Debunking Popular Property Management Myths

Real estate is a savvy way to invest your money. As the population grows, the demand for homes and apartments continues to grow, so you’ll never have a lack of customers. According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, there are over 406,200 renter households in Alberta and over 4 million in Canada at the moment. The number of renter households is projected to rise as more immigrants come into the country and the population increases. 

Now, when it comes to investing in real estate, buying the property is just the initial part. You need to be prepared to manage it along with the tenants. After all, rental properties don’t manage themselves. Managing a property requires a lot of time and effort, both of which most investors don’t have. 

Hiring a property management firm is your best bet, but you’ve probably heard the rumours surrounding the business. We are here to bust the most common myths about property management companies, so you can take advantage of the service for your rental properties.

Myth #1: The Fees will Add Up

The number one myth you’ll come across about property management is that it will cost you an arm and leg. Every property owner is looking to make the most out of their property. They think that by paying a firm to manage the property, they either give up a huge chunk of the revenue or even worse go into a loss. 

Well, you don’t necessarily have to give a huge chunk of the revenue to a property manager. If you are working with a licensed property management, you will have a signed agreement in place. 

Will they charge you a fee? Yes. 

Will the fee be based on the rental revenue? Yes. 

Your property management company is hired to bring peace of mind.  The companies experience, knowledge of the marketplace and experienced team is worth the fee.  (TIP: Speak with your accountant, this expense is probably a deductible expense).  The property management company should also be able to support you in achieving cost deductions based on their purchasing power with the goal to improve your bottom line. 

Working with the right company will end up saving you a lot of time and money. So much so, that the investment will be second to your decision to buy a rental property. 

Myth #2: I Could Lose Control Over my Property

It’s common for property owners to find themselves hesitant to hand over management duties because they are scared they could lose their property to a firm. However, that is not the case. 

Once you choose a firm, you sign a contract with them. The contact will outline each persons duties and obligations. 

Myth #3: I Can Manage the Property Myself

It’s typical for first-time property owners to start off thinking they can easily manage the property. They take the task on themselves, thinking they will end up saving a lot of money. While you might …  there are many responsibilities that come with managing a property. These include:

  • Marketing the property
  • Responding to emergencies in the middle of the night
  • Screening potential renters
  • Rent collection
  • Repairing the property when needed
  • Routine maintenance
  • Dealing with tenants’ issues
  • Eviction of tenants due to non-payment
  • Bookkeeping
  • Reporting
  • … the list goes on!

Maintenance and responsive communication is a major paint point for tenants. Renters want a well-run property. Hiring a reputable property management firm covers all your pain points and you have a team of people working around the clock to deal with these types of things.  As highlighted above, a property management team is armed with proactive and responses services, marketing knowledge and experience necessary. 

Hire a Property Management Company Today!

Property management companies make your life easier by handling all the responsibilities of renting out a property. You won’t have to deal with the headache of handling unexpected tenant issues and routine maintenance. All that would be taken care of for you, making your life remarkably less stressful. 

If you are looking to reap the benefits of using a property manager and profit from the experience of a licensed property management company, contact Emerald Management and Realty at 403-237-8600 or inquire online.

Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. has served the Calgary & Area community, managing properties for close to 50 years, and have won countless awards in the process. Contact us today for the best property management and peace of mind.


5 Traits of Successful Condo Board Members

Condo Board members are a group of individuals – usually but not always owners within the condominium – who are elected at an Annual General Meeting to represent the interests of owners and community members that form part of the condominium property. They work alongside property management personnel, formulating decisions most suitable for the condo corporation and the condo owners or mortgagees. Board members who do their jobs effectively and practice good governance are responsible for some of the best run condos.

Here are five traits of successful board members:

1. Excellent Communicators

Miscommunication is one of the main reasons for conflict within a corporation. Because board members handle significant decisions and hold liability concerning the residents’ needs, they must be strong communicators. 

Another great trait of an excellent communicator, is a board who takes a friendly tone and communicates to educate with respect in a professional manner.  The condo board should speak with “one voice” and practice confidentiality and take care to protect the privacy of others. 

