How to Choose the Best Property Management Company - 10 Questions You Need to Ask Today
Choosing the right property management company is a big decision for your strata. The right company will enhance your property values, optimize your budget, improve your residents’ lifestyles, minimize risk and maximize safety, all while delivering exceptional service. The wrong company can cause financial problems, strife within your council and discord among your residents. It’s important to research carefully before making this decision.
So how do you determine which property management company will provide your strata with the best service? Here are 10 important questions that you should ask when consulting with strata management companies to help you make an informed decision.
1. How many properties do you manage?
There is no right or wrong answer, but a lower ratio of properties to your strata manager often means that your manager will have more time for you and your needs, and will be able to provide owners with the best service. Sometimes, residents assume that a smaller company size equates to more dedicated service. While you may think you would be better served by a small, family-run business, this isn’t always the case. Small companies can be stretched thin, with one manager responsible for many properties, often with no back-up support should the manager become ill or need to take time off. On the other hand, a larger company will have a much greater depth of experience and resources, including established vendor relationships, which allows them to deliver better service to your community.
2. What qualifications do your property managers have?
When it comes to the day-to-day operations of managing your community, you'll want to ensure that the managers who will be working with your property have the right training and qualifications to deal with the situations that inevitably arise. Look for companies that offer experienced management teams and which provide opportunities for professional development and leadership training. Because laws and regulations change constantly, ensure that your strata manager is up to date through professional memberships, development and training.
3. Will I have easy access to the management team?
Being able to contact someone who can handle problems quickly and make decisions is essential. The right property management company will provide you with various methods of contact. Look for companies that have invested in property management software that allows for direct communication with the management team when needed.
4. How often will you communicate with me?
Look for a company that sets up a regular schedule of communication, including directives lists, monthly financial statements and building health checks. Attending regular council meetings is an essential part of providing the best service and managing a property well. Additionally, the best property management companies should be accessible 24/7 and 365 days a year to answer routine questions quickly. Look for strata management companies with a 24-hour customer care centre, which provides answers to owners’ questions while freeing up the manager to manage the property.
5. How will a strata manager be selected for my community?
All strata corporations are different. To provide the best service, property management companies should have the right manager to fit the needs of your community. For example, if many of your community’s residents speak a foreign language – the right property management company will be able to staff your community with a manager who is fluent in that language and can communicate with and understand the needs of your residents. A large company with a depth of resources will better be able to help find the right manager for your strata.
6. What services are included?
Many organizations may call themselves full-service residential management companies However, this can mean very different things within the industry. Will the company help with strategic planning, arranging preventative maintenance and fee collection? Obtain a list of what services are included before you commit to a contract. It is important to understand what you will pay both upfront and on a recurring basis so you can make the best decision for your community. Finally, be certain to ask about other resources available to support your manager, including warranty services, human resources, insurance, front desk (concierge) services and training.
7. What are the terms of the contract?
A full-service property management agency agreement is usually a comprehensive contract that covers all aspects of your relationship with your strata management company. A strong agreement will outline the responsibilities of your management team and identify your strata corporation as the primary client. To help strata councils compare property management companies fairly, many strata agents in BC use a standardized agreement prepared for members of SPABC. This allows strata councils to better understand and compare the services available to them.
8. Do you have references?
The best property management companies will be able to easily provide customer references, reviews and testimonials from the stratas they manage. Pay special attention to the reviews of services that are most important to you or from properties similar to yours.
9. How do you handle maintenance issues when they arise?
A good property management company will have procedures in place that clearly define how they'll respond to maintenance and any other emergency issues that may arise. As we all know, these issues come up when they are the most inconvenient. Find out if a property management company has an after-hours emergency plan and if they work with preferred vendors. Will they obtain multiple quotes, negotiate the best price and pay bills on your behalf? The right property management company for you will be invested in saving your community money and provide you with cost-effective maintenance solutions that preserve your community’s assets.
10. How long have you been managing properties?
Property management companies may come and go, and this can leave you and your council in a bind. Finding a property management company that has been in the business for a long time is an excellent way to ensure that your company is here to stay. Hiring a professional property management company with decades of expertise is helpful if your community needs legal, accounting, emergency response and maintenance expertise. The biggest benefit by far for your community is that a company with longevity has most likely encountered and solved any issue or problem your community has; there’s nothing they likely haven’t seen before.
Getting answers to these 10 questions will help your strata council hire the best management company. The right company will be able to deliver exceptional service while enhancing your property values and improving your resident lifestyles.