If it looks like a Community Manager and talks like a Community Manager, then it’s a Community Manager

(Not a Property Manager or Real Estate Broker)

When debating the issue of how to regulate community association managers, many state legislators seem to share a mindset that goes something like this …

If licensure requirements are already in place for property managers and real estate brokers, let’s toss community association managers into the same bucket. They all deal with homes and property, right?

What seems like a simple enough solution is a dangerous mischaracterization of the business of community association management. Without recognizing the vastly different responsibilities required of community managers, property managers and real estate brokers may be left unchecked and ill-equipped to carry out the roles and responsibilities required to manage a community association.

Are property managers or real estate brokers versed in the governance, elections of, and oversight of a board of directors? Are they skilled at developing guidelines by which homeowner committees must follow to carry out their roles and responsibilities? And, what about developing budgets, RFPs for contracting services on behalf of an association, or enforcing covenant restrictions?

The short answer is probably not. And, here’s why:

Community Association Managers vs. Property Managers

Community association managers are responsible for managing a corporation, not merely the property. As such, the scope of their responsibilities is much greater than required for property managers. Community association managers are responsible for maintaining common, not individually-owned, property. While some job responsibilities are similar, community association managers have additional functions. Community association management should be recognized as distinct from property management because association management requires a wider variety of knowledge and skills.

Community Association Managers vs. Real Estate Brokers

Managing a community association dramatically differs from selling real estate. The role of community managers is not to represent a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. Community managers are not responsible for selling or leasing any property, including individually-owned property.

For these reasons, state legislators should refrain from adding to the confusion by clumping these professions into the same licensure classification.  If community association managers must obtain a broker’s license without intending to enter the profession, they will not be obligated to gain skills in that profession. Any regulatory program that ignores these differences denies community association residents security in the skills and knowledge of a professional community manager.

Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA®)

What makes sense is for community managers to educate legislators, homeowners, property managers, and real estate brokers about certification programs, like the CMCA. The CMCA is a well-established, professionally regarded mechanism for evaluating and providing an on-going process of ensuring the competency of community managers.  To recognize programs like the CMCA relieves managers of the burden of having to keep up licensures they do not use, and frees up resources needed to hone and perfect the skills needed to professionally manage a community association.

What are your thoughts? As a community manager, how do you feel about this issue? Please comment and share your ideas.

2 thoughts on “If it looks like a Community Manager and talks like a Community Manager, then it’s a Community Manager

  1. I disagree as does NAR’s IREM group! This is why we have problems in our state, as well as others, with enforcement. I love my CMCA Certification. However, all Community Association Managers and firms must understand real Estate as part of their duties, as many of the properties that manage are common property shared as Tenants in Common, or deeded as part of a corporation. By the way, property managers and brokers are trained in corporations as many corporations own Apartments and other types of property managed. When the community managers can be qualified in real Estate so that they understand a legal description of their common ownership or a deed restriction-I would applaud them as professionals, specialized under a real estate oversight umbrella.

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