In a perfect world, the relationship between a management company and the co-op or condo it serves would be harmonious, with few—if any—bumps in the road. But this is New York City, and if that vital relationship sours, your board could be faced with the prospect of replacing your agent or finding a new management company. Careful planning and thorough research will ensure that you make a smooth transition from your former company to a new one.
Years ago, the management of residential properties was an in-house service, most commonly offered by owners of residential properties. “It wasn’t until the ‘70s and ‘80s that you saw a breakthrough of management companies as an independent industry,” says Barbara Dershowitz, director of marketing and corporate operations at AKAM Living Services, the parent of AKAM Associates, a residential management company in Manhattan. “The 1990s were a pivotal decade for management companies. When the Manhattan District Attorney brought charges against various companies, it helped clients of residential management companies become more aware of companies’ ethics,” she says.
According to Michael Brower, of Michael Brower Realty in Hackensack, N.J., buildings switch agents or management companies for a number of reasons. Among the most prevalent are incompetence on the part of the agent or company; bad chemistry between management and the board; dishonesty; poor communication; lack of attention to detail; slow response to issues; lack of preparation for board meetings; and failure to be proactive in managing the property.
Saying Good Bye?
It’s crucial to think about the issues you’re having with your current management company. If you are simply unhappy with your agent, but are comfortable with the back office services the rest of the company provides, it is possible to switch agents within your management company. “Depending on what each building needs, a company could move agents from building to building in order to utilize specific skills needed for a property or project,” says Brower. While your board should make every effort to salvage its working relationship with the current company, sometimes it’s simply not possible.
Although switching companies does not happen frequently, it is common when a new board is put in place. Switching companies based primarily on price is less common, although it does happen. Greg Carlson of Carlson Realty in Forest Hills, does not see as many boards bargain hunting these days, as was often the case in the past. “Boards are realizing that you get what you pay for,” he says.