As the Greater Philadelphia real estate market continues its resurgence, more families are finding themselves in developments, buildings, or neighborhoods with condominium and homeowner associations. Which, of course, means the need to hire property management companies for maintenance and administration roles that support the Association’s board of directors.
Property management companies come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one thing you should know: for the most part, all of them offer the same core set of services.
- They pay your bills
- They meet with your board
- They interface with homeowners
- They do inspections
- They organize contracts and projects
- They work with contractors to get improvements and maintenance done
Large or small, high tech or low tech, your property management company is the catalyst to ensuring your Association can run seamlessly, and continue to make your community a valuable place to live.
But, what happens when things do go wrong, and your property management company needs to step in and help solve a problem? Or, what about making sure the day-to-day operations continue to run smoothly when your Association elects a new board? These instances are where the size and type of property management company you’re working with are crucial to success. And here’s a bit of info for you: in these following three areas, working with a smaller property management company will be the better choice every time.
Problem 1: Accessibility
When you need your property manager’s ear for whatever reason, it’s both pleasant and efficient to get a live person on the phone to discuss your needs and get a response. Leaving voicemails or messages with assistants in a call center means delaying results, especially if your property manager has to run the question to his boss. Now, that might be fine in some cases where an immediate response isn’t necessary, but it also means you have to mentally keep the issue “open” until you hear back from your property manager.
Smaller property management companies typically give you a direct connection to the people in charge. They’ll answer the phone (or email) quickly, and get results so you don’t have to carry the mental baggage of a loose end.
Problem 2: Accountability
We touched on this challenge above, the issue of having access to someone at your property management company who can understand your request and make a decision on the spot. Larger property management companies may offer more benefits at competitive prices; however, there is a trade off with a combination of corporate structure, customer service technology, and newer property managers (on the whole, this industry has a high turnover rate), leaving you to wonder who actually knows how to resolve your Association’s request. These structures aren’t a bad thing; they allow larger companies the ability to streamline their operations and offer more benefits at competitive prices. But, just like working with any large corporation, there is a trade-off of efficiency and tech for less personalized solutions.
Smaller property management companies work directly with their Association clients, which means a quicker response time. They are empowered to give you an answer faster, and in a format that’s more customized to your specific situation.
Problem 3: Understanding Financials
As you read in the above section, technology and efficiency are a core part of a larger property management company’s service mix. There’s no place this becomes more noticeable than in the preparation of financials. Generally, the accounting is performed in a centralized location by a team of accountants. Though there are advantages to this “assembly line” production of financials, the downside is that the accountant is rarely available to speak to with any questions and the manager is removed from the process.
In smaller property management companies, the accountants interact directly with the managers in the course of the financial preparation. This process provides the manager with a better understanding of financials, it also provides insight to the accountants on the unique needs of each community.