As a real estate developer or key member of a real estate development firm, you understand there’s a fine line between the responsibilities of your homeowners association board and a community management company. One might say the differences are nuanced — the respective roles are complementary and have some overlap.
Regardless, if the community you’ve invested in and worked hard to develop is getting too big for the capacity of your HOA or condo board, it’s time to start investigating a community management partner. If you have a management firm already, and it doesn’t seem to be working, maybe it’s time to seek a new partner.
In either case, a refresher on what a community management company does, how it can help you provide better services to homeowners, and how the right partner can maximize your HOA development investment is in order.
Let’s take a look at what a strong community manager and community management firm should be doing for your community development.
Defining the Community Management Role Broadly
We’ve framed how this relationship should work in prior blogs. But as a refresher, the HOA or condo board makes decisions according to the governing documents (CC&Rs, bylaws) and fiduciary responsibilities while the community management firm helps the board execute, manage, and track community activities.
Broadly speaking, that’s how the relationship should operate. The HOA board sets policy and procedure; the community management company helps enforce the rules and manage the day-to-day operations of the neighborhood.
Specific Roles and Responsibilities of a Property Management Firm
Again, the board sets the community policy with community input, whereas the management company executes and documents activities. A strong community management organization will act as a consultant or board advisor in an effort to help the board operate efficiently, transparently and successfully. The management firm will spearhead the daily execution of board policies, regulations, and directives, while acting as the keeper of financial and other records.
Generally, a community management firm’s purview falls into three buckets:
- Site/Operations Management
HOA Administrative Services
A properly staffed and highly experienced management organization can handle a wide array of administrative tasks, freeing up the HOA or condo board to focus on their most important fiduciary responsibilities. At Comsource, we offer the following expert administrative services that facilitate stronger community management:
- Maintain owner/resident records as well as association records
- Develop operation manuals, personal manuals, and policy resolutions
- Maintain owner/resident files as well as association records
- Develop operation manuals, personnel manuals, and policy resolutions
- Meet with the board on a scheduled and ongoing basis as well as administer the board’s annual meeting
- Respond to correspondence on the association’s behalf
- Maintain and archive legal documents, deeds, construction plans, and governing documents
- Participate as required in litigation or alternative settlement mechanisms
- Act as board liaison with the association attorney, auditor, financial advisor, or other professional advisors
- Develop and maintain the association’s website to keep owners/residents informed
- Enforce the rules and regulations of the association
- Design, review, tracking, and oversight
In addition, a community management firm with comprehensive services can also tailor services to fit specific or unique HOA community needs.
On the surface, all HOA or condo association communities seem very similar. However, a closer examination and deeper understanding of an individual community always reveals a unique set of needs and modes of operation. An effective, experienced community management organization should understand this and be capable of building a suite of services that are the best possible fit.
Property Management Services
Strong new home sales, resales, and solid property values equates to happy homeowners. Happy homeowners generally mean your real estate development venture is thriving. The formula for an efficient, vibrant, and sustainable community is complex, certainly. However, how an HOA or condo board maintains the community, its amenities, and common areas is always a key component to success. Comsource offers the following property management services to clients:
- Prepare standards of care for the property and recommend best practices for the long-term
- Oversee daily operations through an assigned property manager and/or community manager
- Inspect and monitor communities on a routine basis for cleanliness, mechanics, safety, and repairs
- Integrated architectural/covenants compliance
- Oversee large maintenance projects including, but not limited to, pool and clubhouse renovations, common area landscaping, retaining walls, and life safety issues
- Incorporate sustainable building practices and green technology (Comsource is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and is active in supporting sustainable design)
- Contract scope creation, negotiation, award, and supervision to only contractors who are insured licensed and bonded
- 24-hour answering service by a live operator every day of the week
- Maintain 24-hour emergency service, 365 days a year
- Staff on a permanent and temporary basis
Accurate tracking, transparent reporting, and skillful projecting of community financial data is the lifeblood of any real estate development project. The HOA and condo board needs to have insight into the micro (fine collections, vendor payments, etc.) and macro (reserve fund, annual assessments, etc.) facets of the community’s financial activities. Comsource provides the best tools and experience so that HOA and condo boards have efficient access to the most accurate financial data possible.
- Incorporate the latest software
- Provide financial reports to the board by the 15th of each month for the previous month’s activities
- Develop an annual budget
- In-house financial capabilities (accounts payable, accounts receivable, and cash management)
- Payroll administration and benefits packages for association employees
- Monitor delinquent accounts in accordance with the board’s collection policy
- Collect all assessments as they become due and payable via coupon, direct deposit, directly at the management office, or credit card as per the association’s policy
- Analyze utility consumption
- Negotiate all additional sources of income for the benefit of the association
HOA Online Services
Finally, and this is absolutely critical in today’s day and age: Homeowners expect (and this will only increase over time) access to technology and online services that make their lives easier. Making it convenient to make online assessment payments, provide a maintenance request or reserve the community conference room for an event goes a long way to keeping homeowners happy.
Comsource offers community association homeowners and board members cutting-edge, web-based features specific to our industry. Homeowners served by Comsource Management have access to a number of convenient features. Via a secure association website, homeowners can:
- Make online assessment payments
- View real time account status 24/7
- Easily find association rules and regulations — with just a few keystrokes
- Create and send maintenance request via an online form without ever picking up the phone
- View a calendar of upcoming association events
- Reserve amenities such as the pool and community room
- Access concierge services online to shop for proven service providers
- Purchase resale documents and download them instantly
- Comsource Management’s unique online services give your association board access to these and many other features, 24/7
- Receive instant notification when new management reports are ready to view
- Track current violations
- View past meeting minutes, agendas, and management reports online
- See real-time assessment account status
- Send communications to homeowners via email or hard copy. The system knows who gets email and who requires postal delivery. It automatically prepares messages in the correct format
- Contract with preferred and approved vendors online
At Comsource, we can help. We’ve worked with scores of Maryland HOA and condo association communities to improve the lives of their residents by leveraging our experience and technological expertise. Reach out to us today. Let’s talk.