Successful Homeowners Association management is vital to bring the HOA and community’s shared goals – of increased property values and communal spirit – to fruition.
But looks can be deceiving, with seemingly well-managed communities sinking under poor leadership and governance.
Whether you’re considering the prospect of hiring your first HOA management company or evaluating your own HOA Board of Directors, understanding these five points will help you make the best decision for your community.
1. Strong Leadership
Always strive for a well-balanced Board of educated and active members. This speaks to having a clear, well-defined understanding of what the Board’s objective is.
In other words, the Board needs to have collective and individual knowledge on how to successfully manage the HOA, including its rules, regulations, and those on the federal and state level.
Knowing what aligns best with the community’s objective and how best to effectively pursue it also requires the willingness to actively seek and implement necessary solutions.
When the Board is well-balanced, you’re also better able to marry the experience of older members and the forward-thinking ideas of younger ones without one faction overruling the other.
Furthermore, having a professional HOA manager means introducing objectivity and reducing the risk of emotional and reactive (instead of informed and active) leadership.
To be a good fit, this individual also needs strong leadership skills, including constructively dealing with any opinionated members.
2. Clear, Thorough Documentation
When it comes to HOA documentation, many make the mistake of compromising between being clear and thorough. Balancing the two can be very tricky, but doing so is vital to the success of your HOA management.
HOA documentation includes a wide range of functions, which easily lends itself to being delegated to several members according to their strengths.
Financial – a well-planned budget (monthly, quarterly, and yearly), long-term financial plan, reserve funding, and documenting the income and expenses
Vendors – recording communication, contracts, leases, and community feedback concerning requested/existing vendors
Contractors – records of requested repairs, renovations, or other projects, including quotes, communication with contractors, inspection notes, contracts, and responsibilities as delegated during the project period
Board of Directors – a clearly defined objective, meeting agendas and minutes, community newsletters, records of communications with members of the community (past and present)
This includes your chosen HOA management company assigning a dedicated HOA manager to your community with a low turnover rate. This way, documenting all communications is properly centralized, while long-term trust is also allowed to develop.
3. Effective Communication
Communication is one of the most important keys to successful HOA management. Transparency, mediation, the ability to listen, and responsiveness make effective communication possible.
For effective communication to occur, there need to be clear two-way channels between the HOA management company and the Board of Directors and between the Board and the community members.
This means having professional channels of communication whereby the Board can request and receive assistance from your HOA management company and accessible means for two-way communication with the community.
Common methods for the latter include a dedicated website, social media channels, and newsletters (whether physical, online, or a combination of both).
But they should also include a means for community members to provide feedback in the form of complaints, ideas, requests, questions, etc., and for the Board to effectively respond.
An often overlooked aspect of effective communication is how board representatives and/or your assigned property manager handle situations, such as angry residents or Association delinquency.
A calm, professional response that includes practical conflict resolution skills is the hallmark of successful HOA management and the leadership we spoke about in the first point.
4. Following Up
The ability to follow up on issues is partially covered under effective communication and certainly relies on clear, thorough documentation. But it extends to other areas as well.
Successful HOA management requires physically following up on solutions provided or implemented. For example, suppose repairs were done on properties within the community.
In that case, a designated Board representative or your HOA property manager needs to personally review the site to ensure the repairs were completed.
This is a common issue when the repairs or upkeep are the responsibility of an individual homeowner. If corners have been cut to finish the job quicker or at reduced expense, it can lead to bigger issues requiring more extensive (and expensive) repairs at a later stage – usually at the cost of the HOA.
5. Forward Thinking
This final point touches on all of the previous ones.
No leadership, whether as a collective or individual, is perfect. Those in leadership positions need true dedication to the community – to be willing to continuously learn, allowing for better interoperability between members. This helps with the ability to effectively recover from mistakes and adapt to new circumstances.
Without effective communication (including following up) and necessary knowledge, forward-thinking in your HOA’s documentation also becomes an impossible task that falls by the wayside to the community’s long-term detriment.
No matter the age of your community, financially preparing for extensive property repairs and renovations that will become necessary at least every 20 years is vital to ensuring corners aren’t cut when the time comes.
This forward-thinking must include minimizing those benchmark costs with timely maintenance and careful budgeting.
There are many keys to successful Homeowners Association management, encapsulated within these five overarching themes. But even when reduced to five points, it’s clear most HOAs – and HOA management companies – are ill-equipped for the task.
Aquity Management Group has the experience to help you achieve your community’s objectives in a practical, timely, and long-lasting manner.
If you’re looking for a company that goes the extra mile and beyond, contact us today!