Master-planned communities are large-scale developments with a variety of amenities that clearly separate them from a standard housing subdivision. This can include a number of neighborhoods, sub-divisions and recreational facilities, such as parks, golf courses, lakes, bike paths and jogging trails, all falling under one umbrella community. The focus, not surprisingly, is on providing its residents with a certain level of convenience, lifestyle and quality of life. 
Most master-planned communities offer homebuyers a range of residential options. From apartments to townhomes to single-family homes, all with varying price points. These residences are often located in neighborhoods within the larger community, and can even be developed by multiple builders.
All homeowners who belong to a master-planned community are members of its master association, and as such are responsible for complying with its governing documents and paying its dues. It is then the responsibility of the master association to maintain common areas such as roads, entrances and amenities.

As multiple neighborhoods may exist within that master-planned community, there may be separate sub-associations, or “subs,” within the master association, each of which come with their own policies, governing documents, architectural guidelines and provisions, and dues. Thus, if you own a home in a stand-alone sub, you not only belong to the master association, but that sub-association as well. And that’s where it sometimes gets tricky. 

Each association, whether the master association or the sub-associations is governed by its own Board of Directors. It is the duty of each Board to determine if they will hire a property management company to manage their association professionally, and if so, which company to work with. This may result in different property management companies managing the master association and each individual sub-association.

On the one hand, this set-up can be extremely beneficial if a certain management company has the expertise and experience that specifically meet the needs of the association. But, with multiple property management companies in the mix, there is a lot of room for confusion, especially for residents who may not know which association to contact for what. For example, confusion may arise if, say, a homeowner has a maintenance issue, wants to lodge a complaint, or needs architectural approval. With multiple property managers, how do they know who addresses each issue?

To avoid misunderstanding and conflict, and ultimately maximize value and lifestyle, master associations and sub-associations must work together to achieve their goals. That means sub-associations should set rules that are consistent with those of the master association, and where possible, follow similar procedures as well. And, of course, all associations - and their property management companies -  should be transparent, responsive, cooperative and communicative at all times.

When management companies in master-planned communities have competing agendas, fail to cooperate, or lack the skills and experience to get the job done, nobody benefits. Unfortunately, this happens more than you may think. But what do you do when it does?  
First, if a property management company is not meeting your association’s needs, then you can always replace them with another company that is more experienced, cooperative and capable. But perhaps a better option is for all associations to choose the same management company to work with.

For obvious reasons, when one management company serves all of the associations within one master-planned community, it eliminates conflict and homeowner confusion because subs no longer feel like they have to compete to achieve their goals. Residents then have one reliable source for information and action, which goes a long way in increasing customer satisfaction, building relationships, increasing effectiveness and building homeowner loyalty and engagement.  

But not only residents benefit from having one property management company manage the whole master-planned community and all its subs. The property managers benefit as well because they gain a significant amount of community knowledge and can more readily engage residents, making them more effective in their jobs. The result is a property management company that not only helps each association meet its goals, but also helps the entire master-planned community achieve its vision. That goes a long way to adding value and enhancing the quality of life of all its homeowners—and isn’t that why they chose a master-planned community in the first place?  For more information about master-planned communities and property management, visit FirstService Residential.
Tuesday August 02, 2016