in Featured Articles on June 18, 2014
"I started to realize that something was not right here," she says. "We would go to meetings and not learn anything from the management company." Questions went unanswered and the reserve fund was dangerously low because the management company and previous board had been using it to pay operating expenses.
Credentials? What Credentials?
"The discouraging thing is that I looked to the property manager for his expertise, but in New Jersey, many of them don't have credentials," says Tel, who is now the board president.
Most property managers at co-ops and condos in New York and New Jersey are licensed real estate brokers — a credential of dubious value because managers are responsible for running buildings, not selling real estate. But only a handful of states require licensing for property managers, and New York and New Jersey are not among them.
"The problem," Tel says, "is that people with good intentions get on boards, and they think going to a meeting once a month is all they have to do."
The board fired its management company and hired another. This second property management company was no better than the first, so the board put out feelers again. "We realized the key was having a company with experience and a great accounting apparatus," Tel says. "Also, we wanted someone onsite. We needed a hands-on administrator, not someone who strolls in once a week."
Onsite and On the Ball
Eventually, the board settled on Taylor Management's Diana Janos. Not only could she talk with authority to everyone from plumbers to bankers, but her being onsite five days a week kept her on top of problems. From her basement office, she would keep an eye on the entire property via a system of 16 video cameras. If a problem occurred, she would know immediately.
For her part, Tel is relieved that the building is finally being managed competently. "We've already seen a huge reduction in energy costs," she says. "We saved $14,000 in the first three months the new boilers were on. Suddenly, we're paying our bills, and we're putting money into the reserve fund. We're already up to $325,000. Not bad."
Adapted from "Turnaround" by Bill Morris (Habitat, June 2014)
Photo by Jennifer Wu. Click to enlarge.
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