What is a town square app?
If you live in a residential neighborhood or community, you likely take advantage of a social network or forum where you can ask for recommendations, share information and events, or simply connect with your neighbors.
What if you could have all of these features in one convenient app specifically designed for your community? This is the premise behind a town square app – an application that essentially serves as a virtual town hall, bulletin board, and communication hub for homeowners associations (HOAs) and housing developments.
While the name suggests a public gathering place, a town square app is actually a private platform only accessible to residents of a particular neighborhood or HOA. These apps have become popular recently as more associations leverage technology to improve community engagement and streamline management activities.
So what exactly can a town square app do, and what benefits can it provide for an HOA? Can you implement your town square app to leverage the effectiveness of your HOA websites?
Let’s explore some of the key features and capabilities modern town square apps for HOA communities can offer.
Welcome to the town square
Many HOAs and communities make use of a community management tool. But some tools lack the “local vibe” that many social networks offer. A town square app is just that – a place online where residents can gather and engage with their community association and neighbors.
At its core, a town square app serves as a centralized platform for an HOA to manage communications, distribute important information and documents, collect payments, and more.
Some of the key features commonly found in town square apps include:
Community forums & HOA management moderation tools
One of the hallmarks of a town square app is the inclusion of community forums or message boards. These facilitate discussions among residents, enabling neighbors to connect with each other.
Members can post questions to the community, seek referrals or recommendations, list items for sale, advertise local events, voice concerns, and chat about neighborhood happenings.
Forums build camaraderie and give residents an easy way to get to know each other, coordinate activities, and exchange information – much like they would at an in-person town hall or community bulletin board. For HOAs, forums also provide valuable insight into their membership base’s needs, interests, and priorities.
Moderation tools allow HOA administrators to manage forums, combine related conversations into threads, promote important announcements, and maintain a sense of community standards. While traditional social networks connect you with friends and followers all over, a hyperlocal town square forum just brings your own neighborhood together.
For HOA treasurers and residents alike, the ability to process payments is likely one of the most useful features of a town square app. Embedded payment processing tools allow associations to easily collect monthly dues, one-time assessments, application fees, and other owed amounts completely online.
Members can securely pay their association bills directly through the app, avoiding the hassles of checks, bank transfers, or paying in person. Most payment systems are built in through the existing community management software to ensure simplicity and compatibility.
Document storage and access
Serving as a central repository, town square apps provide cloud storage for quick access to important HOA documents.
Associations can upload board meeting minutes, financial statements, newsletters, architectural guidelines, event calendars, and other files to inform residents. By housing documents digitally instead of on paper, it’s faster for members to stay up-to-date on their community’s business whenever they log into the app.
One major advantage an app platform offers over static websites or paper bulletin boards is the ability to immediately notify users. Pushing alerts, emails, and in-app messages, town square apps facilitate real-time communication about community issues and events.
HOAs can quickly relay news, schedule changes, maintenance updates, policy revisions, and safety notices to residents through their preferred contact channel. This keeps the neighborhood actively informed and aware.
Should I buy or build my own town square app?
When an HOA decides to add an app to better connect with residents, a common question is whether to buy an off-the-shelf software solution or build a custom platform from scratch. There are pros and cons to each approach.
Buying a town square solution
The main advantage of buying an existing town square software is speed and cost. Established HOA app providers have already invested in developing, testing, and refining their technology to meet community needs.
These solutions can usually be quickly implemented, customized, and deployed without the technical hurdles of creating software yourself. The monthly fees are also typically quite reasonable.
Building your own town square app
For larger HOAs or those with complex organizational structures, building a custom-programmed app or open source solution allows for complete personalization to match distinct specifications. The tradeoff is higher upfront development expenses, longer timelines, and the need for specialized technical expertise. Ongoing app maintenance is also required – so keep this in mind!
Small to mid-sized associations lean toward turnkey app solutions that need little IT skills to manage. But organizations with staff dedicated to technology may ultimately prefer crafting their own tailored application, budget permitting.
Start building community with a community town square app
For residential associations considering leveraging technology, a privately hosted town square app can upgrade community management and improve homeowners’ satisfaction. Turnkey solutions balance robust features with ease of use for an affordable way to coordinate neighborhood needs online rather than solely in person.
While public social networks connect us globally, a digital town square connects us locally. A customized app unifies the communication and management necessities of HOA websites and community boards with residents’ experience for modern, mobile neighborhood interaction.
What is a town square app?
A town square app offers homeowners and neighborhood associations an all-in-one online platform to manage essential HOA functions like collecting payments, sharing community files, community discussions, and distributing notifications.
How do I set up a town square account?
To access your community’s private town square app, ask your HOA administrator to register your email address or property address. Once registered, you will receive login credentials to access the app and set up your member profile.
Why should I use a town square app?
Using a town square app streamlines communication and management processes for HOA boards and residents. It allows easy access to important community information, discussion forums, and payment collections – all in one convenient location. Additionally, the mobile-friendly interface ensures members can stay connected even on the go.
Is there a cost to use a town square app?
The cost of using a town square app varies depending on the specific platform chosen by your HOA. However, many apps offer affordable pricing options; some may even be free.