11 Jun Growing Complexity in Property Management
There’s a host of factors that go into selecting the right property management team that can help build long-term relationships among residents and ensure the community is thriving. Keeping up with resident issues and property maintenance is just the tip of the iceberg. The right property management team can protect the community’s interests, handle the day-to-day activities, make sure the HOA is fully funded and in compliance with the CC&R’s.
Looking back over the last year, property managers and HOAs have navigated ways to keep residents safe during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, which was no small feat. But, if Covid taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s lurking just around the corner. So as homeowners associations tackle an ever-growing list of demands and expectations from residents, property managers are finding new ways to meet those expectations.
With more states meeting vaccination goals and new cases trending down, a collective exhale is happening around the country. Residents are probably more excited about this summer than any other in recent memory, but that creates a new set of challenges. As we enter into an uncharted territory post-Covid, it’s up to HOAs and property managers to continually strive to keep the safety and well-being of residents above all else. But that doesn’t mean things are going back to “normal.” Some residents will not be vaccinated, and some will be. Outdoor gatherings will still be an intelligent and safe bet. Still, without a requirement to provide proof of a vaccine, not all residents will feel comfortable eliminating some guidelines. How to handle social distancing when at the pool, gym, or for vendors and maintenance staff working in the community need to be considered. It’s a balancing act that needs to manage the community’s social needs with the continued safety of residents.
With the summer season upon us, too, platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have some residents seeking to make some extra income by renting their homes on a short-term basis. Some residents worry about the character of renters that have no ties to the community. Assuming the use is for vacation purposes, it’s unlikely that short-term renters will gather a complete understanding of the community rules the HOA has in place. If renting is permitted by the CC&Rs, the homeowner must communicate the policies of the HOA to the renter(s). The responsibility is on the homeowner, and if a violation does occur, then fines will need to be levied. Property managers can keep an eye on the movements in the community, assist residents with questions, and help reinforce rules.
Beyond the question of renting is also the question of selling. During a strong seller’s market, which we find ourselves in now, many homeowners are chomping at the bit to list their property. If a homeowner wants to list their property, they need to be familiar with the covenants and rules that dictate the process. Depending on the state’s laws, there might be required disclosures provided by the association. There will also be fees paid to the homeowners association during the process, which the seller should know. No one likes feeling “nickel and dimed,” so helping residents understand the selling process can help make for a smoother transaction and give the buyer a more positive outlook of the community from the start.
Lastly, collecting special assessments is another area that has the potential to cause friction with residents. There may be laws defining the requirements for residents, which differ by state. Having residents recognize the importance of the project the special assessment is funding, how funds are collected, and what happens in cases of non-payment are complicated parts of managing a community that property managers can help facilitate.
Having a team to rely on
Beyond the challenges of answering a call in the middle of the night, other challenges arise from the city, state, and federal policies that may negatively affect HOA’s. When these regulations pass, a good property manager can define what that means. In addition, understanding the complexities of necessary insurance a community requires, inspections of mechanical systems and playground equipment, beautification and landscaping, and staying on top of the ever-growing list of maintenance requests and tasks can all be supported by the property management team. Finally, property managers can monitor local and state laws that may negatively affect property owners and disrupt the community as a trusted resource.
The HOA and property owners need reliable boots on the ground to care for their valuable assets. Whether your property is in an up-and-coming area, one that’s in high growth mode, or an already established neighborhood, the approach to managing a sought-after community needs to be well thought out and executed. Every community wants to bring in long-term neighbors. Property managers have experience in marketing a community, utilizing an ever-expanding network of contacts, and earning high marks from current residents that help attract new homeowners. They also have a reliable Rolodex of contractors, vendors, brokers, attorneys, and others that have your best interests in mind.
The real estate market has been turned upside-down by technology. How money is collected, communication methods, and community engagement are all done in digital form. New residents can get a loan, do a digital tour, and purchase a home from their couch using a smartphone. In addition, logging service requests, paying rent, scheduling a showing, etc., can all be done from phone or tablet. Savvy residents will expect and select properties with these added benefits.
Most communities are already utilizing technology in some way, especially to stay connected. Beyond the specific community apps available, social media groups are a prevalent means of communication. One crucial aspect is making sure everyone is abiding by common sense guidelines when sharing or posting. In addition, the conversation needs to be dictated and monitored by the community to ensure communications are secure and appropriate.
But more than anything, all residents want to have the security of a good property management team. Managing expectations is paramount. Downloading a few apps may save some time and money but it’s no substitute the human touch provides, making residents feel like a priority. Technology helps process automation and speed up and route everything, but humans solve the problem. Staying on top of these trends and understanding the demographics of the users is invaluable.
How property managers make the difference
The role of a property manager is a dynamic one. HOA policies, resident feedback, overall maintenance, and the community’s reputation all factor into a homeowner’s decision to purchase a home and resident satisfaction. New rules and regulations can alter things in a zip code or on a national level. As a result, property managers have to be ready for anything. That may mean new technology, unforeseen regulations, a natural disaster, or something genuinely unexpected like Covid. Even so, property managers are constantly finding new ways to meet the expectations of the HOA and the residents they serve. Having a seasoned property management team that is in tune with the local market, is technologically savvy, and caters to resident’s needs is an invaluable resource in an ever-changing world.