Job opportunities in US Commercial Real Estate (CRE) have been growing at a rapid pace, and growth expectations remain stable according to industry forecasts.

However, as the industry continues to evolve with the pressures of technology and changing tenant expectations, the role of a CRE property manager is also evolving.

Some things will always be constant, such as the fast-paced environment of commercial real estate, and a dedication to tenant satisfaction. But, from where we sit, there is more expected of modern property managers than ever before.

Here are just a few traits of modern CRE Property managers:


1. Ability to think like an owner


Highly-successful CRE Property Managers are able to think like an owner, understanding the owner’s investment and operating goals for the property, managing accordingly, conserving resources where necessary while investing where appropriate.

2. Leadership qualities


They are leaders, great managers, and mentors in their organizations, as their team, tenants, vendors and owners rely on their leadership to drive toward solutions. This means proactively presenting creative ideas for increasing asset value while protecting the bottom line, and being savvy enough to make a compelling business case to building owners for what’s needed to run each asset more effectively.

What’s more, the best Property Managers are strong negotiators, knowing when, and how, to professionally and tactfully say “no” to tenants and vendors, and training their staff accordingly. Charged with protecting the value and integrity of their assets, these professionals are outstanding risk-managers; mitigating risk of liability and loss from incidents, inspection compliance, and insurance-related matters.


3. Accountability through data


As part of their business acumen and ownership mentality, Property Managers who excel are data-driven and able to collect key information throughout their properties to make management decisions. They are held accountable to performance metrics set against the data they collect, such as tenant satisfaction rates and work order completion rates against set benchmarks.

4. Financial acumen


Being fiscally strong is critical for the modern Property Manager, who must understand that a commercial building is its own profit-and-loss center. They know income is the lifeblood of every organization, and are revenue-oriented, able to put programs in place to drive revenue growth across properties including tenant renewals, billable work orders, proactive account receivable, and filling vacant space quickly.

The job today requires interpreting financial statements and reports to understand the impact of day-to-day revenue and expense items on financial performance monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Fiscally strong property managers are responsible for managing books, reconciliation issues, working closely with finance and accounting, overseeing payroll, mortgage, tax bills, collecting rent, managing budget, CAM (common area maintenance) charges, and more.


5. Technology savvy


In today’s age of technology, Property Managers who excel are tech-savvy and comfortable with both mobile and cloud software to impose efficiency gains in their organizations.

They’re curious about new tools available to increase their effectiveness and productivity, and able to drive technology adoption among their staff who may be wary of changing the status quo – “the way we’ve always done it” mentality.

6. Obsession with tenant satisfaction


Property Managers must satisfy tenants in a world of high expectations and strong competition, where empathy is an extremely useful trait. Empathy allows a Property Manager to understand the tenant experience, providing amenities and service that ensure tenants stay happy – and most importantly, renew.

For that reason, customer-service is of utmost priority to this role, overseeing work orders, walk-throughs, tenant acquisition and anything necessary to maintain retention. For them, a tenant’s issue becomes their issue, and problem solving skills mixed with a sense of resourcefulness is critical to troubleshooting the concerns that do arise. When dealing with tenants, positivity is critical, even while days are challenging.


7. Calm through chaos


In a role often described as “constantly putting out fires,” an effective Property Manager is flexible enough to meet real-time demands of tenants, 24/7 service, all while multitasking competing priorities. A successful Property Manager rarely loses their cool, even among chaotic situations.

They are detail oriented to coordinate projects, tenant moves, and a myriad of daily activities, and organized to stay in control of many moving pieces. This is a role that requires timely response to tasks like tenant work orders, preventive maintenance schedules, and team administration, making time-management skills critical.


8. Experts in their domain


A modern Property Manager must be well-versed in building and legal codes and up-to-date with necessary certifications from state real estate associations or through a national group such as the Institute of Real Estate Management (e.g. CPM or RPA).

9. Great communicators


Whether between members of their engineering and management team, building owners, vendors, local authorities, or tenants, a Property Manager is constantly connecting with members of their property’s greater community. This requires them to be strong communicators – clear, proactive, and able to listen as well as they share. They often play the dual role of salesperson as they work to understand client problems and articulate how best to solve them and add value.


Much has changed about this role through the evolution of technology and rising competition. But, these traits remain sound attributes of professionals who will continually provide value to their organizations, and navigate the demanding world of CRE property management with confidence. 


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