When it comes to self managing, a few homeowner associations do fairly well, some do okay and many stumble, trip and fall. For a variety of practical reasons, all should have professional management in one form or another. Let's explore those practical reasons.
No Free Lunch. The concept of "carefree living" promises that "someone else" will take care of business. Remember, the Board was elected only to supervise but if they don't hire a manager, that "someone" is "the Board". Why would a few volunteers work for free to benefit the many? Unless your name is Mother Teresa, this calling is not very appealing to most.
Bill Collector Hell. Strong arming delinquent neighbors for money is low on most folks' To Do List. Yet, to keep HOA bills paid, it needs to be done. There are actually people that do this disagreeable task for a living. (Maybe you know a few if you've fallen behind on your bills.) They are pretty good at it and don't charge all that much.
Rule Enforcement Jeopardy. Enforcing the rules can be a physically threatening undertaking. Just try towing a red neck neighbor's junk truck. Do you really need this kind of grief just for trying to keep the area neat and tidy?
24/7 Job. HOA business can be a 24/7 affair. It's a fact of life: Bad news always happens in the middle of the night during a rain/snow storm or a wild party. Have you ever dreamed of a quiet night at home or a vacation? If you self manage, forget it! Who's going to mind the store while you recreate? Believe it or not, management companies offer 24/7 emergency response. Sounding better already, eh?
HOA managers offer a variety of services like bookkeeping, maintenance supervision, rules enforcement, delinquency collection, project bidding, information distribution and emergency response. There are numerous smaller but no less important functions. Full service management contracts include "routine" services for a flat monthly fee. Routine services are those that generally happen monthly as opposed to, for example, handling an extensive insurance claim. Special services often carry an additional charge. Many HOA managers offer "a la carte" services so you can limit the level of service and the cost. This usually applies to small HOAs that want bookkeeping services only. The advantage of a la carte management is that should another issue crop up, you already have an established relationship with a manager that has an understanding of the homeowner association.
Now that a convincing argument for professional management has been laid out, where can such relief be found? HOA management companies are a rare breed so looking in the Yellow Pages under Property Management won't cut it. Be wary of contracting with apartment managers that have no HOA accounts. HOA management requires a very distinct set of skills. Many larger condominium complexes are professionally managed. If you know some in your area, knock on a few doors and ask who they use and if they're satisfied.
Okay, for you bottom line people, how much does this pain relief actually cost? For full service management, it costs around $15-$25 per month per owner. HOA manager refer to it as cost "per door". You probably pay more than that to get your garbage hauled! Why would you not want to radically simplify your life for so little money? Going pro is the way to go. Get in the know!
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