A cooperative, condominium or homeowner's association is more likely than not governed by a ragtag band of brave volunteers. Oftentimes, these folks have outside jobs that have little to do with maintaining a residential real estate property, and thus the day-to-day operation of a community can prove quite exhaustive. Fortunately, this is a job that can be, to some extent, outsourced to a trusty professional.
The property manager is a literal jack-of-all-trades, an ambassador trained and ready to represent the best interests of your ownership. Unfortunately, not all managers are created equal, and a board must do its diligence when selecting who shall be its champion. Fortunately, there are some cut and dry criteria by which a board can make this selection. Let The Cooperator help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
Stand Out from the Crowd
It's important that a board take ownership over the property manager hiring decision, rather than trust ownership with a property manager hiring decision.
"Oftentimes a board thinks that it should poll its owners, or poll owners of other associations, as to what they think they need in a property manager," says Beth Lloyd, president of the Chicago-based Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations (ACTHA). "But, while you can talk to owners, I wouldn't recommend weighing their opinions heavily, as they have no idea what's in a contract between an association and a manager. Their priorities fall more along the lines of 'will the manager call me back? Will he or she trim my shrubs?' But maybe what they're looking for, in regard to their expectations, is not appropriate for the greater community. And you're likely to find some owners to be at cross-purposes. So if you're looking for references, talk to people who serve on the boards of other associations. Each board is going to have its own priorities and its own needs, and a good management company is going to be able to cater its services to a particular client, regardless of what another association may feel is important. And those needs should be spelled out in a contract."
But for what specifically should a board look in a property manager? What traits help the aces stand out from the deck? What does the job actually entail?