As a board member of a homeowners association, you might have found yourself in the middle of an exhausting search for an HOA management company to take over your operation. When looking for the right management company, it is important to get to know their goals, ideals, and way of doing things. A good way to do this is to ask the right questions. Here are 20 questions to ask an HOA management company.
The Right Questions to Ask an HOA Management Company
Before diving into the “what,” let’s first understand the “why.” Why should an HOA hire a property management company in the first place? Running an association is much like running a business — it takes a lot of time, hard work, skill, and patience to accomplish smoothly. Board members like yourself need a partner to lighten the load, especially since most of you have other full-time jobs and families to look after.
Hiring an HOA management company can be a challenging process, though, particularly if you don’t know where to start. Plus, the sheer abundance of HOA management companies can make it even more difficult. With so many management companies lined up to take your business, finding the one that fits your needs the best requires knowing what you want and formulating your inquiry questions.
Before you begin to draft your questions, sit down with your board members. Discuss the goals of your HOA and what value you expect a management company to bring to your association. Some questions you ultimately ask may be special to your HOA only. Nevertheless, there are several general questions to ask an HOA property management company that can help any association narrow down their choices.
Here are 20 of the best HOA management company interview questions:
1. How long have you been in operation?
Knowing how long an HOA management company has been in business gives you an idea of their experience level. You are likely to have more confidence in a company that has long been established than one that just opened recently.
Be careful not to base your decision solely on years of business, though, as age can be deceiving.
2. What is your mission statement?
This is one of the most overlooked questions to ask an HOA management company, in large part due to its absence in most companies. However, knowing the mission statement of a potential management company provides you with a general view of what they are going to be like as a partner in business.
3. What services do you offer?
HOA management companies offer a variety of different services including administration, maintenance, customer service, fiscal, and communications. Step one is identifying the company that can perform the functions you need. Ask for a complete list of their services.
4. What is your fee structure?
The next questions you want to ask will deal with the companies fee structure. Fee structures will vary from company to company, but most management firms will set their structure up in three categories: set-up, continuing, and exit fees. Be sure to ask for a comprehensive list of charges.
5. Are you licensed and insured?
Some states will require HOA management firms to be licensed and insured. Apart from certifications that come from the Community Associations Institute, there are several others that are accepted on a national level. You want to check with your state if this applies to you. Either way, though, this is information that you want to know.
6. How many HOAs are you currently handling?
Ask the management company how many HOA’s they are currently managing. Knowing the size of the company you are dealing with and how much their resources are spread out through other accounts will give you a good idea of the type of personal attention your HOA will receive.
7. What are the qualifications of your HOA managers?
Is the management company full of amateurs or professionals who have a proven track record of successfully adding value to HOA’s? Are their HOA managers equipped with the right qualifications? Most states require property managers to carry a license, too, so keep that in mind.
8. Who are your vendors?
Your HOA management company will likely select from their list of trusted vendors for your community. As such, you will want to know whether their vendors are reliable, competent, and able to complete their jobs within the agreed-upon time.
9. Are you up to date on HOA laws?
Laws — whether federal, state, or local — can change. Some of these laws may directly or indirectly affect your association and the way it is run. Y
ou want to make sure the HOA management company you go with keeps informed on these regulations to prevent any brushes with the law.
10. How can we reach you?
Communication is equally important in a business relationship, so you must know how you can contact your HOA management company. Ask for their contact numbers, including landline, as well as their email address.
11. What is your response time?
You want to ask how long the management team will respond to problems concerning your HOA. When emergencies happen, you want to know that it won’t take much longer than 24 hours for management to respond to a board member.
12. How often do you conduct inspections?
Inspections of HOA violations should be done regularly by your management company. Are there going to be routine visits? Find out before you sign with any company.
13. How do you tackle financial management?
Financial management is one of the most complicated parts of running an association, which is why most HOAs seek the help of a management company. As part of your interview process, you must ask potential companies how they will handle your HOA’s finances and protect your HOA’s money.
14. How do you manage maintenance projects?
Find out what kind of system your HOA management company uses to keep track of maintenance projects and make sure they are completed on time. How will they see to it that projects are streamlined, requests are tracked, and inventories are accurate?
15. How will you respond to emergencies?
Life is unpredictable, and so is running an HOA. Unexpected issues are bound to arise, and your HOA management company must know how to tackle them effectively and efficiently. Ask them if they have an HOA emergency plan in place and what they expect to do should disaster strike.
16. How will you market vacant properties?
When vacant units become available in your community, it’s good to know how the management company plans to fill those vacancies. This question also relates to fees. If you discover that the company will charge a vacancy fee, which means that it will still collect fees from units not generating any money, then you will want to know how management plans to market and fill those vacancies since it will cost your HOA money.
17. How will you evaluate potential tenants?
Having quality tenants that pay on time and don’t cause problems for the community is vital to keeping the value of your investments high. You’ll want to know how management plans to screen tenants to make sure you get quality homeowners.
18. What sets you apart from other HOA management companies?
There are so many HOA management companies operating in every state, so what makes yours so special? What can they offer you that other companies can’t? Asking this question can help you narrow down your options with confidence.
19. Do you have special programs?
Some HOA management companies have special programs that complement existing ones in an association. Find out if your management company has such a program that can help boost the development and well-being of your community.
20. Do you have any references?
Be sure to ask for references from other homeowners associations that the company has managed presently or in the past. These reviews will go a long way in determining the right choice for your HOA.
The Best HOA Management Company for You
Interviewing an HOA management company can be a total waste of time if you don’t come prepared. By asking the right questions, your board can select the company that fits your needs perfectly. So, whether you’re taking the first step in hiring a management company or considering switching to another, these are the questions to ask an HOA management company to arrive at the best one.
If you are still at a crossroads, consider an HOA management company like us as your partner. For top-notch service and a high level of expertise, give us a call.
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