A lot has changed in the past two years, especially in the housing industry. While the rental industry has received much of the attention, homeowners’ associations have also been deeply impacted by the pandemic. In this article, we will cover the emerging HOA trends every board member and management company should know for 2022 and beyond.
HOA technology leads the way
Homeowners’ association software has made running a community association easier for many years, but the adoption of HOA technology is on the rise more than ever. Overall, consumers want faster, more convenient service – and homeowners are no different. They are consumers after all. During the height of the pandemic, everyone was concerned about safety. The use of technology, such as an online portal for paying dues and communicating with HOA staff, provided the safety homeowners and HOA and property management staff needed. HOA software gives you the tools to simplify administrative tasks like processing payments and repair requests from homeowners. It also alleviates some of the burden of handling violations and reviewing HOA documents, while providing homeowners a way to manage their account wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.
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Budgeting is paramount
Homeowners’ associations aren’t designed to generate profit. They exist to pay the association’s bills – like insurance premiums and utility bills for common areas such as hallways and courtyards. The good news is that the expenses are usually consistent. The bad news is that if there aren’t sufficient funds to cover them, things can go south.
While budgeting has always been one of the key tasks of HOA boards, it’s now even more important. With delinquencies in fees and assessments, HOAs must get creative to shore up their reserves. Here are some strategies that might work for your association, if you have the need to make some cuts:
- Consider cancelling or delaying non-essential repairs or improvements.
- When contracts are up for renewal, shop around for better pricing.
- Cut back on services and expenses that aren’t critical to maintaining the property, at least temporarily.
- If you have emergency reserves, consider using them if allowable in your covenant.
- Consider investing in an HOA app or property management software that provides a live snapshot of your financial health with daily reconciliations.
HOA recordkeeping is more important than ever
Keeping good HOA records goes hand-in-hand with the heightened importance of budgeting. Homeowners expect faster communication, so that means HOA staff need immediate access to HOA records and documents, as well as be well-versed in HOA policies, CC&R’s and state and local laws so that they can quickly answer homeowners’ questions and concerns.
And in a time when many HOAs are experiencing delinquencies, establishing a “paper trail” of communications is critical. Good record keeping is also important in the event there is staff turnover or an HOA board member resigns.
Homeowner engagement grows in necessity
With greater access to HOA staff – and vice versa – the lines of communication have improved and will continue to improve. Everyone’s way of life was impacted in the past two years, and in some ways, it brought communities together. Residents became more involved and invested, and some communities, like the boards at RISE Association Management, worked together to make masks and help immunocompromised residents get their groceries. Now is the perfect time to build on this foundation and set the tone for the years ahead, especially as homeowner engagement becomes more and more of a necessity. HOA boards and their respective management companies should be focused on reviewing ways they can improve engagement and apathy among residents – whether it be through community driven events, technological enhancements such as HOAst, or even as simple as adding recognition in the monthly newsletter.
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Safety is still a concern
As we are still living in uncertain times, homeowners are more concerned about safety. They want heightened security of buildings, as well as their personal property and information. Homeowners’ associations now must consider what measures are right for their community, as there are many options – from keyless entry to biometrics. Open communication with homeowners is essential to choosing the appropriate security strategies for your properties. The right homeowners’ association software partner can help ensure residents’ online data is secure.
There’s no doubt that the HOA trends for 2022 involve technology in some way. We believe that technology is the key to overcoming the challenges HOAs have faced through the pandemic and meeting homeowners’ increased expectations for faster communication and resolution of issues. For more intel on ways to improve relations within your associations, hear from the communities themselves in our 2022 State of the Industry Report.