To self manage or not to self manage? It’s akin, in some respects, to the half-century old question of manual versus automatic transmission. Sure, the automatic is easier to drive, but the manual provides more control. And sometimes a co-op or condo board–just like a sports car driver–wants a little more control.
In the Driver’s Seat
The co-op and condo community can be divided into two types of properties: The vast majority that engage a professional management firm and those that choose to go it alone. All properties need the services that good full-service management provides, from ongoing maintenance of the physical property, to staff supervision, financial oversight, assistance with contract negotiations and timely response to resident inquiries and concerns. The difference is that in self-managed properties all these responsibilities fall to the shareholders or unit owners who have volunteered to accept them.
Although conventional wisdom suggests that smaller properties are easier to self-manage, that’s not always the case. Large co-ops such as Penn South, a 2,820-unit co-op in Chelsea. Some suggest that if anything it’s easier for a building of this size to be self-managed because everything is right there under the supervision of an in-house manager.
Whether your building is large or small, the challenges of self-management are not for the faint of heart. What it takes is identifying and encouraging a core group of dedicated residents willing to invest the time and energy required to effectively manage the property. Grooming successors to this core group is a common problem, but many professionally managed properties have the same problem when it comes to getting residents to volunteer their time to serve on the board or join a committee.