What Is a Homeowner's Association? (+Best HOA Software)

January 15, 2019

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

An 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.

What is an HOA?

An HOA, or homeowners association, is an organization made up of the homeowners in a condominium, development or community who pay monthly fees to maintain the upkeep of common areas, buildings or amenities.

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.

TIP: Learn more about the term association management.

How a homeowners 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.

Best HOA software in 2019

Regardless of who is running the HOA, they need a way to stay organized and on top of any upcoming issues. Community association management software is designed specifically 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.

Below are four community association management solutions with high user satisfaction as rated by reviewers here on G2 Crowd as of January 14, 2019.

TIP: Want to preview community association management software at a glance? Check out this list of the best software solutions on G2.

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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.

community association management software

Image courtesy of TOPS[ONE]


  • Portfolio management

  • Accounting

  • Payment gateway

  • Membership database

  • CC&R workflows

  • Document management

  • Homeowner portal

  • Custom fields

  • Automation


  • 75 cents/door/month with a $350 monthly minimum

What users say:

“It's easy to use and learn. Homeowners can log into their accounts, reducing call time at the office. Managers can work from anywhere. Customer support is some of the best I have ever experienced.”

TOPS[ONE] review by Beth S.

“Cloud-based & available on the go is the best!”

TOPS[ONE] review by Manny T.

“I really like that all the communities can be accessed through one login. I also love the template library and how easy it is to customize templates to be used throughout all communities.”

TOPS[ONE] review by Michelle F.

2. AppFolio Property Management

AppFolio Property Management 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.

HOA software

Image courtesy of AppFolio Property Management


  • Online dues payment

  • HOA reporting

  • Board member tracking

  • Violation tracking

  • Online maintenance and mobile inspections

  • Architectural reviews

  • Bulk texting

  • Document sharing

  • Homeowner database

  • Bulk billing


  • 80 cents/unit/month for community associations

What users say:

“I have used so many property management products over the years and this one is by far the easiest software! It keeps all the information relevant to a specific property, HOA or building in one place and you don't have to search hard for relevant info.”

AppFolio Property Management review by Elizabeth G.

“Love that I can text tenants/owners/vendors straight from AppFolio. It keeps record of everything that was send and received in one place!”

AppFolio Property Management review by a user in real estate

“There are many things that I like about AppFolio, but the top three would have to be the ease of communicating with the owners, the amazing search feature, and the customer service. I am never waiting on an answer when I have a question or problem!”

AppFolio Property Management review by a user

3. Caliber Portal

Caliber Portal is a portal for managing an HOA and community. Caliber Portal is designed for management companies, but homeowners can access their accounts to make payments and view compliance issues. Boards can also access issues for the entire community, approve or reject invoices and share documents among themselves.


Image courtesy of Caliper Portal


  • One-way encryption for logins

  • Owner portal to update personal information

  • Access to accounting and transaction information in real time

  • Online payments

  • Compliance/violation history

  • Maintenance requests

  • Document sharing

  • Compliance and maintenance reports


  • Pricing is available upon request

What users say:

“This program is very easy to use and I am able to enter violations and work orders with ease. The reports come out great as well.”

Caliber Portal review by Stephanea L.

4. Association Voice

Association Voice is built for both small communities and large companies that manage multiple communities. Users can create an association website for members to access and communicate with the entire HOA at once. Both residents and boards can utilize the tool to submit work orders and payments.

home association management

Image courtesy of Association Voice


  • Multi-page website

  • Community directory

  • Community calendar

  • Email messaging and tracking

  • Customizable forms

  • Board portal

  • Work order requests

  • Discussion forums

  • Reporting

  • Resident portal

  • Online payments

  • Document library

  • Local maps


  • $50/month for the Community Edition

What users say:

“I like that everything is basic on the site - a page can be created, a resource folder can live on a page, and messages can be sent out.”

Association Voice review by a user in hospitality

Next steps with owning properties in 2019 

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.

To learn more about how software can help manage properties, research the best free property management software in 2019.

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