As the real estate and economic markets continue to wreak havoc on the majority of community associations, many find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to consider a host of formerly undesirable options. I have heard associations threaten bankruptcy and others consider cutting back on essential services including management. However, neither bankruptcy nor self management is as simple or as beneficial as many associations may believe.
My organization, the Community Advocacy Network (CAN) has just released its Association Management Survey which can be found at http://surveys.canfl.com. The survey is designed to assess what factors most associations take into account when considering their various management options and which services they value most.
In my own community we were self managed for years because the board members were retired and could devote the time and energy required to run a 100+ home community. Even though we have a relatively small neighborhood, do not have an abundance of common areas to maintain or services that we offer, it soon became apparent that newer board members were not willing to devote the same amount of time as their predecessors had. Moreover, when times were good, we had relatively infrequent violations and delinquency issues. However, with the downturn, more problems arose and the ones that did were complicated and messy. It became harder for the Board members to put on their "director hats" and confront their neighbors about unpaid dues and unkempt homes.
In the end, we have returned to professional management for a variety of reasons including the convenience factor and the buffer on issues such as maintenance and collection. We consider this service essential to our sanity. Of course, every community is different and what works for one is an abysmal failure for another. It is for that reason that I want to hear what has worked for you, what hasn't and what you feel is important to help you successfully operate and administer your private residential community. The CAN Association Management Survey will remain open until January 15th at http://surveys.canfl.com. If you currently live in or have ever lived in a community association you are eligible to take the survey. The results will be tabulated and should be available the first week of February.