From collecting dues and managing the group's finances, to enforcing HOA policies, handling maintenance issues, resolving conflicts, and dealing with legal matters, homeowner's association boards have many crucial responsibilities. When volunteer hours run short, or the complexity of the work exceeds the available skill set of those willing to do it, hiring an HOA manager is often the best solution.
While many of the same principles apply whether you're choosing a property manager to take care of a single family residence or an association manager to oversee a community of 100 or more homeowners, there are a few things you should pay special attention to when it comes to hiring an HOA manager.
- Availability: Depending on the size of your community, you may need an on-site manager who spends standard office hours on-location, or you may be able to outsource to a property manager who specializes in HOA management. If you choose to hire an outside management company, be sure you have a clear idea of your manager's daily, weekly, and monthly availability, as well as how many hours a month he or she is planning to devote to your project.
- Credentials: While most states require property managers to have an active real estate license, no further credentials are legally required. Given the complex nature of many of the tasks performed by HOA managers, you may want to consider only candidates who have attained certification through Community Associations Institute, which offers specific training for association managers---or you may want to at least require candidates to have general property management certification.
- Communication and conflict resolution skills: When evaluating a potential HOA manager's work experience, pay special attention to communication skills and conflict resolution ability. While interviewing, ask each candidate for concrete examples of each. Also be sure to touch on these points when checking references.
- Vendor network: One major asset that a professional association manager can bring to the table is an established team of vendors across a wide variety of functions. Be sure to ask your prospective HOA managers who their team of go-to service professionals include, and how long they've worked with each company or individual. You might also ask them to price out a project or two, then compare the bids of each of your candidates.
- Contract duration: Once you've identified the right HOA management company for you, make sure the terms of the contract are acceptable. Typically these types of contracts run for a year, and allow for termination with 30 to 90 days' notice. If a company insists on a longer contract, or does not include a termination clause, you may want to move to the next candidate on your list.