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Subject: New to Community Management
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09/18/2019 7:35 AM  
Hey everyone,

I'm new to community management, and figured I'd get some help from seasoned professionals.

I currently work at a family owned real estate brokerage. I handle the admin/financial work for the office. We currently handle residential rentals/sales and property management for individual owners. Our broker decided he'd like us to get into community management. I took the starter course through CAIonline a couple months ago, then got word that we will be managing our office building soon (12 units).

I will then be our "all in one" association manager. I'll be handling all financials and management for our building, in addition to the work I already do now and I'm just kind of feeling overwhelmed. I've gotten a vendor list and most of the documents (I think) I need to get started from the previous management company. Since I don't have any experience in this, what are some tips you guys have for getting set up without stressing myself out even more? I know I need software as well as setting up any existing contracts and utilities in our name. I'm just kind of scared I'll miss something important because all this work will be on me, I won't have any help in the office other than someone else signing any checks.


09/18/2019 7:40 AM  
Run, run away as fast as you can.


09/18/2019 8:56 AM  
Most of the folks on this website are current or former board members, but there are some property managers who also post, so if they respond to this message, you might want to ask if they'd be willing to exchange private emails where they can provide some tips.

Managing an office building is similar, but not quite the same as a homeowner's association - in fact, it's QUITE different. I really think your employer should be providing more assistance and training to you than just having you take one CAI course, although that's a good start. I believe CAI also has a certification program which may provide additional training, so I would suggest that you check that on its website - and then suggest to your supervisor that he or she invest in that training as well. There are also books and other webinars geared to board members on things like selecting and working with a property manager, so you may want to check out some of them so you'll understand things from their perspective.

As a former board member, I will say one of the most important things you can do is remember your role. You're not a board member and sometimes you may be tempted to take over - DON'T DO IT! Your approach may be the right one, but too often board members rely on the property manager to make all the decisions and do the thinking for them (so they'll have someone to blame when things don't work out). If they ask for suggestions, go ahead and offer them up, but then keep quiet and let them make the decisions - and remind them you're only the property manager and work at their behest, so they need to figure out what they want to do. Staying in your lane is especially important if someone asks you is XYZ legal - you aren't an attorney, so they need to go to the association attorney for that information (even if you know the answer).

That said, you might also encourage board members to take a look at that website to find online training that can help them become effective Board members!

One way to know what you can and can't do as a property manager is to get your own copy of the community's Bylaws and CCRs and read them. Again, you're not a member, but becoming familiar with those documents can help you understand where they're coming from (assuming of course, they bothered to read the thing for themselves!) It'll also help drive home what you can do as property manager to help them manage the community more effectively, which is why you were hired.

Communication is the key to effective property management - I would suggest that once a year you have a pow-wow with the board to review your performance over the past year and see where the problems are (there will be a few) and how you can work together to resolve them. This is a good time to review the contract with them so everyone's on the same page and encourage them to let the community know what the property manager can and can't do (it could save you some angry phone calls and angrier emails!) Document, document, and document some more, as that'll protect you in the long run. Good luck!

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