RealManage HOA Management Delivers Poor Customer Service

Occassionally I like to use my blog as a bully pulpit. I’m especially grateful that Google likes our blog and thus pushes blog articles that contain company names and keywords to the front page of search results, such as when we became the Number 1 search result for searches for a mortgage company name after that mortgage company ripped off one of our buyers.

Well, now RealManage HOA Management chapped me by demonstrating such incompetence and poor service that I feel compelled to tell the world about it. There are a couple of issues I’m dealing with. Poor billing practices is one, and my inability to obtain a pool key for my tenant is the other.

At present, all I need is a pool card for my tenant at a property in Olympic Heights for which RealManage HOA Management is the HOA management company in Austin. Sounds pretty simple, huh? Probably just need to fill out a form, maybe pay a deposit, and get a key. That’s how it works with other HOA companies. It’s often something that can even be accomplished the same day with a trip to a local office by the tenant. Not with RealManage.

I sent the following email to their customer service department on July 13th, 2009.

I manage the home at {property address}. What do I need to do to get a pool card for my tenants, or do they do it directly with you?

The next day came a response.

“Thank you for contacting RealManage regarding a pool key. You will need to fill out a “Pool Waiver” form to obtain a pool key. For your convenience, I’ve attached a copy of the Waiver to this email. When you have completed and signed the form, you can fax it or email it to us as indicated below.”

The waiver was completed, sign by my tenant and me, and returned to RealManage for processing. Then a few weeks passed. On Aug 6th I sent the following:

“Can you inform me of the status of the pool cards for my tenants?”

And then the conversation continues in the following bizarre exchange:

RM: “Thank you for contacting RealManage. I’ve forwarded your communication to the Amentity department.”

Me: “That was a couple of weeks ago. Can you provide better service than this and look into it please? It’s for {property address}.”

RM: “Our records show that a key was issued for this account back in 2007 and in order to get a replacement key you and the tenant will need to sign a waiver. Also because a key is already assigned to this account your HOA requires us to charge a replacement fee of $25. Please send payment to RealManage PO Box 703267 Dallas, TX 75370”

Me: “So, it takes a follow up email from me to learn this? This is very poor customer service. A waiver has already been submitted and you already have it…. Can you bill the $25 or do I need to mail a check in advance? Do you have a local office in Austin where the tenant can bring the $25 and pick up the pool card?”

And I’ve also called, asked for a supervisor, and am awaiting a reply. I still don’t have a pool key nor is it clear to me when I can tell the tenant I’ll have one.

This is the same company who failed to send any bills to more than one of my owners after the property was purchased, but then sent delinquency notices. I got all that cleared up earlier in the year, changed the billing address to c/o Crossland Real Estate so the owner wouldn’t have to deal with it, but then never received any payment coupons or invoices for the next billing cycle. Month’s later another late notice arrived, for not paying the fees that were never billed.

Just to get a reality check, and make sure it wasn’t just me having trouble, I sent an email out to my property manager Yahoo Group asking:

“Is anyone else having problems with RealManage?

They don’t send bills but then they send a delinquent notice. This has happened to 3 of my owners, so I try to solve the problem by changing the mailing address to c/o Crossland Real Estate. But then the same thing happens to me. I just got off the phone with them and the guy says that unless there is an amount past due, they don’t send an invoice and that we’re just supposed to know how much to pay and pay it. That’s fine, and I can do that, but that’s not what I was told last time this happened.

So, just curious if I’m having bad luck or if this company causes headaches on a regular basis for property managers.”

I received numerous responses from other Austin Property Manager, including the following three:

“I had similar problems with RealMange. The latest one is receiving an HOA bill in the mail this week for a property which closed (and paid off on the HUD) on July 8”.

“Our Owners can’t even get a hold of someone lately and keep getting the run around”.

“We are constantly battling with Real Manage over their systems. They are a headache to us as well.”

I hope the folks at RealManage HOA management take note of this article and make whatever changes are needed so they can get their act together. I hope HOAs thinking of hiring an HOA Management Company in Austin will scrutinize carefully any company they hire.

It’s embarrassing for me to have to tell my tenant that I can’t accomplish something as simple as getting them a pool card. It makes me look like an idiot, it affects the tenant’s opinion of our company and their happiness with their rental experience. Sure, I can blame it on RealManage, but the tenant doesn’t care, they just want to take the kids swimming, and summer’s almost over.

