Last modified on June 21st, 2021
By Brittany Benz
The past year shaped the community association management industry like never before. From the dramatic shift to remote work to the rapid adoption of technology, the pandemic has had a big impact on the way we live, work, and interact with others.
Even now, as many return to the office and their day-to-day routines, there are some trends that emerged that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and others that are gaining popularity. To help you stay at the forefront of the industry, we’ve rounded up the top trends we’re seeing. Read on to get the insights you need to position your business for success now and in the future.
Trend #1: Reimagined Communal Spaces & Activities
Many community amenities that used to be “nice-to-haves” such as walking trails, outdoor exercise areas, and remote co-working spaces have transitioned into “must-haves” and are now expected by many homeowners and future home buyers. To better meet homeowners’ needs, association management companies are investing in creative solutions, including more co-working spaces and outdoor gathering areas. Community events are also being reimagined with an emphasis on outdoor activities such as yoga classes, family movie nights, and cookouts.
As communal spaces and shared amenities begin to reopen, homeowners’ desire for extra personal space and cleanliness will continue. Enhanced policies and safety protocols will still need to be modified based on evolving local laws and CDC guidance.
The need for increased transparency and communication around shared amenities and events will also continue to be paramount for the remainder of 2021 and heading into 2022. To keep homeowners informed around the clock, many association management companies are turning to association management technology with built-in mobile capabilities, like texting and email, and innovative calendaring features, like AppFolio’s Association Calendar that lets you schedule, categories, and manage events specific to each of your communities.
Trend #2: Continued Reliance on Mobile Association Management Tools
During the pandemic the association management industry was forced to adopt technology to keep operations running smoothly. Homeowners, board members, and association managers are now accustomed to using mobile tools to carry out tasks and prefer them over the old way of doing things. Self-service features like online payments, online architectural requests, and online common area maintenance requests are not only more convenient and efficient, but also provide a better customer experience.
Association management businesses have also seen the new efficiencies and time-savings these modern technologies have brought to their workflows, and will likely continue to use them. As more and more association management businesses transition to paperless, digital systems and drive the development of new software innovations, the future looks increasingly bright. To learn more about how you can embrace technology today to serve the homeowners of tomorrow, check out this article.
Trend #3: New Condo and HOA Developments
Community associations continue to be a popular choice among new homeowners and are in high-demand. In fact, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research, community associations represent nearly 25% of housing stock in the United States and the number of new condominium and homeowners associations is expected to increase by 4,500 this year.
Dawn M. Bauman, CAE and Executive Director of the Foundation for Community Association Research and CAI’s Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs believes that while this past year has been challenging, the future looks promising:
“Community associations, much like millions of businesses, continue to face difficult financial and operational challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new research is a positive sign that the housing model remains strong.”
Trend #4: Greater Prioritization for Green Technologies & Sustainable Infrastructure
Green technologies and infrastructure will continue to be on the rise as industries across the board look for ways to combat climate change and foster a more sustainable future. Recently, the United Nations outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals to meet by 2030 that address major global challenges including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
Association management companies are uniquely positioned to have a positive impact and advance these goals when it comes to community infrastructure and green home technologies. Some of the sustainable technologies and strategies association management companies are already adopting include electric vehicle charging stations, effective drought management solutions for community landscaping, smart irrigation, and landscaping for stormwater management and erosion control.
Trend #5: Virtual Board and Association Meetings
Virtual meetings became popular during the pandemic and provided a way for homeowners and board members to stay informed while social distancing. Going virtual grants homeowners, board members, and association managers more flexibility, since they can attend from anywhere.
Association managers have seen the cost-effectiveness, convenience, and positive impact on engagement virtual meetings provide, so it’s probable there will be a virtual component to association meetings in the future. Hybrid, in-person and virtual association meetings may be the best solution for associations in the future.
With virtual meetings the need for cyber security and vigilance has also increased. Association management businesses now have to take extra steps to ensure their meetings are private and password protected. For tips on how to conduct effective virtual meetings, take a look at this article.
The association management industry will continue to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape ignited by COVID-19. Once we move into a fully post-pandemic world, there are some trends — such as the use of technology — that will stay and in many ways, benefit the industry as a whole with increased efficiency, satisfaction, and productivity.
Regardless of what happens in the future, you can set your association management business up for success and better meet the needs of your homeowners by staying in tune with what’s going on, implementing the latest tools, and making the most of the insights shared above.