Community Association Management Guide

Community Association Management Guide

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November 5, 2020

If you’ve ever been a manager of an organization or business, you’re well aware of the hard work and dedication that it takes to do the job right. Now, management isn’t considered a skill that anyone can do. According to the Harvard Business Review, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units."

What makes finding a good manager so rare? A good manager can motivate, be assertive, remain accountable, and, most importantly, have the ability to build relationships — which is much easier said than done. 

As we’ve mentioned in past articles, communities thrive on engagement, communication, and the ability to seek value in their community. Because we are advocates of the HOA community, allow us to demonstrate why finding the right community association manager is imperative to your growth as an HOA community. 

You will find in this article: 

What is a community association manager?

A community association manager works as a manager of a homeowners association or condominium. Often confused as a property manager, a community association manager deals with property owners and homeowners. 

Importantly, condo association managers are often key contacts when a person elects to purchase a home in an HOA community. As compared to a property manager that deals specifically with individual and rental units such as an apartment complex. 

A community association manager can be hired by an HOA board of directors or property management company. A vast part of their role as managers is to guide the board of directors and administrative teams. A large priority of a community manager's role is to uphold their governing documents by staying up to date with any updates regarding local legislation. 

Other key duties of a community association manager include:

  1. Property maintenance and facilities
  2. Managing vendors 
  3. Managing maintenance staff onsite
  4. Tracking all invoices and payments
  5. Managing cost for repairs and upgrades 
  6. Oversee financial management and budget
  7. Vendor contracts
  8. Bookkeeping
  9. Insurance research  
  10. Monthly financial reports 
  11. Collecting HOA fees and assessments as needed 
  12. Administrative support
  13. Placing orders for materials
  14. Managing correspondence 
  15. Building management records 
  16. Conducting site and equipment inspections as needed
  17. HOA board meetings 
  18. Scheduling 
  19. Assist in distributing meeting notices
  20. Preparing data and research if needed
  21. Ensure that all HOA members obey local laws and governing documents

Community association management services

As an alternative option, an HOA may decide to hire a community association management service specializing in helping communities that do not have the time or capability to hire individual managers.  

Equally important, these services offer the HOA the opportunity to implement the same services as a management team but with a third-party company's supervision. Also, they offer highly trained and experienced staff services such as accounting, customer service, maintenance, vendor services, and much more. 

In addition to these services, another perk to utilizing a management service comes with the extensive knowledge and ability to help an HOA be more efficient. Their primary goal is to help communities maximize their value and quality of life for their residents.

Services to consider:

  • Accounting 
  • Budget reporting 
  • Customer service 
  • 24/7 response services
  • Site inspections
  • HOA board assistance 
  • Strategic planning 
  • Board member training
  • Developer services 
  • Financial management  
  • Workflow management processes

There is a wide range of community association management companies throughout the United States that can offer management services to your community.  Because you may be looking for a management company for your HOA, CAI offers a comprehensive directory of different management companies such as Associa, Community Association Management Services, Inc., and First Service Residential

Woman searching online to find a community association manager.

Find community association management professionals

In simple terms, a community association manager works as a manager of a homeowners association or condominium. Often confused as a property manager, a community association manager deals with property owners and homeowners.

If you’re considering hiring a community association manager, consider these resources that can help you find the best candidate.     

  1. First, contact your local Community Association Institute (CAI) for a list of qualified candidates.
  2. Second, ask other property managers for prospective qualified managers that were formerly considered for the position. 
  3. Third, consider asking your current or past vendors to reference former qualified managers that they may have worked within the past. 
  4. Fourth, utilize online resources such as Linkedin for community association management professionals currently job searching or open to interviewing.    

How do you become a certified community association manager?

Let’s start by reviewing the different types of community association managers.

  1. On-site manager: Also known as a CAM (community association manager), this type of manager often works directly in the community, usually during office business hours. A CAM may often work alongside their management office staff, which includes helping answer phones, supervising vendors, and keeping record of resident requests and complaints.
  2. Large-scale manager: These managers are typically on-site but at a much larger community scale, naturally around 1200 units or more. 
  3. Portfolio manager: A portfolio manager typically manages several communities. Managers that oversee a portfolio community are often not present in the community and do not engage physically with community members. 

