How HOA Software can save Self-Managed Communities time and Money

Managing an HOA property requires a significant financial commitment from the homeowners and can impact the annual budget. Self-managed HOAs, as opposed to Management Companies, save the association money and make for more personal ownership for volunteers on the board, especially those in charge of finances. That is why you need the best HOA Software for Self-Managed Communities. 

Board members can create impressive and creative solutions for their communities, but they need support in areas such as finance and legal processes. One tool that provides this support is HOA self-management software. With the right software, board members can streamline operations and make processes intuitive to create an improved community for all involved. 

40% of HOAs choose self-management

Many small and medium-sized associations successfully self-manage. The Community Associations Institute estimates that 40% of HOAs choose self-management. Managed homeowners’ associations can choose to go self-managed, which will have long-term benefits with the potential for cost savings in unit fees and other management costs.

The board of directors may use HOA self-management software in different ways, depending on their position.

Self-Managed HOA President

As President, an individual facilitates communication between board members and the community. The President ensures that every voice is heard as they make decisions that affect the community. They may prepare meeting agendas and ensure meetings remain focused on relevant topics. A President is also responsible for signing contracts and other legal documents for the association, which they may have to co-sign all checks.

Here are some ways that the President can use self-management software to secure and efficiently complete their duties:

  • Share and manage documents, keeping HOA-related business separate from personal or professional documents.
  • Send mass emails, text messages, and automated phone calls directly to residents.
  • Use a shared HOA calendar to manage a busy schedule.

Treasurer

The treasurer is one of the most critical people on the board. The treasurer manages all financial transactions and often collects dues from homeowners. This can take a considerable amount of time if the HOAs collect dues by hand in the form of paper checks. HOA self-management software automates the process for the treasurer, finance officer, and even the homeowners who can now easily pay online. 

The Treasurer must be able to produce financial reports for board meetings, as well as assists with the association’s annual audit, and is also responsible for paying vendors approved by the board.

Poor management of association funds can lead to distrust among board members and even legal action. Most HOAs use accounting software designed for the general market but not for residents’ specific needs. 

An HOA self-management software can offer an HOA several benefits. It allows HOAs to streamline their finances by creating more harmony between the board, property manager, and homeowners.

  • Automate collecting dues, late fees, and other charges
  • Making and sharing real-time accounting reports with ease
  • Building an annual budget and tracking income and expenses with custom charts and reports
  • Creating vendor profiles and paying vendors directly from the software
  • Sending professional invoices with a return envelope and perforated payment slip

Secretary

The secretary is often responsible for notifying homeowners of meetings and recording the minutes. The secretary manages important documents, such as homeowner information and maintenance history. Homeowners have the right to access these documents on demand according to covenant documents, so the secretary must maintain up-to-date records.

Secretaries can utilize Self-Managed HOA Software by:

  • Consolidating and storing important documents, tracking maintenance history, communications, and payment history
  • People who use the portal can have easy access to documents and account information, anytime, anywhere.
  • Communicating via text, email, phone, or mail

Committees

HOA committees offer advice and assistance to board members. These groups come together to take care of relevant issues in the community. Committees are typically small groups of volunteers that serve advisory roles. Still, they can be a small committee with ongoing responsibility or an ad hoc committee that deals with specific projects. Committees empower shareholders and create communities involved in decisions made at meetings.

HOA Self-Managed Software helps Committees by:

  • Send mass emails, SMS, and automatic phone calls, and view engagement communication data
  • Email custom PDFs to homeowners for special events and topics 
  • Send surveys and vote digitally with the option of anonymous voting and capturing results within the software
  • Build a custom website for the community

Choose the best HOA software for self-managed communities

Efficiency and scalability should be the primary considerations on your list during this evaluation. Factors will include the size of your organization, the scale of your operations, and the type of experience that you need. Find software that is customizable for your unique needs and that can take over labor-intensive tasks to free up volunteer hours. Check for any errors or mishaps with automation in mind to find ways it may have mitigated a human error.

When selecting HOA self-management software, consider: 

  • Affordability of the system
  • Customization for dues collection and tracking
  • Automated accounting for tracking income and expenses
  • A portal for members to submit and track payments, view community calendars and alerts and submit requests
  • Data storage and reporting
  • Communication tools like mass texts, email, voicemail, and physical mail
  • Management for multiple properties
  • Remote access for volunteers

The Best HOA Software for Self-Managed Communities

Smartwebs 

Best HOA Software for Self-Managed Communities

 

Smartwebs HOA Software can save Self Managed Communities time and Money. HOA software tailored to Self-Managed community needs takes care of many standard services, as well as gives staff the freedom to focus on other jobs. This leads to less stress and a more complete feeling of satisfaction.

Self-managed systems can help with continuity as well. Intuitive documents and resident information make it easier to prepare for changes, such as board turnover.

Advantages to Smartwebs for Your Self-Managed HOA

Cloud-based

Choosing a cloud-based HOA software solution can lead to considerable savings for a variety of reasons. Smartwebs cloud-based software removes the startup costs that an HOA has to pay for purchase and installation. No more installation of several devices, freeing up space on your hard drive and removing the hassle of manual regular system updates. Rather than investing massive amounts of money in hardware and software resources, cloud-based HOA software is easy to use, maintenance-free from a customer end, and allows you to work remotely from any device, anywhere.

Monthly subscription based

Smartwebs saves self-managed communities time and money by offering a monthly subscription software solution. Our software is priced at a per-door rate making it an extremely affordable option for self-managed communities. From a full-platform product (recommended) to a-la-carte software solutions, Smartwebs allows you to spend your money only on the applications you are utilizing and not waste your resources on features you don’t need.