Since board members make decisions based on the community within the condominium, it is their job to communicate with fellow owners residents and discuss their needs and interests. Board members oversee the organization of events and other activities throughout, therefore it is essential to consider opinions and to communicate regularly with community members.

Listening to understand owners and residents is key to ensure that board members can govern and meet the expectations.  Whether this is an annual survey or an informal email, asking for positive feedback and opportunities for improvement is a great way to engage owners and make sure the condominium board is in touch with the current needs of the Corporation. 

Asking for feedback and providing a format to ask questions or provide feedback also helps build communication and engagement.  If engagement is a problem, maybe it is because owner’s feel that the board isn’t open to change or considering an alternate perspective. 

2. Strong Understanding of Finance

Another key obligation of the board members is working alongside property management and handling budgetary operations. A strong understanding of finance is mandatory to meet community needs concerning maintenance, events, and general affairs.

Typically, property management personnel will control the day-to-day financial obligations, but board members contribute and make recommendations based on the needs of the condo community.

3. Team Player

A condo board usually consists of three to seven people. Each board member’s role is to collaborate effectively with each other and to meet the needs of the condo community. Working together as a team is a fundamental part of the process. Board members work together by sharing ideas and asking for feedback within the group.

A team player respects the ideas and knowledge of others, keeps an open mind to suggestions, and contributes from their area of expertise.

It is up to current board members to recruit new members when the time comes. Therefore, having familiarity with the strengths of each person is beneficial when adding new members to complement existing members, or if anyone needs to be replaced.

4. Constant Learners

Managing the needs of a large community entails being open to always learning. One thing we have learned this past year … Change is constant, and technologies and policies are changing every day. People don’t live the way they did even 5, 10 or 20 years ago. 

Therefore, board members must stay up to date with corporation policies and procedures and the needs and expectations of those within the community.

The drive to keep on learning coincides with the road to success simply because the individual is open-minded and willing to go the distance. It can be as simple as learning more about dogs to help condo owners with specific issues they may run into, or as complex as the architecture within the condo to answer any questions owners may have to figure out how an improvement can be made for the benefit of all involved.

As a licensed property management brokerage, Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. invests  in the continued education and licensed certification of our team members. We believe that licensed managers demonstrate to our clients that we are invested in providing a proven professional track record of property management.

5. Organized

Organizational skills are a huge asset in becoming a successful condo board member. To execute all tasks and responsibilities, one must effectively plan and organize meetings, events, and other affairs.

Becoming a board member requires a lot of responsibility, and without the appropriate organizational skills, it would be challenging.

For more information on fundamental goals of board members and the importance of the collective decisions they make in service to corporation and the members which they represent, visit: A Beginners Guide to Condo Board Member Responsibilities. 

Let Us Help You

All condo owners want the success of condo boards. While the above are just some of the common traits we’ve found to be inherent skills of great board members. As it is just a summary, it does highlight traits integral to good governance of a condominium corporation.

Are you an existing condo board member looking to improve your skills or a community member looking to join the board? Our team at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. can help you with answering any questions you have about the roles and responsibilities as a member of a condo board. Board members are an essential part of the condo corporation, working to keep the community safe and happy.

 Please call us at 403-237-8600 or contact us through our website.


Condominium Insurance Insights

What is condominium insurance? 

As a condominium unit owner, you have title to your own unit, as well as a share in common (and or managed) property such as the lobby, hallways, parking garage and other amenities. A bare land condominium may have fewer common areas, typically just streets or roadways but can also include managed property such as the roof, exterior siding, and sewer lines. It is important to note that the definition of what is “owned” by the unit owner depends on the condominium and typically outlined in the bylaws and on the condominium plan. 

If you have purchased a condominium unit, the insurance policy you bought might have seemed similar to something like the coverage you might have gotten with a Tenant insurance policy (i.e. Personal contents and liability).    

