5 Qualities To Consider When Hiring a Property Management CompanyYour homeowner association (HOA) board has decided to hire a property management company. That’s a big step, and one not to be taken lightly. You might think because your board made this decision your community’s future is in good hands. But has your board done its research? Are they confident the company they’re considering is one that will meet your community’s needs? There are common mistakes HOA board members make when choosing a property management company that you will read about below. Each of these five areas includes advice to help make an informed decision and hire the property management company that‘s right for your community.
  1. Value vs. Price: You know the old adage “you get what you pay for.” It’s often heard for a reason, and in most cases - it’s true. While getting a great deal is attractive for anyone, it shouldn’t be your only priority when hiring a property management company. The best property management companies might charge more for their services, but the value that you get in return should more than make up for it. Your property management company will aim to get your community cost savings, from analyzing potential contracts to leveraging their business relationships in order to get better prices for services such as trash pickup and other contract services. You should have access to better banking and investment programs, and your property management company could help you develop your annual budget and maintain a healthy reserve fund. These tasks alone will typically neutralize the money spent on their fee for services.
  2. Experience Is Everything: Think about your last job interview. Did you present a resume and answer questions about your background and experience? Of course you did. So why wouldn’t you do the same when hiring a property management company? It’s crucial to find out how long the company has been in business, how many properties they represent, and the accomplishments of the property managers and regional directors. You also should ask about other neighboring properties the company manages, their experience in managing projects and upgrades,  and what they offer in cost savings programs. You need to find out everything you can, and compare the company’s qualities with others you are considering. Asking for client references could also help you make your final decision.
  3. Large or Small: It’s easy to idealize the mom-n-pop-style businesses, the ones you’re sure can give you intimate, personal service. But do they have the resources and leverage your community needs to thrive? It’s also easy to throw barbs at the big guys, because you might think you’ll only hear from them once a month or when it’s time to pay bills. But the best property management companies can give you the friendly service the smaller companies offer, as well as invaluable amenities they just can’t match. Such amenities may include preferred banking options, the ability to leverage better prices from vendors, and access to a large and highly trained talent pool to help the HOA board address their diverse needs. Often, smaller companies struggle to meet all of the needs of a community due to a lack of resources, and that could make you and your neighbors suffer as a result.
  4. Proactive, 24/7 Communication: Life doesn’t operate on a 9-to-5 basis. Things can happen in your community at any time, and knowing that you can rely on your property management company around the clock is vital. Make sure your property management company provides technology so you can access the appropriate personnel and immediately be alerted of emergency situations when they arise. Another desired feature is a 24-hour call center, where trained customer care operators can answer residents’ questions any time of the day on topics such as account balances, the hours of amenity facilities, and how they can replace a key fob. Knowing your property management company is there for you at all hours should put everyone’s minds at ease.
  5. A Dedicated Team To Count On: Yes, your property manager will be a close partner, making that person a great asset. But dig deeper. What else does your property management company have to offer? The best management companies come equipped with an entire team of professionals designated to help make each aspect of your community work. These experts include regional directors whose experience in the field can help to guide your community’s needs; financial management and administration teams; and specialists who handle human resources, warranty, and insurance services. Additionally, you want to choose a company that will offer online portal services designed specifically for your community, with services such as customer care, and after-hours emergency support. Picking the right property management company comes with more perks than you might have imagined.
Hiring a property management company is a major responsibility, with the community’s money and well-being at stake. Asking the right questions, doing your research, and avoiding some of the most common mistakes can ensure you hire a company you can trust for years. For more information, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.
Wednesday July 02, 2014