Ease of use

Smartwebs is the leading HOA software solution for ease of use and scalability. Just ask our customers! You don’t have to be a computer scientist to start implementing our software for your communities. Designed with the average user in mind, Smartwebs was made for HOAs, it’s in our DNA. Smartwebs can quickly adapt to your usage plan. As your community grows, so do your software needs. With our cloud-based software, you can easily scale your solution usage with little to no downtime. Moreover, you can access our solution anywhere on the planet where you have internet access.

Increased Security

In many circumstances, a cloud-based solution can keep your HOA’s information more secure and often more readily available than traditional software programs can. For instance, at Smartwebs, we perform regular and automated scans of our network to identify weaknesses and bolster security. We take your data seriously. This also significantly decreases the risk of downtime with our product offerings. 

Use Our Self-Managed HOA Software Solution

Running a self-managed HOA can be very difficult, and it’s daunting when you don’t have the right software. With the right HOA solution, you can get more done. Get started with Smartwebs today to reduce your workload. Book a demo.

Guide for better HOA Management & Growth

Set the stage for success and streamline your HOA Growth and Management.

This guide helps You STOP Juggling HOA Accounting, Work-Orders, and everything else your community associations manage.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Top Violations for Communities and How to Minimize Them
  • How to Welcome New Residents
  • How to Become A Top HOA Community in Your City
  • How to Streamline HOA Growth and Management.
  • The Importance of HOA Management Software in Your Community
  • How to Choose the Right Community Association Management Software

Top Violations for Communities and How to Minimize Them

Garbage Cans 

Residents leaving their garbage cans out for too long after trash day is a common violation in HOA communities. Most property managers probably know this violation all too well and have written up several violation letters because of it. Remembering to bring in those cans can be hard, especially when working from home!

How to Help Minimize This Violation

Reminding your homeowners that trash day is over and they can put away their cans is a great
way to minimize this violation. If you have a system like SmartCommunications, you can send out a weekly reoccurring text or email reminding residents to remove their trash bins from the road.

Landscaping

We all know it can be challenging to find the time to mow your lawn, but alas, it has to be done! This is a common violation HOA managers face and are crucial to making your community look its best. As the property manager, you want to maintain the beauty of your HOA association and make sure everyone in the community is proud of their neighborhood!

How to Help Minimize This Violation

Making sure your HOA rules are clear and easy to understand can help your residents know precisely what is and isn’t a violation. Once a quarter, you should send out communication that lists the common landscaping issues your community sees and the landscaping rules. This way, everyone is informed and can help fix problems before they even start!

Pets

We love our pets like family because they are! But residents not picking up after their furry friends is something that HOAs face all the time. This can be a problem that you hear a lot from other residents, and they might ask the property manager to help minimize this violation.

How to Help Minimize This Violation

This can be a tough violation because it’s hard to catch residents in the act of not picking up after their pets, so you need to be proactive about a solution. Making sure you have enough waste stations around the neighborhood is key to helping eliminate this problem. Sometimes residents forget to bring bags with them, so providing plenty of spots where they can grab a bag and remove the waste is crucial for your community!

How to Welcome New Residents to your HOA

New residents moving into the neighborhood? That’s great! New homeowners moving into the community provides an opportunity for you to welcome them to the area, make sure they are set up for success and deliver essential documents they need to enjoy their new home.

Send a Welcome Packet

Welcome packets are a great way to help new residents feel excited about where they are
moving to. So what should be in a welcome packet?

Governing Documents

One of the most important items to include is your governing documents, as this is what they will need to make sure they have a positive experience in the community. Many rules are violated not out of intent but because they are unaware, so having a well-written document outlining the rules and regulations of your community is crucial!

Welcome Letter

In your packet, include a welcome letter. Let them know you’re glad they are here and make them feel special! Noting who the board members are and their roles in the community are excellent information for any newbie. Also, if your community has a Facebook group or Nextdoor neighborhood, they could join. This is a great addition!

Community Map and Info

Your community probably has fantastic amenities and can be the main reason why residents
chose your neighborhood, so point them out. Providing a neighborhood map pointing out where the pool, fitness center, playground, and any/all amenities are will help your newcomers navigate the community. You should also include access information like your pool code or how to get a key card to use the amenities to their fullest.

Resident Portal Information

Do you have HOA software? We hope so! If you do, make sure your new residents know how to access it, their login info, and what information they can find. Suppose you have a resident portal like the one at Smartwebs. In that case, residents can submit architectural requests, communicate with the property manager directly, and find governing documents with a couple of clicks. This will be key for your residents to make sure they are continuously updated with new info and easily communicate with their property manager.

Welcome Committee

Establishing a welcome committee for your neighborhood can help new residents feel at home. By already having a contact in the community to ask questions about things like schools, favorite restaurants, and where to get their hair done. A welcome committee can also put together gift baskets for new homeowners that include your welcome packet, local businesses to check out, and how to meet others in the neighborhood. Greeting newcomers to your community will help set you apart and keep your residents happy for the long term!

How to Become A Top HOA Community in Your City

You want your HOA community to be somewhere people desire to live and are proud to
participate in. So, how do you become a top HOA community? Here are some tips we think can help you do just that!

Community Events

Community events are a great way to get residents involved and meet their neighbors. Throwing cookouts for the fourth of July or having a neighborhood block party every quarter can boost morale and get your community talking about their HOA. Is anyone in the community a part of a band? Ask them to perform at the neighborhood park and invite everyone to come out and enjoy it! Any event you throw can be a great way to get your community together and more involved.

