Debunking the Eight Biggest Myths About Partnering with a Property Management Company

Posted on Tuesday June 10, 2014

Here’s one of the great ironies of the property management industry: though it’s incredibly big, it’s still a big mystery to most people.
Let’s let the numbers do the talking. In Canada, the industry generates about $6 billion in annual revenue with a healthy annual growth rate of 3.4%. In the United States, 24% of homes are part of associations, with a total value of $4.65 trillion and $65 billion collected in assessments.
So ask yourself this question: how many multi-billion dollar industries do you know whose basic business functions are a relative mystery to people, including the potential clients the industry is designed to serve?
In the interest of transforming mystery into a portrait of the industry’s reality, you’re invited to consider (that is, re-consider) these eight myths about property management firms.

1. Myth: It’s a thankless job, so no real professionals want to do it.
Fact: There are thousands of property managers in North America who are highly trained and licensed according to the requirements of their province or state. The discipline of property management involves long-term planning, project management, consensus-building, nurturing relationships, and conducting extensive analyses to uncover ways to save clients money. That makes it a job that involves the art of people skills as well as the science of strategic thinking. Together, that’s just the kind of challenge that many of the professional world’s most ambitious career-builders seek. An excellent Strata Manager is backed by a strong internal support team, which helps them manage every aspect of your property by focusing on compliance, preventative maintenance, safety, energy and insurance.
2. Myth: The property management company decides how to run the Strata Corporation.
Fact: The elected Council of a Strata Corporation makes decisions on the daily operations of the property. The Strata Manager is an agent of the Strata Corporation and implements the decisions made by the Council and Ownership, while advising the Strata Council on helpful strategies to properly maintain the property while acting in compliance with the Strata Property Act. You community’s bylaws are an item determined by the developer and outlined in your Disclosure Statement at the time of purchase. The Ownership may amend bylaws by a vote at a general meeting to reflect the needs of your community.  

3. Myth: All property management companies are the same. All that really matters is the Strata Manager you receive.
Fact: While it is important that the specific Strata Manager assigned to your Strata Corporation is a good fit and able to effectively execute the vision of the Strata Council, their impact could be limited if the property management company they work for doesn’t support them with staff, resources and technology. You know the difference between trying to do a job with a company that invests in your success and one that doesn’t. It’s the same for property management firms; the best ones combine high-quality individuals with a broad depth of professional resources. That way the best people can achieve their goals and provide the best service to your Strata.

4. Myth: Hiring a property management company will make us lose 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 affect the policies set forth by the Strata Council. So by partnering with a great property management company, the result is really more control and enhanced effectiveness.

5. Myth: Property management companies hurt your bottom line.
Fact: The core mission of the best property management company is efficiency. They’re there to implement the Strata Council’s policies more effectively so that Council Members can focus on the importance of policymaking. The result is a savings of time. In most cases, the Strata Manager will also conduct contract analyses and leverage relationships to negotiate lower fees for services. Either way – through time- or cost-savings – a good property management company will bring value to your community.

6. Myth: We’ll be forced to use vendors that are partnered with the property management company, or that are owned by them.
Fact: It’s no secret that these kinds of relationships can yield cost-saving benefits for Strata Corporations. But the fallacy here is the idea that the property management company can force a Strata Councilor Ownership to do anything. That’s just not the case. The best property management company will suggest a selection based on a variety of options, but the ultimate vendor decision lies with the Council.

7. Myth: Strata Councils are too unprofessional to get anything out of a property manager.
Fact: Most Councils conduct themselves according to strict codes of professionalism. Because these are volunteer positions, Council 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 that helps clearly define roles, offers respectful advice and is steadfast in implementing the policies set forth by the Council.

8. Myth: A small property management company gives better service than the big guys.
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 Council’s favor and the resources it takes to enforce your policies fully and efficiently. Furthermore, while a smaller company is forced to operate as a “jack of all trades” to all Strata types, a larger firm offers specialized services based on divisions (such as mixed-use, sectioned, and phased properties) and is thereby more suited to offer services tailored to your Strata Corporation’s specific needs.
For more information on what the right property management company can do for your Strata or Council, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.

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