15 thoughts on “RealManage HOA Management Delivers Poor Customer Service”

  1. I read this and was compelled to chime in and add to this blog. I’ am a home owner in an HOA that RealManagement, so call manages. My neighbors are never in compliance with simple things like lawn maintenance. My complaints and their so called property inspections never seem to get the owners to cut there lawns. You’d think after 2 months and knee-hi grass that letters would get the owners attention or the manager would suggest a force mow to the Board but nothing happens. If you call RealManage to speak the manager they are never in and you never receive a returned call. Therefore I’ve given them the name un-RealManage.

  2. Well said, Steve.

    I can confirm receiving delinquent notices from this mob, without ever having received an invoice from them. As an out-of-town investor (waaay out of town), I was taken aback by their lack of customer service, at even a basic level. By contrast, your service has always been exemplary – I always hear from you if there’s anything I need to know, you have thought out a solution for my situation (or you have a standard procedure in place to deal with it), and I have implicit trust in your judgement about how my property needs to be handled.

    Are there other property managers in other investment hot spots in the US, or shall I keep buying in South Austin? (Just kidding, but really I feel I landed on my feet in finding your business to manage my property).

  3. Thanks for your kind words Peter.

    Someone from RM has contacted me saying they want to solve these issues, so I’m hoping to be able to post a happy ending. Oddly, the same day I posted this article, a payment coupon book for your property showed up in the mail with payment slips for the remainder of the year. Problem is I paid out the remainder of the year in advance upon resolving the latest delinquency notices. Now I’ve contacted them again asking for verification that payment was received and applied to the correct property.

    And I’ve set my software up to auto-pay your account every 6 months in advance regardless of whether or not I receive invoices or payment coupons.

    I’ll post the outcome of my efforts.


  4. Hang in there. 🙂

    We kicked RM out of a Subdivision in North Austin, some time ago. Very similar complaints – UnReal service it sure was!

    They still manage one of my investments in South Austin.. 🙁 Hopefully, they will cleanup or time to start a signature campaign.

  5. Well, I was contacted by a RealManage board member. Real nice guy who overnighted a pool key to me so now that’s taken care of.

    He did explain that there are two main methods of billing that HOA management companies use – “Statement” based or “Coupon” based. RealManage uses the coupon system, which means they send a coupon book to all owners once a year in December.

    Other HOA’s send statements for each dues payment period, so you get a statement telling you what you owe, and you send a check.

    Obviously, for property managers, a statement system is superior because it fits better into the accounting scheme under which most of us operate, which is to receive invoices from vendors and pay from the invoice. For other properties I manage, I receive regular HOA dues statements that confirm the prior payment being received as well as the current payment due. This is a much better feedback loop than sending coupons, in my opinion.

    To be fair, the problem of an HOA not having a correct mailing address can affect the statement system also. Most of the trouble happens when ownership changes and the Title Company uses the property address as the new owner address, and thus the HOA Company mails everything to the property. Investors won’t receive these mailings, as mine didn’t. Neither will buyers who use a mailing address different than the property, such as a PO Box.

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that an HOA management company could have a system designed to predict and accommodate the inevitable glitches and unreliability of address changes when ownership changes hands.

    One thing we’ll start doing whenever we sell a property to an investor is to bring a change of address card to the closing and have the investor fill it out as if the property being purchased is the existing address, and their real address is a new address. This will insure that stray mail finds it’s way back to the new owner for at least 18 months.


  6. Steve,

    Thanks for speaking with me Tuesday morning. It sounds like you have a great operation and I admire the business you’ve built.

    The following is meant to recap our conversation and clear up some of the issues raised in your posting here.

    1. Regarding obtaining a Pool Key for the tenant of one of the properties you manage in OHOA:

    a. You now have that Pool Key. Under normal circumstances, this can be handled the same day, but in your case it took approximately 4 weeks to receive a Pool Key for your tenant, and for that we are truly sorry.

    b. Several factors, including (i) an inadvertent mistake by you in providing us the incorrect property address when you emailed us the Pool Waiver and (ii) a subsequent mistake by RealManage in not realizing that this was a NEW tenant requiring a NEW key (i.e. not the same tenant we provided a key to last year) contributed to the delay.

    c. We further discussed the extra security steps RealManage takes when providing a key to anyone other than the legal owner of the property (e.g. to a property manager or to a tenant) which also can add some delay to our normal process.