Amenities

Having great amenities is a huge selling point for any HOA community, so maintaining them is crucial. Is your playground equipment rusting and old? Maybe it’s time to replace. Getting
ahead of requests/complaints about older equipment will make your HOA look proactive and prepared. If your budget allows it, look for more amenities you can add to your community as well. Maybe even small ones like having free fitness in the park days or adding soccer nets to open spaces.

Community Involvement

Getting people involved in their community helps them feel a part of something like they can impact their local neighborhood. Starting Facebook groups or a social committee is a great way to get your neighbors involved. This also helps alleviate your responsibilities and helps others feel important to their community.

How to Streamline HOA Growth and Management.

Growing a property management company is exciting and rewarding, but how do you get more
HOA communities to sign on with you? This can be challenging, but we think you can grow your business with ease with these steps.

Provide Great Service

The most important thing a business can do for itself provides excellent service. While this may be a no-brainer, we think it’s the most important as this is what will set you apart. If your company is known for always treating your clients right, going above and beyond, and getting the job done, you will, in turn, create advocates for your brand, making it easy to refer you.

Create a Referral Program

Referrals are a great way to grow your business as people enjoy talking about things they love.
Once you’ve created a brand worth talking about, make a referral program to incentivize clients to refer others to your business. Offering things like a free month of service or even gift cards are a great way to help gain referral business.

Attend Networking Events

Nothing beats meeting clients in person, so attending local or national networking events can
help your business get in front of key decision-makers. This can also help you build relationships with other vendors and services that could benefit you.

Increase Your Online Visibility

Are you visible to your potential clients on the internet? Make sure you’re updating your website and social channels frequently, as this is how people will find you. Here are some ideas to help increase your visibility:

  • Regularly post on social media – Facebook and LinkedIn are essential channels.
  • Start a blog that is updated consistently with important topics to your industry.
  • Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups related to your industry to connect with others.
  • Start a podcast or YouTube channel answering some of the important topics in your industry.

Partner With Other Vendors

If there are prominent vendors in your area that you can partner with, this could be great exposure. Make sure your core values are aligned before committing. Then you can leverage that other brand to help you grow yours and vice versa!

If you enjoyed this guide to help streamline HOA Growth and Management, check out the tools Smartwebs offers to help streamline and automate that growth.

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Top 3 HOA Management Software Companies

What goes into identifying the Top 3 HOA Management Software Companies?

HOA management software aims to help board members and property managers work smarter by automating repetitive processes and creating systems that work together. If designed correctly, HOA management software can help streamline HOA management and can save you time and money.

With a wide range of options available, it’s essential to find the system that is best for you. Some software specializes in accounting, while others have a solution for almost everything.

If your HOA regularly does the following, you may want to look for property management software:

  • Mailing community announcements/updates/notices to homeowners.
  • You create financial records on Excel or a similar program that limits you to the same computer.
  • Work Orders and Architectural requests that take weeks to process.
  • Tracking homeowner violations that you struggle to keep organized and with zero automation. 

According to the 2022 State of the Property Management Industry Report, 46% of property managers considered residents their top priority in 2021. 41% stated growth was the main focus. 25% expressed a desire to improve efficiency.

Industry leaders: Top 3 HOA management software Companies

We have looked into many software options, and have identified the Top 3 HOA Management Software Companies. 

Smartwebs 

Smartwebs best community association management software

Smartwebs All-In-One Platform + Mobile allows you to say goodbye to time-consuming manual work and outdated software, allowing you to make the most of every minute.

Rated the Best HOA Management Software for ease of use, Smartwebs makes accounting, violations, work-orders, communications, architectural requests, and more not only simpler but SMARTER. 

Smartwebs pricing remains competitive in the market and is as simple to understand as the software. Smartwebs offers an a la carte option for services such as Management and accounting, or access to their full, all-in-one platform for HOA Community Association Management. 

Appfolio

Top 3 HOA Management Software Companies Appfolio

AppFolio is an easy-to-use solution with a mobile experience. It offers cloud-based software for property managers of HOAs as well as those who have mixed portfolios. AppFolio was founded in 2006 and acquired MyCase in 2012.

AppFolio is a multifunctional property management platform that includes a suite of tools that can help managers take care of their building maintenance, track payments, and stay competitive on the price of rent.

Some clients noted that the accounting feature is not very user-friendly, but those with some accounting knowledge should be fine using the system.

Buildium

Top 3 HOA Management Software Companies Buildium

Buildium provides property managers with efficient software that is easy to use, even for people who aren’t confident with new technology. It focuses on streamlining tasks so that you spend less time on them. It was founded in 2004 and has quickly attracted the eye of property managers.

Buildium allows you to perform many different property management tasks, like accounting, rental applications, tenant screening, document storage, 

Buildium is free to try, and while pricing may not be ideal for all communities, it has plenty of options for those of different sizes. There are small things that could be improved on this software such as accounting functions; however, it is still a good product overall.

What features should you be looking for in HOA Software?

If you are shopping for HOA management software, don’t only consider the price. Consider how expandable the software is and its total value to you. Pricing for this type of product varies on the features and support available.

Once they find the right software, property managers have no regrets and only look back on why they didn’t invest in HOA management software sooner. Online software comes with many benefits and can help property managers overcome challenges more efficiently than ever before.

Simplified Community Association Accounting  

Whether you have an accounting background or not, online accounting software is a great option. It minimizes human error and makes it possible to manage the finances of multiple properties from one place.

