Nice to meet you.

Enter your email to receive our weekly G2 Tea newsletter with the hottest marketing news, trends, and expert opinions.

What Is a Homeowner's Association? Top Tips for Handling an HOA

February 23, 2023

HOA

If you are in the market to buy a house or a condo, you will likely encounter an HOA (or several). 

Homeowner's Association (HOA) can make or break whether you get your dream home, so it’s important to know what they are and how they work.

And if you’re a property owner or HOA president, you need tools to help you keep your HOA organized and running smoothly. With a variety of community association management software on the market, you can find a solution that works best for your HOA.

HOAs also have regular or occasional meetings to plan how this pooled money is spent, determine whether upgrades are needed, or organize community events such as block parties or holiday gatherings.

How a homeowner's association works

Potential homeowners often must be approved by the HOA before they are able to purchase a home in the community, and the criteria vary from association to association. Some HOAs may also require that homes or yards maintain a specific aesthetic or standard of upkeep.

Some may limit the size, number, and breed of pets in the community. The punishment for not complying with the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) varies, but they typically involve fines. Some HOAs may even be able to sue you or foreclose on your home if you have not paid your HOA dues or fines in a certain amount of time.

Who runs an HOA?

Many HOAs are run by a president, who is often elected from among the HOA members for a specific term. The HOA president will schedule and lead meetings, interface with maintenance or construction workers, and may even act as a tiebreaker for certain votes. Some HOAs are run by a property management company, reducing the chance for personal grudges to arise if elections don’t go a certain way.

What are HOA fees?

HOA fees vary based on property values and available amenities, but they are often a few hundred dollars a month. Some associations may have a reserve fund for general upkeep and a pool for larger or emergency expenses. If an HOA decides that it would like to add an amenity such as a community pool, those funds may be taken from the pool of money set aside for such projects, or the HOA may vote on how those funds are acquired (perhaps an additional fee each month specifically to go toward building the pool) or allocated.

Condo fees especially tend to go towards the upkeep of common areas such as a gym, pool, or party room. These fees also can go towards general maintenance on hallways, elevators, stairs, and the lobby. For housing developments with homes on separate lots, these fees may go towards the landscaping of green areas outside individual properties, maintaining a community pool or activity room, or the upkeep of streets and sidewalks, such as winter plowing.

Tips for handling an HOA

If you're a tenant learning more about what a homeowner's association is all about, you may be wondering what you need to know as you get settled into your new community. Here are some top tips for ensuring your HOA journey goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Make sure you know the rules. Before falling in love with a place, make sure you are willing to agree to the rules set by the HOA. These rules may include what paint colors you can use, how you can do your landscaping, how loud music can be played, etc. Get comfortable with these rules and know them well.
  • Offer to participate in community events. Occasionally, HOAs will open up the opportunity to join their volunteer group. If you're interested in getting more involved in your community, make sure to sign up! Being a voice in the community allows you to represent homeowners more officially. 
  • Keep communication flowing. The biggest mistake you can make is dropping the ball when it comes to strong communication with your HOA. This includes discussing any big changes you want to make, keeping up to date on new rules or regulations, and more. Additionally, prioritizing communication within the community is just as important. When you and your neighbors are all on the same page, discussing issues or action items with the HOA is a lot less intimidating. 
  • Pay on time, every time. At the end of the day, when it comes to living somewhere with an HOA, it's really a business relationship. Ensure you are sticking to the points agreed upon in your contract and pay your HOA dues in a timely manner.
  • Know what your HOA can and cannot do. A contract always goes both ways. After finding out the rules for yourself as a tenant, make sure to spend some time familiarizing yourself with what powers your HOA really has. 
  • Utilize technology. Consider leaning on automation to make those payments. Even better, reach out to your HOA to see if they'd be willing to get set up with community association management software so the process can be more efficient for everyone involved. 

Best community association management software

Regardless of who runs the HOA, they need a way to stay organized and on top of any upcoming issues. Community association management software is explicitly designed to do just that.

With community association management software, HOAs can schedule board meetings, record meeting minutes and vote outcomes, manage a resident database, and provide a portal for residents to pay their fees and interact with one another.

To be included in this category, the software product must:

  • Offer tools for associations, condos, or co-ops
  • Include a customizable resident database
  • Allow for scheduling of community association meetings
  • Provide communication portals for residents and property managers

*Below are the top 5 leading community association management software solutions from G2’s Winter 2023 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity. 

1. AppFolio Property Manager

AppFolio Property Manager is designed as a complete, all-in-one property management solution for both multifamily and single-family communities. While community association management is not the primary function of this tool, it does contain community association management features in addition to a variety of other property management tools.

What users like best:

I have been using AppFolio for six years and found the platform user-friendly. My favorite features are online applications, lease templates, and vacancy postings. I also use many reports every month, especially the delinquency report. Texting the individual tenants, units and property is very convenient."

- AppFolio Property Manager Review, Kathy L.

