose a property management business is when you own multiple properties.

Owners may want to manage all of their properties underneath a single entity, which a management company can provide.


What to expect from a property management company

You can expect a property management company to perform all of the same functions as a property manager, but for multiple properties at the same time. In fact, landlords often seek property management firms to manage their multiple units, properties, or mix of the two.

If you choose to hire a property management company, expect services such as:

  • Property marketing
  • Application screening
  • Accounting and finance tasks
  • Collecting rent and fee payments
  • Property maintenance
  • Unit cleaning and upkeep


property management definition: manager remodeling unit


What is typically the overall goal of the property manager?

The overall goal of a property manager is to maximize the occupancy rate of a property and, in turn, increase revenue. To achieve such a goal, the property manager must maintain tenant satisfaction and reduce tenant turnover.

Tenant turnover can be reduced by:

  • Maintaining the property
  • Attending to work orders promptly
  • Investing in property upgrades and amenities
  • Screening tenants
  • Marketing vacant units
  • Cultivating a community among tenants


How to become a property manager

If you want to become a PM, you must meet certain requirements. But more importantly, you must have the right skills.

So, do you want to be a successful property manager?

If so, you must have the following:


Property manager requirements

Property management is not federally regulated, so each state sets its own requirements. Generally, most states require some form of license, most commonly a real estate broker’s license. Other states may refer to their license as a “property manager license.” However, some states have no licensing requirements at all.

Aside from licensing, you must also meet these requirements:

  • At least 18 or 21 years old (depending on the state)
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Legal US citizen or permanent resident


Qualities of a good property manager

Equally important are the qualities of a successful property manager. Property management is not an easy career, but it can be very rewarding when you have the right skill set.

Great property managers have the following good qualities:



Being professional across your job duties is key to the respect of tenants, employees, and the owner. You must be warm but firm to ensure your boundaries are maintained.



With so many tasks, managers must stay organized. Use tools to set reminders, keep track of your day, collect rent, and streamline all processes. When organized, it’s easier to complete duties with few issues.


property manager meeting with tenant



By staying flexible, you’ll find it easier to tackle issues as they arise. You’ll not only have room for such problems but will have a clear mind for solving them.



Property managers make a lot of decisions, some of which call for assertiveness. That way, you can develop solutions faster and on the fly to benefit owners and tenants.



The best property managers are constantly learning new things by educating themselves on the latest in real estate trends and regulations. So, attend conferences or subscribe to a newsletter to get the latest tips and tricks. As a result, you’ll create a better experience for tenants while adhering to tenant-landlord laws.


The importance of property management in real estate

The definition of property management alone should tell you how essential it is to real estate. Nonetheless, the work of property managers is often overlooked. To truly understand a property manager’s role in real estate, you should know what they do for owners, investors, developers, tenants, and more.

Property management benefits real estate owners and developers in the following ways:


Increasing return on investment (ROI)

Maximizing their return on investment is a top priority for any property owner. So, a large part of property management is maintaining ROI and increasing it over time.

But achieving such a goal can be difficult when so many factors are involved. For that reason, property managers are effective tools in navigating the obstacles many real estate investments face.

A property manager will implement multiple tactics to boost ROI, including:

  • Research and set appropriate rental rates.
  • Market and advertise to a target demographic.
  • Find the right tenants for long-term leases.
  • Build a skilled and experienced team of employees.

With these methods, property managers also leverage the industry knowledge they’ve accumulated over the years. Real estate is an evolving industry, and the laws associated are always changing. So, property managers will have to implement the latest strategies for optimal success.


Improving the tenant experience

Without an owner around, it’s up to the property manager to handle all tenant relations. By developing a friendly, professional relationship with tenants, managers can deliver a better experience. When tenants have issues, managers can address them as soon as possible with the right team.

Furthermore, property managers are there to make tenants feel heard. Whatever issues a tenant may have, the manager must hear them out and do what they can to resolve them. Clear communication with tenants will cultivate a welcoming environment. As a result, they’ll be more likely to renew their leases.


couple cooking dinner in a residential property


Handling day-to-day operations

There are a lot of things that go on in a single day for many properties. Property management’s job is to oversee those happenings and ensure they go according to plan. Whether you’re working with a property management company or a single manager, they must coordinate those day-to-day operations.

Without oversight of the property’s operations, problems can quickly arise. Managers ensure things are scheduled, organized, and working as they should be. What’s more, property managers are better qualified than owners to handle many of the daily tasks, such as collecting rent, drafting leases, and avoiding legal mishaps.


Planning for the future

While many property management duties fall into day-to-day operations, the most crucial duties involve looking to the future. Marketing to prospective tenants takes time and is a major part of filling vacant units with suitable, long-term tenants.

However, not every prospective tenant is suitable. Property managers must have an eye for spotting problematic tenants. These types of applicants may become issues if they become tenants, so managers should filter them out.

Maintaining the quality of the property is important, too. As a building ages, managers need to make upgrades. These upgrades can be specific to certain units (new appliances, hardwood flooring, etc.) or amenity spaces (dog park, gym equipment, etc.). Regardless, the property will require renovation over time to meet evolving tenant expectations.


Maintaining a safe property

Finally, the safety of the apartment is a serious concern for tenants. If they feel unsafe, they’ll consider moving. So, managers must take action to secure the property through upgrades, maintenance, or repairs. When a property has security problems, it poses legal concerns from tenants and puts investors’ assets at risk.

With this in mind, property managers need to take steps to protect real estate from internal and external threats. As a result, they’ll reduce operating costs from fewer repairs while at the same time making tenants feel more comfortable with the safety measures in place.


multifamily and millennials ebook

Profile image for Bryson Hile


Bryson Hile

I love learning about new technologies, especially within the real estate market. I currently reside in Fishers, Indiana.

Follow Bryson on LinkedIn