As Summer approaches many HOA’s are enjoying fresh landscape and preparing for fun neighborhood events. This time of year also brings discussion over the quality of management services received and how the community can be improved.
Whether you are planning to switch from your current property management company, or considering a management company for the first time, changes in management are not always easy. Weighing your options carefully is especially important when your Association has not had the best experience with an existing relationship. Below are a few considerations to keep in mind when looking into management services for your HOA.
5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Management Company For Your HOA
1. What Services Do You Offer?
Anyone who has served on the Board of a HOA will tell you that the amount of work involved can easily equate to a full time job!
Hiring the right property management company for your HOA can relieve a lot of stress and will free up valuable time. To get the best bang for your buck it is crucial to understand what services will be provided, and most importantly, what services will not be provided. Having a clear understanding of what your involvement will need to be under the new management structure is imperative to a smooth transition of management services.
A great property management company understands that needs vary from Association to Association and will offer service that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the community.
Here are a few basic services you should expect from a full service property management company:
- Manage collection of Association Dues
- Manage collection of arrears
- Provide detailed monthly reporting to the Board of Directors
- Draft an annual budget
- Enforce Covenant and Restrictions
- Address maintenance issues
- Locate and utilize preferred vendors
2. How Is Pricing Structured?
To make sure you are getting the most for your Association’s dollars it’s important to compare apples to apples. Before interviewing prospective management companies we suggest making a list of what your Association currently receives and the services you would like to receive under new management.
At first blush many property management companies appear to offer similar services. While there is similarity in most property management services, the devil is in the detail.
When reviewing bids you may be inclined to lean toward the most inexpensive bid. After all saving money for the Association is a good thing, right? Not always. Having a clear understanding of what services will be provided, and most importantly, what will not be provided, is important to ensuring your expectations will be met.
Here are a few considerations when evaluating bids
- Are the services offered set in stone or can you tailor the services to the needs of your Association?
- How many site inspections do you provide? Weekly, Bi Weekly, Monthly?
- What extra charges can we expect?
- Is the company truly objective or do they have financial arrangements with the vendors they use?
- Will we have a local property manager familiar with our area?
- Is someone local available if we need to elevate issues?
- When can we expect a response to the issues we raise?
After deciding which management package is right for your Association make sure that the terms of your contract are clear. All services discussed should be included in the final agreement and the fine print should be read and fully understood.
3. How Much Experience Do You Have With HOA Management?
General management experience is nice but the management of HOA’s is very different than residential property management; For good reason – homeowners have a much larger stake in the decisions impacting their community. They want to be involved in both the long and short term improvements for their community. Experience and knowledge of HOA’s is imperative to ensuring that expectations are met.
The best property managers understand how to mediate conflicts and temper disagreements while moving the ball forward.
Here are a few qualities to look for in a management professional
- What size HOA’s are the accustomed to managing? Do they manage Associations of 80 homes or 500?
- How much property management experience do you have?
- Past HOA Board Membership experience. Have they personally served on a HOA Board?
- Real Estate experience. Do they have general real estate knowledge that will add value to your Association?
- Knowledge of City and Local ordinances. Do they know who to call when issues arise?
4. Do You Have A List Of References?
Like anything else in your life, a little research will go a long way on your investment. Ask around. Check out their website and their Facebook page. Better Business ratings are also a good indicator of character.
Challenge the potential management company to discuss not only their successes but also challenges they have faced. How did that issue resolve? Is their demeanor professional?
Talk to past and current clients and get a feel for their reputation in the community.
5. How will you add value to our community?
The goal of the best property management companies is simple – keep neighbors, neighbors.
At Gulf South Property Management we use a proactive management style with a personal touch. We believe that getting to know the neighbors personally is the best way to effectively manage an Association.
Let’s face it – no-one likes getting a letter asking them to clean up their yard or tidy up their flower beds. The ability to put a name and face together makes difficult conversations a little easier. Not all property management companies have the time or the desire to add a personal touch.
Here are a few value adds to look for when evaluating management companies
- Technology – Does the management company offer state of the art technology? Can homeowners pay dues or make maintenance requests online? Can Board members access reporting in real time? Do violation notices contain pictures? At Gulf South Property Management we utilize the most advance and secure technology available in our market. Our investment in technology gives homeowners the convenience of paying their Association dues online. In addition, they can check their balances and make maintenance requests online at their convenience. Board members appreciate being able to access reporting online at their convenience. They also like being able to review outstanding violations, including pictures, to understand the current issues in the community.
- Welcome packets – New neighbors are always anxious to acclimate to their new home. Providing them a list of pertinent neighborhood information is key to ensuring compliance with Covenants & Restrictions from the outset. After all, how are they to abide by the rules if they don’t have a copy of them? At Gulf South Property Management we welcome all new neighbors with a packet of pertinent neighborhood information as well as a batch of freshly baked cookies. This is just one of the ways we get to know the neighbors we serve.
- Website development – One great way to share pertinent neighborhood information is through the use of an Association website. At Gulf South Property Management we offer all Association’s the ability to host a secure Association page through our software company. All Association sites are secure and come with unlimited updates. Neighbors love the ability to access pertinent information as well as review recent newsletters and meeting minutes at their convenience.
- Newsletter drafting – One great way to communicate with neighbors is through the use of an Association newsletter. In addition to printing and mailing it out, can your current management company assist with drafting to ensure all pertinent information is included? Do they have different forms to choose from?
- Board Member Training – We offer Board Member training twice a year at no extra charge to the Association. Our training program goes through issues common to HOA’s including roles of Board members, the difference between property management and HOA responsibilities and dispute resolution.
Hiring a property management company is an opportunity to increase property values for everyone in the Association. When done correctly property management can improve not only the aesthetics of the Association but also the atmosphere as well. The questions above should give you a good starting point when interviewing prospective management companies.
If you have any questions about the article above or if you are interested in discussing what Gulf South Property Management has to offer please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.