HOA accounting software is a comprehensive suite of tools to help you manage the financial accounting needs of your HOA. It’s important to choose the right software that can handle all of your needs, whether you’re just starting out or are an established HOA with many members. There are several key features and benefits to consider when evaluating HOA accounting software.

Overall Community Management

Your software should make HOA Management smarter, not harder. Why search for multiple solutions that don’t integrate or work seamlessly? Why have multiple tabs opened on your computer if you can do it all on one platform?

Seamless Integrations

Each software can offer different strengths, so it’s important to find the one that is most compatible with your needs and the current programs you love. Most companies provide the option for integration and some have a more diverse array of options. This can help you experience the best from two platforms without switching back and forth between them.

Conclusion

HOA management software is an excellent tool that streamlines the operations of HOAs by providing a way to reach your goals while strengthening communication and organizing tasks. These programs provide different qualities, but they all have the same objective: to help people succeed in managing their properties efficiently. Before purchasing HOA management software, make certain that it offers the features necessary for helping you reach your goals.

These programs may seem overwhelming but most are surprisingly easy to handle. Most people don’t find them too challenging – and there is typically a support team if you do. Your entire community can benefit from great Community Association Management software.

Best Practices for Submitting HOA Work Orders

The homeowner association (HOA) work order process is critical to keeping a well-maintained community. Submitting accurate, detailed work orders can help preserve the “curb appeal” and value of your community association. Below we have laid out the best practices to follow when submitting work orders to a vendor, so keep reading!

What is Considered a Work Order?

A work order is a request for a service or repair of any community equipment (i.e., pool, volleyball courts, playgrounds, etc.). Work orders can help track, manage and pay for vendor services. They are used by homeowners, property managers, and community managers.

Understanding the difference between a work order and a community improvement is also important to note as these are separate items and should be handled as so. Again, a work order is submitted when something existing needs to be fixed or repaired. A community improvement would be a nice item for the community to have or add to its current amenities. An example of a community improvement would be to add lighting to tennis courts to so it can be used at nighttime. This is not a work order to fix lighting that is already existing, but instead to add lighting that isn’t already there. 

Is There HOA Software That Can Help Manage Work Orders?

Yes! There are many options for HOAs to submit work orders for their community associations. Our software SmartWorkers helps you automate your work order process and help keep everyone informed along the way. Homeowners submit requests online and receive an automated email notifying them that it’s being processed. Staff will review the submission and assign a vendor who will be notified via email, text, or voice message. Then you can easily track work orders with our unique link, so you always know the status.

Our mobile app gives you on-the-go access to view all HOA work orders quicker! Virtual community maps with GPS navigation can route vendors to the item’s exact location. Vendors have immediate access to all information to get started and capture real-time updates with photos that notify everyone of progress.

Best Practices for Submitting HOA Work Orders

When you submit a work order, it’s important to follow these best practices to ensure your request is processed as quickly and efficiently as possible:

Make Sure It’s Detailed

Include as much detail as possible about the nature of the request, how long it has been an issue, how frequently (or infrequently) it occurs, and any other relevant details that may help the vendor understand the problem.

Include Photos

Include photos of the problem area(s). Images are helpful because they provide visual proof of what needs to be addressed and can also help with identification purposes if there are multiple people submitting similar requests for different reasons. Regarding specifically related issues such as interior damage caused by leaks or exterior damage caused by storm damage/wind storms/etc., including photos may also help determine whether additional repairs might be needed.

Include Your Contact Info

Even if you submit a very informative and thorough request, a vendor could still have questions regarding the issue. That’s why it will be important to include the best way to contact you for any questions regarding the work order. 

Conclusion

HOA work orders help your community stay ahead of issues and make sure things are fixed promptly. It will be essential to keep track of any work orders, so your community thrives. Having software in place helps you do it! The process can be automated, so you no longer have to use pen and paper to ensure your issues are resolved. 

Our team would love to show you the power of SmartWorkorders. We will walk you through a detailed demo showing how your community can use our software to solve some of your work order pain points. Contact us today to schedule a demo!

 

5 Tips For Handling HOA Architectural Requests

Introduction

HOAs are responsible for maintaining the safety and aesthetics of their neighborhoods. Having a consistent way to deal with your architectural requests will help your community association. You might need residents to get approval before painting their front door a different color or building an addition to their house. We know it can be challenging to keep track of all the architectural requests in your community, so here are some tips for handling your HOA architectural requests! 

Educate Your homeowners On Your Policies

It’s essential to make sure your homeowners are aware of your policies. Ensure that they are fully informed about the rules, expectations of any fees, as well as how to submit requests for their property.

Outline your policies in an easy-to-read document, so it’s not confusing for homeowners. You can minimize the number of rejected requests by simply creating a clear policy document!

Make Sure HOA Architectural Requests Are Uniform

The first thing to consider when managing HOA architectural requests is whether or not they are uniform. Ensure that all architectural requests are submitted in one format, so you can be sure that any request is handled consistently. If the format of your architectural requests is inconsistent, there will be confusion among board members when reviewing them. You also want to make sure that all architectural request forms are clear and easy to read, so no one misses an important detail while reading them.

Make Sure You’re Timely in Your Response

If you have a board member dealing with the request, be sure that they are responsive to residents’ questions and concerns. The quicker you can respond, the better.

It’s also important to let residents know when your board will be reviewing their request and if there will be any delays in making a decision. If it helps, you can set up regular meetings with your Architectural Committee or Board of Directors. This would allow them to make decisions on all requests at once instead of having several people come forward with individual requests that need separate considerations from other projects being considered by the Architectural Committee or Board of Directors. 

