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My co-op board wants to change management companies, but I think it's a bad idea. What should I do?

Ideally, your board will interview several companies before making a decision.

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Question:

My building's co-op board wants to change management companies, but it seems like a bad idea to me. What do I do?

Answer:

It's not necessarily a bad idea to change management companies, but your board should make sure to have in place a thorough vetting process, our experts say.

Hiring new management can mean extra paperwork, and sometimes, some bumps during the handover, but ultimately it may be for the best if residents are unsatisfied with the service they're currently being provided.

Key to a successful transition is conducting a thorough search, and your co-op's board members might begin by asking around to neighbors and agents and then creating a list of potential new managers.

"Usually you can get recommendations from people who live in other buildings who are happy with their management companies," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. "As an agent I have been asked by owner and shareholders who I would recommend based on my experience of how well building is run and the service provided."

Once your board has a list, members should speak to a representative from each management company, proceeding much in the way they would with any job interview to find the right match for your particular building's needs.

"In interviewing the management companies, the board members should ask the management representatives about their management philosophy, services offered, and for a copy of a sample monthly management report," says Jeffrey Reich, a partner at Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. "It is not enough to meet with the owner or marketing executive--a board should insist on interviewing the individual agent that will be assigned to the building."

It's important that shareholders feel comfortable with the specific agent who will be managing the building, Kory agrees. Also keep in mind, she adds, that the management company will be handling other buildings as well, so your board should consider what their availability will be like.

"Boards should also be aware of the transfer department, which is responsible for any transfer of ownership," she says. "The person or people in the transfer department handle many buildings at one time, so a common complaint is that they are hard to reach."

Your board can avoid ending up with management that is difficult to reach or slow to respond to requests by speaking to people beyond the company's agents themselves.

"As important as conducting a thorough interview process is for the board members to ask each management firm for several board client references and to actually check up on the references," Reich points out. 

As a shareholder, you should consult with board members to make sure that they intend to follow these steps before they make any major changes.


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