HOA’s: Self Management vs. Management Company

Self management can be a costly mistake for homeowner Associations. Volunteers often lack the experience to effectively take on the duties of Association management; collecting dues, paying bills, handling maintenance, record keeping, and rules enforcement.

The best way to take pressure off your volunteer Board is to hire a professional to manage the day-to-day affairs of the association. Start by considering the following four reasons why you might want to hire a management company:

Reason 1: Time

It takes time for volunteer board members to run their association. On any given day these volunteers might be responding to homeowner calls, arranging maintenance appointments, writing enforcement letters, dealing with the grounds contractor, posting assessment payments and preparing financial statements, and consulting with the association attorney on collections and other legal matters. If this sounds like a full time job, you might want to let your homeowners be homeowners and hire an experienced agent to perform these duties.

Reason 2: Knowledge

In addition to technical specifications and various questions of law, finance, and governance, you need to have more than a passing familiarity with local, state, and federal laws that apply to everyday workings of your community. Yours would not be the first board to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of knowledge it must possess. Good professional managers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, making them a valuable resource for the board.

Reason 3: Continuity

Board members might come and go, but a manager can offer a common thread that links one administration to the next. Why does this matter? Think about the importance of continuity when it comes to record keeping, budgeting, dealings with contractors, suppliers, and professional service providers, and even the relationships with your residents.

Reason 4: Convenience

The board should be a decision-making body, but too often the day-to-day distractions of educating residents and attempting to meet their expectations can pull managing board members away from the big picture. Professional management can provide an administrative buffer, giving your residents the attention they deserve and freeing the board to focus on those decisions that affect the long-term viability of the community.

Professional managers can end up saving homeowners thousands in unplanned expenses and lost property value at a cost to each homeowner of just pennies a day.

Experience with insurance, contractors, maintenance, enforcement, and legal issues can save an inexperienced volunteer hundreds of hours of research. Professional property managers can keep issues of assessment billing and rules enforcement from becoming “personal”. Finally, a well run, professionally managed Association can retain its attractiveness to potential buyers, resulting in higher property values.

While it is true that homeowner volunteers can perform some of the functions of a professional manager, it is also true that volunteers often lack the experience to effectively take on the duties of Association management; A professional manager can help your Association avoid costly mistakes.

When you consider the potential costs to the Association of poor or inconsistent management, financial mismanagement, poor record keeping, inadequate reserves or insurance, inadequate maintenance, volunteer burnout, inconsistent rules enforcement, and falling property values then the advantages and true value of professional management become more and more apparent.

This is not to say that self-management does not work. The question any Board needs to ask itself is, are the costs worth the benefits? Understanding the pitfalls will hopefully allow you to make the best decision for your community.

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