Indianapolis Star - Indianapolis, Ind.
Author: Abe Aamidor
Date: Aug 23, 2006
Start Page: J.3
Section: CAREERS
Text Word Count: 675

Tina Miller is community manager
at AMLI at Riverbend, a sprawling, 996-unit
apartment complex in the Castleton area.
Age: 40.
I started as a leasing consultant right here at Riverbend under a different owner. Back then it was an all-adult community, and I actually lived here. You had to be 21. Of course, you can't have an all-adult community anymore. I was a waitress at the time, and I answered an ad.

I earned about $7.50 per hour, plus commission. But I continued to waitress on the side.

When I started college, which I did not finish, my goal was to be an accountant. But as an accountant, you don't get to work with people. I like to work with people.

It's common when you start in this profession to live on-site. I lived on-property when I was a leasing agent and at the first property I managed.

A property this size gets 200 visits a month. They are all looking for a home, a nice place to live at a reasonable price. At Riverbend, you really have to determine what people's wants and needs are because we have 17 floor plans. Is a fireplace important to them? Do they need office space? Maybe a two-bedroom is best for them. But we have a limit of showing them three floor plans.

When I ran a 190-unit property, I could tell you every resident's name and their address. In a community this size it's impossible.

The biggest thing you've got to remember when people come in to complain is they're not mad at you. They're mad at the situation. You've got to listen to them. If there's an issue that has to be resolved, the first thing is to fix it. You worry about the cost later.

There are going to be people you're not going to please. You do what you can, but we're not going to go beyond the terms of the lease. We might fix something, and they'll want a half-month's free rent.

It's helpful if you learn about certain things. For example, if a resident calls and says his air conditioner is running but it's not cooling, the first thing you tell them is to turn it off because it's probably frozen on the outside. If someone's garbage disposal doesn't work, the first thing you need to tell them is to press the reset button. It also helps you with your staff if you know what tools they use.

Ball State University has a property management program. We've hired several people from that. You should study customer relations and financials, something in accounting so you can do budgets. Marketing is something else you need to study. Business- type courses are helpful.

What I like best about this job is the variety. It's something different every day. You're doing budgets, but you're still meeting people. You also get to meet a lot of different vendors from the different trades, and you get to see who's good.

-- As told to Abe Aamidor
So you want to be a . . .

Property manager

OUTLOOK: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 361,000 Americans worked as property, real estate or community managers in 2004.

Generally, property and real estate managers handle the financial operations of the property, ensuring that rent is collected and that mortgages, taxes, insurance premiums, payroll and maintenance bills are paid on time. Additionally, property managers often negotiate contracts for janitorial, security, groundskeeping, trash removal and other services.

PROFESSIONAL PATHWAYS: Many people enter property management as on-site managers of apartment buildings, office complexes, or community associations or as employees of property management firms or community association management companies, the BLS says.

EDUCATION: Increasingly, employers are demanding a college degree in business administration, real estate or related fields, plus professional designations.

SALARIES: Property managers averaged $39,980 in yearly pay in 2004, but $51,980 if they managed government properties or very large properties in the private sector.

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics