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12-steps to finding the right property manager.

Today, the field of property management has become increasingly sophisticated. Property managers must offer more personal service, financial expertise, employee/resident relations and assume responsibility for all the physical aspects of building management. Selecting a property management firm can have a tremendous impact on the future quality-of-life of residents, as well as on a building's day-to-day operation and long-term well being. In fact, choosing a property manager may be the most important decision a board ever makes. The following guidelines can help select a management firm that will do the job right: 1. When screening a management firm, the board should insist that the actual property manager attends the initial meeting in addition to the company officer doing the presentation. 2. Find out how many buildings the property manager will handle in addition to your building. It is important that the property manager has a manageable load. Remember, someone who handles 10 buildings must attend 10 monthly meetings and prepare 10 sets of minutes, leaving little time for other important tasks. 3. Find out what kind of background and expertise the management company has with engineering and mechanical systems. The company should have someone on staff who can diagnose and implement maintenance procedures, and oversee replacements. 4. Try to meet the company's controller. Also make sure the management firm has up-to-date computer systems capable of handling the workload and obtain a sample copy of a monthly financial report. 5. Find out how often the property manager intends to visit the building. A minimum of three visits a week will permit the property manager to become familiar with the building, its staff and keep on top of any potential problems. 6. Determine how the company handles payroll. Your property manager should visit the building personally rather than permitting the super to call in the payroll. 7. Since the real estate industry has been plagued by bankruptcies, Chapter 11 and numerous sponsor defaults, it is very important to make sure that your management company is fiscally fit. Find out how long the company has been in business and ask to see financial statements. Also make sure the company uses separate bank accounts for each building rather than co-mingling funds. 8. Is your property management firm part of a larger, diversified company? It is often better to have a firm that is not solely dependent on property management for its entire income. If the parent company is an owner or a developer, the property manager has experience in managing the company's own buildings, as well as access to a variety of experts. 9. Find out if the management company has brokerage capacity, This could represent a potential conflict of interest since property management may be secondary to sales or rentals in your building. 10. Boards sometimes switch companies because their managing agent is unresponsive in terms of answering questions or even returning phone calls. Make sure the company you select has adequate office staff and administrative back up to handle the tremendous amount of paperwork and attention to detail that building management requires. 11. Review the fee structure and what the management fee actually includes. For example, does the company charge extra for mailings? Is material for board meeting included? What about memos to be distributed building wide. It's important to know what is and what isn't included, and how much extra services, such as processing a rental or sale unit, will cost. 12. Make sure the company has a fidelity bond. Today buildings have become increasingly complex. In addition, the economic downturn has forced managers to exercise more care than ever before in developing and adhering to budgets, and maintaining equipment and services.

If your property manager meets the guidelines listed above, then you can rest assured that your building is in good hands. If not, you might want to consider retaining a different company.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Building Management & Maintenance
Author:Goldwater, Pat
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 6, 1993
Previous Article:Candidates, let's talk affordable housing?
Next Article:Outsourcing provides significant savings.

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