What Is the Difference Between a Community Association Manager and a Property Manager?

A successful property manager or community association manager standing in front of tenants or homeowners at their dwelling.

The roles, responsibilities, and differences between these two jobs 

Key takeaways:

  • The terms property manager and community association manager are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are important differences.
  • Each job has its own responsibilities and functions. 
  • Property managers primarily work with tenants and oversee individual apartment units or homes. 
  • A property manager’s typical responsibilities include collecting rent, showing vacant units to prospective tenants, and handling maintenance and repairs for individual apartments or homes. 
  • Community association managers typically work with the board of directors of an HOA or COA.
  • A community association manager’s usual duties include preparing budgets, collecting bids from vendors, and overseeing repairs and maintenance of amenity spaces or common areas.
  • A property manager deals with the day-to-day operations of a property or an association, whereas a community association manager is more likely to be involved in large-scale or big-picture projects that affect the community as a whole.
  • It is important to know the differences between a property manager and a community association manager to hire the right professional for the task and contact the right person with your question or concern.

You may have heard the terms property manager and community association manager used interchangeably. While the two job titles have similarities, there are also key differences between them. If you’re a real estate or property management professional – or a vendor who serves these industries – it is important to understand that property managers and community association managers have different responsibilities and job functions. We will outline them below. 

Property managers

A property manager is typically the liaison between tenants or homeowners and an HOA (homeowner’s association). They are responsible for individual units in an apartment, condo, or homes in a neighborhood or community. 

Property managers oversee the physical property itself and generally respond to tenant inquiries about their particular unit. They are usually the ones who manage leases, collect rent or HOA payments, handle maintenance and repairs for units or homes, and address tenant complaints and concerns. 

The core responsibilities of a property manager include: 

  • Rent or HOA payment collection
  • Repair management and maintenance for each unit or home
  • Vacant unit showings to prospective tenants
  • Responding to tenant complaints
  • Inspecting units after tenants move out
  • Handling an eviction process 

Community association managers

Community Association Managers (CAMs) are usually in charge of budgets, record-keeping, and managing community spaces such as a clubhouse, pool, or community landscape features. They’re involved in all aspects of running the HOA (if there is one) or the community and thus have extensive knowledge of HOA governing rules and local applicable laws.

CAMs are usually hired by the board of directors of a homeowner’s association (HOA) or condo owner’s association (COA). They may plan community activities and help enforce community rules. A CAM’s exact duties are likely to vary slightly depending on the hiring association, but broadly speaking, they’re in charge of big-picture tasks and responsibilities. 

The Core responsibilities of a CAM include:

  • Supervision of community maintenance, such as common areas, pool cleaning, landscaping, etc.
  • Creation and overseeing of budgets.
  • Site inspections.
  • Negotiation of contracts for common property repairs or enhancements.
  • Assisting the board in selecting vendors; collection and presentation of bids for projects.

The key differences

Both property managers and CAMs might handle tasks such as pool maintenance or trash collection, but in general the former takes on the responsibilities of a landlord while the latter oversees larger-scale projects and activities that have implications for the entire community. You can think of property managers as dealing primarily with individual tenant needs and CAMs as handling the needs of the entire building, neighborhood, or association. 

Most states require property managers to obtain a real estate license, but this isn’t the case for CAMs. They may or may not have a real estate license, but they should be well-versed in local housing laws and know the rules of the owner’s association that hired them. It is important to properly vet prospective candidates whether you’re seeking a property manager or a CAM. 

Why the differences matter

It is important to know the differences between a CAM and a property manager so that you can hire the right professional for the tasks at hand. From a tenant, unit owner, or vendor perspective, knowing the differences between these two roles can help you determine which person to address with a specific question or problem. 

How VendorSmart serves the real estate community

Property managers, community association managers, and HOA board members all work with third-party vendors regularly. It can be time-consuming to vet new vendors or collect new referrals for a big project. VendorSmart delivers tailored solutions for all of your property and community management needs. VendorSmart’s innovative platform blends technology with 70+ years of management experience. Contact us today to discuss your needs.