The 5 keys to managing a successful condo association

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 5 min. read

Published on July 6, 2009

Whether you’re in charge of managing a well-established condo association or a brand-new one, whether your membership is 5 or 50, the guidelines below will make the difference between a successful association and an ineffective one.

#1: Build a Community

Sure, you’re dealing with a network of neighbors that dwell in close proximity to one another; but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a built-in sense of community. Fostering ties between association members—and particularly condo residents—is one of the most important tasks you have to accomplish as a condo association manager. A solid community is an inherent part of any productive condo association.

#2: Give Everyone a Voice

Essential to a solid community is good communication. Remember that members of the association are ultimately paying for the decisions your association makes, whether they ultimately agree with them or not. Because everyone has a vested interest in the matters at hand, it’s critical that all members feel they have an equal chance to have their voice heard.

While you may be the spokesperson, your biggest task is to make sure that you are representing your contingency and acting in their best interests. Which means it’s imperative that you know where everyone stands on various issues that affect the condo. And remember, the more input you have, the more likely you are to come up with creative solutions—allowing all members to speak their mind and offer their opinions will go a long way toward ensuring everyone wins in the long-run.

Perhaps most importantly, foster an environment where all members listen to one another’s opinions respectfully. After all, no matter how vocal of an association you have, if no one is listening it’s all for naught in the end.

#3: Communication is Key

Now that you’ve got your membership talking, you need to pull those many voices together into one decisive communal voice. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to liaise between a number of involved parties including unit owners, lessees, legal entities, real estate offices, and lending institutions. It’s up to you to make sure that everyone receives the information they need as efficiently as possible. There are a number of ways to disseminate information and you should choose whichever one works best for you and association members. And remember, you also want to make things as easy for yourself as possible. Consider the following options for communicating with association members:

  • Send out a regular newsletter (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly—whatever makes the most sense for your association)
  • Set up a website where news is posted as necessary (but if you take this route, make sure you have a web-savvy, proactive membership)
  • Send out emails on an as-necessary basis (make things easy on yourself by setting up a distribution list and sending out an annual notice for email address updates)
  • Organize regular meetings where everyone can come together to share information

#4: Be Financially Savvy

Whether you’re finding a vendor for your association or shopping for condo insurance, do your homework and make sure you’re getting the best value possible for your association. Ask for referrals from trusted sources, request bids, and read reviews when available. And remember, the “best value” is not always the cheapest option—you’re better to pay a little more up front if it makes the difference between getting the job done right the first time and revisiting the issue in a few months or years.

#5: Stay Organized

Organization is nothing short of critical to effectively managing a condo association. You’ll want to make sure that you keep meticulous records of everything—meeting minutes, important correspondence, repairs and upgrades, and financial records are just a few of the items you’ll need to track. Investing in a simple system that can be easily accessed at all times (not only by you but by all necessary parties) will ensure you stay on top of everything.

Finally, remember that even though you may be the association manager, you’re not in this alone. You have a great resource right at your fingertips: association members. They have a vested interest in making sure that the condo community, communication, finances, and records are in good shape. The more you engage your members, the better off everyone will be.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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