Advice & Tips

How to Choose a Management Company from Community Associations Institute.

Too often, association board of directors choose their management company based on whim, desperation, or even price–even though the success of the community may depend upon their selection.

Associations fail to make decisions based on planning and evaluation for three reasons:

  • The developer’s failure to recognize the need for management, especially during the development stage;
  • The board’s failure to develop and follow a well thought out selection process;
  • The board’s reluctance to pay for quality services.

Fortunately, developers are beginning to realize that their reputation benefits when they provide the groundwork for ongoing community management systems. The Community Associations Institute (CAI), Urban Land Institute (ULI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and other organizations help educate developers about management systems through publications, seminars, and conferences. And board members are now trying to learn more about management by taking advantage of the wealth of literature available on community associations, attending seminars and conferences, and utilizing related experience.

Professional association management is designed to aid the board. Although professional property management has been available as a service for many years, firms did not begin specializing in the community association field until the late 1960’s. While experience and education has hastened the professionalization of firms in this area, the number of experienced firms still falls short compared to those in other property management specialties.

The following are key points from a CAI report, which emphasized the importance of asking the right questions as one of the best things a board can do as it works to make the right decision.

Management companies’ services are retained to:

  • Preserve assets
  • Maintain value
  • Establish continuity
  • Provide professional assistance in management and financial matters

Management companies can provide a number of services. Therefore, the association should specify exactly what it needs to ensure that the companies all bid on the same services.

The board should determine which services can be handled by the membership, outside contractors, and on-site personnel before assigning tasks to a management company.

The quality of services provided by a management company may be verified by contacting current clients, former clients, the Better Business Bureau, and state real estate agencies (where applicable).