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While it may sound like property management and asset management are different names for the same thing, the two careers are actually very distinct in nature. Both are essential parts of managing real estate properties, but the two roles handle different aspects of management.

A property manager is a person that handles the day-to-day of property operations for both commercial and residential real estate properties. This includes scheduling repairs, handling leases and collecting rent. An asset manager, however, focuses on maximizing and adding long-term value to a property, typically for commercial properties. This includes acquiring new properties, market forecasting and research, and financial analysis. This role requires more strategic thought in order to enhance the property and add extra value.

The lack of distinction between the two roles also stems from property managers being expected to do more at certain real estate firms. In some firms, there is a clear line between the two roles, while at others the line is much more blurred. Many property managers today are also responsible for financial analysis and preparing annual budgets. As the list of responsibilities a property manager is expected to perform continues to grow and change, the definition of what a property manager will as well.

While there are similarities between the roles, an asset manager often has a different skill set than a property manager. An asset manager should have strong property management skills in addition to a background in a real estate agency and contacts in the local market. Many asset managers hold four-year college degrees and some hold an MBA as well.

These roles often work in tandem with each other and many asset managers start as property managers. For a property manager to move into an asset manager role, they need to display their ability to think strategically about properties. The most successful property managers are the ones who are able to think like an asset manager would. Someone who understands the why behind the factors that influence the value of a property would make a strong asset manager.

Though the two roles are separate, often the best real estate manager is one who knows how to perform both jobs well.