Choosing the Right HOA Management Company
A builder, developer, or investment company CEO, may be faced with the challenge of creating a homeowner’s association for those who are buying homes in their communities.
If they’ve contacted you to head the HOA’s board of directors, you’ll need to brush up on the world of community management. And you’ll be tasked with hiring someone to manage the everyday business of your association.
You may be more familiar with property management, so the difference between a property management company and an HOA management firm may be confusing. They may be different, but there can be overlaps in what they do. By getting straight about what they do, you’ll be better informed when you must hire a service provider. This post should help you with this challenge.
A Strange New World with its Own Lingo and Processes
Terms like “HOA management”, community association management” and “property management” are confusing enough. Then when you must learn every aspect of managing, it will be overwhelming at first. You’ll appreciate the role of HOA software.
But let’s start with that first question, what is the difference between HOA management and property management?
It seems property managers must manage their rentals within or outside of an association of homeowners or residents. Property managers act as an extension of a landlord working to fix the interior or exterior of rental houses or buildings. They normally don’t work with shared community resources and common areas. However, large property management firms are more likely to have the staff and expertise to take on an HOA, and will if it’s a significant new revenue source.
Their work can cross paths, and it’s possible that a property management firm will or can manage a community association or homeowners association. If that seems too complex, you can hire a local management company with significant strengths in managing communities.
The Heart of the Matter: Shared Community Areas
First things first, HOA managers are like the guardians of shared community spaces. They focus on maintaining communal harmony and ensuring residents play by the rules when it comes to property use.
“A homeowner’s association (HOA) is an organization in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium building that makes and enforces rules for the properties and its residents.” – Investopedia
HOA management companies are brought into the picture by elected boards (people) that steer these associations. These boards set the rules, set budgets and objectives, call the shots, and hire a service firm armed with an HOA management system. The digital wizardry which HOA software possesses, significantly helps them juggle the HOA budget, manage its expenses, coordinate repairs in buildings, yards, and streets, and maintain positive and responsive communications with homeowners.
Keep in mind, though, that the HOA services company isn’t the HOA board. They don’t craft association rules, set dues, or policies. They execute the orders given by the board for which they sign a service contract for fee, and which members support via their HOA fees.
HOA Management Companies: Masters of the House
HOA management usually involves:
- Budget Management: Keeping tabs on the financial health of the HOA.
- Vendor Vigilance: Finding and hiring the right folks for maintenance and repairs.
- Grounds Control: Managing shared areas like swimming pools, parks, and parking lots.
- Responding to HOA regulations violations: citing infractions and issuing fines.
- Maintenance Service: Handling everything from snow removal to community recreational facilities upkeep.
Now, for all you builders and developers out there, here’s a scoop: sometimes, they set up HOA associations to help their new communities thrive. Whether they rent out units or continue to own them, an HOA can be the glue that holds it all together.
Homeowners can also take the reins by forming their HOA and electing board members to establish rules. Guess what? They hire an HOA services company, too.
HOA Bylaws in Action
HOA rules cover a wide spectrum, from home appearance to snow removal, lawn care to noise bylaws, and much more. The HOA board brings in an HOA property management company to ensure the shared areas are managed according to these rules.
Think of these managers as the enforcers – they collect dues, enforce HOA bylaws, and keep the peace. The HOA management software they use acts as a bridge between the board and the company, ensuring performance tracking and rule compliance.
And occasionally, they’ll even put a stop to gun usage, exotic pets, or car repairs in driveways.
Property Management Companies: The All-Arounders
Now, let’s talk property management. It’s a broader field. Residential property management companies may dabble in outdoor or shared community maintenance, such as lawn care, snow removal, and landscaping. But their main gig is managing tenants, buildings, rent collection, and the landlord’s to-do list.
They juggle most of the landlord’s tasks from bookkeeping and accounting, collecting rent, and paying bills, to handling repairs, maintenance, and managing contractors and tenants. The list goes on, but the key point is they work for the landlord, not the community.
Since there aren’t any hard and fast rules about what a property management firm can do, it can be confusing to view this sector from a property management company owner’s point of view.
Variety is the Spice of HOA Life
In the world of HOA management, variety is the name of the game. HOA companies cater to a diverse range of communities, each with its unique needs and quirks. From condo communities to luxury high-rise towers, golf club havens to cozy townhouses – they’ve got their hands full.
These associations come in all shapes and sizes, from massive master planned communities to tight-knit neighborhood associations.
List of HOA Management Company Responsibilities
Now, you might wonder what exactly HOA management companies do. Well, it’s a comprehensive list:
- Area Avengers: Overseeing common areas like roads, sidewalks, pools, playgrounds, and parks.
- Dues Detectives: Collecting dues, issuing fines, and chasing down non-payers.
- Bylaw Buffs: Enforcing HOA bylaws and keeping everyone in check from home features to graffiti, to vehicle storage, parking and driving behavior.
- Financial Wizards: Managing the HOA’s budget with finesse.
- Vendor Vendors: Hiring and supervising contractors for all sorts of work.
- Money Matters: Handling accounting and financial reporting.
- Insurance Initiators: Arranging insurance policies for common areas.
- Clean and Green: Organizing trash, recycling, street cleaning, and snow removal.
- Eco-Watchdogs: Ensuring eco-friendly practices and tackling pollution breaches including littering.
Hiring the Right HOA Management Company
So, how do you go about finding the perfect HOA management company for your community? It’s all about understanding your needs, checking their credentials, and ensuring they’re a good fit.
Here are some tips to guide you on your quest:
Know Your Needs: Understand the work your community will require and expectations for performance.
Check Credentials: Ensure they’re licensed, skilled, and reputable.
Law Lookout: Confirm their knowledge of HOA laws.
Quality Over Cost: Prioritize service quality over the cheapest option.
Tech Savvy: Examine their tech tools and systems.
Responsiveness Rules: Assess communication skills and their responsiveness in emergencies.
Insurance Insight: Inquire about their insurance coverage.
Contract Care: Review the contract, perhaps with legal advice.
And remember, a trial run with a one-year contract can be a wise move.
Software Systems: The Secret Ingredient
Efficiency is the name of the game, and software is the secret sauce. HOA managers often rely on specialized Homeowners Association Software or general property management systems. These tools are cost-effective and streamline operations.
Software solutions such as ManageCasa™ offer modules tailored to HOA and community association needs. It simplifies document management, ensuring legal compliance and reducing errors. Plus, we enable online dues and fine payments and provide websites and apps for homeowner and board member communication. Almost every conceivable task can be managed within the platform.
In a nutshell, an HOA management company juggles a host of community management responsibilities that demand flexibility, expertise, and experience. Finding the right one can make all the difference in your association’s success.
Find out more about ManageCasa’s HOA Software Solution
See also: HOA Software | Eco-Friendly Communities | HOA Challenges | HOA Conferences | HOA Fees | Community Beautification | HOA Violation Fine Payments | HOA Trends | Property Management Fees | What is Community Association Management? | Community Association Software | HOA Welcome Packets | HOA Accounting Software | HOA Payment Systems | South Carolina Property Management | Hawaii Property Management Services | Florida Property Management Companies | Denver Property Management Services | Boston Property Management