Selecting a Vendor for your HOA

By:  Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
January 2018, ENDEAVOR  News Magazine

Winter on Walton Lane in AnnandaleAnnandale is awash in home owners’ associations and condominium associations. The purchasing power and effect on the local economy created by these groups is often overlooked.  Through the collection and use of HOA dues, these associations support local contractors, vendors, maintenance and property management companies.

We do not even notice the guy on the riding industrial mower or wielding the leaf blower as he works his way through a neighborhood.  He has become a part of the landscape as much as the maple tree that sits near the entrance to your street.  But the contract that brought that worker to that HOA’s community is as much of our local economy as any other business in Annandale.

Since we perform property management services for a number of HOAs and commercial properties, we interact with their boards  in the selection of vendors to perform such tasks as roofing, asphalt sealing and snow removal.  The issue of location is one of the criteria that is considered in recommending a vendor.

Where a vendor’s place of business is located does matter.  For example, if we are managing a property in Annandale, we are unlikely to recommend a vendor out of Culpepper without compelling reasons if the work to be performed is to be done regularly, like landscaping services.  Similarly, one wouldn’t want to rely on a snow removal company that is coming from Centerville because they may not make it to the job after a heavy snowfall.

On the other hand if the job is a one-off and the vendor has a particular service or skill and reasonably priced, we may reach beyond the immediate community and go as far as required (given time constraints) to bring in the best company for the job.  One might prefer to use local labor for a number of good reasons but sometimes there isn’t a reliable, local vendor to choose.

The above said we must admit that as members of the Annandale Chamber we are a bit biased toward our local businesses and we like to use Annandale contractors to promote our local economy.  Fortunately we have found a number of contractors nearby that perform good work at a reasonable price.  This is particularly true when we require work on a single-family residence that we manage for a absentee investor.

Which brings one to the contracts that are offered by vendors.  Few of those contracts are written well which can give one pause before hiring a particular vendor.  The fact is that few contractors, even general contractors, are very skilled in presenting a well written contract.  And since we have in-house legal counsel, this condition is brought to light with every read of a new agreement.

What we have come to discover is that even the world’s best roofer may be trading under paper that would be better used to clean tools than to bind the parties.  And what we have also discovered is that most legitimate vendors really do not mind if you point out that their standard agreement lacks grammar, logic and usefulness in some areas.  Instead, good vendors are willing to recognize that our “fixing” of their agreement just improves an element of their business.

When asked where they got their standard agreement, most will tell you that they borrowed language from another, similar vendor; or they simply have no idea.  “We’ve always used that one and never had a problem,” they say.  Actually, they did have a problem by either risking their services or the ability of the customer to obtain reasonable services, on time, at a reasonable price.

It would take several columns to walk you through all of the steps that should be taken in choosing a contractor to work within your community.  However, if you serve on an HOA board learn how to spot a good, local contractor even if their contract needs a little work.

More on Annandale Real Estate

Median Sales Price of Annandale Homes

2010     $507,800
2015     $539,900
2019     $615,533

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