As managing communities becomes more complex, more Boards are finding that they prefer to hire a quality what to expect from your property management companyproperty management firm than to self-manage. It’s not an easy decision for many Boards to make, but it is a wise decision and the best one for all involved parties.

Small communities are sometimes able to self-manage with little trouble. In larger communities, however, Boards often find that managing their communities requires resources, experience and knowledge that they don’t possess. It’s also a lot of work to run an association! Volunteers often find that managing an association takes a lot more time than they bargained for, and that’s time that takes away from the lifestyle and quality of life they want to enjoy. Additionally, as properties begin to age, they require ever-increasing amounts of work and time for maintenance.

The outcome? Many community association Boards decide that hiring the right property management company can be the difference between failure and success in their communities. Once you decide to make the leap to professional management, what can you reasonably expect from your property management company? Check out our list of the top ten things you should expect from a quality, professional property management company.
  1. Perhaps the most difficult task that Boards that self-manage face is the financial administration of their association. Creating a budget and managing a reserve fund is hard enough – add collecting past due fees from friends and neighbors, and it becomes a difficult task for most Board members. A professional property management company is the buffer between the Board and residents in financial matters. One of their chief roles is to serve as an impartial third party that carries out the Board’s wishes, including collecting fees. Because the company has no personal stake in the process, they can be more effective in collecting fees than the Board can. Additionally, having a property management company handle your association’s finances mitigates the risk of fraud.
  2. A good property management company will analyze your entire operation and implement strategies to reduce costs and help the association save money. One example: your property management company may suggest overhauling your common area lighting system with a more energy-efficient setup. This will require an upfront investment, but will result in significant savings in maintenance and electric bills, ultimately saving money and increasing your property values. With increased savings in certain operating areas, your community may be able to invest in projects that have been put on the back burner without additional cost to residents or needing a special assessment. When supported by a property management company that has significant project management experience, knowledge and the proper resources and vendor relationships, your projects are more likely to be completed on time and successfully than if you “go it alone.” This ultimately translates into dollars saved for your association. 
  3. Your property management company will review your association documents, rules and policies] to make sure that they are clearly defined and communicated to residents. This will allow the staff to ensure that these rules and policies are enforced in a consistent and timely manner.  Fairness in policy compliance is critical; residents who believe they won’t be treated fairly have little reason to comply with a rule set forth by the Board. It’s important to point out that, although the property management company is tasked with enforcing rules and policies, it is the association Board that establishes the rules and policies that govern a building or community.
  4. In addition to enforcing policy compliance and managing the association’s finances, the property management company will also have in-depth knowledge of industry and state regulations and laws specific to associations. This is not something that can be reasonably expected of volunteer Board members. A property management company will be both more knowledgeable about regulations and connected to other appropriate professionals if additional legal guidance is needed.
  5. Speaking of connections…a large professional property management company will have a circle of trusted vendors and partners ready to provide services and products your community will need, often at better rates, thanks to the management company’s buying power. Your property management company will review the rates you are currently paying for certain services, and if needed, negotiate lower rates and/or better service levels for you. This can result in significant savings for individual residents and for the association as a whole.
  6. A professional property management company will make it a priority to ensure that the association’s liability exposure is low, and that may be one of the greatest benefits to hiring one. For example, payroll is a complex process. The management company will take the burden of legal compliance in paying and managing employees from the association Board. From wage and hour laws and health coverage plans to hiring, disciplining and terminating employees – being the boss isn’t an easy task. The right property management company will handle all of the minutiae of personnel management, freeing the Board to focus on other issues.
  7. While it may be possible to put a dollar value on many of the services provided by a property management company, there is nothing quite as valuable as the experience and expertise offered by a well-trained professional staff. Not only will they possess in-depth knowledge about most issues related to maintaining and managing your property, the managers also receive regular training required by the professional certifications and designations needed to do the job. No price can be put on their experience and education.
  8. Maintaining a properly correctly includes everything from maintaining the grounds to implementing a maintenance plan that will, over time, result in cost savings for the association. The preservation of aging properties now requires access to specific expertise in multiple professional disciplines, which is too much to expect for volunteer Board members, but is within the scope of services for a good professional property management company. A beautifully maintained community is not only appealing to the current residents, will also translate into higher property values for everyone within it, as well as an enhanced lifestyle for all residents.
  9. Of course, there’s the human element to property management. Property management is a “people” business with the primary purposes of keeping residents happy and their property values high. A good property management company is going to make their community one that residents are proud to call home. From maintenance to making sure that the community has the best amenities possible, a professional property management company will do its best to make residents love their community.
  10. Property management is not a one person job. It takes a team of experts behind the scenes, armed with a depth of resources, to support on-site staff to properly manage a community. Quality property management companies should offer your Board their expertise in safety, banking and insurance, finance, talent acquisition and development, communication and more. Taking advantage of those resources allows the Board to focus on other crucial tasks.

Hiring a property management company to handle the day-to-day operations of your property can mean several things for your community. For the Board who is charged with making the decision, however, it means being confident that your community is in good hands – hands that are experienced, capable and prepared to handle whatever comes their way, and eager to do so. For more information about the benefits of partnering with a property management company, contact FirstService Residential, Georgia’s premier property management company.
Friday October 21, 2016