Minneapolis-based Cities Management, Inc. recently launched its DIY Management program, an online tool to help homeowners associations operate like well-run small businesses.
The tool is a timely one: More than 64 million U.S. residents are living in community associations in 2012.
“This is a big deal for homeowners,” said Traci Lehman, president of Cities Management. “Self-managed associations never had these kinds of professional tools available to them. Typically, management companies offer ‘full service,’ in which the management company handles everything, or ‘financial only,’ in which the management company handles financial affairs but nothing more. These services are typically two- to six-times more costly than the $150 monthly fee for DIY Management.”
According to Community Associations Institute, a national trade organization serving the homeowners association industry, there are at least 2.5 million association board meetings and an estimated 1 million association committee meetings each year. In addition, in 2011, association boards supervised the collection of close to $40 billion in annual assessments and maintained investment accounts of more than $35 billion for the long-term maintenance and replacement of commonly held property.
DIY Management can provide the administrative and management tools that property association members need to run their properties, but without the cost of a property manager, which is often the most expensive part of a professional management fee. This is especially important for self-managed associations, single-family homeowners associations that don’t need “full service,” larger associations that would like to save money and become self-managed and vacation home associations that need to share access to records with owners who live eleswhere.
DIY Management uses software that has been in use during the past 10 years, and is currently being used by more than 3,500 professionally managed associations. It is now available directly to individual homeowners associations in a secured, personalized online format as DIY Management. And, as the name implies, DIY Management customers are able to “do-it-yourself” by having access to all the templates, reports and functions that a professional management company uses for a low monthly fee of $150.
When DIY Management customers visit their community’s unique site, they find everything they need to operate efficiently, professionally, and autonomously, including:
Professional, efficient operations: DIY Management provides all the current and historical business templates and reports — meeting minutes and agendas, maintenance requests, governing documents, etc. — in a do-it-yourself format that’s easy to use and easy to maintain.
Improved communication within the community with online broadcast notices, newsletters and a community calendar, complete with online reservations for shared amenities like tennis courts and swimming pools.
Legal compliance : Association communities don’t always know or understand their legal liabilities. DIY Management helps maintain legal compliance by automatically archiving and tracking any homeowner delinquency correspondence, requests for maintenance and disputes.
Transparency and organization: The community’s documents, agendas, meeting minutes and other documents are stored in a password-protected archive.
Fewer hassles for board members: Homeowners can easily search the community’s guidelines for key words like “satellite dish,” “pets,” “fences,” “parking” and more to quickly find their community’s specific rules, resulting in fewer calls to association board members and fewer concerns about preferential treatment or special exceptions.
Continuity between past, present and future boards of directors. All business management documents are automatically archived for easy retrieval.
30 years of experience: Should DIY Management customers need a little extra help or guidance, they can rest assured knowing that they have the backing of the professionals at Cities Management, who are just a phone call or click away to provide consulting, referrals or additional services if needed.
For more information, visit Cities Management online.