December 21, 2012 – In this week’s tip, we share details about the growing trend of HOAs shunning paper.
“I don’t know of any of our clients who’ve tried to go paperless yet,” says Nathaniel Abbate Jr., a partner at Makower Abbate & Associates PLLC in Farmington Hills, Mich., who represents associations. “I do hear talk about it, but so far that hasn’t reached our shores yet.”
Jenny Key hasn’t seen any clients go totally paperless yet, but they’re shedding paper as much as possible. “I don’t know of any association that’s gone entirely and completely paperless,” says the Austin, Texas–based vice president of RealManage, a San Rafael, Calif., association management firm that oversees properties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and Texas. “The law requires some things to be on paper. For example, some notices are required to be first–class mail. But I see more associations trying to moving away from documentation. We have some associations that no longer send coupon assessment books unless owners request them. Or they don’t ask us to send financials every month.”
In Ohio, Kaman says more of his clients are on board. “We’re probably nearing the 25 percent mark, where for that percentage of our clients, everything current is being retained paperless,” says the Columbus–based partner at Kaman & Cusimano LLC, which has offices in Columbus and Cleveland. “A lot of management companies are saying to their boards, you’re paying $100 month for this storage garage. That’s $1,200 a year, and $12,000 over 10 years. But for $5,000, we can scan all that information. It might be a few years before the process pays for itself, but in the meantime, it’ll be easier to find records because everything’s scanned.
“We’re also seeing managers saying that everything from, say, January 1 forward is going to be electronically stored,” Kaman adds. “Now it’s all on digital files. It’s pretty cool because we used to see an association go from management company A to B, and B had to rent a truck to go get the association’s files. Now manager A is handing to B a couple of storage drives with everything on them.”
What should you factor into your decision if you’re thinking of taking a save–the–trees path? Find out in our new article, HOA Recordkeeping: The Pros and Cons of Going Paperless.
Matt Humphrey is president of the Alameda, California-based HOAleader.com, from which this article was adapted.