Back to School Continuing Education for Property Managers

Back to School

When it comes to multifamily buildings, who is in charge of the property and how well those people are trained are critically important factors in the successful operation of the community. The best property managers stay current in their industry by keeping abreast of new developments in building technology, administration and communication. While networking with other professionals is a way to stay up to date and reading industry publications like The South Florida Cooperator also helps, few things are better for a manager’s professional development than taking continuing education courses.

Where to Learn?

There are many classes and enrichment programs available to Florida’s property management professionals. These programs are not only an industry requirement, they can also help improve one’s professional skills and advance careers. And to professionals like Gary Budd, president of Crest Management Group in Boca Raton, continuing education is essential to competency. “In order for a property manager to be fully knowledgeable, they should be doing 30 to 40 hours a year on education,” says Budd.

Under Section 468.432 of Florida Statute and parts of the Administrative Code, managers are required to have a license if they manage community associations for compensation when the association or associations served contain more than 10 units or have an annual budget or budgets in excess of $100,000.

Required Reading

Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) requires property managers complete continuing education coursework in order to renew their Community Association Manager's (CAM) license, according to Michael Richter, president of Community Planning Associates in Boca Raton. “Florida statutes require 20 hours of continuing education every two years and those 20 hours need to be in certain categories,” Richter says. “There is a two hour legal update every year and then four hours of insurance and finance, physical operations, human resources and electives.”

Large management companies might offer their own in-house instruction or greatly encourage their property managers to take extra continuing education courses outside of the mandatory course load. Some companies, such as Crest Management Group, will even pay for the certification or continuing education of employees.

A board member’s desire to know about how to efficiently run his or her community might be laudable, but it’s no excuse for the community’s property manager to not be on top of the latest developments in the field and gain hands-on experience.

“Managers need to educate themselves to be able to educate their board members and their homeowners efficiently,” says Lori Janicki, who serves as the president of Marco Island-based Continuing Education Matrix, a CEU provider for licensed community association managers and other licensed professionals. Janicki is the former executive assistant of Community Association Management Professionals (CAMP), an organization that offers professional development training for managers located in Hallandale.

The skills property managers will gain through continuing education in the field will be tested in their day-to-day working life. Understanding financial documents or how to better expedite emergency evacuation of the building during a crisis such as a flood or hurricane, for example, will come in handy not only for the employee but also for the board, management company and all of the residents who will benefit from the manager having a more detailed understanding of building issues.

“A community association manager has to be multifaceted,” Richter says. “It's not like being a CPA—you know one thing—you know accounting. Here you have to know insurance, you have to know a little bit about the law, you have to know about the operation of an association, you have to know building operations, elevators, boilers, roofs, painting, paving, carpeting—just about everything there is to know about a physical property.”

Learning and Earning at

The South Florida Expo

Gaining needed credits might seem arduous at times, but it is more convenient than you might think. In fact, you can get board certified easily by attending our South Florida Condo, HOA & Co-op Expo on Wednesday, December 4th at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. Join Attorney Eric Glazer of Glazer & Associates, P.A. for his Condo Craze Board Certification course from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. This free course has been modified to certify both condominium and HOA directors. Florida CAMs get two human resource credits and two elective credits for attending. Pre-register at www.condocrazeandhoas.com.

Also offering management-level CEUs is "Show Me the Money—Managing the Collections Process for HOAs,” which will take place at 1 p.m. SNAP Collections’ Mitch Drimmer will help attendees learn how to draft an effective collections policy and keep their communities on a strong financial foothold. Eligible property managers will receive CEU credit for attending and completing the one-hour course.

The Florida DBPR will host the last seminar of the day from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., explaining the condo elections process in great detail. This session will recognize common problems seen by election regulators and offer advice on how to avoid them. This seminar will also be available for a one-hour CEU credit.

