What’s new with community associations, and how should your association respond to these trends to position your HOA or COA for a strong future? Let’s take a look at the three top HOA trends to keep an eye on this year.

1. Increase in Demand for Licensed Property Managers

Last year saw increased interest in state-level licensure for community or property management candidates. The community association management industry believes that licensing helps managers provide superior customer service, better manage HOA money, and uphold the industry image.

While there is an increase in demand for licensed community association managers, not enough COA and HOA managers have obtained their licenses yet. Make 2018 the year your association places a premium on licensure for managers.

The benefits of investing in licensed candidates are clear on both sides. Managers can command a higher salary when they have these in-demand qualifications, while homeowners have peace of mind that the manager understands industry trends, manages the finances well, and provides a high level of service.

2. HOA Management Software Is Now Essential

Property management software designed for community associations has become popular in recent years. This software helps community managers automate common tasks, which reduces their workload and helps residents stay connected and monitor association needs. Good HOA software streamlines association management, increases transparency, logs violations of HOA rules, and stores important documents, such as building plans. Software also makes it easier for residents to check their assessments, pay bills online, request maintenance, and accomplish other tasks.

2018 will be the tipping point between community associations that have adopted property management software and those that have not. If your association hasn’t invested in this essential tool, now is the time.

3. States Consider HOA Ability to Limit Behavior

Historically, homeowners’ associations have a reputation for having rules that promote community cohesion. While these rules are intended to protect the value of association property, preserve private areas, and create a uniform culture, some residents have found their HOA rules to be too restrictive — and they are starting to advocate for less strict rules.

This has led states to consider whether homeowners’ associations should be allowed to prevent residents from specific behaviors. Top of the list in 2017 was flying flags, displaying political signs, and installing solar panels. Last year, five states considered whether HOAs should be prohibited from banning political signs, and eight states took up the solar panel and flag questions. Expect the conversations to continue at the state level in 2018 and consider whether your association should review your policies in these areas to keep up with the times.

These trends are poised to play out at the national level. Make this the year that your HOA or COA reviews current processes and looks for areas to modernize and streamline processes. For a look at a modern property management software designed with community associations in mind, check out AppFolio.

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