Timeliness is critical for handling HOA architectural requests. If you don’t respond to residents about the status of their request within two weeks, they may assume that it’s been rejected, which can lead to frustration and low perception of your responsiveness.

Be Consistent in Approvals and Rejections

It’s important to be consistent in your approach to architectural requests and in the way you communicate decisions. This is especially true for the more common requests, such as changing front door colors, adding shutters or columns, installing a new mailbox post, or adding fencing. If you reject one request because there are too many similar ones already on the street, then it’s important that you also reject subsequent requests for those reasons.

If a homeowner submits an application for approval of plans for an addition or modification and it fails on some technicality (such as not being complete), don’t automatically grant approval just because other homeowners were able to get theirs approved without any problems. You need to maintain consistency so homeowners understand how they can get what they want while staying within HOA guidelines.

Use HOA Software to Help Manage Requests

You can use software to help manage the approval process. HOA Software enables you to track requests, save time and make your life easier!

  • It helps you manage the approval process by tracking all requests uniformly so that everyone knows what’s going on.
  • It also helps with consistency: when using software for approvals, it’s easy to have consistent standards across all projects and homeowners because everything is managed from one central location.
  • Board members will be able to directly vote on architectural requests online from anywhere at any time, making the approval process quicker.
  • Residents will be able to submit architectural requests online from a centralized location and track the progress of their requests from their resident portal.

Are you interested in architectural software? Check out more information about SmartArchitecturals

Conclusion

These tips should help you handle HOA architectural requests more efficiently. We know running an HOA is stressful, but Smartwebs is here to make it easier! With our software, you’ll be able to track, manage, and approve architectural requests from your residents. Schedule a demo with our team. 

 

What HOA Management Issues Does Software Solve?

HOA management software is a great way to manage the day to day of community association management. It helps you automate many of your tasks and keeps all your information in one place. This software also helps improve resident satisfaction, efficiency, and cost savings.

Accounting

Accounting can be a daunting task but with HOA software, it is much easier to manage. With software like Smartbooks you’ll be able to:

  • Centralize all of your community documents
  • Easily integrate with your banks
  • Manage all of your accounts in one place

SmartBooks is a cloud-based, bank-integrated accounting software to manage all of your HOA accounts, documents, payments and so much more under one login. Our smart, yet the simple interface is easy to use, which makes managing your community faster than ever before.

Resident Communication

Communication can help create a sense of community and involvement, which are essential to creating a positive environment for residents to live in.

Clear communication is also vital when managing an HOA. To make sure everyone is on board with your plans and that they understand the reasoning behind them, it’s essential to communicate well with your residents from day one. If you focus on good communication from the start, this will continue for the rest of your tenure as an HOA manager—and beyond!

With SmartCommunications, we help you do just that. You can easily text or email your residents with just a couple of clicks. With SmartPortal residents can contact you directly through the software so you can keep better track of your communication with them. 

Amenities Maintenance

Amenities maintenance is one of the larger responsibilities for HOAs and something that can be difficult to manage without a dedicated system in place.

Work order software has several advantages over manual methods of tracking and scheduling maintenance requests:

  • It can track which members have made requests for repairs or improvements on their properties. This means that you won’t have multiple people calling about the same issue or trying to schedule work at the same time—you’ll know exactly who needs what, when they need it and how much time they need before you can get someone out there.
  • The process becomes streamlined because all requests are logged electronically instead of being left on pieces of paper around town where they may get lost or misplaced.

Violation Creation and Tracking 

HOA violation software is a helpful tool for HOAs. It helps you stay organized and keep track of violations in your community. If you want to manage your HOA more effectively, violation software will help you do that!

You can use HOA violation software to:

  • Track violations as they happen. With our mobile app, you will be able to drive the community and easily manage and track violations. You don’t even need cell service! Our offline app will download your community map before you even start your drive and our GPS system will follow you as you’re making your rounds.
  • Automatically send out violation letters. With our Zero-Touch Mailing service, you will be able to send out letters directly to homeowners without printing and stuffing envelopes yourself. Once you’ve completed your community drive and get back to the office you’ll simply process the violations and the system will do the rest!

There are so many issues that can arise when managing an HOA community but having the right systems in place will be a huge asset to you. We recommend outlining your wants and needs for a software provider and then demoing multiple solutions until you find the right fit for your community. We think the clear choice is Smartwebs but ultimately you have to choose the right solution for you. If you’d like to demo our HOA management software, contact our team!

 

4 Traits of Good HOA Managers

Managing a homeowners association is no joke! As an HOA manager, you need to be able to do everything from scheduling meetings and managing finances to overseeing maintenance and keeping the place safe. A good HOA manager needs many skills—but the good news is that you can learn them all! Here are four of the most important traits of a good HOA manager.

#1. They Can Manage Financials

A good HOA manager will ensure the financials are managed correctly. Handling revenue, expenses, and budgeting is a key part of the job, and it needs to be done well in order for the HOA to function optimally. A good manager will be on top of all financial activities:

  • Determining monthly fees from members
  • Tracking payments from members
  • Creating budgets based on estimated expenses for each year
  • Keeping an eye out for unexpected costs that may arise throughout the year (e.g., if there’s a calamity that causes damage to common areas)

HOA software tools are available to help manage these tasks. For example, SmartBooks offers a complete package with many useful features including:

  • Reporting capabilities
  • Centralize all of your community documents
  • Easily integrate with your banks
  • Manage all of your accounts in one place
  • Residents can see real-time balances

#2. They Communicate Effectively

While effective communication is a vital part of every relationship, it’s especially important for an HOA manager to be able to communicate effectively. This includes communicating with homeowners and board members as well as vendors and contractors. After all, if your HOA manager can’t communicate well, how will they be able to make sure projects get done on time and on budget?

