New Canadian Web-based services that allow better and faster communication between Condominium Councils, condominium owners, buyers and Realtors are proving a timely idea.

Most of the problems that arise when buying and owning a condominium can be traced to a breakdown in communication. For instance, a buyer requests the Condominium Council’s (or Strata Corp., as it is known in British Columbia) meeting minutes, maintenance records and financial information before a purchase.

Or consider the problem of leaky condominiums. Had professional property managers and engineers been told of problems sooner, they may have been able to intervene earlier, saving owners and Councils thousands of dollars.

Or take the everyday problem of trying to get a notice out to all the members of a Condominium Council, telling them that the garbage pick up day has changed or the elevator in the north tower won’t be working on Saturday.

All this can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition for the Council and owners because storage, retrieval and distribution of documents have always been labor-intensive and costly.

It is also a pain in the neck for condominium buyers and real estate agents who have seen sales delayed because they couldn’t get hold of relevant information.

Property manager Ben Larrson of Richmond, British Columbia, has seen all these problems and has spent the last four years developing an alternative. Last year Larrson launched Web Page Condominium News www.wpcn.com, an Internet-based resource center for Condominium Councils to help improve communications.

The first such service in Canada, WPCN allows a member Council to post all minutes of meetings, budgets, bylaws, units for rent and all other information. The secure site can be accessed by any member of the Condominium Council, who in turn could provide access to potential buyers and Realtors. 

The service, according to Larsson, saves hours of time in accessing accurate information. The information is available in real time and can be archived as far back as required.

The WBCN Web page has links to resources and organizations concerned with condominiums and real estate, information about government regulations and the ability to download official documents, like government forms and contracts.

The real power for Condominium Councils and their members, however, is that they can click onto specific sites for their own building, which provides minutes of meetings, financial statements and member notices. Individual codes are provided to condominium owners, allowing them to retrieve documents and communicate with the Council and property manager.

WBCN, while based in Canada, has a global reach and the site carries information for U.S. and even Australian condominium owners. The service costs about $150 annually for Condominium Council with 25 member owners or less and ranges up to $600 for larger Councils with more than 100 members.

WBCN was up and running for just months before a competitor stepped forward.

Called KondoTek, (www.kondotek.com) it is a Web-based toolset with a data management core that focuses on individual buildings through a secure access system..

So far only one Vancouver-area condo building is using KondoTek, but developer Jud Lewis-Mahon, a tech expert, believes it will eventually be wired into scores of projects.

KondoTek, based in Vancouver, has two tiers: the first is used by a Condominium Council to compile council minutes and other data and communicate with members. The second tier is members-only access where condominium owners in the building can tap into the data and share information, Lewis-Mahon explained.

The system, for example, could allow a condominium vendor to provide the listing Realtor and buyers with fast access to the Council minutes, he explained.

“We believe KondoTek will save owners, councils, real estate agents and property managers time, money and their collective sanity,” Lewis-Mahon said.

Frank O’Brien can be reached at fobrien@dccnet.com.

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