Course Descriptions

While attendance at continuing education courses is mandatory for those who wish to keep their CAM license current, the way in which property managers can go about obtaining their biyearly 20-hour credits is not a one-size-fits-all process. Richter, who has been offering correspondence courses since Florida manager licensing requirements came into effect in 1988, says in his experience, people prefer to take their courses in a variety of ways. Many prefer doing so via correspondence because they are least burdening on a tight schedule.

“I find that people like correspondence courses because if they want to get up at 3:00 in the morning in their pajamas and do it, they can do it. They're not locked in and they don't have to take time out of their day. They just do it at their convenience,” Richter says.

He offers six courses per teaching cycle (from January to September of every even year) on topics such as insurance, preventative maintenance, saving energy and understanding financial statements, along with the required topics such as legal updates and finance. A hard copy of one of Richter's courses is $35 each course, while an online version is $25.

Richter adds relevance and interest are the main deciding factors when choosing what courses to offer each cycle. “In addition to being required, I try to think of things that are of interest, Richter says. One of the courses I wrote for this cycle is 100 Questions to Ask When Buying and Living in a Community Association. Those are questions over the years that people have asked me that I've come up with.”

Those with a large interest in seminars but those with little free time in their schedule can sign up for various webinars. Community Associations Institute (CAI) offers multiple live and on-demand webinars with presentations such as Watch Out! Crime Prevention Done Right, Beat the Clock: Marathon Meetings No More, Best Practices for Worst Cases: Emergency Planning and Recovery, and Culture Club: Diversity in Association Management, among others.

Webinars are $69 for CAI members and $99 for non-members. They provide one credit hour towards Certified Manager of Community Associations re-certification, Association Management Specialist re-designation and CAM re-designation. There are several CAI chapters serving South Florida, including CAI-Southeast Florida (www.cai-seflorida.org) and CAI Gold Coast (www.caigoldcoast.org).

CAMP hosts monthly dinner meetings, which provide CEU credit, for those who prefer to include networking opportunities and entertainment in their learning experiences. “You learn more in a networking setting where you can ask questions and where you’re going to hear the experience,” Janicki says. The monthly meetings are two hours long and cover topics such as time-management skills, security systems and reducing safety and security claims. The event is free for CAMP members (annual membership is $125) and $38 for non-members.

Janicki explains she was inspired to start CE Matrix after becoming underwhelmed by the lack of education options in her area. “Marco Island has a small group of managers and vendors and they give education once a year through CAI in Fort Myers,” Janicki explains. The all-day sessions, though, she believed, were quite tedious.

Janicki recently offered a stress management course to her students, proving a lot more than textbook knowledge goes into becoming a successful and efficient property leader. “I had a class yesterday about stress,” she says. “This program was steered towards association managers, but stress happens to everybody every day of their life. Sometimes the classes are not just for association managers. A lot of them are pertaining to today’s life and what is going on.”

Educational Benefits

Janicki emphasizes that property managers should not just look to continuing education as a requirement but as an opportunity to become as knowledgeable and hands-on as possible regarding the multiple issues they confront on a daily basis—a quality she says is lacking in the South Florida industry.

“I learned out in the field,” Janicki says. “I learned what the different roofing systems were. I learned about different plant materials because I went out to nurseries with my landscaping guys, took classes and learned about the best types of plants and the worst types of plants to plant places. I think that a good manager needs to get out from behind the desk.”

The constant change in factors such as inclement weather, insect infestations and regulations regarding pools that affect South Florida communities directly dictate the need for further training for property managers, Budd says. “The law regarding condominiums and HOA’s—the Florida statutes change every year and the property manager, in order to do his or her job, definitely should be up on the changes to the law,” Budd says. “As the property manager, there are various on-site things like landscaping, pest control and pools that we get information from those organizations to enrich our knowledge. We also get information about insurance. That’s a very big part of our job, to make sure the communities are insured properly. The more knowledge we have of things that go on in properties the better managers we can be.”

Enjolie Esteve is an editorial assistant at The South Florida Cooperator. Freelance writer Jonathan Barnes contributed to this article.

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