When it comes to good communication skills, it’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. It’s also important to have the right tools in place for your HOA manager to easily communicate with homeowners. SmartCommunications helps managers do just that! They can easily email or text residents individually or even send out mass communications to the entire community. 

#3. They Stay Up-to-Date

It’s important for HOA managers to stay up-to-date with changes in the law and industry, so they can provide accurate information to their boards. Regularly attending local seminars and state or national conferences is a great way to acquire continuing education credits. These events also give you the opportunity to meet other people who share your interests, chat with vendors and suppliers who might have new products or resources you need.

Trade publications are an excellent source of news and articles from experts in the field, so make sure you’re subscribed to at least a few of these magazines. The most popular trade magazine for homeowners association professionals is Community Associations Institute (CAI), which has over 45 years’ worth of content addressing topics including but not limited to board management, managing multiple HOAs as a consultant/manager, budgeting/finances, and even using social media effectively when working with your communities.

Lastly, it’s important that HOA managers have a good understanding of the community’s governing documents or covenants—including bylaws, CC&Rs, policies & procedures—and how they relate to state laws regarding homeowner associations. Thorough knowledge of these governing documents will help ensure that the manager abides by them when making decisions on behalf of their HOA boards. You should also know where residents can find copies of these documents if they’re unfamiliar with them; many HOAs post their governing documents on their website for members’ use.

#4. They Know the Rules

The rules in a homeowners association are only as good as their enforcement. If the HOA manager is unable to apply them fairly, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. The board will establish rules with the best of intentions and they must be enforced consistently in order to keep conflict at bay and to protect the integrity of your neighborhood.

It can be difficult for an HOA manager to keep up with all the rules and regulations (particularly among larger communities where it’s easy for different HOAs to have slightly different bylaws) but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that it becomes second nature. Managing violations can be a daunting task but with SmartViolations, it doesn’t have to be! With our HOA software, you can easily track, submit, and report on community violations with just a few clicks. 

You’ve Got This.

HOA management can be a busy job but one that is also rewarding! Having the right HOA software will be key to being a good manager as it will help you do your job more efficiently. Schedule a demo with our team today to see how Smartwebs can help you. 

What is HOA Accounting Software?

What is HOA accounting?

HOA accounting is the bookkeeping, record-keeping, and financial reporting that takes place in homeowners associations (HOAs). HOAs are communities with a governing authority that enforces rules, collects dues, and maintains common areas for residents. This entity is called a Board and can be managed either by volunteers or by a paid HOA management company. If the Board members are unpaid volunteers, they are responsible for performing HOA accounting. If the community uses an HOA management company, then this company is responsible for most of the association’s accounting tasks.

Is it different from regular accounting?

Many of the same financial accounting principles apply to both HOA accounting and traditional accounting, but there are major differences. You can use virtually any software that complies with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to do your HOA’s books, but you’re much better off using software that was specifically designed for HOAs.

HOAs have many financial transactions that are different from regular businesses or individuals. They also have more transactions than most other types of entities and a large number of recurring monthly transactions such as mortgage payments and common area fees. For these reasons, it’s important to use an HOA-specific application if you have this type of entity.

What is HOA accounting software?

HOA accounting software is a comprehensive suite of tools to help you manage the financial accounting needs of your HOA. It’s important to choose the right software that can handle all of your needs, whether you’re just starting out or are an established HOA with many members. There are several key features and benefits to consider when evaluating HOA accounting software.

There is special accounting software for HOAs.

While most accounting software will work for an HOA, there are some products that are specially designed to function in an HOA setting. These products can make managing the finances of your association a much easier process and help you save time by streamlining tasks.

HOA accounting software tends to include basic accounting features, such as general ledger, accounts payable/receivable, invoicing and payment processing, reporting capabilities, and budgeting tools. In addition to these basic features, HOA accounting software can also give members access to view their own financial records through a secure portal.

These special programs can also simplify the process of collecting dues from members by automatically sending out collection notices when payments are late or missing. Some even offer online payment options for community members to pay their dues quickly and easily by credit card or e-check.

Tell me more.

Wondering where you can get software like this? You need SmartBooks! We built our accounting software specifically for HOAs and their distinct needs. Our software will help you manage your books with ease and also easily integrate with our management software to create one single platform to manage your communities. If you’re looking for superior HOA accounting software, schedule a demo with our team today and see the power of SmartBooks.

How to Attract Top Talent for Your HOA Community

Ask Yourself What Makes Your HOA Community Unique

How do you attract top talent to your HOA? Your community’s mission statement, vision, and culture are some of the most important factors determining whether it attracts top talent or repels prospective residents. To get a step ahead of the game, it’s important to consider what makes your community unique. Is it in a desirable location? Is it in a city that’s known for its art scene? A university town? If you’re putting together an ad for potential candidates, ask the following questions to make sure you’re appealing to who you want to be:

  • What is your community’s mission statement and vision?
  • What is the reputation of your community and how has it been established in your market?
  • What are the values that define your community (e.g., caring about family members, environmentalism, etc.)?
  • What is the culture of your community (e.g., we’re a low-key place where people take care of their neighbors)?
  • Who are the current residents and what draws them to live there?

