Efficiency in the Time of COVID-19 and HOAs

May 6th, 2020

COVID-19 continues to impact us all in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago. We see and are experiencing sacrifice, inconvenience, frustration, and loss all around us. In some cases, the loss is economic; in others, it’s the ultimate loss — of life or loved ones. The normal as we knew it then feels far away and very different from today.

We have learned to change, to adopt on a personal level.  Businesses, too, are being forced to make difficult decisions. Many aspects of business and economy have changed, and some permanently.  Traditional business models have been forced to evolve; those less prone to change are having to become more agile.  Labor-intensive industries have been temporarily (we hope) shut down or dramatically scaled back.  Social-oriented industries have felt major impacts with elective or discretionary spending items moving to online sales — or slowing or halting entirely.

The homeowner association (HOA) industry traditionally has been seen as slow to change or adapt.  HOAs are often late adopters in terms of technology advances and moving to streamline systems. Some say it is just the nature of HOAs; change requires owner leadership initiatives and group consensus. But, not only that, HOAs often must follow ancient state laws/standards that haven’t kept pace with the technology innovations and services being utilized already by the rest of the real estate industry. Compounding these factors, HOA service providers have not always embraced advanced platforms to educate and service HOAs, deferring to earlier models that weigh heavy on lack of innovation and early stage technologies.  

Fortunately, there are leading disrupters bringing change to these areas, many with growing market share in many locations. While still growing and evolving, these companies are bringing technology and service platforms to help support a new era.  From video conferencing to 24/7 access to online records to paperless document usages, it’s the innovators’ time in the sun now. Many businesses — and HOAs, too — are now out of necessity embracing these innovations. And it may be that being forced to adopt change in the short-term may ultimately effect long-term business operations.

Here are some innovations that may become permanent fixtures of the HOA industry post-COVID-19:

  1. Video or teleconferencing in lieu of in-person meetings. (Not only for our current climate, but also the trends that were already emerging in this area)
  2. Online payment platforms for HOA member assessments and vendor payments vs. check payments. Limited banking hours and services and people working from home mean slower processing of check payments. Online, automated payments help to keep HOA cashflow consistent and efficient.
  3. 24/7 access to information, with more and better technology. As consumers, we want instant access, whether it be social media, online purchasing, or answers. The successful leaders in the HOA space will provide clients with access to information anytime, anywhere (with proper controls in place).
  4. Paperless solutions. HOAs traditionally paper-heavy files become non-existent translating to electronic files easily accessible and securable.

In a time where in-person business is limited and much is becoming digital, we find that these technology advances actually increase our connection to each other. People skills are still vital and can be supported by responsive systems that enhance communications. Leaders who will continue to enjoy success will to so in part by finding systems and communication methods to maintain connection with the people they serve.

As we all continue working hard ensuring business is as normal as that can be, now is not only a time to reflect, but also to embrace changes to help improve our lives and businesses.

We wish you safety and security.