You’re the President of the HOA board in your community and you’re wise enough to know that you’re in way over your head - but you like a challenge and you’re ready to meet it head on. You’ve read your governing documents and know how to keep a basic balance sheet, but that doesn’t mean you understand the CC&Rs or know the difference between the operating and reserve budgets.
You’re terrified of doing something that will get the association in trouble; and who the heck is Davis-Stirling? You recognize you need help, and not just any help. You need the expertise of an HOA management company. But you don’t want just anyone – you want a trustworthy company and an invested manager -- and you’re wondering, what does this even look like?
An invested HOA manager:
- Gives board members a certain level of comfort because they know the manager is the expert. In other words, you work well together and trust what they tell you.
Is CACM certified (in California), meaning they take a number of classes, have managed for at least 6 months, and have been recommended by those they work with such as vendors, lawyers or other professionals in the field.
- Received proper training and mentorship; they aren’t just thrown in the fire, and expected to come out uncharred.
- Starts by building relationships with the Board, introducing themselves and going to meetings. If it’s a relatively new manager, it’s important that they're overseen by a seasoned property manager in the beginning.
- Communicates well by being responsive when your HOA board has questions, especially when it involves important issues in your homeowners association and how to tackle them. Also, alerting the Board to changes in laws, complaints from homeowners, and staying on top of maintenance timelines.
Adapts well to change because things are constantly changing in a homeowners association, especially in regard to laws, and change makes Board members nervous. An HOA manager can stay on top of the changes and keep the Board members up to date on the decisions that need to be made.
Is proactive about understanding the financials. This might involve calling the HOA board president or treasurer to see if there’s any questions about the latest financials, recommending a seasoned accountant to help, or reminding them it’s time to do a reserve study. If there are questions the manager cannot answer, the financial department of the management firm will be happy to provide answers.
- Understands the business. They have the time to give and aren’t easily overwhelmed.
This of course isn’t an exhaustive list of what an invested manager looks like, but it’s a good start. There might be other specific qualities that are important to your Board.
HOA management is a very personal industry and job, so Board members and managers need to work together to see what works for their association.
Members want to feel taken care of and that a manager always has the best interest of the homeowners association in mind. A long term manager enjoys what they’re doing and enjoys their Board members.