Offer Competitive Benefits to HOA Employees

It can be hard to stand out as an employer and entice qualified candidates in a competitive hiring market. Fortunately, you have a secret weapon: benefits. By offering certain kinds of benefits, you can make your HOA community an attractive place for potential employees to work.

Benefits are something that employees and job seekers value highly in their careers, so offering good benefits is a great way to attract top candidates. As you’re building your list of benefits for HOA employees, include both tangible and intangible options so that there’s something for everyone.

Tangible perks might include paid time off (PTO), paid sick leave, free parking or other transportation reimbursement options, help with continuing education and training expenses, or discounts at local businesses that your employees frequent. Intangible perks might include flexible scheduling options, unlimited vacation days, or a casual dress code. Offering these kinds of benefits may also help you attract younger talent—millennials are especially attracted to workplaces with a flexible culture.

Create Clear Job Descriptions

To attract top talent to your HOA community, you must make sure to have a clear job description posted. Your job description should provide a list of responsibilities and what you expect out of an employee.

Here are some elements to include:

  • Job title
  • Company name
  • Full description of the job
  • Requirements and qualifications needed

Make The Interview Process Smooth, Efficient, and Enjoyable

Now that you have a pipeline of candidates to interview, it’s important to make your interview process as smooth and efficient as possible. Nobody likes interviewing for a job. But with the right approach, your company can make the interview process enjoyable for everyone involved.

Before an interview is scheduled, be sure you’re clear about what the next steps will look like and when they’ll happen—for example if you’ll be doing onsite interviews or phone screens before making a final hiring decision, let candidates know that in advance so they don’t get their hopes up unnecessarily (or worse yet, cancel another potentially better opportunity).

Then, once that candidate has an offer in hand, follow up with them as soon as possible—especially if they’re also interviewing at other places. You want to make sure they have all the information they need to decide while it’s still fresh in their minds.

After an offer is accepted:

  • Be very clear and upfront about when the new person will start working at your company. If there’s a delay in starting due to visa issues or some other external factor (like Covid-19), keep them informed of any changes to this timeline so there aren’t any surprises along the way. If possible send them regular updates on what’s happening until their first day does arrive; this will help build trust between both parties before work even begins!

Consider Working With an Employment Recruiter

  • Consider working with an employment recruiter. An experienced recruiter can help you connect with the best candidates for your HOA’s open positions. They will act as a liaison between you and the highly qualified people who may not be actively looking for a job but would jump at the chance to work for your community association. The recruiter will save you time, as they are able to source potential employees quickly, and money, as they are able to define exactly what qualities in a candidate make them right for your HOA community.

Ready For Your Next Great Employee

Attracting excellent talent to your HOA community can seem challenging, but if you know how to market effectively and build the right team of people, the results are worth it.

To attract top talent to your HOA community, you need to build a strong team. This is not an easy or quick feat, and it will take time and resources, but it’s an important step in building the foundation of your company.

To build this team, you will need to network! Your team should be made up of people who have different skills and experience. Networking helps you find talent that isn’t limited to what’s available on the market right now.

We hope you find your next great employee and that these tips help you do just that. Once you’ve hired the right person, make sure they have the right tools! Smartwebs helps HOA community managers do their job with ease. Schedule a demo with our team today to see what Smartwebs can do for you. 

 

HOA Communities: 3 Tips for How to Write a Violation Letter Template

The first planned community in the United States is defined by its curvy streets and park-like scenery just outside of Chicago. This planned community modeled the modern HOA communities we see today. In order for these communities to thrive, homeowners have to agree to rules and regulations. When a homeowner breaches that agreement, a violation letter is the first notice. Violation letters can consume the lives of HOA leadership, especially in large communities. That is why you need a simple and thorough violation letter template. Continue reading to learn 3 tips for how to write a violation letter template.

Stay Professional in Tone

Nobody wants to receive a violation letter. What’s worse than a violation letter is one that is poorly written and informal. Your letter needs to be professional. It should be more cover-letter-like. A letter template will standardize your violation letters. This gives the letter a more professional appearance. You should first state the purpose of the letter, give evidence of the violation, then request the needed changes. Many HOAs also include the specific agreement citation to direct homeowners to exactly what they are violating. Written evidence is helpful, but photos are the best evidence. Having a space in your template to easily insert photos will make your templates more effective. Also, every violation letter should provide a reasonable timeframe for making changes. Your letter should not be a fine, but it should request that the homeowner resolve the violation.

Include the Next Steps

After a homeowner has received a violation letter, they need to know what to do. Legally, every homeowner has the right to dispute a violation before being penalized. HOAs are legal entities, which means a homeowner has the right to file a lawsuit against an association if they disagree with their violation. Violations do not always lead to lawsuits though. The first step is a disciplinary hearing if you would like to dispute the violation. Detailing the next steps for homeowners in the letter will ensure your HOA community is communicating well.

Decide How to Record Violations

Your letter template should make filing and sorting violation cases simple and effective. Whether it is a code, organized by property, or kept in a spreadsheet, your violation template should assist your organizational efforts, not harm them. For this reason, many HOA communities will begin with a digital violation letter and work from software or a database. Many HOAs decide to invest in software for its organizational features.

Use Software to Handle Your Violations in HOA Communities

Violation letter templates are difficult to write, which is why many communities prefer to automate the process. For HOA communities who are looking to get paperwork off of their table, using HOA software can make tracking violations simple. If you want a little more automation than a simple template, you should consider SmartViolations. Learn more about how SmartViolations can save you time and stress.

