Re: Property or Community Management Hire
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2018 16:46:56 -0800 (PST)
Thanks Christine and Sharon for your helpful input.  Would also love to
hear from others..

On Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 11:51 AM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> On Dec 12, 2018, at 10:20 AM, Christine Johnson <christine-johnson [at] 
> wrote:
> > The quality of the management service you get from an association
> manager or property manager (two different animals), depends not on what
> you pay but on the 1)knowledge and professional care of the manager and 2)
> the support from his/her company provides their managers.
> In support of what Christine advises and based on personal experience, my
> opinion only, others in my community disagree —
> It is  probably not worth your time or money. I don’t know of a management
> company that will do facilities management without also doing the financial
> management, and even then the financial management won’t cover all the
> financial needs.
> We pay $17,300 a year for both financial management and facilities
> management.  In addition to that we have auditors fees and tax return fees.
> Financial management is now done with web services that we could use
> ourselves. Somewhere in the archives is a post about all the things our
> management companies have done with our bills — not paying contracted
> companies without new invoices every month so they won’t return, losing
> utility bills and not noticing that they hadn’t paid them, paying
> inaccurate invoices— one for $4,000 — that they had been told not to pay (a
> note right on the invoice), extra charges for everything they actually do
> like copying invoices, etc.
> I think we have a good financial management department in our current
> company now but I’m not convinced that we couldn’t do it easier ourselves.
> Condo fees are even deposited to a company that provides this service for
> management companies. They don’t do it themselves anymore.
> What the facilities manager can do is give advice, which is usually good
> because it is based on what other communities do or have done — and it is
> comforting to know that  your problem is not unusual and the cost is
> standard.  And they will make phone calls.
> Once you hire  a company, you are assigned a rep. That rep can be good or
> bad and they change frequently—we have had 3 in the last 4 years or so and
> I think we have a good company. It’s very hard to bring a new rep up to
> speed in cohousing, to even understand cohousing. All communities have
> different standards and expectations, but except for celebrity housing,
> cohousing seems to have higher than most. We are certainly more vigilant.
> One manager told us that he sends out financial reports every month and
> meets with the board to discuss them. He said the board members come in
> with the packets unopened, and some are still unopened when they leave.
> Communities we called for references for management companies didn’t know
> much about whether they were doing a good job or not, even when they
> recommended the company.
> They have gotten bids — a mixed bag in terms of whether the process was
> good or not. The rep may not be on site, for example, when bids are
> solicited. How can they ask questions, explain the job thoroughly, or be
> sure the person actually visits the site? They charge $100+ an hour to
> supervise on-site work. They don’t meet workers when they arrive, for
> example, to be sure they know what needs to be done. They do research by
> calling the companies they like and asking what would you do? That may be
> good or bad.
> Example: Our reserves specialist had told us we needed to round off the
> sharp brick edges on top of the short walls around our piazza and tot lot.
> The health dept. would close us down if we left them the way they were.
> Rather than saying the health dept. will never see them, which is true
> until a child is seriously hurt, we got 5 bids from people to fix them.
> They _all_ said that grinding off would not work. They wanted to add tiles
> with round corners on the tops — very expensive. They gave a lot of reasons
> why. During the next reserve study,  we relayed our experience. The
> specialist said that’s because they don’t have the equipment to do it. He
> gave us the name of a company that could do it. A large company that
> doesn’t do small jobs. Catch-22.
> So if your management rep is experienced, they know who to ask. If they
> aren’t, they won’t know more than you do. And if you have been
> self-managing, you have experience — good or bad.
> So you not only have to interview the company, you need to interview the
> actual person they are going to assign you and find out, if you can, what
> their experience includes and how long they are likely to stay. 6 months? 2
> years? Have already taken another job?
> One tip that we have not been able to implement is to find a person who
> manages individual rental properties, usually for a realty company. A small
> office is more likely to be owner managed and thus more stable. We haven’t
> found one that would take us on, but they have been highly recommended. Or
> find a facilities manager for a larger condo who will meet with you 2 hours
> a month to advise you on things and do a walk through. They can tell you
> who to call.
> The Property Managers Association here (dif. from the CAI) considers 400
> units to be a small condo. With 30-40 units, cohousing can't compete, even
> if a company will take you on.
> That’s a negative review and others would say yes, but… Some would rather
> have it done inefficiently and expensively than doing it themselves. But
> they also over estimate how much work is actually being done or what it
> should cost. How much money is a lot? For one person $50 a month is
> nothing, for another it is budget busting.
> Having a professional manager sounds nice but lots of things sound nice. I
> don’t want to be too negative but to warn you that it may cost much more
> than it is worth. And what you really need is advice and reassurance. Can
> you pay someone $200 a month to meet with you 2 hours a month and call with
> questions?
> If you are in an area with a CAI chapter, going to the monthly meetings
> would be a good place to pick up advice.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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