Managing Small Buildings Does Size Matter?

When we think of a co-op, condo, or HOA, it’s easy to picture a towering high-rise, or a suburban development that sprawls across acres and acres, and is home to hundreds, maybe even thousands of residents. While those communities certainly exist in great numbers – especially in denser urban environments – make no mistake; there are co-op and condo communities with 12 units or fewer as well. In fact, of the hundreds of thousands residential buildings within the city of New York, 1,954  cooperatives and 11,818 condominiums have 10 units or less. 

While it’s certainly true that managing a massive development presents all kinds of challenges, the task of managing a very small community has numerous pros and cons as well. For example, consider that a smaller amount of units naturally brings with it a smaller number of occupants, which can make for a much more close-knit community within the building or association. On the other hand, having fewer neighbors to shoulder the burdens of governance and finances makes the stakes higher overall, as everyone counts on everyone else to ensure the solvency and longevity of the corporation or association. 

When it comes to managing a very small community, the board and property managers’ main tasks are twofold: making sure that the property is well-run, with committed, engaged unit owners or shareholders doing their part to keep the community cohesive and functional, and making sure that its finances are handled prudently – especially when it comes to income stream. Financial stability is crucial in these smaller communities, because it can literally make or break the building or association in terms of its survival and solvency.

Self-Managed, or Professional? 

One of the biggest management-related questions that the board of a tiny community must consider is whether they even need a manager at all. Both options have pros and cons that must be examined so that the right decision is made for a particular property. 

For some, self-management is ideal – but the learning curve can be quite steep, particularly for board members whose own educational or professional background may not have imparted skills and know-how that they can directly apply to running a co-op or condo community. Education is key in this situation, and while there may be some out-of-pocket expenses involved in obtaining it, fortunately there are numerous avenues available for board members to gain additional and functional knowledge. 

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