4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Good Property Management Company
January 17, 2016
Property management companies come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one thing you should know: for the most part, all of them offer the same core set of services. They pay your bills, meet with your board, interface with homeowners, perform inspections, organize contracts and projects, and work with contractors.
Large or small, high tech or low tech, your property management company is the catalyst to ensuring your Association can run seamlessly, and continue to make your community a valuable place to live.
Before you choose a property management company, ask yourself these four questions. The answers will be a guide to finding the best fit for your specific community.
1. What does my community actually need from a property management company?
Setting these expectations up front means having control over the mix of services you and your board will sign up for. But don’t just make a list of services, quantify them: weekly property inspections, monthly board meetings, etc. Not only will you be able to put together a more accurate scope of services, but you will also be able to judge whether or not a large or small property management company may be the right fit for those needs.
2. What is your association’s annual budget?
Remember, a condominium or homeowner association works off a fixed budget for the entire year. The Board anticipates the operational expenses for the upcoming year and sets the budget accordingly. Once the budget is set, there is no opportunity to increase the costs of contracts. Expectations and budget are the top two things homeowner and condominium association boards need to understand when choosing a property management company.
3. How much depth of service does your association need?
Depth of service refers to the number of people available to contact at the property management company to ask questions or raise issues. Larger property management companies may have an advantage here, by being able to offer access to a number of people at any given time to ask questions. Larger property management companies might also have self-service technology that adds a virtual member of their team. However, smaller property management companies may also have self-services available and the option to interface directly with a person.
4. How familiar does your property manager need to be with your community to provide quality service?
We’ve been in this business for a very long time. The hard truth is that property management is a high turnover business, especially at larger companies. Guess what else has high turnover? That’s right, Association boards. Think about your community as a whole: you already have people and personalities changing at the board level, what if your property manager were also changing? There could be conflict or confusion, and when it came time to handle an actual issue, your property manager might not have more than a cursory knowledge of your community.
Of course, this paints a harsh picture for larger property management companies, and that’s not what we’re trying to do here. Based on the answers to the first three questions, your community may not need a property manager who has intimate knowledge of the personalities, residents, building challenges, and vendor relationships. But if things like continuity and stability are going to be important success factors for who you choose as a property management company, a smaller one with longevity and experience might be a better fit.