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Decisions, Decisions: RPA v. CPM

Introducing a new resource from our organization, The BOMA Oakland/East Bay Buzz. Every quarter, we pose questions to our members—questions we've heard you ask, questions we're asking ourselves, even— and have them answer. Who better to answer your industry or BOMA-related questions than your peers? Read on for Tranwestern's Jeffery Ong's opinions of the RPA® and the CPM® designations.
Question: Why should I earn an RPA® designation, over the CPM®?

Jeff Ong's Answer:
First of all, having both RPA® (Real Property Administrator) and CPM ® (Certified Property Manager) Designations myself, this is not a simple question.  On top of that, having been in the real estate industry for many years, the question should be, “which designation should I choose first?”  BOMA  (via BOMI) and IREM both hold a strong code of ethics and continue to provide educational courses that most undergraduate programs do not offer.
 
When deciding on which designation to achieve first, you will need to evaluate your current job and career in this real estate industry. The CPM designation will provide you with an educated status of having knowledge in all aspects of real estate including commercial, residential, industrial, and association management. However, if you work in a metropolitan city such downtown San Francisco, then choosing the RPA® designation should be your priority.
 
Earning the RPA, taking the many courses taught by talented and experienced real estate managers and engineers, is another way of learning and growing in property management.  Additionally, your classmates and instructors among the professionals you will be working with the rest of your tenure in property management. You can probably turn to the person next to you in your office or at a BOMA event and see friends you have made in class.
 
Representing your employer:  This is an important aspect since most likely you work for a management company or direct ownership.  With a professional RPA® designation you are representing your company and upholding higher standards for their properties. Most large corporate owners now require property managers to have an RPA®. Having 5 years of experience in the business is simply not enough anymore. 
 
Representing your client: Your client and/or owners of the property you manage will be more confident knowing their property manager is an RPA®.  This shows the property manager abides by a code of ethics, has a real estate education, and they will receive legislative updates on their local governments. This is important to the client so they know their building will follow all local ordinances and requirements.
 
Representing yourself:  This is self-explanatory.  Having an RPA® Designation will not only educate you as a person and as a manager, but this escalates your own self-confidence.  Having confidence will allow your employer and Landlord to better trust you and to show you have knowledge and experience in the commercial real estate industry.
 
The BOMA courses that you will take provides you the guidelines to operating commercial properties including engineering, financials, security and understanding leases.  For those of us who have already acquired our RPAs, we all know the basic courses of “The Design, Operations, and Maintenance of Building Systems, Parts I and II.  These are a must, just as if you take your general education when you enter college.
 
After you learn about buildings, building systems and obtain your RPA®, then you will be able to apply that knowledge and become a leader.  Leadership is another process you will learn in time.  Being a member of BOMA and acquiring your RPA® will help you accomplish those leadership goals and continue to be a successful property manager in commercial real estate.
 
 Jeff Ong, CPM®, RPA® is a Senior Property Manager of Asset Services at Transwestern. Jeff supervises and manages a portfolio of Class A office, retail and industrial properties in San Francisco. Jeff oversees a team of building engineers, property accountants and vendors in order to accomplish the day-to-day operations for all properties. Prior to joining Transwestern, Jeff managed over one million square feet of commercial properties with Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE. Jeff studied at the University of Southern California where he received a bachelor's degree in Communication Arts & Sciences.
 

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