Despite its size and pervasiveness, the property management industry is a mystery to many people. They aren’t sure exactly what a property management company does that they can’t do on their own, the benefits of partnering with a quality property management firm or what to look for when shopping for one.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: In Canada alone, the property management industry generates about $6 billion in annual revenue with a healthy annual growth rate of 3.4 percent. How many multibillion-dollar industries have basic roles and business functions that are a relative mystery to people, including their own potential clients?
To help clear up the picture of what a property management company does and how its services can benefit your condominium corporation, we decided it was time to bust a few myths about it. Read on to get a better idea of the industry.
1. Myth: The property management company determines how the community is run.
Fact: The board of directors of the condominium corporation sets the policies for the community and determines the penalties for noncompliance. All of the rules set out in the corporation’s governing documents are provided to the residents. The property management company’s role is to make sure that the policies are enforced consistently and fairly, but the board creates them.
2. Myth: All that really matters is the community manager – the companies are all the same.
Fact: It is critical that the community manager assigned to your condominium is the right fit for your board. However, it is just as important that the property management company supports that manager with the right resources, technology and well-trained staff. The company must invest in the success of your board. The best property management companies provide your condo with high-quality individuals backed by a broad depth of professional resources, including ongoing training.
3. Myth: Professionals don’t want to be property managers.
Fact: There are thousands of property managers in Canada who are highly trained and licensed according to the requirements of their province. The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) promotes the professionalism of property managers in Canada and has chapters in both south and north Alberta.
A good community manager is experienced in long-term planning, project management, consensus building, nurturing relationships and conducting extensive analyses to uncover ways to save corporations money. It is a career that requires the art of people skills as well as the science of strategic thinking. Excellent community managers are also backed by strong internal support teams, which helps them manage every aspect of the job focusing on compliance, preventative maintenance, safety, energy and insurance.
4. Myth: We won’t be able to choose our own vendors anymore.
Fact: It’s no secret that these kinds of relationships can yield cost-saving benefits for communities. But the fallacy here is the idea that the property management company can force a board or a community to do anything. That’s just not the case. The best property management company will suggest a selection based on a variety of options and help analyze spending versus value. However, the ultimate decision lies with the board.
5. Myth: Boards don’t have the ability to get anything out of a property manager.
Fact: Most boards conduct themselves according to strict professional and ethical codes. Because these are elected volunteer positions, members tend to commit themselves to the role with the highest standards of dedication. This involvement is enhanced further by a great property management company. The company helps to clearly define roles, offers respectful advice and is steadfast in implementing the policies set forth by the board.
6. Myth: Small property management companies give better service than big ones.
Fact: Great service is more than personalized attention. It also involves the ability to effect the positive changes you want to make in your community. And that takes resources. So when choosing a good property management firm, look for one that combines the best of both worlds: local market knowledge and national backing. That way you get real community insight, along with the leverage to negotiate contracts in your board’s favor and the resources it takes to enforce your policies fully and efficiently.
Furthermore, a smaller company is forced to operate as a “jack of all trades” to all community types. A larger firm, on the other hand, offers specialized services based on divisions (such as townhome communities, active adult communities, high-rises, developer communities, etc.). It is thereby more suited to offer services tailored to your community’s specific needs.
7. Myth: Hiring a property management company will cost us control of our building and staff.
Fact: Actually, the opposite is true. When you partner with a reputable property management company, you benefit from deeper resources. That means a greater ability to enforce the policies set forth by the board. So by partnering with a great property management company, the result is really more control and enhanced effectiveness.
8. Myth: Property management companies hurt your bottom line.
Fact: The core mission of the best property management company is efficiency. The company is there to implement the board’s policies more effectively so that board members can focus on the importance of policymaking. The result is always a savings of time.
In most cases, the community manager will also conduct contract analyses and leverage relationships to negotiate lower fees for services. This will more than pay for the property management company’s costs. Either way – through time or cost savings – a good property management company will bring value to your community.
Myths make great bedtime stories, but they have no place among your condo corporation’s board members. For more information on how partnering with a professional property management company can enhance your property values and the lifestyles of your residents, contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading property management company.