How to Become a Property Manager in California

Bettina Siochi
Jun 27, 2023
5 min

A real estate license doesn’t mean you can only be a real estate agent.

When you get your license, you can become a property manager in California.

Property managers handle the paperwork and ensure the well-being of the property. A property manager is a licensed third party who manages the property for the landlord. It’s a job that’s in high demand!

So, let’s explore what you need to do to become a property manager in California.

Do You Need a Real Estate License to Become a Property Manager in California?

In California, you do not need to get your real estate license to become a property manager. But, there’s a catch. Certain property manager tasks need you to hold a license to perform them.

Here’s a list of what you can do with a real estate license as a property manager:

  • Listing real estate
  • Market and sell the property
  • Selling, buying, or exchanging leasehold interests
  • Manage income-producing property
  • Collecting rent from tenants

Property managers have more freedom and power with a real estate license. Without it, they can’t compete in the market.

What are the Steps to Become a Property Manager in California?

Getting a real estate license is the first part of becoming a property manager in California. This guide gives you instructions on how to get your license and become a property manager.

Step #1: Meet the Requirements to Become a Property Manager

To become a licensed property manager, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident in the U.S.

Meeting these requirements ensures that you can get hired at a real estate brokerage and service clients.

Step #2: Enroll in an Accredited Real Estate School

An accredited real estate school is where you will fulfill the pre-licensing educational requirement to get your real estate license. A real estate school provides students with three required courses:

  • Real estate practice
  • Real estate principles
  • An elective of your choice

Each course has concepts that help you understand real estate as a practice.

Step #3: Collect All 3 Real Estate Certificates

You get a certificate of completion after you pass an accredited real estate class. The certificate is proof of completion. So, to schedule your California real estate exam, you need to collect all three certificates.

Step #4: Schedule and Pass the California Real Estate Exam

The final step before getting your real estate license is to schedule and pass the California real estate exam. Students have to apply before they schedule the exam.

Their application must include:

  • Completed live scan form
  • State exam fees
  • 3-licensing course certificates (proof of course completion)
  • Completed RE Form 435

After compiling the paperwork above, you can mail your application to the Department of Real Estate (DRE.)

Step #5: Hang Your Real Estate License at a Brokerage

Property managers must hang their license at a real estate brokerage. In other words, a broker must hire an agent to work for them. Once you pass the state exam, the DRE will mail your real estate license. Once it arrives, you can sign with a brokerage.

Property managers can also go on to get their real estate broker license. Once they do, they no longer have to work for a real estate brokerage. Instead, they can represent themselves.

Step #6: Get Your Property Manager Certificate

The next step is to get a property manager certificate in California. This is how you become accredited. A certificate is proof of your accreditation and proper educational training.

Getting your property management certificate requires more schooling. You have to attend a 10-coursework class and pass the state exam to get your property management certificate. This process takes 18-24 months to complete.

Step #7: Start Your Property Management Company

The final step is to start your property management company. This is a requirement for everyone to complete if they want to book clientele.

In the state of California, the Department of Real Estate will not recognize a property management company as an LLC. You will have to incorporate your company to be an approved business to operate and help clients.

What Does a Property Manager Do?

Property managers have a lot of responsibilities.

One of the biggest duties of a property manager is handling rental contracts. They’re responsible for screening any tenant that sends an application. Whether it’d be through background checks or checking the credit scores of the tenants.

Also, property managers schedule home inspections. The first inspection happens when the tenant moves in, and the second happens when they move out.

Communication is also another part of the property manager’s job. As the property manager, you are the middleman. Regardless of what is happening in the property, you must update both the landlord and the tenant.

On top of that, property managers manage finances and accounting. From collecting rent payments to paying the expenses. All while ensuring they handle marketing and schedule showings.

Before You Become a Property Manager…

To ensure a smooth business, there are a few things that you need to know before you become a property manager.

First, you need an accountant and a real estate attorney. These two are essential to know your business complies with laws and regulations.

Understanding the financial side is also vital to your operations. You will need three (3) separate bank accounts.

  • Rent deposit account for the tenants to send their payments to
  • Trust account that will serve as extra protection for your business
  • Operations account for all your expenses, payments, and salaries

From there, you will need to set up your Errors and Omissions Insurance. The Errors and Omissions Insurance covers you in case you get sued or enter a legal quagmire. Accounting software such as QuickBooks can help you track your money.

Also, join a trade association. Trade associations such as the California Apartment Associations have every form you need. You also should join a credit bureau association. These associations can help you perform background checks for your tenants.

Finally, you need to consider how you market your business. A website, signs, and other lead generation investments are a great way to market yourself. Also, ensure you align and document your policies and procedures. These help people understand you conduct business.

Final Thoughts on Becoming a Property Manager in California

Becoming a property manager is a long process and hard work. But, that shouldn’t deter you from starting. The reason why is because there is no other career like that of a property manager.

You create your own company and you can watch it grow as you work hard to expand it. It’s hard-working, but it’s also rewarding work. Get your Property Management Certificate, and you’ll see how incredible it can be.

TL;DR: To become a property manager in California, you must first get your real estate license and sign with a brokerage. Then you will need to get your property manager certificate with an accredited institution. Once you complete these steps, you can start your property management business!

Bettina Siochi
Jun 27, 2023
How To
5 min