Homeowners Association Websites Central
An information guide to answer your questions about HOAs & Homeowners Association Websites and more.
- What is a Homeowner Association?
- Why does a Homeowners Association need a Homeowners Association Website?
- What is the difference between an HOA website, a Homeowners Website, and a Homeowners Association Website?
- The choice for a Homeowners Association Website
- Practical & Social Benefits of a Homeowners Association Website
Homeowners Associations in America
A Homeowners Association (often abbreviated "HOA") is a formally recognized legal entity often created by real estate development firms in their efforts to develop, manage, and sell homes within a community. Once construction is complete, a Homeowners Association turns over legal and financial responsibility to the homeowners following the sale of a certain number of actual properties or lots. The Homeowners Associations are usually operated by elected officers, Boards, and or committees comprised of residents or others who generally reside within the development in question. The majority of Homeowners Associations in America are considered to be non-profit corporations, and as such governed by the state and federal laws that apply to such entities.
Homeowners Associations change in leadership and structure over time, based on elections and appointments by the members. There is no specific size that a Homeowners Association has to be, with some examples having communities with as few as 10 houses or as many as thousands having legally recognized Homeowners Associations.
Homeowners Associations provide a number of services to the communities they govern. They carry out tasks, formalize procedures and deal with community upkeep and expansion, and attempt to maintain or increase the value of the community. Many times when a person moves into a development, they are mandated to join a Homeowners Association if the community has voted and deemed this a requirement. The fees or annual dues associated with being a part of an HOA are billed separately on a quarterly or annual basis.
Though there are sometimes dissenters or those who resist having to pay fees or join; the majority of residents who are a part of Homeowners Associations in America report positive experiences and feel that their associations improve and increase the value and operations of the community.
Why does a Homeowners Association need a Homeowners Association Website?
A Homeowners Association Website can be a tremendous asset for both business and social processes within a community. It serves as a shot in the arm when communications become stagnant, and can literally determine the difference between a community that interacts and enjoys healthy consistent involvement, and a community that is socially stagnant and bogged down with cumbersome outdated processes.
If a Homeowners Association Website is kept current by a site administrator and updated with events and happenings by residents, it is much less difficult to increase overall involvement, visits, and excitement about the HOA website in general. You want your HOA site to create an environment where residents are on the site regularly, viewing it as the central information hub and lifeline connecting the community's residents, Board members, and the greater outside community at large.
Homeowners Association Websites can be very different from community to community and across regional, geographic and demographic areas. They can also differ immensely in size, capability, and functionality depending on who is providing, designing, and hosting the site.
Professional website developers often market generalized website templates that are applied to Homeowners Associations. These results can vary in effectivity, as the needs of an average HOA can be easily overlooked since the design is not customized to the HOA industry.
There are some companies who market exclusively to the HOA industry, designing websites that are seemingly created for HOAs, Condos, and other planned communities. These companies charge a virtual cornucopia of different prices and contract lengths based on a number of constantly changing factors. The average Homeowners Association that has budgeted for an HOA website chooses a particular vendor based on several factors that have a long term impact on the community as a whole.
What is the difference between a HOA website, a Homeowners Website, and a Homeowners Association Website?
The term "HOA" is simply an abbreviation for "Homeowners Association. Homeowners Association websites, HOA websites, and Homeowners websites are in essence variations in name of the same product. As websites go, Homeowners Association Websites are defined as:
"A website that serves the exclusive purpose of providing an online presence for the interests, activities, and information of one or more legally recognized Homeowners Associations"
While Homeowners Association Websites are designed and intended for use by a Homeowners Association, many times they are also used by related community management entities such as Community Associations, Property Owners Associations, Condo Associations, and Property Management Companies.
There are no mandated legal requirements regarding Homeowners Association Websites in terms of specific designs, functionality, pricing, geographic policies, or any other restrictive enforcements. Companies and independent website providers are left to interpret and define the products they sell under the umbrella of Homeowners Association Websites; which is why there are a variety of companies that sell Homeowners Association Websites that have a wide and sometimes inconsistent spectrum of attributes.
When shopping the market for Homeowners Association Websites Boards and residents are encouraged to clearly articulate the specific needs of their HOA, and be sure that the services provided by the company they purchase their HOA website from, offer a product that is prepared to meet or exceed those needs.
The Choice For A Homeowners Association Website - What do I need to know about Homeowners Association Websites?
What are the factors?
Resident Computer Expertise: Most Homeowners Associations have a variety of age groups in their ranks. The old perception was that people who were over the age of 50 were less likely to understand or want to use the internet heavily. The generation gap between those who surf the internet regularly, play video games, and use private email used to be quite cut and dry. The facts now reveal that the age group of internet users that is growing exponentially by the day is now those internet users who are over 50 years of age. This is not to suggest that residents in the average Homeowners Association who are under the age of 50 are not logging on at consistent rates; but more to reinforce that a larger percentage of a group that in the past was not normally inclined to interact online has now made a significant shift in behavior.
Factoring in these new developments in the model for internet users overall skill level; there are now a massive number of Homeowners Associations within communities inhabited by senior citizens who once would have never considered investing in a Homeowners Association Website. The common concerns of the age group of citizens over 50 years of age, such as crime watch, safety, social clubs etc, are now very difficult to coordinate without the use of the internet. Subsequently, when a Board of Directors looks at the budget and the necessities for their Homeowners Association, an official HOA Website often works its way into the top of that list.
