Transitioning to a new property management company can be a daunting task for any community, whether it's a homeowner’s association, condominium, or apartment complex. The decision to switch management companies is often prompted by the need for better service, improved efficiency, or a desire for a fresh perspective. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of transitioning to a new property management company and discuss the best ways that the chosen company can support your community throughout the process with an HOA transition checklist.

Understanding the need for change

Before delving into the transition process, it's crucial for the community to identify the reasons behind the decision to switch property management companies. Common motivations include dissatisfaction with the current provider, a desire for enhanced services, cost considerations, or the need for specialized expertise. This understanding serves as the foundation for selecting a new company that aligns with the community's goals and values.

Choosing the right property management company

Choosing the right property management company is a significant decision for board members, as it directly impacts the well-being and functionality of the community. Here are several key factors that board members should carefully consider when selecting a property management company: HOA transition checklist
  1. Experience and expertise:

    Look for a management company with a proven track record and experience in managing properties similar to yours. Familiarity with the unique challenges and requirements of your community type is crucial for effective management.
  2. References and reviews:

    Seek references from other communities managed by the company and explore online reviews. Insights from current or previous clients provide valuable information about the company's reputation, reliability, and overall performance.
  3. Services offered:

    Evaluate the range of services offered by the management company. Ensure they can handle the specific needs of your community, whether it's a homeowners association, condominium, or apartment complex.
  4. Technology integration:

    In the digital age, technology plays a crucial role in property management. Assess whether the company leverages modern tools such as online portals, mobile apps, and automated systems to streamline communication, financial management, and other operations. With FirstService Residential, communities receive exclusive access to its intuitive communication portal, FirstService Residential Connect, which simplifies community operations.
  5. Financial stability:

    Assess the financial stability of the property management company. A financially stable company is more likely to provide consistent and reliable services over the long term.
  6. Communication and transparency:

    Evaluate the company's communication practices. A transparent and communicative management company keeps the board and residents well-informed. Ask about their communication strategies, reporting methods, and frequency of updates.

    At FirstService Residential, residents and board members have access to our Customer Care Center, available 24/7 to help you with emergency requests and community-specific inquiries.
  7. Legal compliance:

    Ensure that the management company is well-versed in local and state regulations related to property management. Compliance with legal requirements is essential to avoid potential issues and liabilities.
  8. Customized solutions:

    Look for a management company that can tailor its services to the unique needs and culture of your community. One-size-fits-all approaches may not be suitable for diverse communities with specific requirements.

    At FirstService Residential, we offer our communities specialized financial and energy services through our affiliates FirstService Financial and FirstService Energy.
  9. Personnel and expertise:

    Assess the qualifications and expertise of the management company's staff. Knowledgeable and experienced personnel contribute to effective problem-solving and decision-making.
  10. Cost structure:

    Understand the company's fee structure and ensure it aligns with your community's budget. Be clear about any additional or hidden costs to avoid surprises down the line as well as any value adds that could be taken into consideration when analyzing its fees.
  11. Availability and responsiveness:

    Consider the company's availability and responsiveness. A property management company that can promptly address concerns and respond to emergencies is essential for the well-being of the community.

    Just see for yourself how our FirstService Project Management teams supported a community in New York and avoided an emergency evacuation.
  12. Community involvement:

    Evaluate the company's approach to community involvement. A management company that actively engages with residents and fosters a sense of community can contribute to a positive living environment.

    By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when selecting a property management company that best aligns with the unique needs and goals of your community.

Supporting your community throughout the transition

Once you’ve chosen a new property management company, the focus shifts to a seamless transition. The success of this process relies on the collaboration between the community and the management company.

Many management companies start by creating an action plan customized to your building or community that includes a comprehensive list of management and operational initiatives.  Working closely with your board, they will set long-term goals and a timeline that includes deadlines for completing each task.  Along with the plan, many companies utilize a transition checklist to ensure each activity is completed according to schedule.

As part of their transition plan, property management companies may perform the following procedures:

HOA transition checklist

  • Obtain and review all legal documents, contracts, and operating agreements.
  • Ensure all legal, compliance, and operating safeguards are valid.
  • Review financials, budgets, and reserve funds.
  • Confirm proper insurance coverage and ensure no lapses exist in existing contracts.
  • Review current service contracts and negotiate/renegotiate the scope of services, fees, licensing, and insurance with current and prospective vendors.
  • Communicate to homeowners, including welcome letters and events.
  • Provide continuous status updates to Board members.
“We consider the transition process an opportunity to review and significantly improve the operating procedures, contracts, and plans for each new property we manage,” said Michael Mendillo, president of FirstService Residential East Region. “With a dedicated transition team and a thorough, carefully timed onboarding plan, we can ensure we achieve our core initiatives in an efficient and timely manner.”

He added that in addition to performing the service above, his transition team establishes a baseline for each building and assesses its current condition to identify any safety, aesthetic, or architectural issues that must be addressed.

His company’s onboarding process also includes a variety of value-added services, including generating a Community Onboarding Packet and introducing proprietary programs, including FirstService Residential Connect and the 24/7 Customer Care Center for residents. The company’s affiliate, FirstService Energy, can also issue an Energy Report Card for each new building and identify opportunities to reduce energy usage and costs.

Also provided is a review of all building staff and policies, including preparing job descriptions and a personnel manual, conducting staff training at its in-house Learning Center, and reviewing and revising all front desk policies and procedures.

“Our goal is to quickly begin providing tailored programs and the highest level of service to our new properties to ensure a seamless and worry-free transition – that’s what creates a foundation for a strong and lasting relationship with board members and residents,” Mendillo shares.

Transitioning to a new property management company is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning, communication, and collaboration. By selecting the right management company and ensuring a thoughtful and organized transition, communities can position themselves for success in the long term. The key is to prioritize transparency, open communication, and a commitment to meeting the unique needs of the community. With these principles in place, the transition becomes an opportunity for positive change and improvement, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for all residents involved.

For more information about best practices for transitioning from old to new management, please contact our team at FirstService Residential.
Thursday January 04, 2024