It can be a daunting task to select a management company for your condominium corporation. Of course you want to find a manager that will take pride in serving your community.

What are the important questions to ask? Following are 10 that will help you compare the companies in your local area and make an informed decision.

1. How long has your company been managing condominium properties in Alberta?
It is important to select a company that has many years of experience managing condominium corporations in Alberta. The management company will be a resource to the Board of Directors and owners of the community. The manager must be able to provide accurate and reliable guidance in the areas of accounting, bylaw interpretation, the Condominium Property Act of Alberta and maintenance. A professional management company that has been around for decades will have the depth of experience that is required to successfully lead Boards through the many decisions they will have to make.

2. Which is better, a small, family-owned management company or a larger firm?
The important thing is to determine which company is passionate about being the best at what they do. Some people feel that a smaller company will provide better service to the management of their condominium property. This is not necessarily true. A small company often does not have the resources, both human and technological, that an established and experienced management company has. Managing condominium corporations is complex and requires solid leadership, effective communication, accurate financial reporting, in-depth knowledge of regulatory and legal requirements, maintenance programs, trusted suppliers and 24-hour emergency response. A management company with vast experience and a well-trained, customer-focused team will provide the attentive service and know how to address any situation that may arise.
3. How will I communicate with the management team?
Relationships based on respect, trust and effective communication are the cornerstone of the success of a great management company. The ability to get in touch with someone when you need help or have questions is important for good customer service. Professional management companies will provide several communication options in addition to the basic telephone and email. The best will offer technological services such as community websites, property-specific databases to answer questions, and direct lines to customer care representatives.
4. Can you provide references for your service from properties similar to ours that you manage? 
Clients must be able to trust their manager to do what’s best for their community. Reputable property management companies are guided by their ethics and clients’ interests in everything they do. They will be happy to provide customer references, reviews and testimonials from properties similar to yours. Be sure to contact these references and ask about their experience with the management company and the services they provide.
5. What are the terms of the Management Agreement?
A property management agreement sets out the terms by which the management company will fulfill its obligations to the condominium corporation. Be sure to review the contract thoroughly to ensure you understand what the manager will do. Most residential management companies have penalties or fees if you end your contract before the term is up. There is usually a notice period stated in the agreement for termination of the contract. Often there are benefits to renewing a contract for a longer term.
6. Which management services are included and which are at an extra cost?
Full-service residential management can mean very different things within the industry. Ask the manager to provide a list of services that are included and those that are not. Knowing what you will pay monthly and what the potential extra charges are will help you differentiate one company from another and make a wise choice for your corporation. It is also important to ask how the organization supports its community managers, such as accounting, administrative support, training, technology and professional services.
7. How will a community manager be chosen for my condominium corporation?
All multi-family or multi-use properties, whether townhome, high-rise, commercial or large HOA communities, are unique. A professional property management company has managers that specialize in each type of condominium. Often one team of managers will specialize in high-rises, while another within the company are HOA experts. In this way, the management company can easily assign the manager that will best meet the needs of your condominium corporation. There should be property management teams that specialize in each type of community and are supplemented by an experienced executive management, accounting department and support staff.
8. What qualifications do your community managers have?
You'll want to be sure that the managers who will be working with your residential property are knowledgeable about all aspects of condominium management. When it comes to the day-to-day business of managing your community, it is important that your management company provides experienced management teams with depth of experience and support. In the condominium world, the laws and regulations change constantly. The best property managers stay up-to-date by participating in industry and in-house training, professional memberships and affiliations, and team collaboration.
9. How do your managers address property maintenance issues?
The best management companies are accountable. When they face any challenge they see it through to resolution with perseverance, integrity and open communication. Being prepared with preventative maintenance programs and emergency response is something a professional property management company takes seriously. Anything can, and does, happen at any time and the manager has to be ready and able to respond. Does the property management company have their own maintenance crew? Do they work with trusted contractors and suppliers? Will they get multiple quotes from reliable contractors and negotiate and recommend the option that gives your corporation the best value? The best property management company will save your community money by ensuring projects are completed properly and at a fair price that provides value to the owners.
10. As my property management company, how often will you communicate with me?
There are many ways that a good management company will communicate with its Board members. They will send monthly reports and financial statements. Their community managers will attend regular board meetings as a resource for the Board and to be proactively involved with the needs of the community. Professional property management companies provide 24-hour emergency service because they know that they must be available and responsive at any hour of the day or day of the week. Look for a condominium management company that has a customer care center with specialists that can answer residents’ questions, usually on the first call.
To learn more about what a professional property management company can do for your condominium corporation or HOA, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company, by filling out this form today.
Tuesday April 29, 2014