When it comes to buying condominium owner coverage, it is important to note that coverage is available under two separate and distinct policies: one for the corporation, and one for the unit owner. 

 Having two insurance policies can be confusing but while the two policies are separate in their coverages and wordings, in combination, they may provide all risk coverage for your unit and contents.

Detailed information about what is covered is specific to each Corporation and typically  defined in the Condominium Bylaws.  Your Insurance Broker is the expert with respect  to your personal coverage. Call them and discuss your concerns to make sure you get  the best possible coverage for your protection. 

Tip: Provide your condominium corporation’s insurance policy plus your bylaws to your insurance broker. This helps to make sure you have the proper coverage in place. 

Why do I have to buy condominium unit owners insurance? 

 The Condominium Property Act specifies that condominium corporations are responsible to insure Corporation owned property, and unit owners are responsible to insure their Units and personal property.   

 In addition to the Corporation’s policy, it is especially important that you also have a Condominium Unit Owners Policy in place for your protection. Remember: The Corporation’s policy does not cover your personal contents, liability or in many cases, improvements to your unit. 

 How does this insurance benefit me? 

 Like homeowner’s insurance, a condominium owner’s policy would cover the insured’s personal property and contents, third party liability, and additional living expenses in the event something happens (like a fire or burst water pipe) that prevents them from staying in their home.  

 In addition, condominium owner insurance also protects the unit’s improvements and betterments, deductible costs, the unit itself or a loss assessment on the building should the corporation have no insurance or have inadequate insurance for which that the owner’s policy would normally cover. 

 What is Loss Assessment Coverage? 

 Loss assessment coverage is unique to condominium insurance. Since unit owners share responsibility for common property or elements, this coverage pays your share (up to a stated limit) for a major property or liability loss on common property.  

 Important insurance changes impacting deductibles and loss assessment coverage 

 Effective January 1, 2020, the Condominium Corporation has the power to seek recovery from any Owner where damage has originated from the owner’s unit for the deductible up to a maximum of $50,000 on an insurance claim.  This “absolute liability” means that regardless of whether there was proven negligence or not, the Corporation can hold the Owner liable.  This clause is part of the Condominium Regulations (Section 62.4). 

 For example: 

 If the Corporation’s deductible is $15,000, and there is damage that originates from an owner’s unit, in the amount of $20,000, the Condominium Board has the authority to recover $15,000 from the Owner. 

 Alternatively, if the Board has a $15,000 deductible, but the damages are only $5,000, the Board only has the authority to recover $5,000. 

 In the same regard, if the Corporation has a deductible that is over $50,000 and damages exceed the deductible, the maximum the Board can recover is $50,000. 

 What steps can condominium unit owners take to protect themselves and have the proper condominium unit insurance policy? 

  1. Ask your Condominium Board or Property Manager for a copy of the Corporation’s Insurance  Certificate 
  2. Contact a personal Insurance Broker and provide them with a copy of the corporation’s certificate along with a copy of your condominium bylaws
  3. Confirm that their Unit Owner policy has deductible or loss assessment coverage and how much  they are covered for in the event they are obligated to pay. 
  4. Confirm the amount of the deductible for the Condominium Corporation’s insurance policy(on the corporation’s insurance. 
  5. Confirm that the value of deductible coverage in their Unit Owner policy is at least equivalent to  the value of the Condominium Corporation’s deductible; and 
  6. Pay attention to any notice from the Corporation which changes or increases the amount of the Corporation’s deductible and increase their coverage (to a maximum of $50,000), as required. 
  7. Get written confirmation from your insurance provider that they have deductible coverage for the Corporation’s deductible.
  8. Keep a copy of your policy with your important documents and review coverages annually on receipt of your corporation’s insurance renewal for any changes or coverage updates. 

 Note: Deductible coverage is different from special assessment coverage.  

With close to 50 years of property management experience, Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. is a licensed property management brokerage and trusted to respond with experience and responsive systems. Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. offers a wide range of condominium property management services.  Our primary goal is to offer peace of mind and help condominium boards realize the long-term profitability, a solid governance approach and assist to minimize risk.  Contact us today to find out more about how our team at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. can help by calling 403-237-8600. 

