Board members of a homeowners association take on a lot of responsibility. Not only could the sheer number of tasks be intimidating, but the types of skills required aren’t always found within the board. When this is the case, the homeowners association may consider hiring an HOA management company to run the day to day of the organization.
One of the top benefits of hiring an HOA management company is the wealth of experience they bring. Having a knowledgeable property manager can help guide your board through important decisions and help build confidence with other business transactions. Some of the most common services a management company provides include:
- Administration services
- Financial services
- Customer service
Even when your homeowner’s association board has made the decision to bring in an HOA management company, it can still seem overwhelming to actually hire one. But, to help make it more manageable, we’ll go over some of the top things to look for in the right company.
Key Factors to Consider
One of the most important factors for a good HOA management company-board relationship is communication. The right management company will be responsive and promptly return calls or emails. For example, there needs to be open lines of communication for all concerns and problems. Then, they can be dealt with effectively and quickly.
Similarly, a good HOA management company will have excellent follow-through. Any requests or projects will be completed as soon as possible. For instance, it can be extremely frustrating to wait for a new streetlight to be replaced. Likewise, it can be damaging for a water leak to go unaddressed. Above all, no one wants to make repeated requests for important issues like these to be handled.
Also, the right homeowners association management company stays on top of regular tasks. For example, completing regular compliance drives or walks and making sure that any communication with homeowners goes out on time. Another task includes making sure that any other compliance is being handled according to the board’s instructions as well.
Furthermore, a good HOA management company will also provide a consistent community manager. One common complaint of homeowner association boards is having a rotation of managers coming through. Moreover, board members and residents want to know who to count on and develop a relationship with the same person.
Access to Financial Information
In addition, board members also need quick and easy access to the homeowners association financial records. If the management company is overseeing them, this is another area where there needs to be open communication and quick responsiveness. For example, when a board member needs to access the records, they usually need them right away. Therefore, the management company should have them available and ready to send at a moment’s notice.
Handling financials is a big part of a management company’s responsibilities and another factor to consider as well. Budgeting, collecting dues, and working with collection agencies are all part of the management process. And if there are liens or foreclosures, that require working though processes with attorneys and banks, they would fall to the management company. The management company should also work with the organization to ensure there’s an adequate reserve fund. Knowing what issues are going to come up, such as future repairs, is part of having the right-sized reserve fund. Lastly, not only should the company execute financial responsibilities well, but the reports and information sent to the board should be accurate and easy to read.
Finally, maintenance is an important part of a well-run homeowners association community. A good management company will also have high-quality vendors they have relationships with. This ensures your community gets the best work at the best price. These types of vendors include everything from landscapers to insurance companies to general contractors. And because the management company has already screened and worked with the vendors, it saves your board time and the stress of wondering if you’re hiring the right company.
Certifications to Look For
Next, before hiring a company, you’ll want to find out what certifications they possess. To do so, first confirm that they are affiliated with the Community Associations Institute (CAI), which provides a variety of certifications and accreditations for management companies. Common ones to look for are:
- Professional Community Managers (PCAM)
- Certified Community Manager of Associations (CMCA)
- Accredited Association Management Companies (AAMC)
- Association Management Specialists (AMS)
These types of certifications and accreditations are important to have because it means the HOA management company’s practices are more likely to align with the laws, requirements, and implementation of successful community management.
Steps to Take
Subsequently, once you’ve decided you want to hire an HOA management company, first assess the strengths and weaknesses of the board. You’ll want to find a company that meets your organization’s specific needs.
Now that you know what you are looking for, you’ll want to compare several companies. This will include reading reviews, asking for references, and interviewing them yourself. When you interview the companies, you’ll want to make sure they provide the services your organization needs. Some common questions include:
- How long have they been managing properties?
- How many properties are they currently handling?
- What services are included?
- How will a property manager be selected?
- What are the property manager’s qualifications?
- How will they handle maintenance issues?
And clarifying how they will communicate, and how often, is also important.
In conclusion, the final element to figure out when comparing companies is cost. You’ll want to compare the cost to what you are getting from the company. A company may have a great price in their bid, but they may not offer as many needed services as another candidate. Similarly, if a company includes a lot of services you don’t need, you’ll want to find something that is a better fit.