Homeowner Resources: The Importance of an Association Website
Association websites are great venues for conducting online seminars, or webinars. Webinars are convenient homeowner resources and provide a way to participate in training sessions or Board meetings from any location. In many cases, attendees use their telephone to listen and their computer monitor to view a presentation. Topics can run the gamut and can be presented from anywhere in the world.
Association websites also help fulfill a legal requirement some states have for open meetings. Specific states also require HOA Boards to provide notices of upcoming meetings within certain time frames. A website makes an easy vehicle for posting and e-mailing these notices.
It also eliminates the need to snail-mail a notice and agenda to all homeowners. Mailing costs to hundreds or thousands of HOA members several times a year can add up and take a bite out of the budget. Using technology to streamline homeowner resources can actually save money.
Some Recommendations for HOA Websites
The first thing HOA Boards should do when developing homeowner resources is to decide what type of information they want to communicate. Do you want to have a place for basic news? Do you want to include financial information? Will you need a formal registration, login and password-protected area?
Including financial information on a website requires careful consideration and should involve legal consulting. You need to be sure you’re complying with all state laws regarding the posting of sensitive information. Your HOA management company and legal advisors can help you strike the right balance between transparent communication and risk mitigation.
Associations should also be cautious with homeowner resources like open forums on the website. Some legal dangers may exist if an association develops an interactive open forum for members to air grievances. Private information can become public and cause major issues for the HOA. If you want to incorporate homeowner resources like this, you’ll need expert advice so you avoid any pitfalls.
Most HOA websites are for informational purposes only. Others include information and online service requests. Both are good examples of meaningful homeowner resources. Typical information might include agendas, minutes of prior meetings, upcoming events, Board member contact information, management company contact information, reminders of HOA rules and guidelines, and more. Many members find bios on Board members or member stories useful as well.
Some associations take websites to another level. In addition to what’s available for the general public, including prospective buyers, they have a password-protected section for members only. This section would include more sensitive information, like how money is being spent, that would only be appropriate for members.
Finally, a third level of the website can be developed for Board members only. This area would contain information that only the Board should see. Any other access could violate privacy rules.
Websites can be very meaningful homeowner resources. They help members feel connected to the community as well as provide a reference point for association information. Websites also create an efficient and economical communication vehicle for the HOA Board.
AAM works with many of the largest homebuilding and community development companies in the United States such as Del Webb/Pulte, Shea Homes and Meritage Homes. Founded in 1990, AAM employs 300 people and manages more than 375 homeowners associations in the United States.
The company is a member of the Alliance Management Network, an invitation-only coalition of HOA management professionals dedicated to furthering industry professionalism, as well as a number of other HOA management services-related groups. AAM is dedicated to delivering total peace of mind to the Boards of Directors and homeowners in the communities it manages.