Sooner or later virtually every homeowners’ association will find it necessary to either hire an HOA management company for the first time or replace their current one. The HOA’s Board of Directors is usually made up of volunteers who don’t necessarily have the time or expertise to professionally manage a community association as well as a property management company that specializes in providing these services can.

Finding the best management company for your community association can be a complicated and time-consuming process. With so many management companies competing for your business, how do you go about selecting the right one? Here are some tips to help guide you through the process of evaluating and hiring the best management company and HOA manager for your homeowners’ association.

The first step is to make a list of what you expect and need from your Property Management company.

The criteria you establish and your overall objectives will help focus your search and assist you in evaluating different companies. Not all companies offer all HOA management services, so having a prioritized list of your needs will help you to evaluate which companies are a best match. Also, consider whether there are specific community issues you’d like to see addressed by your new HOA manager, such as more responsive common area maintenance or better communication with the Board.

Select the committee or individuals who will be responsible for conducting the search and make sure you allow plenty of time for the selection process. 

The selection committee should ideally represent a wide cross-section of owners so that as many perspectives as possible are taken into account in the selection process.

Prepare a list of questions to ask prospective management companies based on your criteria. 

Experience, specialization and breadth of services are all very important topics to explore with various companies. You will want to know whether they specialize in HOA management and manage similar properties. You will also want to gain a clear understanding of what services the management companies offer as well as their costs. Also, ask how they handle problems and emergencies, and how they plan to keep your HOA Board of Directors informed of potential issues.

Make sure you fully understand what services the management company will be providing. 

As part of your interview process it is critical that you gain a full understanding of what services will be provided and how much they will cost. Not all HOA management companies are full-service, and many have cut back their services due to the economic times, while maintaining the same fee levels. Be sure that you understand exactly what services each company offers, as well as their fees. Make sure the services offered match up with the criteria and objectives you came up earlier.

Meet the HOA Management Company’s owner or generate manager in person prior to signing a contract. 

An in-person meeting is critical to your understanding of the company’s day-to-day operations and working style. You will want to make sure the company’s overall approach, attitude, communication style and professionalism is in line with what you expect from a management company, and that Board members will feel comfortable with key company contacts.

Get a clear understanding of all the costs involved.

Management contracts are usually bid on a per-unit monthly basis. Find out if you will be expected to pay for any extra services or supplies such as postage, or if the company charges a markup on maintenance and repairs. Also, be on the lookout for “hidden” charges like inspection fees and setup fees. When you are comparing the costs of different companies, take these extras into account to make a fair comparison of the total costs of the contracts.

Make sure you thoroughly understand the management contract before signing. 

Make sure all that services that you discussed previously are written into the contract. Check for a cancellation clause and any associated penalties. It is absolutely critical that you completely understand the terms of the contract before signing. Additionally, it is always smart to let your association’s counsel review the contract prior to signing.

Choosing the right HOA management company for your homeowners’ association is very important. If you take your time, ask plenty of questions, carefully evaluate each prospective company and thoroughly understand the management contract, you have a very good chance of finding a quality management company to work with that will serve you well for years to come.

Five Star Property Management specializes in cost-effective residential property management in the San Francisco area, and our priority is fast and responsive service to single-family & multi-family property owners and real estate investors.

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