One of the most important decisions I have made in my career is to pursue my Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS) designations through the National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI). In a rental housing market that is experiencing exponential growth, NAAEI provides a key component to your success in the multifamily housing industry.
Whether you are a first-time renter moving away from home, a savvy business person who has just been transferred to a new city, or someone needing more space to accommodate your growing family, apartments are still and will continue to be the most viable option for many individuals in this society.
Additionally, many home-owning Americans have been forced to find a new haven in the apartment industry. From backyard barbeques to resident functions, the customer’s needs have evolved into a new breed. No longer is a comfortable apartment the major deciding factor in a prospective renter’s requirements. The prospective renters are looking for the whole package, a lifestyle that still gives them the sense of having their own home without having to do any of the work.
So what does it take to attract these potential customers? Sure, the beautiful curb appeal, jaw-dropping amenities and attractive pricing would logically be the answer for many. But in order for any of those factors to be effective, the on-site team has to be on their “A” game, providing exceptional customer service and value. So this is where the difference from the typical landlord and a multifamily housing professional come into play.
A landlord executes and performs certain tasks to keep the community running smoothly. The landlord is simply going through the routine of their J-O-B, collecting rents and taking service requests. A multifamily housing professional has the specialized skills to operate the same community smoothly, but at the same time can maximize the growth potential of the community through creative and innovative business practices.
Continuing my education has proven to be a fundamental factor to becoming a multifamily housing professional. Education can come in many forms: advice from your supervisors or colleagues, business journals, local market analysis, literature from your local bookstore, or from conversations with your residents. However, the NAAEI provides the most valuable education for someone just looking to start a career in the apartment industry, or even for a seasoned associate looking to develop their skills.
Programs such as CAMT, NALP, CAM and CAPS provide a solid foundation as well as specialized knowledge that will guide you through your career. After working in the industry for almost a decade and then deciding to take the CAM designation courses, I found that the curriculum reinforces many tasks that I deal with on a daily basis. I gained in-depth knowledge of property valuations, developed new ways to analyze markets and creatively refined my abilities to effectively lead my team.
Some may ask why I waited so long to complete this designation. The truth is, this industry can be very demanding of your time. Whether you are working to meet owner’s expectations, preparing budgets, handling maintenance issues, dealing with concerned residents, managing your team, or trying to market your community to keep the leases and renewals rolling in, your focus is constantly pulled in different directions, making continuing education appear unachievable. But NAAEI offers the ability to take some of its programs online. I took the courses at my own pace, which worked great for my schedule and personal time. The NAAEI also provides classroom training for on-site professionals, if that is what works best for you.
Through active feedback and support, the NAAEI instructors make completion of assignments and exams quite painless. Personal service and attention goes a long way to provide a satisfying learning experience, and they achieve this with ease. Through all my interactions with NAAEI, I became a member of their team and not just a student. While captivating and stimulating, the courses are challenging. However, the instructors make sure you understand the principles behind each topic, all while pushing your creativity. They also emphasize how every decision made plays an integral role in the short- and long-term operations of the community.
As we are bearing witness, the apartment industry is growing at an incredible pace and will only continue to expand. So if you want to pursue a career in the apartment industry and define yourself as an experienced and respected multifamily housing professional and not just a landlord, the NAAEI provides the essential stepping-stones to grow your career.
For more information on designation programs, visit www.naahq.org.