How the Right HOA Website Software Can Transform Association Management

If you read HOA software reviews, you probably notice that HOA software solutions fall into two basic categories: Roll-your-own websites built with a combination of WordPress and HOA plug-ins, or custom-made HOA website software that’s purpose built to serve homeowners associations. Which type of solution you choose for your HOA depends on what you want to get out of your HOA website—and what you want to put into it.

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The do-it-yourself approach

“We’ll build it ourselves,” some HOAs say, either because someone in their administrative organization has a background in website design or because they assume that the DIY method with a content management system—typically WordPress—always saves either money or time. They begin with a series of meetings to determine exactly what they want their HOA website software to do. The list grows longer as the meetings progress, but the final set of features includes secure online payments, member signup and profile management, voting support for everything from casual surveys to board elections, a place to store documents for easy retrieval, and an online solution to manage amenities and events.

 

 

Next, the person who’s designated to put the website together, or at least to corral all the software elements required to get the project moving—let’s say that’s you—spends week after week researching WordPress HOA plug-ins, payment processors, and website themes. You quickly discover that no one add-on solution turns a generic installation of WordPress into a WordPress HOA website with support for all the features you want.

Of course, unless you have a website hosting account, all that HOA software research consists of reading plug-in descriptions and assuming that all of them accurately depict these products. If you have a way to test out the software, you quickly discover that most WordPress HOA plug-ins reserve their most-desirable features for paid versions of the software that need to be renewed (translation: paid for) every year. At the same time, some of these plug-ins—each developed independently of one another, with no guarantees of mutual compatibility—cause problems when they run at the same time as other plug-ins on the “we want this” list.

And then comes the biggest challenge of all, bigger than trying to convince a long list of WordPress HOA plug-ins to collaborate harmoniously to create the full-featured HOA website software solution your community really wants: The quest for the ideal payment processor to handle online transactions for HOA dues and fees.

You can’t just press a button and accept online payments. It’s not as if you can set up a folding table with a metal lockbox and a sign that says, “Annual Dues, $500,” and suddenly enable your residents to go on your website and handle their financial obligations. No, you have to find a payment processing package that offers security, charges as small a per-payment fee as possible, and integrates seamlessly into your HOA payment software.

 

HOA-Online-Payment

 

And that last hurdle often proves all but impossible for even an above-average amateur HOA website software manager to handle. For one thing, most of the short list of best-known solutions force you to make an obvious transition off the website on which you initiate the transaction, onto the website that processes your payment, and then back to where you came from, all without a hitch. When you get past the major players on the list of payment options, you’re stuck wading through confusing terms and conditions that leave you unsure what these services actually cost.

So yes, it’s possible to do it yourself, but without expert assistance (translation: a professional HOA software solutions integrator whom you must pay for consulting services), it’s the definition of difficult.

The specialized HOA website software approach

The specialized HOA website software approach

Let’s say your fruitless quest for DIY HOA website software lasts three months. Yes, that’s three months you’ll never get back, and it’s also the ultimate proof that real HOA software solutions can make your life easier with transformative convenience and targeted features. Once you’ve waded through HOA software reviews and selected a short list of packages to investigate further, you quickly realize that the right HOA website software provider gives you all the capabilities you really need.

These are HOA software solutions that anticipate your needs because they’re built by specialists who understand what you want your HOA website software to do. The best of these specialists build their software to solve the problems and remove the limitations of the HOA website software they’ve tried to use over the years—without the “How do I make this work?” hassles of the DIY approach.

HOA portal software

If you’ve seen homeowners association software products described as “HOA portal software,” you’re probably wondering if this is the right solution for your community. That depends on how the software developer interprets the category.

Some HOA portal software is nothing more than a generic log-in screen on an HOA management company’s website. Community members sign in, work their way through a confusingly anonymous navigation system, find nothing about their HOA except a link to pay association dues, and leave the site feeling as if they’ve been lumped in with every other community that the management company serves.

 

 

That’s the negative end of the spectrum. On the positive side, “HOA portal software” simply designates the point of entry into a community website, powered by an HOA software solution that provides a completely customized experience focused on the unique qualities of the individual homeowners association. In this case, “HOA portal software” refers to the way you access private pages and files on your community website, not to the entire online experience that’s provided for you. Once you’re logged in through the HOA portal software, you have access to many features that make your life easier, whether you’re an HOA administrator or just a community resident.

HOA payment software

HOA payment software

Online payment processing for community associations removes a long list of time-consuming, repetitious, tedious, last-century tasks from the responsibilities of every homeowners association administrator who’s involved with payment setup, invoicing, and collections.

