These days, there are few people who don’t have a business website, a Facebook account and even a Twitter handle. It’s the same for buildings.
As the rise of online social media invades nearly every aspect of our daily life, condo, co-op and HOA boards, along with savvy property managers, have also embraced the medium as a powerful new tool for connecting and communicating with residents in their communities.
Email listserves, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and—more recently—custom mobile apps, have supplanted the mailroom bulletin board as the primary means of inter-building information exchange.
It didn’t happen overnight, however. Boards and management companies have modernized and broadened their means of communicating with residents through trial and error while exploring the benefits and maximizing the usefulness and impact of these new tools.
“I think the whole website thing started on the apartment side and condo owners were beginning to look for more online services,” says James Zaratin, a property manager with First Realty Management in Boston. “It was a niche market and a lot of IT [information technology] people saw that as an opening and started putting together easy-to-manage portals that would be accessible for the condominium and HOA side. So now these services allow people to submit maintenance requests online, pay their condo fees online, they can pull all of their association’s legal documents like the condo docs and meeting minutes—anything that they would have to call and make a request to the management company for in the past. Now they can just log onto their website, type in a password and pull it up. It takes a lot less work on our end and it’s a lot easier for the residents. It’s time saving for them when they can just do it at their own leisure and go online whenever they want and just pull it up. They enjoy having that information at their finger tips.”