Before moving forward on strategic planning, it is crucial for homeowners associations (HOAs) to thoroughly understand the current status of their community. A comprehensive assessment provides the foundation for informed decision-making and effective goal setting. This guide will walk you through the key steps and methods to assess your community’s current status, ensuring a solid base for future planning.

Step 1: Gather Community Feedback

  • Surveys and Questionnaires: Develop and distribute surveys to gather input from residents about various aspects of community life. This can include satisfaction with amenities, communication effectiveness, and suggestions for improvement.
  • Focus Groups: Organize small group discussions with residents to dive deeper into specific issues. These sessions can provide detailed insights and uncover concerns that might not surface in surveys.
  • Community Meetings: Hold open meetings where residents can voice their opinions and provide feedback. Encourage active participation to ensure diverse viewpoints are heard.

Step 2: Conduct a SWOT AnalysisSwot strategy 3.jpg

A SWOT analysis helps identify your community’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats.

  • Strengths: What does your community do well? Examples might include well-maintained facilities, strong resident participation, or a robust financial position.
  • Weaknesses: What areas need improvement? This could be poor communication, outdated amenities, or financial challenges.
  • Opportunities: What external factors can your community leverage? Consider local government grants, community partnerships, or emerging technologies.
  • Threats: What external factors could negatively impact your community? This might include economic downturns, changes in regulations, or environmental risks.

Step 3: Review Financial Health

  • Budget Analysis: Examine your HOA’s current budget and financial statements. Assess whether the community is operating within its means and identify any financial pressures or surplus funds.
  • Reserve Fund Evaluation: Ensure that your reserve fund is adequately funded to cover future capital expenditures. This includes major repairs and replacements of community assets.
  • Dues Collection: Review the efficiency and effectiveness of your dues collection process. High delinquency rates can indicate underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Step 4: Assess Physical Assets and Infrastructure

  • Facility Inspections: Conduct regular inspections of all community facilities and common areas. Look for maintenance needs, safety issues, and areas requiring upgrades.
  • Asset Inventory: Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all physical assets, including their condition and expected lifespan. This helps in planning for future repairs and replacements.
  • Infrastructure Review: Evaluate the condition of infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, and utilities. Identifying issues early can prevent costly repairs down the line.

Step 5: Evaluate Community Engagement and Communication

  • Participation Rates: Assess resident participation in community events, meetings, and committees. High engagement typically indicates a healthy and active community.
  • Communication Channels: Review the effectiveness of your communication methods. This includes newsletters, emails, social media, and community boards. Ensure that information is reaching all residents and that they have easy ways to provide feedback.
  • Resident Feedback: Regularly solicit feedback on communication effectiveness. This can help identify gaps and areas for improvement.

Step 6: Examine Governance and Management Practices

  • Board Effectiveness: Evaluate the performance and effectiveness of your HOA board. This includes their ability to make decisions, manage resources, and address community concerns.
  • Policy and Procedure Review: Ensure that your governing documents, policies, and procedures are up to date and reflect current best practices. This includes bylaws, rules and regulations, and enforcement policies.
  • Management Practices: Assess the effectiveness of your management practices, whether self-managed or through a management company. Look for areas where efficiency and responsiveness can be improved.

Step 7: Analyze External Factors

  • Local Government and Regulations: Stay informed about local government initiatives and regulations that could impact your community. This includes zoning changes, new developments, and changes in property laws.
  • Market Conditions: Understand the local real estate market conditions. This can affect property values, demand for homes, and overall community attractiveness.
  • Environmental Factors: Consider environmental factors such as climate risks, natural disasters, and sustainability opportunities. These can have significant impacts on your community’s planning and preparedness.


A thorough assessment of your community’s current status is essential for effective strategic planning. By gathering community feedback, conducting a SWOT analysis, reviewing financial health, assessing physical assets, evaluating community engagement, examining governance practices, and analyzing external factors, you can develop a comprehensive understanding of your community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This foundational knowledge will enable your HOA to make informed decisions and set realistic, achievable goals for the future.


  1. Athens-Clarke County Unified Government. (n.d.). Starting a neighborhood association guide.
  2. Associa. (2020, August 18). How to create a strategic plan for your community in 5 steps.
  3. Clark Simson Miller. (n.d.). Budget for a community association: What to consider.
  4. Cedar Management Group. (n.d.). How to plan an HOA community event.
  5. American Planning Association, Florida Chapter. (n.d.). Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association.

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