There are a lot of property managers out there. They have different backgrounds, styles and strengths. It is important for the board of directors of your homeowner’s association to look for a management company that will best serve your community. Do they have the expertise that your association needs?
Industry Affiliations and Certification
Is your manager and management company affiliated with a professional organization like CACM or CAI? Is your manger certified with one of these organizations? These types of affiliations require continuing education for managers to make sure that they are keeping up with industry standards and new laws. They offer classes to aid managers in being prepared for the situations that might arise in associations. They also have a code of ethics that mangers must adhere to. Does the management firm that your association is using have the accounting skills necessary to ensure that your association is handling its’ funds correctly? Do they have industry resources to contact when you need them, such as law firms or a reserve specialist?
Communication and Understanding
A good manager facilitates communication with residents and board members. Property managers should have the interpersonal skills to work with your board of directors, all of them! Boards often have a variety of personalities and a good manager gets to know the directors and learns how to communicate effectively with them. One of the challenges for any manager is learning how to help the board accomplish its goals and not get stuck in the middle. The manager’s job is to carry out the tasks that the board approves. The manager may not always agree that a decision that a board has made is the best decision but if the board has voted, it is the manager’s responsibility to accomplish the task in a professional manner. We have heard of association managers rolling their eyes during board meetings if the board made a decision they did not agree with. That does not show proper respect for the board and can breed animosity.
Professionalism and Respect
A manager should be professional in all aspects of their job. Verbal and written communication with the board and members should always be done with the greatest respect. A manager receives calls regularly from homeowners who might be upset about the balance on their account, or they may have a bigger problem like leak in their condo that has damaged items on the interior of their unit. How a manager and support staff handle the situation can mean all the difference in the world to the caller. If their questions are answered in a kind professional way, that homeowner will feel that the management staff cares about them and their problems. A board member might call and ask the manager to perform a task that the manager feels is outside of the scope of what a single board member can ask for without a whole board decision. A manager who handles that delicate situation with care and professionalism will leave the board member feeling like they have been heard but with a better understanding of the responsibilities of board members.
Familiarity With Your Governing Documents
Your association manager should be familiar with your governing documents. While it is unrealistic to expect him to know them word for word he should have a solid working knowledge and be able to find answers fairly quickly. Knowing the maintenance responsibilities of the association versus the owner’s responsibilities will allow the manager to respond quickly when a homeowner calls about a maintenance issue. Homeowners are not always happy to hear that their particular issue is not the responsibility of the association but communicating with them in a polite way and offering suggestions for a solution or providing a list vendors who can help is appreciated.
Access to Support Resources
When the unexpected comes up in your homeowners association you should be able to rely on your management team to have the tools to assist the board or to have the contact information for the expert who can. There are times when you will need to engage the services of legal counsel, there are attorneys who specialize in HOA law and their input is invaluable. When a homeowner calls to say that they are going to sue the association because their neighbor has painted their house purple and the architectural guidelines clearly state that all homes must be earth tone, your manager should have attorneys that they know and trust to provide help.
These are just a few of the qualities that your board should be looking for in a management team. Homeowners Association management is a very specialized field and managers are professionals that you should be able to depend on.
At The Hignell Companies we have been helping HOA and Condominium boards to manage their properties effectively for over 30 years. We provide full Board Advisory and Accounting services to nearly 40 associations, ranging in size from 25 units to 2300 units. Our range of services can meet the needs that you have for accountability and service, and we ensure that everything we do is measured by our commitment to "Creating Caring Communities."