Hiring a dedicated third party management company to oversee the tedium for a condo association has been a longstanding and common practice. However, with a variety of productivity tools and specialized software available, self management has become an even more attractive and achievable option for many condo associations looking to take control of their operation.
Condo associations should be managed with care and respect because many people and their finances are involved. It is a huge responsibility, so efficiency is key — which is why implementing software or hiring a management company can help hardworking people run things smoothly.
Using a self managed condo association software offers many advantages to volunteers, owners, and residents. Self managing is cheaper, offers the association more control with better communication, and proves a more trustworthy liaison for residents as the condo association volunteers are residents themselves.
Hiring a reputable company to manage your condo association is similarly attractive. The third-party company takes the burden from the association of dealing with the daily minutiae that create such a big workload. This service can be quite costly and can sometimes overcomplicate a smaller condo association.
With numerous reasons to go with either option, how do you decide whether to self manage your condo association with specialized software or work with a third-party management company to help run your association?
If your condo association is considering self managing, there are a few key questions your board should ask itself.
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How Many Units is Too Many to Self Manage?
Using a property management company for too few units could overwhelm the condo community and prove too costly.
Typically, up to 100 units can easily be managed with self managed condo association software, though it isn’t uncommon for condo communities with even more units to do so.
Buying a condominium is often seen as a transitional or investment property that will either be sold or rented out after a few years. They’re less intimidating and maintenance-intensive than buying a home, as condo associations take care of the infrastructure.
Because there is high turnover within units, it is vital for a condo association to retain records for each unit by property rather than owner. This is especially true when owners rent their properties to various tenants.
Self managed condo association software handles this recordkeeping automatically, allowing COA volunteers to keep track of far more units that possible with spreadsheets or accounting software like QuickBooks.
Building and fostering a supportive community is imperative for the happiness of condo residents, owners, and the association. Yet this can be difficult due to the transitive nature of condominiums.
Self managed condo association software provides a virtual space for residents to interact and a central location for association volunteers to send out important messages. A condo association self managing and working directly with residents can create a deeper sense of community than a hired third party company.
Can We Really Self Manage With All These Vendors?
Condo associations coordinate many different vendors at all times of the day, every day. In addition to daily maintenance of indoor and outdoor common areas, surprise repairs frequently demand immediate attention. Juggling the schedules of plumbers, electricians, framing carpenters, and sometimes the owners, can quickly become overwhelming.
Managing these vendors can be a full-time job, sometimes more than an association bargains for. Hiring a third-party management company to take care of all of this organization can be a huge relief for condo association volunteers.
Beyond the basic maintenance of building elevators, hallways, stairwells, and parking lots, some condo associations offer additional features to their residents. Security, front desk staff, and parking attendants are all common at a condo building. The grounds must be maintained as well as any outdoor features, such as playgrounds and pools. It can be very tempting to turn this over to property managers.
This level of organization may not be intimidating to your condo association, and self management could be an exciting challenge. It is also possible your condo association is newer and doesn’t require the amount of maintenance an older building demands. You may also not have communal extras like a pool or an elevator.
While a management company can save you time from dealing with vendors, you then have less control over who they choose to hire. This could lead to use of a contractor whose work you do not like or a bill that you find too expensive. To some, it may be worth it to hire the vendors they prefer.
With self managed condo association software, you can make these decisions and choices yourself. While you must do the work, you will be in control of the final product. You will also be able to manage expenses more carefully for the association.
Good communication is imperative between these vendors and the condo residents. If separate parties are not communicating efficiently, simple things can go awry and trust can be broken. A third party can save you time; however, using self managed condo association software can help you communicate directly with residents.
Do We Have the Legal Expertise to Self Manage?
Condo associations shoulder a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to local and state compliance. Each state government has its own laws, codes, and specifications for condos that must be adhered to. Condo associations must also constantly manage the gray area between owner, tenant, and jurisdiction of the association. Taxes must also be completed and filed either quarterly or yearly.
All of these vital and complicated tasks can require the expertise of a knowledgeable professional.
While laws and tax requirements can be learned by volunteers hoping to self manage their condo association, sometimes it is best to let full-time legal experts and accountants handle these tasks. If you hire a property management company, they should be able to take care of these complex matters for your association.
Even if you hire a third property management group to assist with compliance, these codes and laws can be learned by the condo association. In fact, it is in their best interest to know the requirements and if their buildings are up to code.
For self managed condo associations, some members may have the appropriate knowledge to handle legal matters and taxes for the association. You could also work with an accountant or lawyer that you hire yourself.
In spite of any other legal knowledge, the condo association should be familiar with state and local laws for condos to insure the association’s compliance. Governing documents should also be made available for both the association and all owners.
Good record keeping and responsibility are necessary whether you choose self managed condo association software or a management company. Your association may find a third-party management company to be additional work to deal with if you are confident in your association’s knowledge and organizational skills.
Finding a solution to your condo association’s unique situation will be a journey, but once you consider your association’s needs, expertise, and experience, the solution will be apparent.