You many not find a homeowners association that requires cash payments, but somewhere, some community probably still accepts cash for HOA dues and fees, or for amenity reservations and event tickets. Professional management companies typically offer some kind of online HOA payment software, but not all homeowners associations want to turn over their administrative functions to paid outsiders. So self-managed communities often continue to rely on paper payments, just not currency paper.

Of course, without HOA payment software, you’re still forced to mail out invoices and stand in line at the bank every month or quarter or year, clutching a puffy envelope filled with checks and money orders. Not all residents take their HOA obligations as seriously as they should, so you play phone tag with late payers, or e-mail them weekly requests titled “Your HOA payment is late,” which many recipients deny receiving.

HOA website software with built-in online payment processing for community associations solves all those problems. Now, with HOA payment software, you can set up your charges, specify when they’re due, send out digital invoices with a click, and watch the payments roll in to your bank account. Late-paying residents receive an automatic reminder, and you even can block them from accessing your HOA website until they comply.

HOA document software

Just as HOA payment software saves you from the “adventures” of printing out invoices and stuffing envelopes, HOA document software eliminates another paper-related inefficiency that complicates life for HOA administrators. That’s the tedium of managing, printing, and distributing homeowners association documents.

A new resident wants a copy of your covenants, so off you go to the file cabinet and the copier for yet another duplicate of a fifth-generation photocopy. Your board approves a revised set of rules for the use of your pool area, so you print out a copy for every resident and put them in the mail—or post the document near the pool and hope everyone reads it.

 

HOA document software

Now that several states require you to post specific document resources on a community website, of course, HOA document software also has become the life-saving alternative to legal woes. Covenants and meeting minutes? Upload them. New rules and regulations? Likewise. And full-featured HOA document software enables you to set specific access requirements for each asset category, so you can make some files available to the public and restrict others to committee or board members.

HOA voting software

Homeowners associations don’t just ask their residents, “What do you think?” They have an absolute need to know where residents stand on myriad issues, from who’ll be on the board next year to whether the community has a traffic-flow problem. But without HOA voting software, you’re back to the days of the ballot box. No homeowners association administrator wants to sit unfolding and tabulating a stack of votes—and then face the task of sharing the results with the community.

 

HOA Voting Software

 

Sure, you can set up a form in your word processing software, complete with checkboxes and other mechanisms that record people’s opinions. But then you have to supply the survey to your residents—and now you’re back in the realm of e-mailed files or stamps and envelopes.

Integrated HOA voting software slots right in to your HOA website software, not through an add-on or plug-in, but directly through your homeowners association website itself. Your residents can access a menu item to load the survey, make their choices, and send their vote to you with a single click. As the results roll in, downloadable files enable you to track and graph them in your favorite spreadsheet or data visualization program. The very best HOA voting software even includes built-in graphic capabilities, so you can visualize your results inside the unified administrative dashboard of your HOA website software.

HOA amenity software

HOA amenity software

You’re justifiably proud of the distinguishing amenities that help your community stand out as a desirable place to live. Whether you offer the beachfront advantages of an oceanside location, the healthful fun of well-maintained tennis courts or a pool, or more specialized options for a community that offers residents a vacation second home, you want to make it easy to manage reservations.

Back in the era of the signup sheet on a clubhouse bulletin board, or e-mailed requests for e-mailed reservation forms, all the functions associated with amenity use required manual processing. Requests got lost—or perhaps worse, reservations double booked—and the overall response to a new reservation was “Now what’s going to go wrong?” HOA website software with integrated support for HOA amenities makes the reservation process easy and goofproof.

That’s not all. Here’s where your HOA payment software and HOA amenity software work together to seal the deal on those occasions when you charge a fee for use of some aspect of your community’s features. That tight integration means that not only can residents reserve their amenity use online in a matter of moments, but as the last step of the process, they can pay online with a debit or credit card, or even directly from a checking account.

Make the right choice

How do you find the ideal HOA website software for your community? When you do your research, read HOA software reviews, and compare the specialized features of these homeowners association packages head to head, you’ll find that no other HOA website software provider offers you the flexible feature power and modest investment of the HOA software solutions from HOA Start.

 

HOA Start Software

 

That’s a testament to our years of experience in working with homeowners associations, building and fine tuning the HOA website software features that HOA administrators tell us give them the greatest versatility and make their jobs easier. That’s also proof of the many ways in which we put our customers first, from our in-depth training and help resources for every learning style to our convenient Onboarding Process that eases your path to successful HOA website completion.

Ready for the right HOA website software to ease your administrative tasks and make your website a community asset? Let the easy-to-use power of HOA Start website software propel your homeowners association to new levels of efficiency and convenience.