Recently, a board member from a California condo contacted me, asking how to go about selecting an HOA Management company. Their management company had recently been acquired, and the new company was not living up to expectations. Despite combing through reviews, and interviewing perspective HOA management companies, she wasn’t satisfied with her options.

If you’ve been around HOA’s for long, you know that decisions like these don’t come quick or easy. And making the wrong choice can have painful consequences. So, how do you find a qualified HOA management company?

When looking for a new manager where do you look? Internet search, the phone book, your local CAI chapter, word of mouth — all of these are fine options — okay maybe not the phone book, after all it’s holding up the shelf in the bookcase. The point is, it doesn’t really matter where you look, it’s what you look for that’s key.

Specialized HOA Management

Community management is property management, Right? Wrong! The business of community management is very different than rental type property management. I could list the ways but let’s just say that HOA management requires skills and knowledge of laws rules and procedures specific to HOA’s and Condos.

An HOA management company that specializes most likely has the tools, expertise, resources and education to handle the challenges that face communities like yours.

Experienced, Informed, and Educated

This one seems obvious but too often boards find a manager with one of these qualities and mistake it for all three. For example: a manager may have years of experience, but if they are using outdated systems, or aren’t familiar with current laws they may be severely unqualified as a manager.

  • Experienced: This not only means experience in community management but experience specific to your type of community — condos, single family, townhouses, large communities, small communities, etc.
  • Informed: Informed management companies are involved in industry organizations like the CAI. The informed manager doesn’t know everything but they do have the resources to respond to and solve just about any HOA related problem.
  • Educated: Certifications are a great way to measure education but in addition, an educated manager is constantly learning, seeking knowledge and finding ways to stay up to date on trends, and changing laws.

A Focus on Customer Service

Let’s face it, HOA managers deal with some unpleasant people. If unchecked, managers can get a little jaded and sometimes their “bad attitude” shows through. A good HOA management company has a strong focus on professionalism and customer service. The manager works on behalf of the board, so the way they treat homeowners is a direct reflection of the HOA board. If homeowners feel disrespected, or see a lack of professionalism from the manager, they will feel that the board is unprofessional and arrogant.

Bad Yelp or Google reviews can be an indicator of poor customer service; however don’t discount a management company because of a couple bad reviews. Even the best manager is bound to get some bad review from disgruntled homeowners from time to time. Perhaps one of the best indicators of customer service comes from the management companies customers. Ask for references from their current or past communities, contractors, and homeowners. These are the people dealing with the HOA manager on a daily basis, and if they like them you probably will too.

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