Hiring an HOA management company is a good first step in improving the way your board and association operate. Where do you even start when you’re looking for the right HOA partner?
There’s a lot of information you can learn about a company online. You can read their reviews, check out what they’ve posted that might be relevant to the needs of your community, and talk to current and former clients to get some referrals and recommendations.
When you’ve found one or two companies that seem like they might be a good match, you’ll want to conduct an interview.
Prepare to ask some good questions. You shouldn’t be hearing a sales pitch. Instead, you want to know how that company is going to help you improve your community.
The board should meet before these interviews begin to talk about what will be asked and what you’re really looking for in the answers. Discuss the current and future goals of your HOA and what value you expect a management company to bring to your association.
Here are some of the best questions to ask an HOA property management company when you’re trying to decide which one to hire.
What Kind of HOA Experience Do You Have?
With this question, you are asking about years of experience, but you’re also asking about their specific type of experience. Knowing how long an HOA management company has been in business gives you an idea of how long they’ve been doing what they do. However, you want to know if they’re prepared to work with an association like yours. Every community is a little bit different. Your needs are likely unique.
What do Your HOA Management Services Generally Include?
HOA management companies are all going to be different in the way they offer their services. You might be able to pick and choose which types of support you want and need. Or, you’ll have one comprehensive management plan that includes everything. At the very least, you should expect:
- Administrative support
- Help with scheduling and overseeing community maintenance
- Communication and relationships with residents and homeowners
- Fiscal support, including accounting and budgeting
- Meeting management
- Enforcement of bylaws and rules and regulations
You’re looking for a company that meets all of your needs, so dive into specific tasks and responsibilities that your HOA needs help with.
How Many HOAs are you Currently Working With?
Capacity is important, so always ask how many HOAs a property manager is currently working with. You’ll want to inquire about the size of the company and whether there’s a lot of staff turnover. Make sure you’re not choosing a management company that seems stretched too thin. How are they managing their own resources?
You’ll want personal, hands-on attention when a property management company is working with you. Talk about expectations, and make sure they can deliver what you need.
Who are the Vendors you Prefer to Hire?
Vendor selection and management will be a big part of your property manager’s responsibilities. You’ll want to know they have good relationships in place with vendors, contractors, and subcontractors. Do they have a preferred list of vendors? They should.
Property and HOA managers provide a large volume of work to landscapers, roofers, plumbers, HVAC techs, etc. They often get volume discounts from these companies. Ask if those savings are passed on to you.
What you’re really asking is whether their vendors are reliable, competent, and able to complete their jobs within the agreed-upon time.
Ask About HOA Financials
Financial management is one of the most important services an HOA management company will provide. Always ask how your HOA’s finances will be handled. What kind of technology are they using, and is it transparent?
Monthly HOA financials are necessary to know where you stand. Not only do you need to know what kind of financial reports will be provided, but you also want to know when you can expect them. Your books need to be updated constantly so the board has the latest information.
Talk about reserve funds. Have they commissioned reserve studies before?
How do you Handle Maintenance and Emergencies?
You’ll need to know how maintenance projects are tracked and what kind of tools are in place to notify you when things will need to be repaired and replaced. How will they ensure that projects are streamlined, requests are tracked, and inventories are accurate?
And, what about emergencies? Make sure your HOA management company is prepared to respond to emergencies when they occur.
Do You Offer Virtual Management?
If you’d like to keep much of your association management in-house with the board of directors, you might not need a full-service management team on-site. Sometimes, a virtual property manager will be just as effective for you. It will also save you money.
Having this option is important, and you may not find a lot of HOA management companies that provide it. With virtual management, you retain more control, you don’t have a management team physically present in your community, and you communicate mostly online with your property managers. It also costs less than full-service management.
What Sets You Apart from Other HOA Management Companies?
Every answer might start to sound the same, especially if you’re interviewing multiple companies.
Always ask what sets them apart. Is there a unique service they offer? Some kind of specific service that speaks directly to you?
Get to the heart of why you should hire one company over all the others. If the management company you’re talking to cannot provide a clear answer or explain their competitive advantage, you might want to look for one that can.
It’s also important to know that your HOA management company is aware of and up to date on all the laws that govern associations in California.
As you’re interviewing potential companies, we invite you to talk to us. Please contact us at Hill & Co. We can deliver full-service management or virtual management if you’re looking for something more flexible and cost-effective.