Prioritizing Projects Tough Times Call for Hard Decisions

This is a great time to be on the board of directors of a condominium association—if you like a challenge.

Gone are the days of flush and growing reserve funds and easily balanced operating budgets that marked the real estate boom of the early 2000s. The economic downturn has starved condo associations of transfer, move-in and move-out fees and caused a rise in delinquencies and even foreclosures. At the same time, real estate taxes and water and energy costs are rising rapidly.

More than any time in decades, professionally managed and to an even greater degree self-managed condominium associations face tough choices when it comes to allocating funds for repair, maintenance or improvement projects.

The Chicagoland Cooperator talked with some experienced condominium managers and building engineers in the region about how they prioritize expenditures in a tight economy.

Think Like a Business Owner

“We like to guide our clients into thinking in terms of running the association like a business,” says Shirley Feldmann, founder of Chicago-based Association Advocates, Inc., a residential property management consultant and trainer of condominium association boards. “They need to do proper budgeting, proper strategic planning and obviously, if funds are low, you need to prioritize the most important projects.”

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