Dear PoPville – Looking for Condo Management Recs

Photo by PoPville flickr user JustinSchuck

Dear PoPville,

I wanted to submit a reader request for a PoPville discussion about condo management companies in and around DC that manage smaller (2-20 units) buildings. Our condo association is contemplating shopping around for a new management company, but we don’t know where to start. We decided that other small condo associations must have the same dilemma, so a PoPville-wide discussion of management companies (anything from fees, customer service, value added, favorite property managers, property managers to avoid, etc.) would help us all. In addition, potential buyers would benefit from learning a bit more about how the management company at a potential property compares to others in the area.

We discussed a bit back in 2010 but does anyone have recs specifically for smaller building?

31 Comment

  • Chatel Management is pretty decent. They are really inexpensive and local. We have had a few issues with them throughout the years but nothing major that would prevent me from making the recommendation.

    • Our building had a REALLY bad experience with Chatel. We had a new manager every month or two…no one would ever return calls…bills were paid late…services weren’t done on time… We ended up self-managing as a condominum association because we were spending more time following up on Chatel’s mistakes than we would have on just doing it ourselves.

  • New Washington Land Company [NWLC] manages my building. We had to switch from Delbe [horrible x 10] and sent out RFPs to several management companies and in the end chose NWLC. They had me at “excel”. 🙂

    NWLC got our books and budget back in the black and in short order. Good luck!

  • I would highly recommend Thomas D. Walsh….they have been around for a long time with an excellent reputation.

    On the other side of the coin, avoid BRIM Management at all costs!!

  • 2nd New Washington Land Company (NWLC) – 18th & T NW. Suzanne Winter knows her stuff and associates are well trained. They remind me of what I’ve forgotten and/or agreed to.

    • My building (30 units) had NWL for years then there was a huge issue/upheaval. I did always like Suzanne Winters and this was about 10 years ago, but do question them thoroughly.

      We have now been happy with Tilton Bernstein for 4-5 years.

  • We like Mindel Management. They are located on 17th street so they are close to our building. I’d say one of their best features is responsiveness when there are problems – they get to the building quickly and get repairs moving fast.

    • We use Mindel as well (as do several other buildings on our block in Adams Morgan) and really like them. Super responsive and as the current board president, I love the fact that they handle so much of the work.

  • Avoid CityLights Realty at all cost. They are expensive and not really worth it.

  • diploj

    Does anybody have experience with EJF?

    • meh. . . kind of expensive too

    • Avoid. They try to do the very least effort to get by. I once waited two weeks for a stairwell lightbulb to be replaced. They also insisted that they fixed it, but we’re totally clueless.

      And like the previous post says, they are expensive. I’m trying to get my building to shop around too. Big waste of money, IMO.

    • I don’t use the word hate very often…but man, do I hate EJF.

  • Check out Evolve Property Management. They manage our condo and are pretty awesome.

  • I would recommend Crescent Property management. They’ve been great with our 10 unit condo building. The only thing that’s REALLY annoying is that they charge a $1 dollar fee to have your dues directed debited.

    • A $1 fee that doesn’t even cover their cost to accept debits is “REALLY” annoying? Wow. I can think of about a million things that are far more annoying than that.

  • Leonard Ellen at Linear, LLC manages my 8 unit coop in Adams Morgan. He is responsive and always goes above and beyond!

  • My condo association considered switching a couple of years back, and a few board members went and met with other companies to compare/contrast. We met with EJF, Chatel, and New Land Management. We ended up not switching (we are with Tilton Bernstein) because we were in the middle of several projects at the time, but I would suggest you set up appointments to meet with folks, or send out an RFP as someone else suggested.

  • Just another note – one reason that we didn’t leave Tilton Bernstein is that we got (requested) a new property manager, and that helped with the service we received. If you feel you aren’t getting proper service from your current manager, perhaps requesting a change would help.

  • binpetworth

    On a related note, how much do these management services cost a small building, assuming that there’s not much maintenance, yard work, etc. to be organized? I’d be keen to keep condo fees low and continue to do the grunt work myself (along w/my neighbors), unless there’s a bargain to be had.

    • Most management companies charge a certain monthly fee per unit ($45/”door”/month seemed to be the going rate when we polled various companies). I’m sure there are additional fees if your building has a manned lobby, elevator, etc. (ours doesn’t).

      • Sorry for multiple posts – to your landscaping question – we are invoiced for landscaping services separately, they are not part of the monthly fee, so you should have some control over the costs (or opt not to have service at all if you wish). Same goes for cleaning services, exterminators, trash/recycling pickup, etc.

  • Slightly different question, what does one need to do to be a property manager in this city? For example, I have experience managing several rental properties around DC area, but these are/were homes that I have/had ownership interests with great tenant relationship and positive feedback.


  • Avoid Washington Property Management like the plague.

  • We are a smaller condo building (less than 40 units) in the U St./Columbia Heights area and switched to TheoHarris several years ago.

    They are Outstanding! Heidi is always responsive and proactive with our board. One of the first things she did when we hired them was to address our problems with CoinMach regarding our washers and dryers. Our original contract with them was terrible. Heidi immediately contacted CoinMach and negotiated a new deal with them that has worked out very well.

    they are located near W and 16th NW.

    I would highly recommend that you at least contact them. I will say though – the Heidi has stated on many occasions that they only work for condos that have strong support from their boards.

  • New Washington Land, hands down. We’ve been with two other management companies over the years, one of which is mentioned in other posts, and nobody compares to NWLC. Sharp, responsive and unbelievably excellent at financials.

  • New Washington Land Company is the WORST. My roommate and I rented in a very nice 5 unit building that used them, and they had the most awful customer service. When we first moved in, they place wasn’t even cleaned! The carpets were wet, and they had to have cleaners come in after the fact to do all the bathrooms and the kitchen. The back patio had trash bags filled with refuse that had actually been there for at least two years (our real landlords ended up taking care of it). One of the employees that worked with us was completely incompetent, answered our service requests for repairs/bugs SIX WEEKS after the fact, and when she finally got back to us she was rude and refused to compensate for the effots we had to put in all on our own in the meantime. We went to Suzanne in the middle of that period, and even she responded three weeks later– she was completely unsympathetic and defended her employee’s lack of response (we compiled multiple unanswered emails from both of them over that six week period). The staff actually told us that they read all of our emails when they came in and just ignored them for 6 weeks. What kind of customer service is that? Our landlords once came to visit us, and asked what had happened to the carpets– cigarette burns and general fraying form the old tennants– and when we told them the apartment came like that, they were livid that NWLC never told them about the problem so the carpet could be replaced. We were also never told the back room had flooded with the old tennants. Finally, after working with others in our building (and our real landlords), they agreed to completely get rid of New Washington and self-manage. I’m aware that this is from a renter’s point of view, but keep in mind that they didn’t communicate well with our landlords either. Avoid NWLC at ALL costs.

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