Board members discuss HOA myths at a conference tableWhen considering professional management or self-management, the most effective boards arm themselves with research and facts to help them determine the best support for their homeowners association (HOA) or condominium community. Read on to learn the truth behind 7 common property management myths to help you make the right choice.

Myth #1: Community associations that hire a professional management company lose control over operations, staffing and general decisions.

FACT: Your HOA or condominium board is the decision-making body that works to make the best choices based on the community’s interests and its governing documents. That doesn’t change when you hire a professional management company. In fact, your management company is designed to help empower your board for decision-making. When it comes to major decisions like hiring staff, investing in capital improvements, and implementing new policies, your management company should equip you with the support, expertise and best practices needed to effectively run your community. By taking on practical tasks like arranging staff interviews and participating in property tours, they also provide you with the bandwidth needed to make thoughtful and purposeful decisions.

Myth #2: Professional management services are unaffordable. Community associations on a tight budget cannot cover these costs.  

FACT: When it comes to the value gained by bringing on a management company, oftentimes the cost of those services is negligible in the long run. While some boards might see a professional management partner’s contract as being too expensive, there are many opportunities and long-term savings that come with the partnership. A professional management partner can support with board education and administration, as well as staffing, training, developing and managing employee-related claims, which mean significant savings for an HOA or condo community. They can even offer guidance on revenue-generating opportunities. For instance, FirstService Residential-managed properties have access to FirstService Financial, which leverages its scale to eliminate unnecessary bank fees and help increase interest income on reserve fund investments. An effective management company will have the experience and industry relationships to help save your HOA or condo community money and ultimately enhance service levels, property values and the resident experience.

"Running a community association demands a lot of time and effort from the board of directors," said Christopher L. Pappas, senior vice president at FirstService Residential. "We're dedicated to providing the board of directors with the support and resources they need to perform their jobs more effectively, which helps make their lives easier."   

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Myth #3: Unless the community or high-rise is complex, the community association doesn’t need professional management support. The board and manager can handle everything.

FACT: No matter the size or complexity of your HOA or condo community, doing it all yourself isn’t always the best option. Handling resident feedback, communicating tough decisions and managing financials can take a toll on your board and manager. Without support from a management company that has resources and expertise in areas like HR and accounting, your board and manager are at a higher risk of burnout and making uninformed decisions that can negatively impact your HOA or condo community. This can result in frequent board and manager turnover or challenges like late vendor payments, inadequate staffing, and even legal challenges.

Myth #4: Large management companies can’t offer the personalized service and solutions that community associations need.

FACT: Many boards think that they will get lost in the shuffle if they partner with a large management company. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Large management companies are equipped with the specialized knowledge, expertise, and personnel needed to create customized solutions. Because of their size and scale, they often have dedicated finance, administrative and procurement teams that support your HOA or condo community. Plus, large management companies have access to a network of local and national resources that can provide additional support when unique challenges arise. For instance, your HOA or condo community may be considering a water sensor system that another property managed by the same large company already successfully implemented. Your manager and management team can reach out to them immediately for expertise and guidance. Finally, the best property management companies also have dedicated lifestyle divisions designed to handle the needs of highly amenitized high-rises and HOAs, such as food and beverage operations, spa and wellness amenities, and resident events.

"Our size works to our advantage,” said Edwin Lugo, vice president at FirstService Residential. "It’s actually key to our success. We leverage our resources network throughout the US and Canada to provide communities with the most comprehensive support possible."

MYTH #5: A strong manager is all a successful community association needs.

FACT: While your HOA or condo manager is essential to a well-run community association, they are most effective when paired with a management company’s support and resources. Even the most experienced managers cannot be experts in every facet of community association management, particularly in specialized areas like accounting, insurance, HR and project administration. Your professional management partner should have in-house subject matter experts and resources to guide your board and manager. This support is key to avoiding manager burnout.

MYTH #6: The board will be forced to use vendors that their management company chooses.

FACT: As mentioned in Myth #1, your board is the sole decision-making body – and that applies to vendor selection as well. An ethical management company will never ask or encourage you to work with a vendor with whom they already have a relationship. Instead, a reputable and seasoned management company will leverage their resources and experience with vendors and the RFP process to help your board determine the right vendors to meet your HOA or condo community’s needs. This is why it’s especially important to work with a management company that has a vast portfolio and experience working with different vendors, boards and property types. They can provide a wealth of information to help guide your decision-making process.

MYTH #7: Once a management company is brought on board, they effectively own your association’s data.

FACT: Fear not. An HOA or condo always owns its own data. Your property management company protects and maintains your data, but it does not own it. A professional management company will store your data on their software or through third-party software, which can be easily exported and uploaded to a new system safely and securely.

Partnering with a professional management company is often met with hesitation and concerns. However, not everything is as cut and dried as it seems. There are many myths associated with professional management. As always, it’s critical to be aligned with your fellow board members, equip yourself with the facts about professional management and thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of each option.  

Contact us today to discuss further and see if a professional management solution is right for your association needs.

Monday January 23, 2023