The initials following a person's name often reveal a certain level of educational or professional achieve-
ment. Designations like M.D., D.D.S., J.D., C.P.A. and C.L.U. indicate the successful fulfillment of certain standardized requirements and the completion of prescribed, often rigorous, courses of study. These credentials are worthy of respect because they reflect a higher-than-average commitment to personal accomplishment and professionalism.
Likewise, the initials following the names of an ever-growing number of professional residential property managersNYARM, RAM, Advanced RAM, CPM and ARMidentify those management professionals who have made personal commitments of time and money to achieve the highest credentials the field has to offer.
The New York Accredited Realty Manager
NYARM designation means that a property manager is certified as a New York accredited realty manager by the New York Association of Realty Managers (NYARM). This certification is recognized and approved by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
To achieve NYARM designation, candidates must submit a lengthy application and successfully complete 70 educational credits offered through New York University's School of Continuing Education. These courses include Fundamentals of Financial Management, Supervisory Skills for Managing Residential and Cooperative Properties, Management and Operations of Building Systems, Complying with New York City Local Laws and Business Ethics for Property Managers, among others.
According to Donna Klein, executive director of NYARM, The New York Association of Realty Managers has long recognized the need for a professional standard in management. Managers trained in finance, tenant relations, local law compliance and the physical needs of residential properties are clearly assets to the properties they serve.
When the initials RAM follow a residential property manager's name, it means that he or she is a registered apartment manager, a competency-based certification conferred by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). To achieve RAM status, candidates must have at least two years of multi-housing management experience. They must also earn a minimum score of 300 on the RAM Professional Profile (in the areas of education, employment experience, professional involvement and professional references) and successfully pass a national RAM exam (a 100-question test that covers marketing, occupancy files, fair housing and Americans with Disabilities regulations, office management, financial management, maintenance, safety and security and more.)
RAMs must fulfill recertification requirements every three years, including proof of continuing education and the fulfillment of other industry and performance-related criteria. Advanced RAM (formerly known as senior RAM) is an advanced credential for higher level property managers. Candidates must complete courses in legal issues for property managers, fair housing, advanced financial management, advanced marketing and leasing, administrative operations and management skills, advanced maintenance and advanced personnel. Also required is a ffb minimum of five years of property management experience with at least three years on-site experience, final exams in each of the seven educational areas, a 3,000 to 5,000 word article on one of the seven educational topics and a completed advanced RAM profile accompanied by two letters of recommendation. Advanced RAMs are subject to the same recertification requirements as RAMs.
RAMs are held in high esteem within the industry because they have to answer, and continue answering, to a higher authority: the NAHB in Washington, D.C., says Herb Warshavsky, executive director of the Associated Builders and Owners (ABO) of Greater New York, the local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The more education, training and professionalism we can provide to our members, the better off both they and their clients will be.
The Certified Property Manager
When the initials CPM follow a manager's name, he or she is a certified property manager. This internationally-recognized designation is conferred by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors. The majority of CPMs are owners, partners, officers or directors of their own companies.
CPM status requires the successful completion of courses and exM-aminations in a variety of subjects such as operational knowledge of property management, finances, property management principles and procedures and ethics in property management. CPM candidates must possess at least five years of property management experience. They must also prepare a management plan (similar to a master's degree thesis), abide by IREM's Five Codes of Professional Ethics and be members of IREM as well as their local Board of Realtors.
The Accredited ResidentialManager
IREM's Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) program recognizes and identifies outstanding CPMs. Attainment of ARM designation requires adherence to the highest standards in the areas of education, experience and commitment to the ARM Code of Ethics. Candidates must successfully complete an in-depth course of study, meet specific experience standards, manage a sizeable portfolio of residential properties and receive endorsement from their local IREM chapter. ARMs must be reviewed and reaccredited every two years.
CPM requirements typically appeal to the individual who can be characterized as, M-the manager's manager,' says Jeffrey Gold, CPM, RAM and executive vice president of Marvin Gold Management Co., Inc. in Brooklyn. Gold is also president of IREM New York Chapter 26, vice chairman of NAHB's Multifamily Counsel, past president of the New York Chapter of RAM and a nationally-certified RAM program instructor. While everyone is eligible to pursue this designation, it is generally the achievement-motivated professional who attains the level of CPM.
But Does It Really Matter?
I believe that property managers should have education and knowledge in terms of the tasks they dofinancial, operational and mechanical. But how you get that knowledge is still an open question, says Leslie Winkler, senior director of management for Penmark Realty in Manhattan. Winkler is also president of the Association of Coop-erative and Condominium Managers (ACCM), which was founded in 1995. Is the fact that you have a CPM more important than a degree in business, finance, architecture, engineering or law? asks Winkler, who holds an MBA in finance but no industry-related certification. Although the more you know, the more valuable you are to the industry, this is definitely a profession where you learn on the job. I might be in the minority, but I'm looking for the manager who has experience, the ability to follow through and good interpersonal skills, because the rest can come as you learn.
Some in the industry agree with Winkler. Others do not. According to the National Association of Home Builders, one-third of this country's population currently resides in multifamily housing, says Gold. That speaks to the necessity of having only the best e3b qualified, most highly educated professionals in charge of those assets. That's the purpose of certification.
According to David Kuperberg, CPM, RAM and president of Cooper Square Realty, Inc. in Manhattan, residential property managers who are certified by an industry organization can demonstrate to the world their expertise, experience and dedication. I'm not saying you can't be a good property manager if you're not certified, Kuperberg adds, But if you are a good property manager, then why not certify in order to demonstrate your commitment to the highest level your profession has to offer?
Kuperberg is a member of the RAM National Board of Governors, a chairperson of RAM's Subcommittee on Professional Standards and a member of both the Residential Management Committee and Professional Standards Subcommittee of the Real Estate Board of New York. According to Kuperberg, One of the biggest challenges in property management today is that it's too easy to hang out a shingle and claim to be a property manager.
I believe that it's important for clients to know that a professional has something valuable to lose if they fail to measure up, he adds. I can also tell you from personal experience that the courses required for these designations really do teach. Every time I take a course, I learn something new. Managers are always complaining that they're not treated like professionals. My response is, M-Have you made yourself a professional?'
Ms. Dershowitz is a contributing editor for The New York Cooperator.