Sellers Beware…Is Your Property Manager Effective?

One of the pieces of the puzzle in completing a smooth and efficient sale of a co-op or condo in Manhattan is a cooperative and knowledgeable managing agent/property manager.   Unfortunately, many of these individuals are overworked and underpaid which results in some (and I stress "some") of them becoming obstacles rather than facilitators in a transaction.

Case in point, I and my team are representing a seller of an apartment right now who has the most uncooperative and uninformed managing that I have had the displeasure of encountering in my 15 years in the industry.  The most disturbing element is that the sellers warned me of this gentleman’s behavior and he still remains the managing agent of the building.  The seller alleges that the entire building has complained about him from day one?  Odd, to say the least.  There are some excellent managing agents out there who are responsive, cooperative, and knowledgeable about the buildings that they represent.  Why wouldn’t they hire one of them?  Don’t know.

So what has this fella done?  He has perhaps cost my seller this deal and a significant amount of time and money.  Here’s how he and any other ineffective property manager may behave:

  • Doesn’t respond to requests to complete a 2 page building questionnaire (we do this so that we don’t have to call them all the time…they are indeed usually very busy people).  He is the only person in my 15 years who has declined completing this form. 
  • Refuses to provide information regarding a building flip tax (this is a "transfer" fee that a seller or buyer may pay when an apartment changes hands…a way in which some buildings capitalize on seller’s profits in order to build up the reserve fund)
  • Upon refusal of information, suggests that we must get information from seller.  "Not my job" mentality.
  • Refuses to provide purchase application and directs us to a non-working web site for the document.  When told that site was not working, states that he can’t help us as he gets document from same web site.  Within minutes of hearing from the seller, he faxes us a copy (the one which he didn’t have!).
  • Mis-states the percentage of financing allowed in the building and is adamant about the INCORRECT number when questioned by buyer’s attorney.
  • Incorrectly suggests to buyer’s attorney that their are NO minutes of Board meetings.
  • Refuses to provide flip tax calculation to buyer’s attorney, suggesting that the "seller knows what it is."
  • When contacted by seller, claims that he had a very "cordial conversation" with the buyer’s attorney and is surprised by the turn of events.

Now it is no surprise that I received an email this morning from the prospective purchaser’s agent stating that "they are completely uncomfortable with the management company which did not seem to be very helpful or knowledgeable…and they will not be signing the contract."  Is that enough to label this guy incompetent?  I think so and if I lived in this building, I would make it my mission to have him replaced by someone who is more capable of doing the job. 

I also feel that it is imperative to state here that the first person that someone calls a "scumbag" in this situation is the real estate agent.  No one has called me a "scumbag" that I’m aware of but it should be stated that we are sometimes compromised by the incompetence of others involved in the transaction despite all of our efforts to provide accurate information and disclose all important details that effect the parties in a transaction.

Sellers…make sure that your managing agent is responsive, knowledgeable, and effective in providing information in a timely manner.  I can appreciate that they have a job which is often thankless, but I and my colleagues have worked with countless people in that field who do there jobs incredibly well and are an asset to any building fortunate enough to have them.  If you have a difficult managing agent, it will cost you money in the long run!  Move to hire a new one.  If you need suggestions for competent managing agents, email me and I will be more than happy to provide names and contact information.

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