September 13, 2016

Should your HOA manage itself or Hire a Professional Manager?

Does your community need a professional HOA manager or can volunteers handle the load?

Although the size of your home owners association factors into the hire-a-pro-HOA-manager vs. run-it-with-volunteers decision, it’s not always the deciding piece of the puzzle, say property managers. Some small communities have professional help, and some large ones run well without a manager.

Checklist: A pro is the way to go if:

  • Your HOA must manage a lot of building systems, amenities, and properties.
  • Home owners don’t have the skills to do association work, such as depositing and recording dues checks or managing a pool.
  • The management companies you’re considering can get discounts from contractors or service providers, such as insurance companies, and those discounts are important to your HOA.

Our HOA doesn’t need a professional manager

OK, if the issues above don’t stand in your way, you can save money by not hiring a professional manager. Recruit volunteers who can handle billing, correspondence, and complaints. In general, you’ll want to fill board and committee volunteer positions with folks who have skills in:

  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Law
  • Vendor management

Use a mix of pro and DIY in your HOA

If your HOA can cover some but not all of the jobs on your list, split the work between in-house volunteers and outside professionals. Some HOAs have an accounting firm handle billing, deposits, and audits, while board members manage contractors and tackle correspondence, complaints, and inquiries from owners.

Either way, a professional management company should never run the whole show. It should take its direction from the board. Nor would it be fiscally wise to let an outside firm have full control over your finances.

And keep your eyes on the prize: property values. Smart home buyers will avoid buying into associations where common areas aren’t spiffy and community budgets show cost overruns and special assessments for unplanned repairs.

(the above article was written by

Ms. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer. A frequent contributor to publications including Bankrate, REALTOR Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, personal finance, and legal topics.