 


Property Insurance Market Update

The shift in the insurance market that started in 2018 continues to impact condominium corporations and multi-family rental properties across Canada.  Unfortunately, the hardening of the insurance market and aggressive changes by insurance companies continued into 2021 with Covid-19 hitting the insurance industry. 

Like many markets, the insurance market is cyclical.  In the recent past, benefits from a softer market were enjoyed by many in the property management industry. However, the long-term results of rising claims and reduced profitability, further impacted by a world-wide pandemic has the property management industry in a hard market.

Hard Market 101 - Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Ltd.

 

The property and the real estate market are leading the lines of the insurance coverage hardest hit[1] by the hard market cycle.  This is due in part from increases in property claims, water damages, natural catastrophes, and fires.

In addition to the increased claims, the other factors impacting property management & real estate insurance market include:

  • Increase in replacement cost valuations on an average of 7-10%
  • Increase in the number of claims and frequency of claims made by condominium corporations and stratas (“claims inflation”)
  • Repair costs have increased on average of 10%[2]
  • Insurance industry recorded an underwriting loss of $244 million for the period and an overall loss of $5.1 million[3]
  • Historic low interest rates
  • Increase in severity for liability losses (“social inflation”).

Equally important, there has been a decrease in the number of insurance companies in Canada that are willing to insure real estate, especially condominium corporations.  In such cases, capacity is restricted resulting in less insurance supply.  For this reason, the increase demands leads to increased premiums.

Reported increases in the media highlighting higher premium rates and shrinking coverage capacities confirms what we are seeing and hearing from our partners and services providers.  Alberta is not unique as this market is being throughout Canada and the United States.

Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. has been actively working on this year’s insurance renewal for properties.  With many of the leaders in the insurance markets indicating hard market our team has been heavily involved in navigating the current insurance market with our team and master insurance partners to mitigate the financial impact from the changes in the marketplace to achieve the best rates for our clients.  

The following is a snapshot of the strategic marketing undertaken by our team to aggressively respond to adverse market conditions.  Our goal is to mitigate the financial repercussions impacting condominium corporations and multi-family rental dwellings across Canada.  

 

How to get ahead in a hard insurance market?

With insurers struggling to meet demand, there has been an increase in information required.  Many insurers are placing requirements such as the: mandating preventative maintenance programs; replacement of roofs; and even, mandating improvements to boiler & mechanical systems and the replacement of hot water tanks & furnaces. 

Insurers want more robust information, and it is important that you are prepared. It is integral that preventative maintenance programs are in effect and inspections are up-to-date.  Properties need to be well maintained and risk assessments completed.  In situations where the insurer requires replacements or improvements, the time taken and information gathering helps in the long run when it comes to renewal conditions.

Our valued partners at Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Ltd. further recommend that to get the best results in a hard market you need to:

  • Start early
  • Provide a robust renewal submission highlighting your maintenance programs and property management standards
  • Focus on claims mitigation
  • Keep property appraisals up to date
  • Build partnerships and promote loyalty[4]

The early intervention taken by Emerald Management & Realty Ltd., including gathering and preparing information to promote the properties and condominium corporations has been presented and marketed to various insurance companies. Early indications and feedback from the insurers indicate that the process has proven to assist with renewals.  

Further to the current insurance environment, Emerald continues to work on behalf of its clients to minimize the impact of this shift on pricing to maintain the benefits of our insurance program.   We continue to be focused on achieving the advantage of our low corporate rates, reasonable deductible levels, prompt claims management, rental revenue loss coverage, vacancy coverages. 

To discuss the Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. master insurance program advantage and any concerns you have with your current property coverage please contact our team today. 

For more information about the hard insurance market visit:

[1] Hub International 2021 Hard Market Information Bulletin

[2] BFL Canada Insurance Services Inc. Market Insight December 2018

[3] Navacord Hard Market Insights

[4] Lloydsadd Hard Market Insight 2021


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