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Great Expectations: What Boards Want from Managers — And What They Get

Tom Soter in Board Operations on July 19, 2012

New York City, Manhattan

Board Expectations of Building Managers
July 19, 2012

One survey participant, a board member at a 78-unit Manhattan co-op, said in a follow-up interview that his board wanted a non-sponsor-affiliated property manager who would take initiative. The early impression of the agent was "terrific," but a little over a year into the partnership, expectations were not being met.

"We were hoping that the new manager could train and guide the super, because he has some good qualities but he needs supervision," notes Rhona Magelowitz, the treasurer, about the firm. "We're just not seeing that yet."

Other Side of the Coin

For the fees we're

paid, it's hard to live up

to certain expectations.

Conversely, many managers feel that boards frequently have skewed, unrealistic expectations of what a manager can do. As Neil Davidowitz, president of Orsid Realty, notes: "Expectations of service and reporting are often tied to an economic model that doesn't work for us. In short, for the fees we're paid, it's hard to live up to certain expectations for clients that are in a different business model. They're in a corporate world where there's an expectation of a different kind of reporting — financial models, long-term capital planning — that's hard to [achieve] for the compensation we receive."

How do the successful boards get their expectations met? The key is to meet, to discuss, and to monitor.

"You need to have face-to-face meetings with your board members, especially at the beginning, to come up with a fair and balanced plan for what you're looking to do for your property short-term and long-term,"  says Robert Freedman, a principal in the management firm Maxwell-Kates.

Communication Is Key

What this means is that you must clearly lay out what needs to be done and check in periodically to see that everything is on track — and then make course corrections as needed.

"At the beginning of each year," notes Michael Berenson, president of AKAM Associates, "we'll go into each building and go into all goals and objectives for that year; we'll see what we want to accomplish, whether it's a five-year capital plan, or a new preventive maintenance study, or setting up a website. We'll address that at that meeting, and throughout the year there will be points where we meet to discuss the status of the items and what they expect from us."


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