The Ultimate Do It Yourself Project Self Managing Your Community

 Convenience and saving money are just a couple reasons why an association would  choose to self-manage a property. Though, outside managing firms and property  managers are hired and employed for good reason. The job requires collecting  monthly condo fees, hiring and managing staff, responding to residents’ issues, among other expected and unexpected tasks. Before a board chooses to  self manage, there are many factors to consider.  

 The Pros and Cons

 The primary advantages of self-management are a significant expense savings for  the association. “The biggest benefit I've found after working with self-managed associations is  cost,” says attorney Charles T. VanderVennet, whose practice is in Arlington Heights. “However, the associations that decide to [self-manage] must really be willing to  put in the time and labor that management would do for an association in order  to save that money.”  

 Another benefit of self-management is the ability to take control over the  direction and operations of the building. Often, management companies have  their own set protocols for dealing with delinquencies or hiring contractors  that may conflict with the needs and preferences of a particular board. “The advantage is that you are in total control,” says Angela Falzone, a property consultant at Association Advocates, Inc., a  Chicago-based firm that provides residential property consultation and project  facilitation services. “You don't have a person to pass the buck to so you get to know everything that's  supposed to be done. However, a self-managed association will have to follow  the same laws as professional managers, they can't make it up. So while you can  be in total control and you can make decisions, it's still going to be based on  the law and the declaration around your documents.”  

 The direct involvement required of self-managing boards can create very  committed, aware and engaged board members presuming it is run properly and efficiently, says James  Erwin, a Chicago attorney and the founding partner of Erwin & Associates, LLC. “This can create a better sense of community because board members are  communicating well and often with their ownership. If a self-managed community  is running well, it means they have developed a system for communicating and  responding effectively with their ownership without overwhelming themselves.”  

 A self-managed board may be more involved with its residents, since they are  neighbors who are in charge, but having an emotional involvement can be tricky.  Falzone says that often it is very difficult for board members to face other  owners when they are delinquent or violating the rules. As a consultant, she  receives many phone calls from board members who are hesitant to fine or  reprimand their neighbors. “That's very, very hard for owners to do on owners. And what we try to explain to  them when I teach self-managed seminars is, use the law as the third person.  This not a we and you. This is you doing your job. And the job says that I have  to keep the property safe, I have to retain the value, and I have to keep it  maintained. This isn't me against you, this is me doing my job. To take that  personal stuff out of it is very difficult for some self-managed boards, very  difficult.”  

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