Top 3 Things to Look for in a Condo or HOA or Property Manager

In many ways associations like condo trusts, or homeowner associations (HOAs) make it easier to get collective efficiency for joint owners of a property, and help ensure its proper maintenance and protection for all.  However for many associations, particularly self-managed ones, it can be challenging to effectively distribute the workload of running such an association.  This is where the services of a proper management company come in.  Not all property and condo management firms are alike, and have different strengths and weaknesses with some being more ideally suited for specific applications.  On whole there are a few things we recommend looking out for when it comes to a manager for your condo, or homeowner association (HOA).

  1. Tools and Systems they Use:
    • Many Condo management firms lag in terms of their adoption of technology in their offerings.  Some have stepped up and use internal systems for their general record-keeping purposes, and more and more are finding ways add electronic payment options, but when it comes to conveying information to members/customers they often do not have the tools to offer full transparency to members.  We recommend finding someone who uses technology solutions to share records, financials, budgets, and service information with you, ideally via a web profile or dashboard that you as the member can access at any time.  Electronic collections should be a must as well.  If they can go a step further and offer real-time or close to real-time record-keeping, alerts for service calls, automated requests for information related to mortgage questionnaires or member account payoffs, then you are working with someone strong.  The more tools they use to offer transparency the better.
  2. Completeness of Service Offering
    • This is often a challenging one to gauge as there is typically not a single, standard offering from all.  It is really up to the association to decide what is important to them.  We often recommend looking for a manager who will handle all the regular operations (collections, bill-pay, record keeping, regular vendor management, etc), but also proactively assist in terms of budgeting, and regular property analysis and capital improvement planning.  In addition, see if they have restrictions on what vendors you can use, or what type of services they offer.  For example, will they find someone to shovel the snow for you, or do you have to do this?  There are even managers who take it a step further, managing the building insurance, or potentially having special savings for members when individually using their recommended brokers when buying or selling.  If the manager can become a single source for what you need, you have a good one.
  3. Depth of Knowledge
    • Most managers might only be good at one thing.  Maybe they are a broker by day, but also offer some simple management solutions to relieve the burden from the association trustees by keeping the books and doing collections.  Most of the time, this means they might only understand one piece of all the moving pieces of condo management.  Finding a manager who has the expertise of operations, insurance, legal, construction, and efficient record keeping all in house will deliver an even greater value to your association.

Along with these areas to consider, here are a few questions you might want to ask:

  • What licenses or certifications do you all hold?
  • What tools do you use?
  • Are there restrictions on the vendors would be able to use?
  • Will we have to switch any particular vendors to work with you?
  • How much of your system is electronic/web based vs. internal only?
  • What additional fees come on top of your regular fee and for what services?
  • How long is your contract and how does renewal work?
  • Is there a cancellation fee?
  • Who will I be working with in your firm?
  • How will I be able to obtain information about the association like budgets/financial records/mortgage questionnaires/insurance policy info/6D certificates etc.?

 

Housequarters tries to be as transparent and open about our condo management services as we can, and feel confident we would be able to successfully answer any of your questions to be a top condo/HOA management services company, especially given our custom-built, in-house technology tools. We have specifically built it with smaller (less than 12 units) associations in mind.  Feel free to see what we offer, or talk with us about how it might fit with your needs.

So here is an example for you of how Housequarters would stack-up on its own questions:

Tools:  We have a custom-built web tool that makes everything accessible to all association members at any time.  This includes real-time financial recordkeeping and budget reconciliation, electronic payments and collections, and even automated generation of some of the most popular forms you may need.  You can see anything at any time, as well as even receive instant quotes on some of the most popular services you may need for your property.

Completeness:  We try to offer the most complete solution, with everything from regular operations, to proper association governance, to budgeting, annual inspections, capital improvement planning, insurance, and more!  Our standard management fees is actually designed to make it affordable for even smaller associations, and we can additionally provide whatever services you may need.

Depth of Knowledge: Our team has almost two decades of experience in almost every area of residential real estate.  We are currently a licensed contractor, insurance producer, broker and notary public in Massachusetts, so can offer whatever you need internally.  We are not just a referral source, but the source for everything you need.

How about the questions?

  • What licenses or certifications do you all hold?
    • Construction Supervisor License (unrestricted), Home Improvement Contractor License, Lead-Safe Renovator License, Insurance Producer License, Brokerage License, and Notary Public.  In addition, our team ranges from operators to academics, with strong expertise in data analytics having studied at places like M.I.T. to help make our systems more efficient.
  • What tools do you use?
    • A custom-built solution to manage everything you could ever need for a property to condo from a custom web dashboard designed just for you.
  • Are there restrictions on the vendors would be able to use?
    • Nope!  While we might make recommendations for us to handle certain services, you can use who you like.
  • Will we have to switch any particular vendors to work with you?
    • Nope (Same as above)
  • How much of your system is electronic/web based vs. internal only?
    • 100% electronic and web based for all to see
  • What additional fees come on top of your regular fee and for what services?
    • There are on occasion additional fees for things like requesting paper copies of certain documents, or managing a special capital improvement project.  We can often find ways to help you avoid these fees (such as printing a document yourself)
  • How long is your contract and how does renewal work?
    • Contracts are generally annual, and renew each year
  • Is there a cancellation fee?
    • Initially yes during your first year.  After the first 12 months, there is no longer a cancellation fee as long as you give at least 30 days notice.
  • Who will I be working with in your firm?
    • We will assign a dedicated person to your property, but any of our professionals should be able to help you.
  • How will I be able to obtain information about the association like budgets/financial records/mortgage questionnaires/insurance policy info/6D certificates etc.?
    • Budgets are done annually, and all financial record-keeping is done electronically.  In terms of the documents you need, they are made available on your dashboard for printing at any time.

Like these answers? Sign up to have Housequarters manage your association NOW!

Related Posts

Leave a comment