What users dislike:

The cost is a little high, but that is the cost of doing business for what they offer. I would like to see a little more openness when it comes to integrating with other software without charging a fee.

- AppFolio Property Manager Review, Robert D.

2. TOPS[ONE]

TOPS[ONE] is built for both third-party management companies and self-run HOAs. TOPS[ONE] can handle property management, accounting and even automate certain tasks. Anyone can access it from any device with an internet connection and browser because it is a cloud-based tool.

What users like best:

The TOPS support and staff actually take ideas from our company and implement them into the TOPS software. It has become our one-stop shop for all of our work! I have been able to streamline almost all work items. The advanced portal has empowered our homeowners and has reduced the overall administrative workload. The ability to quickly navigate, create custom reports, run those reports, and present them to the board in a timely manner has been invaluable to us!

- TOPS[ONE] Review, John C.

What users dislike:

One area of improvement would be on the user side. I have several people who own multiple units that would like to have access to each of them. I was told they had to have a different email for each property to register. For people who invest in condo communities this is prohibitive. I would recommend making that aspect more user-friendly.

- TOPS[ONE] Review, Katie W.

3. Yardi Breeze

Yardi Breeze is a cloud-based property management tool. With their HOA features, users can manage all their properties from one device, communicate with tenants, and track ledgers in a secure environment. 

What users like best:

Yardi Breeze is a breeze to use! It is very user-friendly, and the ability to live chat with the support staff is fantastic. They are readily available to assist and answer any questions you may have. Also, Breeze has live training courses for the updates, and if you need a refresher for the various task abilities, Breeze offers.

- Yardi Breeze Review, Danielle D.

What users dislike:

I think there should be a more user-friendly way to register the tenant's side for payment via name and choosing the properties. I would suggest making the process of resending the link to tenants for just one person. Not all tenants on the property choice. Or once they are registered, verification has been difficult for the less knowledgeable of mobile device tenants.

- Yardi Breeze Review, Lisa H.

4. Buildium

Buildium is a property management solution that prioritizes automation and award-winning support. With Buildium, property owners can keep communication flowing with residents, keep track of maintenance orders, advertise vacant properties, customize rental applications, and manage accounting processes. 

What users like best:

Well, first of all, I appreciate the way Buildium looks. The interface is not too loud for the eyes. You can easily navigate or go to a page where you want to look without having a hard time finding it. All of our tenants' information is in one database. They also send reminders to our tenants when their rent is almost due. Among other reasons, I like Buildium, but what I like most is how quickly their customer support responds to my inquiries, even when I contact them by email.

- Buildium Review, Irish C.

What users dislike:

My least favorite thing about Buildium is the lack of customization. There is no branding or detail in the application, the web portals are bland, message templates are very short, etc. I would love to be able to customize the Buildium website more than just the dashboard. For a larger, established business, this may not be an ideal software.

- Buildium Review, MacKenzie C.

5. Condo Control

Automate every project management process with Condo Control. Condo Control offers tools to share documents electronically, create digital forms, manage security, and improve resident communication with a mobile app. 

What users like best:

Condo Control is a very user-friendly & beneficial tool for both community managers and homeowners. It allows homeowners to communicate with us and makes our job easier. You can also personalize it to benefit your community. It is overall an amazing tool. It is the community manager's ideal website! I highly recommend Condo Control to any community manager looking to have a friendly, cohesive, and effective website.

Condo Control Review, Courtney H.

What users dislike:

I do not like that your are not able to enter 2 email addresses in different units as some owners rent out numerous units and this is one way of contacting them.

Condo Control Review, Jessica O.

Next steps with owning properties

HOAs can be an integral part of purchasing and owning a home. Therefore, being able to run one efficiently is extremely helpful. With community association management software, you can run and interact with your HOA easily.

Looking to go back to the basics? Learn more about what property management really is and why it's important. 

This article was originally published in 2019. The content has been updated with new information.

community association management software
Home sweet home

Turn on your porch light and learn more about how community association management software can improve your HOA.

community association management software
Home sweet home

Turn on your porch light and learn more about how community association management software can improve your HOA.

What Is a Homeowner's Association? Top Tips for Handling an HOA HOAs can be a big deal if you’re purchasing a new property. But what is an HOA? And if you’re currently helping to run one, what’s the best way to do it? https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/Screenshot%202023-02-20%20at%208.43.28%20AM.png
Lauren Fram Lauren is a former market research analyst focusing on the e-commerce and retail industries. Since joining G2 in July 2017, she has focused her energy on consumer-driven spaces after spending time in the vertical, design, and CAD software spheres. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in English language and literature and her writing and research has been cited in publications such as Forbes, Eater, and Nasdaq.com, among others. She enjoys building and sharing her knowledge, and in her free time enjoys reading, knitting, and gaming. Her coverage areas include retail technology, e-commerce, and restaurant technology. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/_Logos/Lauren%20FramUpdated.jpeg https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-fram/

Never miss a post.

Subscribe to keep your fingers on the tech pulse.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to receive marketing communications from G2.