Rapid and constant change defines our age and organizations like HOAs and condo associations must remain plugged in to what’s ahead to remain effective. 2019 will likely be another turbulent year for the housing market with potential interest rate hikes and stock market volatility expected to continue in the near term, all of which will impact the way HOA and condo communities operate.
What other factors might be lurking on the horizon for HOA and condo boards in 2019? Let’s take a look at four trends that could continue or emerge in the new year.
Software Becomes A Necessity
Strong deployment of software technology is rapidly becoming the expectation among home and condo owners living in association communities. Just a few years ago, many viewed community management software as a luxury and a “nice to have” rather than a “must have”. 2019 will see property management technology finally become a “must have” for property owners and board members alike.
The HOA and condo boards that have already implemented management software will need to expand its use to perform better. And those boards that have resisted investing in software or a community management firm with robust community management technology will need to evolve quickly or fall far behind.
Tim Jones, a guest writer at Forbes, had this to say about balancing personalized service and technological advancement at HOAs, condo associations, and property management companies: “It’s difficult to strike a balance between the importance of customer service and the value of automation. People will always be critically important...Right now there isn’t a computer that can fix a toilet, and customers always need a friendly voice at the other end of a phone line. But with the pace at which technology is evolving, it’s critical that real estate investors and managers figure out how to leverage it to improve their service and...experience.”
The bottom line: Software, when deployed correctly, improves the lives of community members and generates tremendous efficiencies and cost savings for associations. 2019 will see it become more difficult for tech resistors to compete and keep their community members happy.
Millennials Are Coming To Your HOA And Condo Associations
2019 might see interest rates above 5%. This could push some millennials out of the housing and condo market. But they’re coming nonetheless and will become a larger part of association community demographics in the near future. Preparing now to meet their different expectations is a wise move.
Again, deploying technology to make processes more convenient and easier is the expectation for this demographic. It could be a total non-starter if they discover that the board running their community still distributes hard copy newsletters and reports.
You’ll need to be ready to meet this group where they live--online and on mobile devices--and in a way that’s personalized to their needs. Add to this the increased number of baby boomers that are becoming digital natives and you see where 2019 and beyond is heading.
The Amenities Arms Race Will Continue
Free WiFi, a gym, and an outdated community center likely won’t cut it in 2019 and beyond. As demographics change so do expectations and needs. HOA and condo boards need to consider developing a longer term strategy to modernize their amenity portfolios to remain relevant to modern age buyers and existing association members.
Carefully managing your reserve funds and moving beyond “break and fix mode” to develop a renovation and improvement strategy that positions your community for the future is essential. Early planners and adapters will thrive; those slow to adapt will not.
In some ways, association-run communities can take a cue from the senior living industry, which has had to adapt rapidly to changing demographics and their respective heightening of expectations and amenity requirements.
Strong, Consistent Social Media Management and Policies Required
As more daily engagement moves online and to mobile devices, HOA and condo boards must have strong, clear policies on social media use. This applies primarily to board members and those representing the association, as a board typically cannot control the community member social media activities, though there are instances where legal issues arise between residents and the association.
Developing and disseminating a succinct, clear social media use policy handbook can help keep your HOA or condo association out of legal and PR trouble.
Jack Hanson, a contributing writer at the Huffington Post, wrote, “...Emerging social media conundrums include everything from board members speaking for the association on their personal Facebook pages and social media fights between neighbors spilling out into the media (and tarnishing the reputation of those communities in the process) to board social media channels turning into de facto board meetings that break state laws and CC&R protocols.”
Association run communities are highly regulated entities. Slipping from legal compliance to illegality has never been as easy as it is today with social media as a primary communication channel for so many.
If your board has not done so, make 2019 the year to develop, distribute and manage social media activity at your community. Not doing so could be recipe for a PR nightmare and skyrocketing legal fees in the years to come.
At Comsource, we can help you stay aligned with emerging HOA and condo community trends. 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.