What is the role of the asset manager?

Affordable housing asset managers are responsible for the long-term stewardship of a portfolio of multifamily properties. Those employed by nonprofits and for-profit owners of affordable housing ensure that their organizations’ performance and mission goals are achieved. Their work typically intersects with property management, resident services and financial management departments. Asset managers who work for lenders, investors, syndicators and housing finance agencies monitor the performance of the properties these organizations finance and invest in.

No matter which type of setting, the job entails monitoring for financial performance, occupancy, physical conditions and compliance of properties. Job titles include asset manager coordinator or analyst, asset manager, senior asset manager, portfolio manager and director of asset management.

You can learn about the position’s salary, functions and roles in the CHAM’s latest Survey of Asset Managers.

When asked how their time was spent in a typical year, asset managers reported that about 45% of their time is on three main activities: overseeing property management and resident services; compliance and performance analysis; and managing owner’s risks and opportunities. The rest of their time is split up among multiple types of activities, such as crisis management; repositionings and refinancings; partner and funder reporting; interfacing with development; and capital and green planning.

See sample job descriptions to understand the responsibilities and qualification requirements in typical affordable housing asset management positions.

How do I enter the asset management field?

Since it is a multidisciplinary function, there is not one type of person who makes a good asset manager.

People could enter the field with experience in financial analysis, property management, compliance, construction management, real estate development or even urban planning. Experience and credentials in affordable housing is a plus. A bachelor’s degree in business management, business administration, accounting, finance or real estate is typically expected along with strong analytical skills, excellent communication skills, proficiency in Excel and working knowledge of housing programs.

Employers are looking for candidates who are inquisitive and willing to learn.

The property performance data does not tell the whole story, so they need to ask questions and dig into performance issues. Being able to talk to all types of people is very helpful because asset managers interact with many stakeholders, such as investors, property managers, residents, state agencies, government officials.