The Home Owner Association Management Search
In searching for the right management company, keep in mind that managers and management companies may have different skills and specialty areas. You must spend your time analyzing your needs so as to narrow the field and be able to find the right management company for your association.
The search process is a two-way transaction. Not only is the association looking for the best manager but the company or candidate is also looking for the best association. You may have to sell the association to your choice candidates.
This is a very good opportunity for an association to assess the nature and scope of the job they need to be performed. You should look for a person or management company with the right set of skills to tend to your association’s particular needs.
You will need several things from the different management firms, including, a description of their services, experience, references, charges, transition schedule, etc. We will cover these in detail further on.
Once you narrowed your selection to two or three candidates invite them to give a presentation and follow that with questions (this should last at least a couple of hours). Interviews serve a number of purposes as they provide important information to both parties. It’s like marriage…a long term relationship that should not be taken lightly.
Selecting a firm
Important things to keep in mind to help you in your selection: years of experience, location with regards to your community, client mix, client loyalty, fees, staff offered, leadership skills, problem solving abilities and capability and experience with public relations and lobbying as well as legal and accounting support.
Price alone should not be the determining factor. A company may offer low fees but the quality and quantity of its services may be equally low and you will end up “getting what you pay for.”
You should determine whether there will be an on-site manager or a roving manager, and if so who will it be and how much time that manager will devote to your property. Will he or she be responsible for other associations as well as yours? If so, how many?
Once you select a management company, a contract must be signed between the company and your association listing all terms and conditions, including fees and charges. If the association attorney is not drafting the contract, make sure he/she reviews it before you sign.
Main points to discuss
Financial Management and Reporting: Associations rise or fall on how money is handled. Does the management company provide timely financial reports? How are invoices approved and when are bills paid? What procedure is used to enforce collections on delinquent owners?
Rules Enforcement: What procedures are followed to ensure compliance of the rules?
Handling Information and Maintenance Requests: Does the manager have a written tracking system for documenting requests from start to finish? Is there a reliable 24 hour emergency response system?
Maintenance Supervision: How often does the manager tour the property to assess maintenance needs? How are maintenance requests handled? Are jobs performed with in house employees or outside contractors? How are major repair contracts handled?
Meeting Coordination & Attendance: Does the manager coordinate board and homeowner meetings, send out notices and agendas? Does the manager attend all such meetings?
Budgeting: Does the manager assist in preparing the annual budget and make recommendations on ways to cut costs?
Providing Sales & Closing Documents: Does the manager have a timely process for delivery information to escrow, title and lenders?
Style & Personality: This can be an extremely important factor in your decision. Is the manager self assured, knowledgeable, professional and friendly? Cool under fire? Speak his or her mind? The Board needs a manager who will shoot straight and honestly.
Office: Is it conveniently located so that homeowners have access to documents, keys, gate openers, etc.? Do they have the equipment to handle business efficiently like computers, faxes, copiers, postage meters, pagers and cell phones?
References: Request the names and phone numbers of three current association clients.
Client Composition: Does the firm handle communities similar to yours? Are they experienced with the kind of issues you would expect them to work on?
Additional questions to ask:
- How do your services compare to those of other companies?
- What is the scope of services?
- How is the initial transition handled?
- What do you understand the role of the Board to be and what do you expect from them?
- Will costs be maintained?
- Have you ever lost a job? Tell us why
- How does your company make its profit?
- What will the Association win it we hire you?
What to provide to the selected companies
You must be ready to prepare a Request for Proposal, which should include:
- Condo or HOA documents, bylaws, rules and regulations
- Policies and procedures,
- Publications, newsletters, brochures, etc.
- Recent financial statements,
- Audits and tax returns,
- Operating budget
- List of officers and how to contact them
- Brief history of your organization
- Past management and how services were perceived
- Purpose and goals of the association
- Description of the operating plan
- Summary of your concerns and needs
- Characteristics of your homeowners/residents
- Description of the leadership structure,
- List of meetings held within each year
- Property plans, layouts, drawings