Single Family Housing
Single-family houses, condominiums, and townhomes. These can be the easiest to start out with if you are new to the property management game. There is far less to handle, and you only have one resident (or family) to manage. All of the aspects of property management are the same – from tenant screening, to maintenance, to making sure your tenants are happy and keeping them renewing their lease every cycle – just in a much smaller package. This means any mistakes you make are not going to be as big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.
Small Multi-Family Housing
Duplexes and smaller multi-family homes. This will be properties with 2-10 units (usually around 2-4). This will be similar in effect for a starting property manager as you have only few tenants to manage and thus less mistakes to make. This is an excellent evolution if you are starting out as a property manager and you currently manage single family homes – if you are looking to expand your business, then small multi family buildings are the next logical step.
Smaller Apartment Buildings
Smaller apartment buildings – in the neighborhood of 20-30 units. Now you are really starting to ramp things up. You have a number of different residents to manage and much more property to take care of. This introduces a number of different potentially unforeseen elements to the equation.
It is much more difficult to take an apartment building with 30 units in it and fill each unit with tenants who all like each other and get along well. This is opposed to a duplex for example, where you can fill both units with people who get along. Your managed variables increase, and your ability to screen tenants, pick the right ones, limit turnover and keep the place in good shape really start to come to the forefront.
Again, this is the next step up from the smaller 2-10 unit buildings. If you are building a business of property management and haven’t already started to establish a team of people to work with you, then you will want to be doing this for these multi-family apartment buildings.
Large Apartment Buildings/Complexes
Large apartment buildings and complexes are where the big game is played. This can be anywhere from large apartment buildings with more than a few dozen units to entire complexes with several hundred units in multiple buildings. A property management business in this case is going to have on-site management, typically with an office space, and an in-house maintenance crew (as there is likely to be every day year round maintenance to take care of).
If you are looking to start your own property management business, this can be an excellent place to get experience working with a property management company (as one of their on site managers). You get to learn the swing of things without any risk. Naturally for those who are managing properties, getting to the point where you manage multiple complexes of this size means you run a rather large business – of course not everyone needs to get to this point, but it’s certainly an attainable goal.
These are just general overviews of some pretty broad categories however. If you are just starting out, start wherever you are able. If you currently own a property management business, consider what it would take to move up a notch – even if you don’t go that way, taking those steps will reinforce what you currently do and only serve to make you a better property management company.