Perhaps more than any other profession within the co-op and condominium industry, managers experience the most frequent real-time challenges. Those challenges require managers to stay up-to-date with the latest innovations in the field – not just products and services, but best practices and even overall trends in residents’ tastes and expectations. Staying on top of management methodology as a whole can be achieved with one word: education.
Plenty of professions make continuing education a priority. Real estate brokers and salespeople are required by law to renew their licenses, and must complete coursework to do that. That is not the case with property managers. They are not required by state regulations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois or Florida to take continuing education classes, though some professional designations do. Many managers complete continuing education by choice.
Barbara Polychronis is a property manager in Bridgewater, New Jersey for FirstService Residential. “I have a CMCA (Certified Manager of Community Associations credential) and an AMS (Association Management Specialist credential) ,” she says. “I do work with CAI-New Jersey as well.” Community Associations Institute, or CAI, is an organization that promotes and educates managers and residents of residential communities, including cooperative corporations, condominium associations and homeowners associations. “There are educational requirements to keep both of my designations up-to-date. We have a minimum level to complete. You’re supposed to complete 16 credits to keep up, but I always do more than what’s required. Information is always changing in this business. New laws come into play, like the new bathers’ code in New Jersey that pertains to pools and public bathing. CAI gives workshops and classes, some can be for two days. The company I work for also offers classes to help managers. I find this to be a very positive experience.”
Stuart Halper is Vice President of Impact Management, a co-op and condominium management firm with offices in Manhattan, Westchester, and Long Island. He is also the president of the local chapter of CAI. “We promote and provide services for managers, board members and other interested parties in the industry,” he says. “Last month we did a seminar about new city requirements for co-ops and condos to disclose their smoking policy. That regulation goes into effect in August of this year. What is the essence of it and how do you comply with it? We need to learn about these types of things. Whether it’s required or not doesn’t make a difference in terms of education. We as managers have to be on the cutting edge, not only from a physical aspect of how to do things, but also from a regulatory standpoint in an ever-changing landscape. For instance, we also recently did another seminar on the disclosures that board members must now make on a yearly basis as to whether or not they are doing business with their condo or co-op.”
Halper explains as well that CAI is an important component in the process of managers obtaining designations. Many of the seminars and workshops offered by the organization fulfill continuing education required by the certifying body for management designations. “Continuing education is a positive experience, and we recommend it for our managers,” he says. “We encourage them to get involved with CAI, or wherever else they can learn. It’s a changing landscape, and you have to be on top of it to get work.”