 

Should I Hire an HOA Management Company?

Self-managed HOA communities rely on their elected board of directors to run their community. They are responsible for dealing directly with homeowners to answer questions, collect HOA fees, issue violations, and so forth. Having a very active and accountable board is crucial to the community’s success. So how should you decide if you should hire an HOA management company to run your community? Read these tips to determine what’s suitable for your association!

What does an HOA management company do?

An HOA management company’s essential duty is to manage the community’s daily operations, including communicating with homeowners, scheduling maintenance, and other administrative work. Your communities board will still be essential, as will the HOA management company. The HOA management company is there to act as your community’s advisor and help run your community smoothly. 

What are the benefits of hiring an HOA management company?

Easier Management

Your HOA board members usually aren’t community association professionals who have been in the industry for years which can make it difficult for them to handle everyday HOA tasks. With an HOA management company, you get experience and expertise in managing a successful community association and can relieve your board members from these duties. They will take over administrative duties such as communicating with homeowners, processing violations, handling arch requests, and property maintenance. 

A management company will also be helpful for your residents as they will have a clearer picture of who to communicate with. They will have a designated point of contact and someone who will respond quickly to their questions. 

Industry Knowledge

A management company will also help your community be less risky by following all the rules and regulations to comply with the law. Having this industry knowledge will be a tremendous benefit for your association!

Are there disadvantages to hiring an HOA management company?

There are always disadvantages to having someone take over your community’s management, but do the pros outweigh the cons?

Increase in Costs

Hiring a management company will increase your costs for your association as you’ll have to pay for this service. You can increase your HOA fees to cover this cost, but your residents might not be happy with this decision. 

Less Control

While your board is still in control of all the crucial decisions for your HOA, hiring a management company can decrease the board’s governance. If your board is very involved and worried about their duties reducing this could be a disadvantage. However, you can help mitigate this by ensuring the management company and the board are on the same page.

Self-Managed HOA vs. HOA Management Company: Which should I choose?

The answer is: it depends! If your community is small and operating efficiently, it might be unnecessary to have a management company. However, it could be a great option if your board members are struggling with the responsibilities and your community is large enough to cover the cost. If you’re looking at hiring a management company, read this article to guide you on doing this correctly!

 

Either way, remember that Smartwebs can help you or your management company. With our software, you’ll be able to easily manage your association’s violations, arch requests, work orders, and even accounting. Get a demo of our software to see how Smartwebs can help you!

 

How to Hire the Right Property Manager for Your HOA

Hiring the right property manager for your HOA community is crucial to your community’s success. These managers are the face of your HOA and are integral parts of the maintenance and care of the property and residents. Having a caring, proactive, organized, and responsive manager is key to making a great community. Follow these tips to help you hire the right property manager for your HOA association!

Determine Responsibilities

Before you can find the right individual, you need to understand what responsibilities they will have in the community. A common and, in most cases, most important task will be homeowner management. This includes answering questions homeowners might have, communicating with them about events, helping them submit architectural requests, and answering violation questions. Excellent communication is crucial, so you want to ensure you have the right tools in place. SmartCommunications allows you to send messages to homeowners in a few clicks! Tag residents into different groups to help send targeted messages out to your community and make communication that much easier.

Managing violations will be a large part of an HOA manager’s job. This will include creating violations, sending out violation letters, and communicating with homeowners. Managing violations can be extremely time-consuming, so having software like SmartViolations will significantly benefit a property manager. Managers will be able to map, submit, and report on violations making it simple to stay organized. 

Vendor management is another responsibility of an HOA manager as they will get bids, hire vendors, and follow up as needed. With software like SmartWorkorders, you can schedule maintenance with your preferred vendors, track the progress, and pay them directly. This helps everyone stay informed on what maintenance is being performed, and with the mobile app, vendors can directly track their progress. 

These are just a few duties of an HOA manager, and there are many more, so it’s important to understand what they will be doing so you can hire the right candidate. If you want a more comprehensive list of HOA manager duties, you can visit HOAmanagement.com!

Licensing and Credentials 

Does your state require property managers to have some sort of license, certification, or other credentials? Make sure they have them! Even if your state doesn’t require them, it’s a great benefit to hiring someone with industry knowledge as it means they are invested in the industry. In your application, you can simply ask each candidate to input their specific licenses/certifications they have acquired. 

Speak with Their References

References can be a benefit to anyone searching for the perfect candidate. You only see what comes across on their resume or interviews, so speaking with individuals who have previously worked with the candidate can be insightful. Have each candidate give you one to two references for you to reach out to during the interview process, and make sure you look at the references to make sure they have previously worked together. 

Conflict Resolution Skills

Asking personality questions will help you see if the candidate is a good fit for your position. One of the most essential aptitudes for any property manager is conflict resolution skills. We know dealing with angry homeowners, tracking down vendors, and communicating with many different people can be challenging. You want to make sure this individual has excellent problem-solving and communication skills. Asking them to give examples of difficult situations they had to resolve or handling conversations in challenging scenarios will help you better understand your candidates. 

Hiring the right manager for your HOA community can take time, but it will be rewarding in the end! Property managers are a great asset to your community and can help the perception of the HOA in your resident’s eyes. Once you’ve got the right manager in place, make sure you have the right tools as well! Smartwebs’ all-in-one platform can help managers run their communities smoothly. Violations, Architecturals, Work Orders, Communications, Resident Portal, and Accounting management are all at your fingertips. 

Schedule a demo with our team and see how Smartwebs can help you manage your communities smarter.