Choosing to work with a HOA management company area is a big decision. Your next step will be deciding which company you trust to manage your property. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating companies:
Ask questions such as, "How many years have you been in business? How many HOAs are you managing right now?"
Having experience in managing HOAs means they'll understand your challenges, time restraints, and (most importantly) the regulations or restrictions of an HOA board. Managing a community is different than taking care of one home or apartment building. You will want to partner with a company with specific HOA management experience so you can be sure they have the ability to handle any situation that arises.
(If you're not sure how HOA management companies typically work, check out our article on what is HOA management and why you should consider it.)
Be a tough interviewer and to check references. This is more than just hiring a community manager, this is your home and your neighborhood you are entrusting with this company. Ask for board member references of communities that a company has managed, or better yet, is currently managing. Talking to other customers will help you get a picture of a prospective company's management style.
As for the portfolio manager, be sure to ask how many accounts they currently maintain, and how many in the past they've worked on. Ask the portfolio manager to describe how they stay on task and manage their time. You should hear responses including details about running meetings, communication with homeowners, honoring deadlines, and more. Feel free to make your questions more specific, if the situation merits this.
Note: A portfolio manager who is juggling more than five communities is probably stretched too thin. You may want to take your businesses somewhere else, and keep this rule of thumb in mind in the future.
The Nitty Gritty
You are seeking out a HOA Management Company because of their financial management abilities, administrative capacity, maintenance abilities, and more. When you meet with company representatives for an interview, it is time to hash out their fees and services. Here are the areas you will want to cover:
Drafting budgets, collecting and tracking dues (Financial Management)
Caring for maintenance issues as they arise, including negotiations with contractors (Property Maintenance)
Knowing and enforcing community rules (Community Management)
- Supporting the Board of Directors during meetings, staying organized (Administrative Management)
If you have specific needs in any of all of these areas, be clear about them now. It is better to spell these tasks and responsibilities out in fine detail, rather than proceeding with any assumptions on either side.
Imagine that you've already decided to work with this HOA Management Company. Ask about maintenance requests, how they will be made and handled, and the turn around time to expect on those. Also, find out what is actually included with maintenance and what is now.
Remember that your board is made up of volunteers. Their experiences and knowledge may vary, and that is a strength. However, you may want to offer education opportunities, especially when it comes to county or state regulations. Ask the HOA Management Company you're interviewing what opportunities they'll provide for increasing the skills and knowledge of your board.
This is just once facet of working with a board. How will the HOA Management Company prefer to be contacted? What's their average response time? Will they regularly attend board meetings? All of these questions are important to ask now.
The Toughest Interview Question
Job-seekers are taught to prepare for a seemingly simple question: "Why should we hire you?" This same sentiment applies here. Ask a HOA management company how they will enhance your community and what makes their team different. It may seem like a simple question, but pay attention to the answer, and see if it meets your specific needs.