I recently sat down with Toronto realtor John Schick and had an interesting chat about the Toronto condo market, we also discussed the importance of good property management when buying a condo. John had so much knowledge on the topic, I asked if he would consider writing an article for Skywater on the topic. John Schick runs his own real estate website called SearchTorontoRealty.com
Buying a condo is an exciting time regardless of whether it is your first. There are many different things to consider which include the age, design and amenities of the building, its location, the unit itself including size, layout and design, does it have parking, a balcony, a locker, proximity to shops and restaurants, price, monthly costs and how it compares to other options. These are the most common considerations and for good reason but also urge you to consider the importance of good property management when buying a condo. Good property management is something that few people think of when buying a condo and this article speaks to why you should consider it.
The property management company and/or property manager is responsible for the upkeep and operations of the condominium corporation. Without good management the building and grounds will likely not function properly and you could easily become unhappy with some aspects of your new home. Most buildings have common areas, facilities and services which need to be maintained on a consistent basis. Therefore, it’s important that the company or person managing them knows what they are doing. Consider this when searching for a condo with your real estate agent and ask yourself if you are the type of person who is good at dealing with bad service and inconveniences. If not, you should investigate the property management company before you submit an offer on a condo to determine if they have a good track record and are easy to deal with. It can take time and a lot of effort to replace a property management company when under contract. Furthermore, if you are unhappy with their service you might not be able to replace them until their contract runs out. This is why you need to do your research first.
There is space for property management information on an MLS listing as well as an agreement of purchase and sale but often times that information is missing because it is not a mandatory field of either a listing or an agreement. Obviously, the people who authored these standard forms do not know the importance of good property management when buying a condo; otherwise those fields would be mandatory. If the property management information is not apparent after visiting the building you could ask your agent, the listing agent or the seller for this information. Additionally, you could research this information online by searching the condominium corporation number, name or address. There is usually some sort of online information which states who the property management company is along with contact information.
Once you have determined the name of the property management company, the regional manager and the individual property manager, you can begin speaking to people who live or own a condominium unit in the particular building you are contemplating a purchase. Try to speak with more than one person and as many as possible to get their honest assessment of the buildings management and personnel. These conversations may make clear the importance of good property management when buying a condo. Additionally, you will want to do an online search for any kind of comments you can find which relate to the building’s management while considering the source. Keep in mind, people often make comments when they are expressing something negative but seldom make positive comments somewhere other than on the website or social media page of the company or product they are supporting. Again, these comments may make clear the importance of good property management when buying a condo.
Researching a property manager is a common sense exercise, so please feel free to use your judgement with regard to what things you consider important, there is no right and wrong. However, there are some specifics to consider such as; is someone from the property management company on site at reasonable hours during the week so that you can get face to face time? What is their operating procedure for responding to inquiries, suggestions or emergencies? What is their policy with regard to harassment, workplace safety as well as being courteous and respectful towards others? What other buildings do they manage? How long have they been in the business of managing condominiums? Have they ever been late in providing a status certificate and attachments or made a material error in a status certificate or attachments? Have there ever been bed bugs in any of the building’s they managed, how did they deal with it, what did they do to address it, how long did the problem persist? How would they deal with a break-in or damage to property, as you might be surprised? How long is their contract?
Speaking with the actual individual property manager will give you a good idea as to whether or not you want to deal with this property management company moving forward. Of course, property management is only one consideration among many when purchasing a condo but important nonetheless. There are many aspects of condominium life which are affected by the property manager and it would be worth your time to investigate them before submitting an offer on a condo.