No one says an HOA can’t manage itself but it’s no easy undertaking. Keeping up with records and hiring great contractors is a full-time job and sometimes more than most volunteers can commit the time to. There are many reasons that an association should at least entertain hiring a professional property management firm to deal with the regular business required to keep property values in check and harmony within the community. Below are three more critical considerations for HOAs considering a professional property manager.
Enforcing Policy. While we realize a Board must establish rules and policies to maintain a thriving community it’s never fun to have to be the enforcer when those policy’s are ignored or rules are broken. It can be quite uncomfortable to have to be the one to place a lien on a person’s home who was just over for dinner last week. Homeowners association Board members have a special burden, they have to be neighbors and judges at the same time without the benefit of compensation if that could truly offset the stress. One way a Board minimizes their exposure and time consumption is by hiring a property management firm to take some of the workload and stress. A professional manager is compensated to be the “bad guy”. While Boards may still have to decide on policy, it’s the manager who has to enforce it. In most cases this small degree of separation can create enough breathing room for Board members to avoid the fire and remain objective enough to conduct their roles properly.
Expertise. The vast majority of Board members are incredibly sharp individuals from diverse backgrounds but managing an HOA is a specialty field. A good manager is a mix of accountant, financial planner, conflict negotiator, para legal, events planner, public speaker, and administrative guru. A qualified manager will have a wide range of experience and keen eye for detail. Many volunteer Board members lack the experience necessary to make decisions that observe fiduciary prudence, adhere to established laws and above all, keep the peace. Having a good idea of what to do doesn’t really cut it when it comes to the home values of your neighbors and making the best use of their funds. A good manager can advise homeowner association Boards and Committees on the best course of action from experience with the challenges common to HOAs.
Time. Another issue that many HOA Boards run into is never having enough time. Most Board members have jobs and households to maintain beyond their responsibilities to their neighbors and community. A professional manager performs the tasks required of a HOA Board for a living and therefore has plenty of time to research conflict with restrictive covenants or track down contractors for proposals. A property manager has a vested interest in ensuring a happy and financially sound community, that’s what they get paid to do. Volunteers for all their good intentions and efforts are still subject to the fact that they are still volunteers.