    2. Regarding the timing of our mailing coupons, statements and delinquency notices:

    a. We have a very sound billing process and never send late statements without first sending at least one Statement or Coupon prior to the due date. However, I see why you and your fellow property managers may have believed otherwise. Below is the explanation we discussed:

    b. Some associations bill via Coupon books sent annually in advance, while some associations bill via Statements sent each time an assessment is coming due.

    c. The two accounts you experienced frustration with are for an association that is Coupon based. Therefore, as the management company, we mailed coupon books to each owner’s mailing address prior to the beginning of the year. In each case, we mailed the coupon book in Decemeber 2008 to the mailing address provided to us by the owner’s Title Company (a commonly accepted practice), and in each case the coupon book was not returned to us by the USPS as undeliverable (we know because we log all return mail). You have informed us however that those coupon books never made it to your office — this was not surprise as to us, as that was not the mailing address that the Title Company and owner had last provided to us.

    d. When we did not receive those regular monthly assessment payments we began mailing late statements, albeit still to the original mailing address provided to us by the owner’ Title Company. You subsequently updated the mailing address for each of your clients and then started receiving those late notices for the first time.

    e. I would recommend to your property manager colleagues that if they are managing an association that bills via a coupon book sent once per year, that they be sure to receive that coupon book or order a replacement as soon as possible and to not expect to receive a reminder statement prior to receiving a delinquency notice each month.

    3. Regarding the property manager who received a late statement a couple of weeks after the property had already been sold to another owner:

    a. RealManage updates the owner records for an association as soon as we receive notification from the Title Company that a closing has occurred. This is common industry practice. On average for the 10,000+ updates we process like this each year, it takes nine (9) days from the date of closing, for the Title Company to notify RealManage and for us to update the Association’s owner files.

    b. Therefore, it is not only possible, but quite normal for (i) the closing notice mailed from the Title Company to RealManage, and (ii) the statement mailed from RealManage to the homeowner (or property manager in this case) to cross in the mail or otherwise be temporarily out of sync by a couple of weeks. This is what your colleague experienced.


    For the reasons we discussed, as stated above, I strongly believe that your characterization of the services provided by our company is a bit unfair.

    Thank you for allowing me to post this response.


  7. Take a look at RealManage’s website and you’ll see why they have these problems. They aim to be a nationwide company that “revolutionizes” the property management industry through “innovative, state-of-the-art” information technology. In other words, somebody thinks they can increase efficiency and cut costs by implementing a nationwide computer-based system, and they loose sight of providing service to the customer.

  8. I worked for RealManage. They have horrible customer service because of the high employee turnover rates and focus on streamline automative systems. But they have potential to change and be a better company.

  9. I lease a home in Olympic Heights, south Austin, TX and RealManage is the HOA management company. I love the home and my realty company got the key card sent to me fairly quickly (I wanted to have it for the 4th of July weekend). I received the card on June 29th! ………….BUT when I tried to use the card on July 3, it would not work. I contacted RealManage and several weeks later I received a new card with a very nice hand written note apologizing for any inconvenience this caused me.

    I am away from home a lot but this past Saturday (08-22) I went to the pool had difficulty opening the gate but finally got in. Yesterday my son & daughter-in-law took my grandson to the pool and guess what? The key card would not work! The situation went from bad to worse when the pool attendant would not even check the key card or call the management to check the card. I went to the pool and was told by the attendant (and this is a direct quote) “I only make $9.00 an hour and that is not enough money for me to take crap off of anyone!” After talking to him I did get him to check the card then call his manager who verified the card was supposed to be working.

    This appears to be an ongoing problem (among many) with RealManage but property owners pay HOA’s, who pay HOA management companies, who pay HOA management company employees (and $9.00 for sitting at the pool, playing card games on your computer and drinking soft drinks is not a bad deal!). In other words, if there were no property owners participating in HOA’s, a lot of people would be out of jobs.

    I did contact RealManage this morning was told they would send the issue to the department that handled the pool key cards. The problem with that is they did not as me for my contact info or my card number. How will I know when this is taken care of?? What happens next time I go to the pool?? Have other people in Olympic Heights had this problem?? Does RealManage care??

    Thanks for taking time to read this,
    Susan Williams

  10. Wow, I guess I’m not the only disgruntled homeowner who helps pay the salaries at RealManage.

    Every time I have had to contact RealManage, I typically get no response. If I do get a response it’s that they will “take care of it,” which never happens or that it’s not something for which they are responsible. Why am I paying them to enforce our deed restrictions if it’s not one of their responsibilities?

