If you're part of a condominium board, you may need to address the decision of whether to self-manage your property or hire a professional property management company.
At first, self-management might seem like an ideal choice, as it appears to give your board complete control over the property and saves on costs. However, property management issues are often the result of financial problems and conflicts among condo board members. It's important to consider the following elements of condominium property management when making this important decision:
Expertise: Owners of a typical condo property expect a lot more than just a working toilet. Property managers are in charge of handling finances, accounts, billing, collections and insurance, as well as landscaping, common area maintenance, contract negotiations and compliance with local and federal regulations. They also handle community event coordination and customer service, which both require patience and experience.
Responsibility: A property manager must deal with all aspects of management professionally, efficiently and knowledgeably. Do you have one board member you would trust to deal with everything singlehandedly? If you opt for co-management, do you have a plan for resolving differences in opinion, maintenance errors and money mismanagement?
Time: Property managers typically handle all different types of unit owner questions and must quickly address maintenance issues. If a resident has a burst pipe at three in the morning, is your board willing and equipped to deal with it?
Cost: The cost of employing a professional property manager may initially seem like more than self-management. However, it's important to remember that inexperience and lack of resources can rapidly lead to a number of problems, expensive repairs and financial mismanagement. Working with a respected property management firm helps attract new owners to your property, and reduce unit owner turnover as well.
Emergencies: Aside from regular maintenance and complaints, property management providers must be fully equipped to handle the emotional, physical and financial repercussions in the event of an emergency, such as a fire, storm, natural disaster, crime or act of vandalism.
Legality: It's important to be thoroughly versed in the rules, regulations and standards of condominium property management. The property manager has to ensure that the grounds, buildings and individual units are in total compliance with city, provincial and federal regulations, while also dealing with insurance, reserve fund planning, any contracting or vending relationships and their respective service agreements.
If a problem arises with self-management, unit owners and service providers or contractors can sometimes take legal action against board members individually. A board that's not equipped with the time, expertise, resources and patience to deal with all of the requirements and potential challenges will find it much easier and less risky to work with a professional property manager.