As with many things in life, the grass is often greener on the other side of the property management fence when it comes to managing new vs. older condominium corporations.
While older condo buildings may face issues such as materials and equipment that have reached the end of their lifespan — not to mention a weary, disinterested board and community — managing new builds also presents its fair share of challenges.
Think of new condo ownership and management as a marriage. With some newlywed couples, after the initial honeymoon period is over, reality starts to set in. And there may be a bit of a challenging adjustment period when the couple is really getting to know each other and struggling to work the kinks out, so that they can live a long and happy life together.
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In a new condo scenario, owners are excited to finally take possession, and look forward to enjoying a maintenance-free and worry-free lifestyle. While property managers are eager to start with a clean slate, do things their way and build a community that they can be proud of.
And then comes the first dose of harsh reality — that our world is ruled by economics. In this case it means that builders will start moving people in while other parts of the building are still under construction. It’s probably quite obvious that living in a construction zone is not the ideal way to start a happy marriage.
As with any relationship, the keys to success are communication, managing expectations and a large dose of sugar. (No, we don’t mean that you should ply your owners, board, staff and construction company with chocolate and donuts — but that certainly couldn’t hurt!)
What we mean is that managing a new condo development is truly an exercise in relationship-building and public relations. All parties involved are likely to feel frustrated at some point for various reasons, and it’s your job to ease that frustration and provide reassurance that any inconvenience will be short-lived and well worth it in the end.
Some issues that could pop up in new condo builds:
- dirt and mud from constructions
- false fire alarms
- leaking pipes
- building settling
- damage caused by move-ins
As stated, it is critical to communicate and manage expectations for all parties involved:
The first 3 years in any new building are always the busiest, so pay close attention to your staff’s workload to ensure that they are not so overloaded that they’re experiencing high levels of stress, or that they are not able to properly serve your customers. Also, clearly establish who is responsible for what, and how to respond to various situations — and provide your staff with the tools that will make it easier for them to do their jobs well — like mobile-ready condo management software.
As a property manager serving a brand new board, it’s your job to educate board members on how to effectively run a corporation, and to notify them of everything that needs to be done and to what schedule, such as reserve fund studies, performance audits, holding AGMs, annual budgeting, etc.
No one likes surprises, being left in the dark, or being given the run around. That is why it’s critical to educate owners on what they can expect for the first little while and assure them that you and your team will be ready and able to assist them with whatever they may need. Facilitate ongoing communications and convenient self-service features with a state-of-the-art Owner’s portal. In addition to this, be sure to walk the property daily, putting yourself in their shoes and seeing everything that they see.
Definitely don’t overlook these guys! During the warranty period you will be relying on construction to fix issues in a timely manner and at no cost. So it’s quite obvious that right from the beginning you will need to use your best people skills to build rapport with them.
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