    How does one go about convincing the developer and HOA board to get rid of such a poorly performing company?

    Thanks to all for helping me realize that I’m not crazy for expecting someone to do his/her job.

  11. > Why am I paying them to enforce our deed restrictions if it’s not one of their responsibilities?

    Hi LB. I’ve learned a lot more about how HOA companies work in going through the process I followed. The HOA will only do what the Board of Directors has assigned them. Find out specifically what your HOA is responsible for and the process that must be followed.

    I recently had to call another HOA because of a barking dog next door to one of my properties. I got someone on the phone first ring, explained the problem, and she told me they would be mailing a violation letter that day. Some HOAs would have required me to submit the complaint in writing, but in this case they didn’t.

    They’re all different and they all have a tough, thankless job, but nevertheless should be held accountable to do what they’ve agreed to do and do it in a competent and expeditious manner.


  12. Well i live in the westview meadows subdivision in leander and since we had a coupon book we lost it a long time ago. We called real manage and never got one mailed so we stopped paying and basically forgot. They never sent us reminder/late notices until now ( a year later) they are suing us. We owe then about 600 dollars but since we have to go to court we have to pay about 1,000. ANyway we are frustrated because we dont feel that the hoa does their part as far as maintain the park and pool or even cut the grass. Oh yea and my kid cant even go to the playground because the slide is pretty much all cracked up causing some sort of hazard to children. Do you think we can petition anything? Maybe lowering the fees becasue we dont feel that hey are doing their part. If they dont have any duties where is our money going towards? please help

  13. HELP>>>>> I have been having problems with Real Manage for years. After several attempts to get violations corrected we stopped paying our dues in boycott to try to trigger a response or dialogue. Some of the complaints/violations are by the HOA President who happens to be a next door neighbor. After digging I found out why nothing is being addressed as well as no return phone calls from Real Manage after leaving MANY messages. It seems the process is …. when someone lodges a complaint it is turned over to the HOA board for permission to take action on the violator. We find ourselves paying for a company to manage and over see rules and to enforce them equally and they are not. It boggles the mind that the same person in violation of rules is the same person deciding how to take action against the violator.
    As of Sept. 30th here is where we stand. Without warning we received a letter from Attorney Bill Frickegler stating that if we do not pay $661 to Real Manage in 30 days (Oct.12th) he will be filing suit against our property. First of all we only owe $336 and it is not due until (Oct.10th). The day I received the letter I called Real Manage to try yet again to get answers to our complaints and I was treated horrible and with the third degree by the phone representative. No one would extend the courtesy of hearing me. I tried to pay my bill and was told that they would not take payment because my account was frozen. Two days before the attorneys letter I received my regular statement giving me until Oct 10th to make payment but they will not take my payment. What really stinks is that the HOA Board President is the man that approved the Attorneys letter and the same man that will not let Real Manage take my payment. The HOA Board President is my neighbor that I have the complaints against. Is this fair? NO……. It is HARRASMENT.
    If there is an attorney that would like to hear my case please let me know. Real Manage needs to be stopped and their selective enforcement of rules. I have tried calling the developer (he is also on he board) and he has not gotten back with me either…. What can I do any help would be appreciated.

  14. I’m going to go ahead and close the comments on this blog article so that it doesn’t become a permanent running thread of gripes against RealManage.

    In my particular case I was satisfied enough with the eventual outcome, but the nature of their business is such that they will always be dealing with problems and upsetting home owners.

    The problem for RealManage, as I see it, is one of over accomodation of HOAs. I am a property manager also and my business of managing tenants and homes is no easier than managing HOAs. I sell a system, or method or accomplishing what I think needs to be done. It’s a “my way or the highway” system and I don’t hire owners who wantthings done differently. Perhaps that’s not possible in the HOA business, but if I ran an HOA company, I’d tell the potential client that I’ve figured out the best way of getting everything done and we don’t change it for anyone. They can hire us or not, but we sell a system and we stick to that system.

    There is no way, in my opnion, a company can successfully customize a different setup for each client and thus run a different company and different operation for each client, and, in my opinion, RealManage’s challenges stem largey from failing to adhere to that concept. That said, I don’t know that I could do it any better since I’ve elected to have never managed an HOA.

    I suggest to anyone not happy to 1) always pay your fees when you know they’re due and 2) get involved in your own HOA by joining the board or at least attending the meetings. Many HOAs can’t even get residents to attend the meetings, yet they have plenty willing to complain.


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