This time of year can be more than a little hectic for anyone serving on a Condominium Board of Directors. At least it is for our Board.
We have budgets for the year to finalize and preparations for Board Elections to be held right after the first of the new year. It's enough to make you a little crazy if you're trying to celebrate the holidays. But we do manage to muddle through.
Self-managed boards are an interesting animal and each one is somewhat different depending on the mentality of the condo owners. There are always those who see getting on the board as an opportunity to control – and even make some money on the deal despite the fact that this is clearly a no-no according to the Illinois Condominium Act. But just as often as a Board position is appealing to the controllers, it's to be avoided like the bubonic plague by those who want nothing more than to enjoy letting others do the heavy labor of keeping the property managed properly and solvent.
The politics of self-managing a condominium association are rugged at best. And, the work of managing a condominium is challenging. The process has gotten a lot more complex in recent years. A well run Condominium needs someone who can plan and oversee projects, someone who has typing and computer skills, someone who can manage the collections, bookkeeping and someone who can work well with lawyers, accountants and others. It takes a team.
And in reality, it's not much better when you pay a management company. Because, when the chips fall, it's still up to the Board members to make sure that the management is done and the financing is handled properly. Its the Board who is accountable. Besides, from my experience, overseeing how someone else manages your assets is more stressful than doing it yourself.
My advice to anyone who owns a condo or intends to buy into a condominium is: check out that Association Board and how the property is managed. Find out everything you can about the configuration of the Board and the individuals who are elected to the position. Ask lots of questions. Read the IL Condo Act and the Association's Declarations and ByLaws. Attend at least one Unit Owners Meeting and one Board of Directors Meeting. And above all, plan to get involved as soon as possible. The health and well-being of your investment is at stake and you want to protect it – especially in this economy.
End of year question: If a condo is in the cards for you – are you taking that investment seriously?