Smart condos and smart homes make life easier for the people who inhabit them. A smart home leverages the power and convenience of technology so that residents can control appliances and devices directly from their phones.
“Smart communities” operate using a similar concept, except the technology is designed to help multiple people who live and work in the corporation or association.
Condo/HOA technology is not as high tech or futuristic as some may think. In fact, the best tech solutions are generally simple, and easy to use. Furthermore, these solutions often save communities money and time in addition to making life easier for management and residents.
We put together a fun point system so you can gauge just how tech-positive your community is. While having a low tech score doesn’t mean your community is any less successful than one with a high score, it may inspire you to look at implementing one or two solutions to lessen the workload for your staff, and keep your members connected to their neighbourhood.
Table of contents
- Calculating your condo/HOA’s technology score
- Reasons why condos/HOAs are looking to technology to improve operations
Calculating your condo/HOA’s technology score
Can you score a 10/10? The more of these tech solutions that your condo/HOA has, the more points you’ll get.
Property management software (3 points)
Property management software can no longer be referred to as a trend. It is becoming essential for boards and managers who are expected to do more with the same amount of resources. Several property management companies have attributed their recent successes, in part, to property management software.
Companies that may have been reluctant to try the software developed a different attitude once the pandemic hit; it was the best way to maintain operations and continue communicating with clients remotely. Now, due to its effectiveness, clients are asking for it.
At its core, property management software eliminates manual tasks and administrative headaches while streamlining and automating day-to-day tasks. As a result, staff are able to spend more of their valuable time focusing on larger projects or resident satisfaction, and boards can cut operating costs associated with printing, mailing, and storing paper documents.
There are dozens of options to choose from, but most software platforms have features to address communication, record-keeping, security and financial management. Different platforms will have different specializations and pricing options, so it’s important to thoroughly assess your options before you make a final decision.
Property management software may offer some or all of the other tech solutions listed below, but you can still claim those points. After all, your community is still using them; it’s just that they’re all available together in one convenient place.
Digital communication system (2 points)
Think about how many emails you receive on a daily basis versus how many mailed letters you get. Email is faster, cheaper, and more efficient. It’s for these reasons that many communities have changed the way they share messages with members.
It is possible to make email the default mode of communication for those that request it (this is usually done by submitting written consent to receive documents and messages electronically).
A separate space for notices, such as a resident portal or announcement feature, makes it even easier to get your messages to recipients since they won’t get mixed in with other emails.
But a comprehensive communication system goes beyond basic one-way messaging. Some condos/HOAs use text messaging to get high-priority messages to residents, offer secure forums and send our digital surveys to collect honest feedback, and have a space for boards to collaborate and share information while they work to complete tasks.
Not every community needs all of these tech options, but it’s helpful to have more than one communication channel for sharing news and information.
Online payment processing system (2 points)
An increasing number of condos and HOAs offer their members the ability to pay dues or assessments, fees for amenities, and costs for services electronically. It makes a lot of sense considering how much more convenient this option is for management and residents.
Online payment options give residents more convenience and control over when and how they pay for things. However, staff also save time since they don’t have to log so many payments, cash cheques or make all of those trips to the bank.
Finally, if a mistake is ever made, it’s easy to pull up electronic records and see what went wrong.
Website or resident portal (1 point)
Websites and resident portals allow members to access self-service options and remove barriers that have traditionally made it harder for them to obtain documents and/or forms. These resources are so useful that a few states have legally required associations to maintain websites or portals for their members.
Hybrid meetings (1 point)
Bans on in-person meetings were lifted a long time ago, but does that mean condos/HOAs should revert back to the way they used to host meetings?
It really depends on the preferences of your community, but several have found that hosting hybrid meetings is the best way to increase participation and reach quorum.
Hybrid meetings can save communities money because managers can rent smaller meeting spaces, purchase fewer snacks/refreshments, and spend less on printing out ballots. Plus, there is a much smaller chance that the meeting will have to be rescheduled due to an inability to reach quorum.
Hybrid meetings also make it easier for owners who rent out their properties to remain involved in community issues. They don’t have to be physically present at the property to have their say, and a lot of members appreciate that.
Online bookings system (1 point)
If your building or neighbourhood has shared facilities or amenities, an online booking system is a must. Residents can secure bookings on their own, and they can often do this from their phones if the system offers a mobile app. That’s far easier than the traditional booking process, which can take as long as 45 minutes from start to finish.
Not only does this technology simplify the process for members, but it reduces some repetitive admin work for staff, too. Admins can create time slots and capacity limits for each amenity, as well as set other customizations regarding fees, terms and conditions, etc.
Bonus: Parcel locker (1 point)
This last tech solution is a bonus because communities comprising of single-family homes don’t generally need parcel lockers. However, the difference that they make in condo communities cannot be understated. Instead of having concierge manage the truckloads of boxes that are delivered daily, couriers can complete the process on their own. Packages remain safely locked up until recipients have a chance to retrieve their items. And any clutter associated with package pileups is erased immediately.
Reasons why more condos/HOAs are looking to technology to improve community operations
Congratulations! You completed the test. As you can see, the tech that communities are using is not complicated or strange. You’re probably already using many of the solutions in your daily life.
In addition to the cost and time savings, these are some of the major reasons condos/HOAs are seeking the help of technology:
- Reduction in late payments and hours spent collecting fees and fines from residents. Online payments make payment collection dramatically easier
- Acceleration of slow processes for approving requests and solving resident issues. HOA/condo software streamlines these processes and even gives members the ability to submit forms and requests online
- Offset higher operational expenses and challenges resulting from fewer available employees. Simple solutions like emailing documents or hosting meetings online can reduce work hours for staff as well as mailing and logistical costs
- Address slow or insufficient communication. Email, forums, and resident portals help get messages to recipients in no time
- Maintain accurate records. Paper documents get lost and damaged. Conversely, digital records are easy to find and can be stored indefinitely on a cloud-based system. Plus they can be shared with multiple people at the same time, and viewed from any computer with an internet connection
Simple technology solutions, including email, online payments, and resident portals, can make a big difference for staff, board members and residents. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have more questions about what solutions you can implement to overcome your most stubborn property management headaches.