Homeowners are the greatest cause of pain for HOA managers. Sounds terrible, but it’s true. (See for yourself.)

Are the homeowners themselves at fault? Or do we simply not know how to deal with them very well? The answer to this question is a big deal because it will impact how we go about managing our communities.

If, for example, we conclude that homeowners are just going to be a pain and there’s nothing we can do about it, then we’re not gonna spend any time trying to fix it. We’ll also probably subscribe to the idea that the more information we give homeowners the more work and trouble they will create for us.

The Survey

In order to find the answer, we surveyed more than 50 HOA managers and/or leaders of management companies from across the country. We asked them, “What’s the cause of your pain with homeowners?”

Here’s what they told us:

Chart: Why Homeowners Are a Pain

Lack of Understanding

So, at least from the perspective of CAM professionals, the problem is a result of the homeowners’ lack of understanding. I can vouch for this with a little anecdote:

WARNING! War story alert!

My wife was the president of our HOA and her biggest headaches came from one or two people who would call her to complain that their AC unit was out or that their drain was clogged. These people were thinking about their HOA the same way that a rental tenant thinks about her landlord. It was a simple misunderstanding of the HOA’s role.

Lack of Understanding is also the problem when a homeowner calls the manager to resolve a dispute with a neighbor that should be resolved directly with the neighbor. Or when a homeowner calls the manager instead of animal control to chase down a dog that’s on-the-loose. Or when a homeowner only sees problems, and never what he can do to help.

Still… Homeowners Aren’t Evil

“So that’s it! Homeowners are evil. And transparency is bad because the darned homeowners will just find a way to twist it and create more work for me.” Right?

Of course not. The vast majority of homeowners are great. They pay their dues on time. They see the benefit of what the HOA is doing. And they are even civil and understanding when they have a concern. In my experience the majority of the pain usually resides with just a few people. But everyone could stand to be a little more informed about their HOA.

The Solution

The solution is communication and education. Most homeowners will respond well if they are a little better informed.

But we have to communicate with them in the right way. It starts with giving them the stuff they want, when they want it, in the way they want it. (Hint: newsletters, websites, and email blasts are not the answer.)

But I’m getting long-winded. I’ll get into the specifics in another post.

About the Survey

  • More than half of our respondents told us that they are either the final decision maker with regard to association management for their company or critical to those decisions. Many others were front-line managers. While this sample is far from huge, the results certainly converged.
  • Each survey item’s score represents the percentage of the total points possible. Each item was rated based on a weighted scale (i.e. a #1 ranking received 8 points if there were 8 items, a #2 ranking received 7 points and so on).
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