ECONOMY

New housing developments will require specialized property management firms

Problems arise when regulations are not respected in a housing development. This golden rule is proven by events at the «Nefeli» housing project, built by Stabilton during the late 1990s in the Paradeisos district, in the northern suburb of Maroussi. After a year and a half of operation, the management of the housing project was turned over to the owner-residents. It was then that problems began to arise. At present, overdue common-use service fees amount to more than 11,000 euros, as certain residents insist on not paying, usually by raising objections to certain expense items or the validity of invoices. Capital reserves have vanished. Indicative of the bad relations among residents and their inability to come to an understanding is the fine imposed by the local planning agency on the housing project for illegally keeping and operating a pumping station in an area reserved for social functions, while the previous management team is facing legal proceedings over the same issue. The new management committee, which took over this summer, has also turned to the courts in order to make delinquent contributors pay their dues. Upon taking over, the new committee found just 414 euros in the coffers in which to pay for services such as gardening, maintenance and disinfection. Will such problems become the norm in the housing developments under construction, most of which are far bigger than Nefeli? P. Nikolaou, the general manager of Lamda Olympia Village, the developer of «Ilida,» a project of 215 single family homes in the Maroussi area, is unequivocal. «On no account will we allow such situations to develop at Ilida,» he told Kathimerini. «Property management is extremely important for the success of such large-scale projects, which, in fact, create new niche markets in housing. In the case of Ilida, the existing regulations specifically call for a specialized subsidiary of Lamda Development, Lamda Property Management, to undertake management for a 10-year period. The regulations also impose the creation of a reserve fund for the maintenance and occasional refurbishment of areas of common use. As soon as they sign their contracts, the new owners are obliged to pay two months of common-use fees in advance. I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that the vast majority of property buyers demand a specialized property manager; they have understood that such management is more efficient, ultimately cheaper and that it also helps maintain the value of the property,» Nikolaou added. A specialized property management company will manage the complex of 202 condominiums, named «Edisson Hill» and currently being developed in Pallini by REDS, a subsidiary of the Hellenic Technodomiki Group. The two housing complexes, which were used as media villages during the Olympics, require the equivalent of 1 euro per square meter per month for maintenance and grooming of public-use spaces and gardens. A recent survey by property developers DTZ on housing projects in the United States found that the monthly cost to the owner of maintaining commonly used facilities for a 135-square-meter flat is $202.50 per month or $1.50 per square meter per month. Water and electricity account for the largest expense item (24 percent), followed by security services (18 percent), cleaning services (15 percent) and the maintenance of electromechanical equipment (14 percent). According to DTZ, the larger the housing project, the smaller the average cost per square meter, while efficient management may lead to significant cost reductions. Fees for the reserve capital tend to increase over time due to wear and tear and the resulting higher maintenance and repair needs.