In the HOA world, there are two distinct paths you can take when it comes to association management. You can either hire an HOA management group to handle the day-to-day affairs of your organization, or you and your other board members can attempt to manage the HOA by yourselves—a practice known as self-management.
Both have their merits and—at the end of the day—it might be tempting to go the self-management route. After all, hiring an external management group can be expensive, and if your neighborhood isn’t exceptionally large, why spend money doing what you can do yourself for free? Well, whether you realize it or not, there are a million reasons why self-management should simply never be an option for you and your board; here are just a few of the most important ones.
4. The Workload
If you currently are employing a management company, it can be easy to look fondly through your rose colored glasses into the world of cost cutting measures and true freedom that self-management makes itself out to be. All you really have to worry about is the amount of extra work your board will have to take on, and it can’t be that bad, right?
Unfortunately, that line of thinking is fundamentally flawed.
You see, self-managing—while allowing more freedom—is one of the most work intensive projects your board can take on, and it’s only once you do away with your current management company that you’ll realize this is the case. Not only will you have to do site drives, handle concerns, and deal with homeowner disputes all while approving homeowner requests, you’ll also have to continue your normal board duties in addition to account management. In list format, this may not seem like an overtly terrifying proposition; however, let us assure you that being a self-managed board can quickly become a second full-time job for every member.
In other words, if you want to spend 20+ hours a week or even longer deali08ng with the administration duties that come with the job, by all means get rid of your management company and get cracking! But, before you do, keep in mind that you will also have to deal with…
3. A Lack of Guidance
An under-appreciated factor of HOA management companies that everyone seems to forget is the support they offer that your board can rely on day in and day out. It may not seem like it now, but HOA management companies aren’t just there to do the administrative work your board doesn’t want to deal with; they are also there to keep you updated on the current happenings in HOA law, guide you through difficult decisions that you may have to make, and to simply be the expert on all matters pertaining to the management of your HOA. Laws are ever changing in the HOA world, and the minutiae that you must be up-to-date on are both almost limitless and difficult to find. In fact, there are hundreds of rules and regulations (outside of your bylaws and CC&Rs) that you must understand if you are to manage your association with any semblance of efficiency and legitimacy. From laws regulating your ability to restrict parking, to guidelines concerning rental agreements, assessment collection procedures, and so much more, it can be hard to keep up for the average board member. And, without access to or knowledge of these rules, you may quickly find yourself in violation of them, setting up your board for possible lawsuits or worse. An HOA management company can make sure you stay within the bounds of these laws and give you the peace of mind, knowledge, and support needed when making crucial decisions for your HOA. Trust us; without a third party company managing your affairs, you may find yourself without a safety net when your association needs one the most.
2. Missing Expertise
Obviously, hiring an HOA management company brings an expectation of expertise in homeowners associations and HOA management within the company you hire; it’s in the name, so they better understand what they’re doing. But, in many cases, hiring an HOA management company also opens up access to expertise in a host of fields that your HOA will rely throughout your tenure as a board member and beyond. For instance, Spectrum Association Management has years of experience dealing with local vendors, giving us an inside look at who does the best job, who offers the best prices, and who can be the best for your association in general. Whether you are looking for a landscaping crew or for on-property security for your condo or apartment complex, we know precisely what to look for and how to secure the best deal for your association.
However, if you choose to self-manage your property, this expertise may not exist within the sphere you have access to. Few boards can provide a wide breadth of experience in multiple avenues—such as vendor negotiation and HOA law, among others—meaning you may be left in the dark in a variety of situations. This can cost the association money that didn’t need to be spent and it can even result in legal issues, depending on the situation. Though it may not seem like it now, this expertise offered by an external management team is—without a doubt—an incredibly important facet that your association cannot do without.
1. Customer Service
Do you live in a large association, with hundreds and hundreds of homes? If so, you may already notice how many request that need to be processed, as well as how many homeowner disputes and home improvement requests that need to be dealt with on a daily basis. Spoiler alert; it’s quite a few. Unfortunately, if you do decide to go the self-management route for your HOA, you will soon find that the filter between your board and the homeowners at large will disappear completely; in other words, all that work that used to fall into the HOA management team’s lap now falls exclusively to you. In some cases, this isn’t all that bad; after all, many HOA boards would rather not outsource this type of work, as it is the most personal part of their service to the neighborhood. But, if you are part of the huge community mentioned above, you may find your nights and free time filled with customer service calls, emergency meetings, lot improvements, and so much more.
Trust us; when all is said and done, HOA management companies can cut days of work from your schedule, all while keeping your time on the phone, filling out forms, and dealing with homeowners down to an absolute minimum. Going the self-management route, on the other hand, can make your life so much more difficult than it has to be.
So do yourself a favor and leave the management to the professionals; you will certainly be happy you did!