Not all communities are created equal. They come all sizes and income levels, from groups of only a dozen or so condos to developments of a hundred or more multi-million dollar homes. The needs of each community will vary just as wildly. The time and money members are able to devote to their association varies as well. Despite this, many communities still use the one-size-fits-all solution of full-service management companies. This is still a great option for large communities that need and can afford the level of service they provide. However, smaller communities may be able to save money by choosing remote HOA management instead. This alternative management model gives communities access to all the back-office services offered by the full-service model while cutting out on-site services that may not be necessary for your community. Other associations may choose to become self-managed, taking on more responsibilities while drastically reducing costs for members. In this article, we’ll walk you through the different models for HOA management. Then, you can choose the one that is right for your community.
Smaller community associations often choose to go self-managed. While this is certainly a cheap option, self-managed communities are taking on a lot of responsibility and risk. Without a professional management company to back them up, the board of directors is responsible for everything. This includes dues collection and paying bills, arranging vendor contracts and maintenance, violations, and everything in between. HOA boards are volunteer organizations. Board members usually aren’t experts in community management. Additionally, they are often juggling full-time careers and families alongside their board responsibilities. The number of things to do can quickly overwhelm all but the smallest of communities. For this reason, most associations will decide contracting a management company is worth the money.
Full-Service HOA Management
The traditional model for HOA management is full-service. In this model, the board of directors hires a professional management company to handle the day-to-day operations of the community association. This usually includes everything from violations enforcement, to accounting and collections, to vetting and managing vendor relationships. Choosing a full-service management plan takes a lot of pressure off the board, especially when they are not experts in all aspects of running a community association.
Of course, this level of service comes at a cost. Full-service is typically the most expensive model of association management. For this reason, we recommended it for larger single-family communities and condo associations with major amenities. These type of communities usually require the kind of white-glove service that this model offers and the reserves to fund it. Smaller communities, on the other hand, may find full-service management to be out of their budget. They may also find that they don’t need all of the included services, anyway.
Remote HOA Management
Remote HOA management is a new model for community management offered by companies like Clark Simson Miller and Community Financials. Unlike full-service management, remote management focuses solely on financial and back-office services for community associations. The specific services offered will vary from company to company. However, they will usually include things like invoicing association members, paying bills, working with collections agencies, and providing financial reports to the board. They may also provide communication services, working with the board to make sure association members are informed of all the goings-on in the community.
A remote management model usually does not include on-site services, such as board meeting attendance, violations drive-throughs, or maintenance. The result is a model somewhere between full-service and self-management with a much smaller price-tag to match. The board saves money and maintains control over their community. At the same time, they reap the benefits of having a professional management company on their team.
A Model That Fits Your Community
Regardless of size of your community, you should be sure your management model fits your needs. For many small-to-medium-sized communities, finding that fit can be difficult. It is common for self-managed communities to be overworked and for full-service communities to overpay and be under-served. After all, a full-service management company with dozens of communities naturally focuses their time and effort on their largest accounts, so small communities get less service than they expect. Communities in these situations might want to consider remote management instead.
While remote HOA management does mean the board is responsible for more than they would be in a full-service model, many communities may actually find it to be more convenient. Instead of waiting (and paying for) a violations inspector from the management company to make their rounds, small communities can easily do the rounds themselves. Meanwhile, remote-managed communities still have access to all the back-office and financial service support they would expect from a full-service model at a fraction of the cost. If your community is interested in how remote management could work for you, request a proposal from Clark Simson Miller or reach out by phone at (865)-315-7505