What does a building manager do? (And how to become one)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Building managers, or property managers, oversee the operations and maintenance of properties and grounds. They have a complex and varied workload that involves strategic planning and managing the property's daily operations. Learning about what a property manager does can help you determine whether this career aligns with your professional interests. In this article, we discuss what a property manager does, look at how this role differs from a facilities manager, explain what it's like to work as a property manager, outline how to become one and review the skills that these professionals use.

What does a building manager do?

A building manager supervises the day-to-day operations of a series of properties. They make sure that the buildings are safe and secure while fulfilling the owners' and tenants' needs. Property managers coordinate maintenance, housekeeping, security and facilities management and ensure that the buildings adhere to regulatory standards. They also manage repairs and refurbishments by liaising and hiring external contractors or service providers when necessary.

A property manager's exact daily duties depend on the type of buildings they manage and the size and nature of their employer. For instance, property managers who manage commercial properties generally have a different set of duties than those who manage residential properties, since commercial properties tend to be larger and have more complex facilities. Some of a property manager's typical responsibilities include:

  • planning and supervising building maintenance activities

  • receiving reports of breakdowns or damage and planning repairs

  • maintaining building safety to protect occupants and visitors

  • overseeing fire prevention and security systems

  • planning and executing emergency procedures

  • hiring, training, supervising, evaluating and disciplining maintenance, security and cleaning staff

  • preparing budgets and monitoring costs

  • liaising with external contractors and service providers and negotiating prices

  • performing routine building inspections and producing condition reports

  • recommending preventative building works and refurbishments

  • ensuring buildings and facilities comply with relevant codes and regulations

  • responding to enquiries from tenants or the general public

  • maintaining records relating to maintenance, costs and building occupants

Related: Property manager qualification: types of qualifications

Key differences between a property manager vs a facilities manager

Property/building managers and facilities managers often appear to be interchangeable terms since the roles are very similar and involve overseeing the general operations of commercial or residential properties. Despite this, there are some key differences between the two. Property managers focus more on the building's business aspects, such as finding tenants and securing rent payments.

In contrast, facilities managers focus on the services available in a building or set of buildings. They ensure that the activities or work that occurs within the building can continue, and they strive to optimise the building's efficiency. Facilities managers tend to have a wider remit of responsibilities than property managers, although there's a lot of overlap between the two roles.

Read more: What does a facilities manager do? (With salary and skills)

What is it like to work as a property manager?

Property managers work primarily in offices, although their work often involves them visiting the buildings they manage to conduct inspections or oversee maintenance and repair work. Sometimes, they work in offices inside of one of the buildings they manage, particularly if their employer owns the building. In other cases, they work in offices outside of the buildings they manage, particularly if their employer is an agency that manages properties for many different owners.

Property managers can work standard office hours, which are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Other times, they can work early mornings, evenings, nights or at weekends. Also, some property manager roles require these individuals to be on-call when not in the office so they can handle emergencies when they arise. In very large organisations, where there are multiple property managers, these individuals may work in shifts.

Related: How to achieve goals in a work environment (11 steps)

How to become a building/property manager

To become a property manager, follow these steps:

1. Get a degree

Many employers expect candidates for property manager roles to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, such as business studies, management, property, construction or engineering and building services. If you'd prefer to avoid studying for a bachelor's degree, you can also pursue this role by studying for a diploma or foundation degree instead. Typically, these courses take two years to complete, so this can be a quicker way of becoming a property manager.

Related: Why study business? (Plus definition and types of degree)

2. Develop experience

To become a property manager, it's vital to develop at least two or three years of relevant experience before applying. You can achieve this by seeking work experience opportunities in an administration, business, construction, management or engineering role. Hospitality experience is also useful for gaining key customer service skills, which are crucial for effectively handling tenants. Some large organisations also offer graduate schemes and internships in building or facilities management, which can help you to develop relevant experience and skills after finishing your studies.

3. Apply for jobs

Once you've gained relevant experience, you can apply for property management roles by searching for online job listings and submitting a CV and cover letter. When applying for these roles, tailor your CV and cover letter to every application by reviewing the job description and including the keywords and phrases in this document throughout your CV and cover letter.

In your CV, add your contact details, a professional summary and sections that outline your qualifications, skills and experience. When writing your cover letter, mention your reasons for applying, alongside why you're a suitable candidate. Additionally, try to avoid including the same details in your cover letter that you already mentioned in your CV.

Related: How to follow up on a job application (with example)

Career progression opportunities for property managers

In some organisations, a senior property manager may supervise multiple property managers. After developing plenty of experience, property managers can progress to these senior positions, which involve having more responsibilities and personnel management duties. Alternatively, property managers can pursue professional development opportunities and specialise in a specific area of building management to access specialist roles with higher salaries.

For instance, the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) offers a range of qualifications that might interest property managers who want to expand their expertise. Becoming a member of the IWFM can also be a great way of gaining recognition in this field, alongside allowing you to get access to industry events and resources that can expand your professional knowledge and skills. Moreover, becoming a member of a relevant professional organisation can enable you to network with other facilities professionals, which can be useful when looking for job opportunities.

Property manager skills

Property managers typically use the following skills to succeed in their roles:

Communication

Property managers liaise with a variety of people daily, including maintenance staff, external contractors, tenants, service users and senior management. Due to this, strong verbal and written communication skills are vital for this role. When working in this position, it's also key to be able to build a rapport with others quickly and maintain friendly professional relationships. This can be very helpful when leading others and negotiating prices or services.

Related: Interpersonal communication: definitions and examples

Decision-making

Working as a property manager involves making many decisions regularly. Often, these professionals make key decisions in time-sensitive situations or when handling emergencies. Alongside the ability to make sound decisions quickly, property managers have excellent analytical skills. These are vital for effectively assessing solutions to problems and considering potential outcomes. To make good decisions in this role, property managers typically possess a high degree of confidence.

Leadership and teamwork

Property managers often lead teams of maintenance staff and external contractors, so it's crucial to have good leadership skills to succeed in this position. Sometimes, these teams might face considerable pressure or a challenging workload, so an effective leader can be vital for ensuring that they stay motivated. Moreover, understanding the value of good teamwork and appreciating the input of each individual team member is critical to this role.

Related: Leadership definitions (qualities and how to improve)

Organisation and time management

Property managers frequently juggle multiple tasks and projects at the same time and they constantly schedule maintenance activities. Due to this, it's crucial to have good time management and organisational skills so you can effectively keep track of your workload and meet any upcoming deadlines. Sometimes, emergencies occur when working in this role, so it's also necessary to be able to adjust the priority of tasks at short notice to succeed in this role.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles