If you’re reading this then you already recognize the value in hiring a condo management company. A management company can help condo communities increase the value of their assets by managing it more effectively, and giving the board more time to focus on big-picture items.
But, if you don’t know what to look for then you can easily end up with a company that doesn’t algin with your goals or requirements. That’s one reason why it is so important to put each candidate through a standard evaluation process to prove that they can meet your specific needs.
The following is a helpful guide with a brief but concise checklist of all the key considerations to make when looking for the right condo management company.
What to look for when hiring a condo management company
A condo management company is responsible for handling the day-to-day needs of the property they’re managing. This goes for small tasks like making sure the landscaping is done routinely, to more significant responsibilities like taking care of the building’s security needs. They are also responsible for any issues that arise from tenants or owners.
To get all this work done, a condo management company must have thorough knowledge and experience of how condo buildings work. They should also be well acquainted with state/provincial condo laws and regulations, which are always changing.
If you’ve never worked with a condo management company before, how can you tell which ones are the best options for you? Really there is not shortcut. The board will have to do their research online, read reviews, perhaps ask others for references, and conduct interviews with candidates.
Below are some standard questions to ask each company being interviewed:
1. How long have you been in business?
Experience is where you separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to condo management companies. An experienced company is better at staying up-to-date and adapting to ever-changing regulations in the industry. They also have good, long-term relationships with a big network of contractors and other service professionals. Plus, reputable condo management companies usually offer a more comprehensive package when compared to an inexperienced operator.
A great way to gauge a company’s experience level is to ask them about some of their most memorable challenges and how they overcame them. This will give you a good idea of how well they deal with problems and whether or not they actually enjoy what they do.
Keep in mind that there’s no substitute for experience in business and in life. That’s why a company that has been around for 10 years knows a lot more about the ins and outs of running a condo than a managing company with only 3 or 5 years of experience. That being said, a newer company may be more affordable, and could be the perfect fit for a smaller condo corporation. Established companies may have less time to devote to your condo if they have more clients to care for.
2. What makes you a credible service provider?
Make sure you hire a condo management company that’s associated with the relevant regulatory bodies in your state or province. Some of the most important accreditation to consider on a national level include the National Association of Condominium Managers (NACM), the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) and the Real Estate Institute of Canada (RIC).
Condo companies that belong to these and other organizations are likely more informed and better equipped to maintain industry standards.
In addition, individual managers within the company should also have their own qualifications. This will give you peace of mind knowing that the people managing your property are property trained and informed.
3. What does your business structure look like?
Inquire about the business structure of the condo management company you’re considering. Is it a one-man shop that has to outsource most of its services? Or is it a layered organization with a team of trained professionals that specialize in different areas of condo management?
Large condo management companies usually come with portfolio managers that handle a number of properties each. If you decide to hire a condo management company with this structure, then you’ll be assigned a portfolio manager who will be your main point of contact. They will also serve as the main point of contact for your tenants and will have oversight on your property based on their experience and expertise. Consistency amounts to better relationships and better customer service for you and your tenants.
4. What strategies do you use to save your clients money?
While hiring a property management company will cost the association/corporation more money, experienced condo managers are usually so well-connected that they help the community cut down on other expenses. For example, they can get great deals on maintenance and other related property costs. Through a network of specialists that might be hard for unfamiliar condo communities to reach, experienced managers can leverage these good relationships with service providers and negotiate better rates for essential services.
They may also have systems in place that will help you save on taxes in order to increase your bottom line at the end of the financial year. Or, they might introduce a technology, such as a property management software system, to automate tasks that take up valuable time and cut down on paper and print costs.
Another avenue through which condo management companies can achieve financial efficiency is through minimizing vacancy periods through effective advertising.
So, make sure the company you’re hiring has strategies in place to help cut down on costs without sacrificing the quality of essential or important services.
5. Do you have a maintenance plan?
The key to preserving the value of any property is to have a sound maintenance plan. The last thing you want is a condo management company that practices reactive maintenance. That means they’re likely to leave important maintenance to the last minute, and these types of repairs can be more expensive than hiring someone to perform routine maintenance. It’s better to update a plumbing or HVAC system according to a planned schedule before there is a flood or the air conditioner gives out during the hottest weeks of summer.
Inquire about how the company assesses when scheduled maintenance is required, and how they keep up with that schedule.
6. How do you increase buyer interest in your condos?
In addition to maintaining an asset, a condo management company must know how to elevate its value and keep unit prices competitive relative to the market. Again, it helps if they can provide an example of an actionable plan with details on how the company has increased a condo’s value over time.
You can ask the company about how they ensure staff stay on top of current market trends, tools and techniques.
7. How can you help us improve communication?
Speaking of tools, most of the leading property management companies are using software to improve communication, especially since the pandemic. Communication is one of the most important aspects of condo management, and is essential for any working partnership to be successful. Condo management software like Condo Control has special features to assist with communication between management, owners and the board. Owners can stay on top of message, documents, and even payments using the mobile app, making it a convenient and attractive option.
Most professional management companies use multiple communication options, including email, telephone, community websites, and traditional written letters, to ensure all residents get the information they need to be actively involved in their community.
8. Can you provide me with references?
As with any employee you hire, you are encouraged to ask top candidates for references before you make a final decision. Reliable management companies shouldn’t have an issue with this request.
Once you have the references, make sure to follow through and contact them. Though it would be easier not to, taking this step can help differentiate one company from another. You may also get the opportunity to ask the references things you didn’t feel entirely comfortable asking the company. For example, if that reference is no longer working with the company, you can ask them why the relationship ended.
References are most useful when they also work at or are part of a condo community. That’s because the examples they provide will be highly relevant. It doesn’t help you as much if the reference is also a property manager or friend of the company.
9. What services do you offer?
Don’t assume that the services you need are provided by the company you’re thinking of hiring. The reality is that different companies offer different things. Some are more experienced and are comfortable tackling harder or more complex issues. There are companies that have more resources than others. And there are situations where a company may offer segmented services, such as accounting and nothing else.
To ensure there isn’t confusion and disappointment later on, have a list of all your needs and requirements made, and ask the company to give you an updated list of all the services included in the rate they’re charging you. Furthermore, ask if there are services that the company will not provide under any circumstances. Many companies will charge extra for specific tasks to be performed, so be aware of that when making a final decision.
Before you formally hire a company, you will be required to sign a property management agreement contract. This detailed document should include services, fees, terms of agreement, etc. Consider asking your top candidates for a contract beforehand so you can see exactly what you’d be getting.
10. What sets your customer service apart from other companies?
At the end of the day, you will be happier working with a company that you like. Good customer service is really important; not only will the company you hire be helping you and your board, they will be helping your entire community with issues, tasks and more.
Feel free to ask for specific examples of times they have gone above and beyond to serve their clients. If they can communicate those examples well, that’s a good sign!
11. What are your fees?
Price matter, and condos don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to budget. That being said, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Look for a company that will offer value for service. Remember, a good company will actually help your condo save money.
Hiring a condo management company is not rocket science, but it can be hard to settle on the best company for your condo. In order to make the best choice possible, put each candidate through a structured vetting process which includes all the considerations mentioned in this article. This is the best way to find the right company for the job.