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The Many Hats of a Property Manager

By Scott Kirkpatrick, RPA, CPM, Director

Property managers wear their fair share of hats. No, not fedoras or sun hats—metaphorical hats. Every day, property managers must use their broad range of skills to face building challenges head on. Consider what happens when a light bulb burns out in a tenant’s suite. Or better yet, you might ask the question, “How many property managers does it take to change a light bulb?”  How about eight:

  1. The Many Hats of a PM GraphicOne to fill out a tenant request form.
  2. One to guarantee the correct indemnification language exists in the provider’s Certificate of Insurance.
  3. One to negotiate a bulk purchasing deal with the supplier.
  4. One to ensure an adequate number of replacement bulbs is included in next year’s budget.
  5. One to verify hazardous material requirements for disposing old bulbs.
  6. One to determine how much rebate money is available for installing energy efficient bulbs.
  7. One to ensure the ladder used to replace the bulb is OSHA approved.
  8. One to request the engineer change the bulb.

As a property manager, duties include everything from being an administrative professional, insurance expert, negotiator, financial advisor, hazardous waste specialist, rebate tracker, safety authority and task manager. If you think that sounds like a lot, you’re right. Luckily, property managers are not expected to be an expert in all of these disciplines, just generalists.

It’s no secret the role of the property manager has changed and is continually evolving. Over time, the scope has increased to include what were typically considered asset management tasks a decade ago. Consequently, this is expanding the property manager’s job description and forcing them to wear more and more hats.

This is why it has become imperative to stay abreast of the technological changes in building operations as well as the asset-level requirements of our clients in the areas of finance, risk management and sustainability. Visionary Christopher Lee of CEL & Associates sees it this way: “The role of the real estate manager is changing from being focused on services offered to solutions provided. Future real estate managers will shift from being gatherers of information to creators of knowledge bases and will move from being reporters of results to advisors and leaders of value creation.”

As the industry continues to demand that we master the art of multi-tasking and consequently expand our job descriptions, we may want to consider owning more than eight hats. At Cushman & Wakefield, our property management professionals continually go above and beyond the norm of eight hats. It is common for our management professionals to take a proactive approach in their education through
professional development classes, research industry topics and seek feedback from experienced leaders, striving to continually grow professionally in order to better support their teams and their properties.


Scott Kirkpatrick headshot

Scott has more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate in the areas of property management, asset management, leasing, construction management, and property repositioning. As the Director for Corporate Occupier and Investor Services, Scott oversees 9 million square feet of office, industrial, and retail properties  located in the San Francisco Bay Area. 


2 thoughts on “The Many Hats of a Property Manager

  1. Garren Tang

    Couldn’t agree more. Property Managers are expected from potential clients to have multi skill sets and multi taskings. And may even required to roll up our sleeves and dirty our hands.

    And troubleshooting for solutions is expected at min downtime.

  2. Jennifer Bregman Forshaw

    Nice article. I particularly appreciate the graphic/drawing so the laymen can actually visualize the literal number of hats.

    Hope you are well!

    Best regards,

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