People who own a home in a Condo or HOA are homeowners, but of a slightly different variety. They depend on a good property management company. While they pay a mortgage and enjoy many of the benefits of owning a home, they give up a bit of autonomy due to the nature of condo living. A board of directors makes community decisions, assisted by a property manager who may add significant value or be a less-knowledgeable asset.
As in every industry, there are stellar property management companies and those that might not quite hit the mark. Since a property manager is so important in a condo community, it’s critical to make a good choice — or suffer the consequences.
Here are some qualities to look for during a property management company search:
- Communication. Owners will get easily frustrated if they can’t reach the property manager in a timely fashion. While some queries may not be time-sensitive, others are more immediate in nature. Be sure your property management company has a 24/7 call center and its number, as well as an email address for the community’s property manager, is provided to all owners.
- Responsiveness. Good communication will fall flat if it doesn’t result in timely responses. It’s one thing to be able to reach a property manager, and another to have that person jump on the matter at hand if necessary.
- Full service. While your community will be working with a specific property manager, it’s important for that person to have support from a team that includes experts in areas like engineering, training, HR and accounting. This will be especially important if your property manager is a novice; you want to be sure he or she has access to the knowledge base of someone who is more seasoned.
- Track record of excellence. Ask for references from any property management company you’re considering. Ideally, you want to speak with current clients from communities that are similar in size to yours as well as former clients, to learn why the relationship ended. You can tell a great deal about any company from listening to what its current and past clients say about it.
- Vendor relationships. Maintenance and landscaping are two of the greatest line items for most condo communities, so having a property management company that can negotiate discounts or lower rates due to its strong relationships with companies providing those services can be beneficial. You never want to eliminate the competitive bidding process, but a good property management company will be able to provide expertise in weighing cost versus quality.
- Transparency. Your property management company should operate as an open book. Since it will serve as a financial steward for your association, collecting monthly dues and any special assessments levied, it should have strong financial controls in place to eliminate fraud.
- Standard operating procedures. The best property management companies will have proven operational procedures, developed over years of experience, in areas such as preventive maintenance, contract audits and budgeting. If it worked at another community, it should work at yours, too. There’s usually no reason to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.
The very best property management companies will have the knowledge and experience to help enhance the value of owners’ homes and the community’s lifestyle. In a nutshell, that’s what all condo owners want: stable or rising property values and a safe, comfortable place to call home.
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