The real estate market employs agents to sell property and managers to maintain it. Anyone involved in buying, selling, owning or renting property needs both jobs to be performed efficiently and at a reasonable cost. The rise in condominium property, in particular, has brought about the need for real-estate professionals in both occupations who can meet the demands of a fast-moving market.
Real-estate agents list property for sale and show prospective buyers homes and apartments that are on the market and in the location and price range desired. The basic job of an agent is to bring buyers and sellers together and to see the purchase transaction through the negotiations, agreement and closing. The agent must network extensively and know laws and procedures governing property transactions.
Property managers are responsible for keeping owners and tenants satisfied with the condition of the property that they own and/or rent. The manager works for the owner but also responds to the needs of the tenant. Fundamentally, the job involves maintaining the dwelling units and grounds, and arranging repairs and renovations, if necessary. Some property management companies also handle advertising, leases and the payment of rent by tenants.
Real-estate agents earn a commission on properties they list for sellers that are eventually sold. Agents may also work for buyers and assist them in finding suitable property for purchase. In California, real estate agents must hold a license that they obtain by passing a written examination. The license is valid for four years and must be renewed by filling out a two-page application. Nearly all agents work for real-estate brokerage companies, which arrange the terms and conditions of their employment.
Property managers also hold a license, which by California law is required for any individual or business that leases, solicits, negotiates, collects rent or makes improvements to property in exchange for any form of compensation. Property managers charge a fee to owners that varies with the amount of money collected in rent, or with the size and value of the property being managed. The property manager may work out of a stand-alone office or from an office located within the rental property.
Although their state licenses allow agents and managers to work anywhere in California and with any type of real estate, they commonly specialize in certain types of property. Individual agents working for a broker may handle office buildings, single-family homes, condominiums or land; property managers hire staff for cleaning, leasing, maintenance, and/or sales and advertising. While agents may work out of a single office or for a large corporation, property managers form medium-sized and integrated businesses that can handle the diverse functions of their job.
by Tom Streissguth, Demand Media