Finding Help for Self-Managed HOA

There are many benefits to self-manage an HOA. Obviously, it is much cheaper than hiring a full-time property management company, and the association board of directors has much more control over the community. But many community associations are still hesitant to either remain self-managed or leave their management company. The largest difficulty comes from finding help.

Self-managed HOAs and condo associations are run by volunteers; homeowners that also have full-time jobs, families, and social lives. Many volunteers simply do not have enough time. It can be difficult to find enough help to take care of all aspects regarding HOA management.

Finding Vendors

If your HOA was previously managed by a property management company, you should receive boxes of files from them at the conclusion of your contract. Within these files should be a vendor list. Every vendor that has worked for your community through the management company will be listed here. Go through these files and create your own vendor list as a quick reference for the board of directors. By having a call-sheet handy, the board of directors will not have to spend as much time researching when a project comes up.

If your management company does not provide a vendor list, go through old financial records, specifically the payables sheet, and see what vendors are listed. If no financial records are given or the financial records do not include vendor names, search the files for individual vendor invoices. This might take a bit more time but will be worth it in the end.

For HOAs that have never been managed by a management company, there may be some research involved. To make your search easier, start with the Community Associations Institute (CAI). The CAI has chapters in most states and will have a vendor directory available to local HOAs. Look through their records and find vendors that are in your area to start compiling your vendor call sheet.

Finding Board Volunteers

Nobody knows what your community needs better than the people living there. Homeowners always make the best labor force because they have the most to gain from improving the neighborhood. They also know what problems exist and will work diligently to provide solutions. The major downside to working with community volunteers is that most of them also have full-time jobs, families, and social lives meaning they are not always available, or they could have more pressing issues to focus on rather than HOA problems. It can be difficult to get work done with so many different schedules. 

When finding community volunteers, it helps to recruit retired and stay at home parents for board of director duties. They have the most time to focus on community issues and can be available during the day to field calls or research vendors. They also spend the most time within the community and will be able to find and address potential problems quickly and efficiently.

Hiring Specialists

There are certain aspects of HOA management that require some expertise that volunteers may not have. Hiring a support company is a fraction of the cost of a full management company while still providing much needed assistance to the board of directors. Plus, it is always beneficial to have an expert on your side to help with technical matters.

A financial management company is one specialist that may be beneficial to your self-managed HOA. Preparing financial statements and bookkeeping is best done by a trained professional. Financial management companies cost a fraction of what a full-time property manager does and offer a wide variety of services to support self-managed associations. At CSM, we offer services including financial reporting, bookkeeping, tax and audit preparation, back office services, and collections to save your board of directors time and energy to focus on more pressing issues. Plus, you will have the added peace of mind knowing that association finances are being handled by trained professionals.

To oversee the details of new building projects, it could be helpful to hire a construction manager; someone experienced in working with blueprints and can make sure everything is going to plan. Most HOA volunteers do not have the expertise to oversee construction projects. This professional can work from bid to completion on construction projects and report back to the board. Typically, these professionals charge by the hour, flat rate, or percentage of the project. Either way, it will be cheaper than a full-time project manager and you are only required to pay them when they are working on a project.

24/7 Call Handling Services

Nobody likes to be woken up in the middle of the night, but occasionally that is when issues occur. For self-managed communities, when emergencies happen it is up to the board of directors to solve the problem no matter what time it is. A water main breaks at midnight. Now volunteer board members, who most likely have full time jobs to get to in the morning, have to stay up doing research and making phone calls to fix the problem.

Hiring a 24/7 call handling service could save board members much needed sleep during the night and handle emergencies much faster. Just send off your list of approved vendors and with one call to the call center, day or night, they will reach out to a board-approved vendor and get the job done quickly. Some support services, like a financial management company, offer call handling services as well.

Is Self-Management Right for Your Community

Around one-third of HOA run communities are self-managed. Most of those are small to medium sized with under 250 units. The benefits of being self-managed are easy to see. You will save money without a full-time property manager and the board of directors will maintain compete control over all community issues.

While HOA management can be difficult, there are many services that can lend professional support while still allowing your community to reap the benefits of being self-managed.  If you are interested in learning about moving away from a full management company, call the professionals at CSM. We have years of experience working with self-managed homeowners’ associations in almost every state in the US offering financial management and back office services for a fraction of the cost of a full management company.

For more information on making the jump to self-management, or if you are currently self-managed but are looking for professional support, call CSM at 865.315.7505 or email us at help@csmhoa.com. Our trained professionals are ready to answer your questions.