Depending on the location, a CAM may be required to obtain a community association management license. Also, aside from receiving a certification, many benefits come from attending training and certification programs, for example: 

  • Better management skills 
  • Your training can be applied to your career 
  • Also, be considered a stronger candidate when interviewing 
  • Will build a strong perspective on the needs of your community  
  • Will be well versed in the different types of software available to HOAs

Importantly, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) endorses credentials for individual community managers with the following licenses:

  1. Certified Manager of Community Associations® (CMCA) administered by the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB)
  2. Association Management Specialist® (AMS)
  3. Professional Community Association Manager® (PCAM)

Those interested in learning more about licenses and certifications should consider attending a community association management course. So, courses such as these provide prospective managers with the opportunity to gain knowledge in their skills and networking opportunities. Also, depending on the type of course, a development program can offer educational training in insurance, leadership, communications, and much more. 

A vast amount of information can be found at the Community Associations Institute online. Here is where you can find a wide range of information about education for managers and several online courses. 

Man working online to become a community association manager

What kind of compensation does a community association manager receive?

Depending on the location and state, community association managers can highly range in their compensation. But, factors such as education, certifications, and specific skills can all contribute to a manager's pay as well. 

  1. Community association manager: The average salary of a CAM can estimate around $45K to as high as $57K a year. 
  2. Portfolio community manager: Portfolio managers are typically paid on a salary and commission basis. The expected average salary can range from $46K to as high as $70K a year.

Start a community association management business 

If your desire to start a community association management business is your number one career goal, having a strategic plan and vision will be imperative to your process of building a community association management business. Like any new company, starting from the bottom will come with many challenges and obstacles. Yet, with the right mindset and dedication, anything can be accomplished. Let’s start by addressing some key steps to helping you along your journey of starting a new business. 

  1. Research: Knowing your industry and its value will be a large asset to your success soon. Knowing your industry’s current trends and financial projections are of utmost importance. Here are a few examples of research pertained to HOAs: 
  2. There are over 350,000 HOA community associations in the U.S.
  3. HOAs obtain an estimate of 40 million households in the U.S. 
  4. Volunteers manage 70% of all homeowner associations.
  5. Training and certification: Training and certifications will be a vital part of growing your business. As a business owner, be thoroughly knowledgeable of the requirements needed to start a community association company and any employees you may hire down the road. 
  6. Software: As a new business, you may find that money will be tight in the beginning stages of development. So, when considering technologies, be aware that it could require a high investment on your part. Yet if selected wisely, your investment will seek a greater reward down the road. 
  7. Why invest in community association management software? The community association software industry is steadily increasing and is projected to hit over “3333.47 million USD by 2022.” With this being said, investing in an HOA community association management software can be a great way to meet your clients' demands and those transitioning into a more HOA software-like community. Because software can also help you streamline your business and play a large role in creating solutions and managing clients, your overall efficiency has the opportunity to increase. 
  8. TownSq: Visit TownSq to receive more information on new updates about community association software. As a community-oriented company, TownSq offers a unique experience for their clients and their community members. TownSq offers a proven track record of results and collaborative tools designed for enhancing property value and community living. 
  9. Business strategy: Like any entrepreneur, having a brand strategy will be vital to growing as a business. To have a clear vision of your brand, consider breaking your business strategy into different elements. Here are three elements to creating a business strategy: 
  10. Mission statement - What sets your business apart from the competition? 
  11. Business objectives - What are your quarterly and yearly goals? 
  12. Develop a calculated plan - How do you plan to fulfill your mission statement and objectives? 
  13. Brand Development: Brand development will require more of a creative mindset and allow you the opportunity to stand out among the competition. Brand development can also include designing a logo, website, social media, marketing strategy, and your brand’s position. 

Are you interested in taking your community to the next level? Visit TownSq to request a demo.

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