How to be a successful community association manager

Date Published : Mar-28-2019

Written By : Phillip Livingston

Most property owners don’t have the time or expertise needed to maintain and manage their assets. That’s why they hire a community association manager to take care of all the different aspects involved in preserving the resale value of their property. 

If you want to become a successful community association manager but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a helpful guide with tried and tested tips on how to be the best CAM you can be.

 

  1. Maintain the property

As a community association manager, your role is to work for the best interests of the property owner or homeowner’s association (HOA) that has hired you. This means ensuring that the communal property is well-maintained according to standards set by the property owner/s.

Some of the tasks you must perform and oversee to achieve this include:

  • Conducting regular inspection of the grounds, facilities, and equipment
  • Organizing equipment repairs or replacement when necessary
  • Hiring contractors for services like security, maintenance, trash removal, and landscaping

 

  1. Keep community happy by staying on top of tasks

Show the HOA you’re the right man/woman for the job by staying on top of important tasks such as

  • Meeting potential tenants and showing them around the property
  • Collecting fees from tenants on a monthly basis
  • Maintaining up-to-date rental activity records
  • Making sure that insurance, maintenance, payroll, and tax bills are paid on time
  • Compiling financial reports and periodic budgets

 

  1. Resolving disputes between residents

At some point, you’ll be called upon to resolve complaints and conflicts between residents within the community. The key to effective conflict resolution is to start by identifying the source of the conflict. Then, decide on the best time and place to have a discussion about the issue. Often, it’s best to resolve conflict on weekends when everyone is free from work obligations and not feeling as stressed out about the instigating incident.

Have an amicable approach to the problem by accentuating the positive qualities of the parties involved. Then, identify the problematic behavior, but without pointing fingers. State the facts and then allow each party to describe their feelings about the situation. Lastly, identify a solution to resolve the conflict, using the statues set out in the HOA’s CC&Rs.

This method is a great way to resolve conflict in a way that satisfies the homeowners and the HOA’s regulations.

 

  1. Safety first

Part of your responsibility as a CAM is to ensure that the community you manage is safe and secure at all times. This means regularly checking and monitoring your security measures to make sure they’re relevant and effective.

There is software like security patrol that simplifies the process. This solution allows you to organize and manage all aspects of your guard patrol system from your smartphone.

 

  1. Cultivate desirable qualities

Some of the most important qualities you must have as a community association manager include:

  • Good communication skills: You must be able to clearly explain the contents of your rental contracts and lease documents to prospective tenants so they know what they’re getting into. Failure to do so may lead to misunderstandings and disputes in the long run.
  • Good listening skills: This is a must when you’re a community association manager. You’ll be working with people every day so you need to be good at listening to their problems, complaints and even suggestions. This refers to tenants and property owners too.
  • Problem-solving skills: This is also important considering you’ll be dealing with a fair amount of conflict-resolution and even legal issues throughout your tenure as a CAM. You may need to mediate disputes among homeowners and even board members sometimes.
  • Organizational skills: Part of your job as a CAM is to coordinate the activities of all the contractors you hire to work on the property. Whether it’s a plumber, landscaper or electrician, you must hire them according to proper procedures and maintain good relations with them.

 

  1. Study and master your association documents

It’s important that you know all the association’s important documents like the back of your hand. This includes the statutes, governing documents, by-laws, etc.

Be sure to organize your documents neatly so they’re easy to access whenever you need to reference them. For instance, you may need to refer to your HO6 document when reminding one of your tenants about their obligation to maintain cabinets or whatever aspect of the property they may have damaged.

Also, studying your documents will make your life easier while educating you about the property you’re managing.

 

  1. Stay active on all properties

You’ll probably spend a lot of your time in the office taking care of daily administrative tasks. But, it’s equally important that you take time out of your schedule and walk around the property now and then. Greet your tenants with a smile and take an interest in their experience within the community.

Most CAMs prefer to do this on a Monday right before they step into the office. That’s because a lot happens over the weekend when the manager is not around. So, be sure to take a stroll through the property with a camera and clipboard on hand so you can take notes and pictures of anything that’s out of place.

If you’re using an association management software, you can instantaneously add the information to your reports straight from your smartphone. This will make your job easier once you get to the office especially when it comes to hiring a vendor to fix the problem. You‘ll just send them a picture instead of trying to describe something you haven’t seen, and you’ll have some background context on some of your emails when you get to the office. 

 

  1. Prepare for and attend HOA board meetings

Before each board meeting, you need to put together a ‘meeting package’ with the agenda, every item that the board will vote on, and vendor bids. Even if the vendors are slow to send their bids, you can always add last-minute appendixes.

Having this information on hand will significantly speed up the meeting because you’ll be able to answer any and all questions that arise.

Plus, you’ll be calm, cool and collected throughout the proceedings as you’ve already done on your homework.

This shows the board and the owners you’re organized, efficient and committed.

 

  1. Keep critical spreadsheets well-organized

There’s nothing worse than missing a contract termination deadline and dealing with an accidental renewal.  The only way to avoid such incidents is to regularly update your spreadsheets for meetings, contracts, insurance renewal, vendor contact information, computer passwords, and other important information.

That way, even if you’re not at the office you can delegate tasks to a member of your staff that takes care of the property when you’re not around.

The best part is you can keep your spreadsheets paperless by uploading them onto association management software’s File Library. A file Library keeps your documents secured in the cloud and allows you to set different permission levels for each of your files. This means the office can operate in your absence without compromising file confidentiality and safety.

 

  1. Listen to your residents

Homeowners and/or tenants will often come to your office and complain about something or report an incident. It’s easy to get annoyed or irritated when someone walks in to tell you about a half-eaten peach that someone left on the stairs all weekend.

But, it’s important to keep in mind they’re taking time out of their schedule to come in and tell you about something that affects the integrity of the property.  

While it might seem like they’re calling you out as a manager, they’re only giving you an opportunity to help, and it shows that they care about the community as much as you do.

So, make it a point to listen and show you care whenever someone walks in to tell you something.

 

 

In summary

A community association manager is like the glue that holds a community together. They oversee the maintenance of the property and its facilities while managing daily affairs to ensure they have a smooth running association.

Almost anyone can become a successful community association manager, regardless of whether they have a high school diploma, a college degree or a property manager certification. Yes, a CAM license will make it easier for you to secure work, but the “Devil is in the details” as they say. All you need is to take care of all the little things that people take for granted and create an efficient, comfortable and thriving community.

This may seem like a lot in the beginning, especially when you fall into the trap of taking your work too seriously. But, running property is easier than you think once you get through the initial learning stages.

The tip is to stay on top of important tasks, keep everything organized and maintain a positive mindset.

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