There are many corporations that make the conscious decision to self-manage their condo rather than hire a property management company. That decision may come from various reasons: from having a lack of resources, to having board members with the time and expertise to manage condos, or simply because they have had a bad experience working with property management companies. Whatever the reason may be, there are many things that board members need to be mindful of when going ahead with the daunting task of managing condos without the help of a management company.
1. It's All About the Team
As mentioned above, managing a condo, or in other words, managing a large number of individuals living in a defined space, is quite the daunting task. This is simply not a job that can be done alone - it requires a certain number of folks to work collaboratively in unison, with each bringing a certain set of qualities. What we mean by "team" is 1) legal and accounting professionals; and 2) the board members.
While it is not impossible to self-manage a corporation, it is certainly is not possible to go ahead without getting professional accounting and legal help. Retaining accounting and legal professionals that you can trust and have experience with condos is a sure way to ensure that on the accounting and legal fronts, things go smoothly. The failure to have this covered can lead to major disaster scenarios.
As important is putting together and organizing your board to be set up for success. It is important to have a qualified and competent board to handle the decisions of the corporation. We regularly see individuals that sit on the board that are definitely not qualified to be board members of a corporation. The result is painful as one person can have the capacity to be a hindrance to the well-being of an entire community. It is of paramount importance to try to ensure that your fellow board members have the make up of an all-star team.
2. The Finances
As with any type of organization, financial health makes up a large component of the state of the corporation. We can't stress enough how important it is to have tidy bookkeeping for all money-related matters of the corporation. From collecting fees to accounts payable to vendors, proper upkeep with financials is a foundation of a sound corporation. Record-keeping that is not done right has the potential to cause serious headaches down the road. As mentioned in the previous section, engaging an accounting firm or even a full-service bookkeeping service for condos such as Accounting for Condo is always the right way to go about it.
3. Vendor Management
In all condos, there is a whole host of vendors and suppliers you'll be dealing with. In fact, there are so many from whom you will require regular service from that managing vendors in itself is its separate function. Whether it's plumbing specialists, electricians, landscapers or pool contractors, ensuring everything is up-to-date in terms of the exchange of fees and services, quality of service and so on, has direct impact on the well-being of your condo. Not only is solid tracking and record-keeping required, you will also have to manage their work and negotiate prices.
4. Plan ahead
It's impossible to predict the future, but condos all go through cycles. Whether it's seasonality or the lifecycle of equipment and infrastructure, they all follow a certain pattern. When self-managing a condo, it is important to plan ahead and ensure that what is to come does not come by surprise. Planning ahead for repairs and also seasonal services such as snow plowing and grass mowing should be factored into as you look ahead. One thing that is often overlooked is that you should also plan for unforeseen circumstances and events. One thing we know is that plans rarely go according to plan! This fact of life must be factored into as well in order to avoid surprises.
5. Sound Communication
If you have followed our previous blog posts, you'll know that this aspect is one that we constantly stress: communication. One of the primary roles of a property manager is to communicate updates and news about the community to its residents. But if you go ahead without a property manager, you're essentially foregoing having that primary communicator. The task is now up to you and we're here to remind you that it is one that cannot be emphasized enough. In all of the corporations that we have seen have major issues, a lack of communication always seems to be at the root of all problems. If a decision has been made to self-manage, we assume that the aspect of sound communication is one you are ready to address. If it is not, it should be at the top of your list of priorities. There are many ways to help you fill the communications gap, including the use of tools and technology.
This post was in no means to discourage you to self-manage your condo. Whether your corporation includes a handful of properties or whether it consists of hundreds of units, the management of condos is a daunting task, but one that is not impossible as long as the necessary precautions are taken. We at Condo Manager happen to work with a large number of self-managed condos and would be more than happy to share with you our experience working with them. Feel free to drop us a note so that we can explore how we can help you successfully self-manage your condo.