Pros and Cons of a Career as a Real Estate Asset Manager
Real estate asset managers help investors who want to make a long term profit with residential, commercial or industrial property determine whether it makes financial sense to acquire or keep a property. To decide if this real estate management specialty is something to pursue, check out the pros and cons.
|Pros of Becoming a Real Estate Asset Manager|
|Six-figure income potential (the highest-paid property, real estate, and community association managers earned more than $117,000)*|
|Can work in many real estate divisions (residential, commercial, leasing)*|
|Can work independently*|
|Able to work in many geographic locations**|
|Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Asset Manager|
|A real estate license is required to buy or sell property*|
|Your decisions impact your client's financial portfolio**|
|Requires you to analyze a lot of data*|
|Long work days*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Institute of Real Estate Management.
Job Description and Duties
When an investor sees a building that he or she wants to buy, they often consult a real estate asset manager before taking the leap. These managers are responsible for analyzing whether the purchase of a piece of residential and/or commercial real estate would be profitable in terms of revenue and asset portfolio. Real estate asset managers take into consideration a variety of factors, such as population, taxes, transportation and zoning before offering acquisition advice. You'd likely draft a report of your findings and, based on feedback, implement a plan to develop, sell or buy a piece of real estate. You would negotiate the transaction, whether it's a rental or sale, and keep your client abreast of the project. After the transaction closes, you would see that the asset was distributed and credited to your client's portfolio properly.
In this career, you'd also review a company's current real estate portfolio and make suggestions on whether to hold or sell assets. In order to make these decisions, you may meet with the community managers of the rental properties currently owned to review their profit and loss statements. On-site inspections would be common to assess physical condition and to improve or establish property management.
Job Growth and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have statistics specific to real estate asset managers, but the organization reported that approximately half of property, real estate and community association managers in general were self-employed in 2012, while the remaining professionals work for real estate offices, lessors or the government (www.bls.gov). The BLS estimated that employment for this field could rise by about 35,000 jobs from 2012-2022. The bureau also stated that growth was especially outstanding if you have experience managing elderly housing or healthcare facilities.
Property, real estate and community association managers had a nationwide median income of about $54,000 as of 2014, according to the BLS. In the same year, the BLS found that most people in this field made between $28,000 and $117,000.
What Do Employers Look For?
According to open March 2012 job postings from Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com, the path to becoming a real estate asset manager can come after some experience as a real estate broker or property manager, but a degree may be often necessary. At minimum, a bachelor's degree in finance, business administration, real estate or a related field is acceptable. The BLS noted that if you have a degree in a financial or business field, you'll have the best chance to work as a real estate asset manager. A Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Real Estate is a plus. Since this field involves making major financial moves, experience in real estate and business is vital.
Employers often seek 3-5 years of work experience. Additionally, you'll be coordinating the leasing, selling or buying of real estate for a profit, so you'll need to have a real estate license from the state of the transaction. Licensure can be obtained by being at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED and passing a written examination. States vary in their requirements to complete pre-licensure real estate courses prior to taking the written examination.
Top Skills for Real Estate Asset Managers
The skills to become a real estate asset manager can be developed primarily through formal training in a degree program and, if applicable, through previous real estate or property management experience. Employers often look for the following qualifications:
- Excellent oral and written communication
- Ability to work under pressure and multi-task
- Understanding of banking and the real estate market
- Strong negotiation skills
- Proficiency with computer spreadsheets and databases
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers may not advertise with the title real estate in job postings, but real estate asset managers can perform work in residential or commercial capacity. Having several years of experience and formal education are fairly common. Here are some examples of open job postings from March 2012:
- A senior housing complex in New York looked for a senior asset manager with at least five years of asset management and real estate operations experience. Some of the responsibilities would be to pinpoint financial opportunities and establish capital plans.
- A Chicago-based real estate management and development company advertised for an asset manager who can think strategically and is good at forming business relationships. This employer required multi-family housing experience and at least a bachelor's degree.
- An asset liability manager with 5-7 years of experience was advertised for by a Virginia bank. This full-time position sought expertise in asset and liability modeling software, SQL, Microsoft Access and VB scripting. This position also asked for Chartered Financial Analyst certification and an understanding of mortgage banking, securitization and duration.
- The commercial division of a real estate company in Dallas had an opening for a senior asset manager with five years of experience and a business degree. Some other requirements included experience managing loans, solid computer skills and the willingness to travel 25% of the time for property inspections.
How Can I Stand Out in the Asset Management Field?
Gaining relevant experience is a great place to start preparing for the role of a real estate asset manager. The BLS noted that to increase your knowledge of the field, you could take advantage of special training programs through trade associations or real estate companies, which may cover risk management, communications, property value improvement and real estate law. You can also be a favorable candidate by not being afraid to speak to strangers, having a self-starter mentality and being able to work independently. Additionally, experience with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is an asset in knowing the ins and outs of mortgage loans, according to a March 2012 job posting from Monster.com.
Since certification demonstrates expertise, you could pursue a professional designation in financial planning, real estate management or investments. Several organizations offer certification. The American Academy of Financial Management grants the Chartered Asset Management certification to professionals who have three years of experience in financial planning and asset management, hold a degree in a finance-related field and pass the exam. Certifications, such as the Accredited Commercial Manager and the Certified Property Manager, are available through the Institute of Real Estate Management. You could also become a Chartered Financial Analyst through the Global Association of Investment Professionals.
Alternative Career Paths
Real Estate Agent or Broker
If you'd like to work in real estate, but a job as a real estate asset manager sounds too analytical or requires too much education, there are other career options. Real estate agents typically only need a high school diploma or GED, but are required to be licensed in the state they work in. While real estate agents and asset managers both sell real estate and monitor market trends, agents aren't involved in analyzing risk or financial planning. Real estate agents act as a liaison between buyers and sellers and/or lessors and lessees. On the buy side, agents research properties to present to their clients, while agents working with sellers obtain listings to advertise. Brokers basically have the same duties as agents, except they're able to run their own business.
The BLS reported that employment opportunities for real estate agents were estimated to increase 12% from 2010-2020, while brokers were predicted to see an eight percent increase in jobs. Most of these workers get paid from commission, but some do earn a base salary. The median salary for brokers was about $59,000, and agents earned a median annual wage of roughly $39,000, according to the BLS in 2011.
Personal Financial Advisor
If you've already earned a degree in business, finance or a similar field, you could help individuals with their short- and long-term financial goals by becoming a personal financial advisor. While a bachelor's degree along with math and analytical skills are required, these professionals work with couples and individuals on important financial decisions, such as insurance policies, retirement, investments and education costs. They market themselves to gain clients and often have a license to sell stocks, insurance and annuities. The BLS predicted a 32% increase in jobs for these professionals from 2010-2020. According to the BLS, personal financial advisors earned a median yearly income of approximately $67,000 in 2011.