Cost vs. Benefit Analysis: At the end of the day, every investment comes down to an analysis of the cost vs. the return on that investment. How does a Homeowners Association quantify such a vague concept as the ROI on an HOA Website? There are several methods that are being employed by today's HOAs.
First, does the website have the potential to bring money into the community on a recurring basis? A forward thinking HOA website provider usually incorporates the functionality and ability to allow Homeowners Associations to create customized sections or ads on their website. This gives the HOA a chance to offer controlled focus marketing to the residents in their community to whatever outside vendors, businesses, and other service providers that certainly would be interested in having ads for their goods funneled through a resource where they are guaranteed a certain number of individuals will see them. This gives an HOA the power to draw up a separate accounts receivable of sorts that is directly tied to the communities' investment in a Homeowners Association Website. This also opens up the door to not only facilitate using the website as a business tool to recuperate the initial investment, but also to exceed the cost of the original investment and actually create a new revenue stream for the HOA.
Another method of analysis is for a Homeowners Association to factor in the true value of ROI based on how much money having the website saves the community. The level of Homeowners Association expenditures associated with communications without a website is generally documented in an HOA's past ledgers. Adding up the costs of paper and printing for mailings, announcement postings, amenities, reservations, Board Meeting Minutes distribution, and a newsletter, could easily have cost a Homeowners Association thousands of dollars a year. The more active the community is, the higher these costs usually would become. If a Homeowners Association is simply looking at what placing all of these routine functions will save them, the majority of them more than recuperate their investment in a reasonably priced Homeowners Association Website usually within a matter of months.
A cost/benefit analysis is always an excellent starting point in assessing the best strategy for putting your Homeowners Association online in an efficient and timely manner.
Legal Requirements: A large portion of the nation's states are now implementing more concise and demanding legislation that specifically governs Homeowners Associations. While these laws differ from state to state, one of the most common laws is that Homeowners Associations are now required to make meeting minutes, account information, and other critical information, available to all residents in a reasonable effective methos. Since the internet is available 24 x 7, most HOAs choose to launch an official Homeowners Association website with a secure area in which to house these important documents.
A Homeowners Association Website can also keep residents abreast of changes in not only the covenants and rules within their individual communities; but also changes in statewide legislation on the rules that govern HOAs and HOA related issues. A Homeowners Association Website now has become a professional tool that can fulfill several legal requirements including but not limited to providing resources to legal advice, updated lists of statutes and general rules, and a forum for conversation on legal issues.
How does a Homeowners Association Website benefit an HOA?
Practical Benefits of a Homeowners Association Website
As a tool for business for an HOA, a website allows Board members, community volunteers, administrators, and residents access to critical areas of information that are essential to the successful operation of a Homeowners Association. These areas of data and record can include:
- Annual & Quarterly HOA budget
- HOA Rules & Regulations
- Neighborhood Policies
- Governing Documents
- Lists of Officers and Important Personnel
- Emergency contacts and crime watch participation and protocol
- Forms and Applications for various activities and requirements
- All HOA Documents uploaded or scanned to the website
- Board Tasks and Committee Business, Requests & Records
- Master Resident Directory
Aside from centralizing all of the Homeowners Association business into a secure online location for those within the community, an HOA website also allows prospective owners to educate themselves about a community and its interaction with the Homeowners Association before making a decision to purchase property and move in. Providing a viable platform for efficient communication is a crucial part of giving a community an identity. Homeowners Association Websites are the sole solution to inter-community communications that combines cost efficiency, functionality, and technology.
Social Benefits of a Homeowners Association Website
To gain an accurate impression of the full spectrum of social benefits a Homeowners Association injects into a community, one must take into consideration the overall value of communicating within the community as well as the number of people and functions that it impacts.
It is undeniable that having an HOA website significantly improves the possibilities regarding communication; but the level of involvement that the website enjoys is largely dependent on how it is presented to the residents. In some cases, if residents are not made aware that they have a website and that it is generally funded by their dues, their level of participation and excitement towards the site can be up and down. Homeowners Associations who have dedicated site administrators usually fare better in terms of the number of households logging in. If a Homeowners Association website is continuously updated with fresh information, new data, and engaging exercises stressing community involvement (such as surveys, announcements, happenings, message board topics etc), then the residents begin to "Adopt" the website as their own.
There are many HOAs that would not even consider operation without an HOA website. They channel daily announcements, amenity, event, and building reservations, as well as perpetual discussions of important neighborhood and committee business through the website. Some HOAs use their website as the ONLY source of attaining critical time sensitive information. This is a method which almost forces resident involvement in an official Homeowners Association website, though there are still some who are resistant and prefer to get their information through word of mouth. Rest assured the person whose mouth the word comes from is continuously logging into the site to gather their information.
Statistics show that Homeowners Associations that have a high usage website generally are more cohesive and organized than those who do not. Depending on the type of residents that live in their community, many Homeowners find that the social benefits are the true value of a website, far beyond even the business processes enhancements.
Helpful Links:HOA Websites
Community Associations Institute