New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Primer: Managing Agents

Feb. 16, 2011 — How would you define the role of the managing agent at condominiums and cooperatives? What are reasonable expectations? In short, what does a manager do? Co-op board members, condo association directors and regular ol' residents might be surprised by what is — and isn't — part of the job description.

Site visits. First, you should expect your manager to visit your property fairly regularly. Managing agents cannot manage properties from their desks. They have to be out in the field regularly, visiting the properties they manage at least once a week.

Response time. In this age of smartphones, managers are always connected. In most instances, owners should receive an immediate response to their inquiries. They should also have the direct telephone extension for their managing agent, administrative assistant and accounts receivable customer-service representative. When an agent is in the field, the board should still be able to communicate with him or her or get an answer from those others. If the person they speak to does not know the answer, it should be researched and the call returned within 24 hours.

An inquiry submitted in writing receives a written response. Copies of written inquiries and responses appear in the monthly management report.

If owners' requests require a board decision, owners should be notified when the board will review their requests and when they will receive a response. Good communication helps owners feel at ease that their requests will be considered and they will receive a response within a reasonable time period.

For emergencies at night, on weekends, or holidays when the management office is closed, owners should be provided with a dedicated telephone number to reach an operator. The operator should be able to contact the person designated as first responder. If that person is unavailable, the next person in line will be called, followed by the next, right up to management-company executives.

Workload. The number of properties assigned to the manager can tell you a lot about the sort of response you should get. But a simple number does not tell the whole story. In one management company, eight properties with adequate administrative support can be like managing four properties, compared to another company where six properties without adequate support can be like managing twelve properties.

Training and education. There are no management licensing requirements per se; the sole regulation is that the firm or managers be operating under a broker's license. In the ideal orld, a managing agent should have a minimum of five years' experience. Managers can have various training certifications, with continuing education a requirement. Having such certification is a plus because it says that the manager or his firm took the job seriously enough to pay for a training program.

It will also tell you a lot if your management company has weekly or bi-weekly staff meetings where  every property in the company's portfolio is reviewed with supervisory staff and fellow managers. Such staff meetings improve the quality of service to all managed properties.

Next page: All about extra fees, and more >>

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