No Condo or HOA Management Company Near You? – No Problem

A lot of towns around the country may not have a company that provides management services that cater to condo communities and homeowner associations.  Maybe an experienced manager hasn’t moved to town or the market is not large enough to support a company that specializes in community association management.  Or there is someone but their service is terrible. What is a board to do?

Hiring someone without condo or HOA expertise usually leads to problems.  You may be tempted to work with a generalist property manager. Someone that manages some houses, a few small apartment buildings and a commercial property or two.  This person will reduce some of the workload of the board but they lack critical understanding about community associations and their needs.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could hire a specialist that understands community associations?  The company would know about declarations and bylaws, about any state regulations and also help advise the board on industry best practices.  If applicable, the business would be licensed to work with community funds and would carry insurance required by the state. Additionally, the business would be using the latest community management specific technology that would make the board’s job easier and make unit owners happy with features like online payments.

What if I told you there is a way to get over 55% of the work of operating a community done remotely by a company that understands community association management?  In the process you could get better information and financial transparency that would give you more peace of mind. You could go from having a full-time volunteer “job” to enjoying the stress-free lifestyle that community living promised.  Plus, you may even be thanked by unit owners for giving them the latest online tools.

Enter Remote Financial & Administrative Management

Remote Financial Management handles the following accounting tasks: invoicing owners, collecting and depositing funds, answering payment questions, mailing late letters, working with collection agencies and attorneys with delinquent owners, paying bills, answering vendor questions and providing financial reports.  Depending on its capabilities it may also help with the following administrative tasks: sending out violation letters, processing community mailings, handling lender questionnaires when an owner refinances and resale certificates when an owner sells.  

Skeptical of Remote Services?

You may think that working with a service provider located out of town is spooky or something.  However, you already receive all sorts of similar services from companies that are not located in your area or the actual processing of the services are handled from outside your area.  Here are some examples: Collection – loan invoices, loan coupon books, credit card and utility bills are generated and mailed from a far off location; you also mail the payment to a distant location where they open, record and deposit the funds. Bill Payment – you receive an online payment request for a bill.  You have set up an online account and review the charge, and approve it by pay the bill online – this happens by debiting your bank account, entering information from a check or by credit card.  Financial Reports – you own shares in an investment and you receive financial reports in the mail or online from an investment manager or other business that is not located in your area.  Customer Service – you call or email support and the customer service representative is not located in your town, plus it is much faster than getting in your car, driving and waiting for an answer.

If remote service works for all these businesses it can work for your community.  To learn more about remote financial management and if it may be a fit for your community click here: Remote Financial Management – What it Is and How it Works.

Self-Management with Support May Be the Best Solution for Your Community

Over one third of condo communities and homeowner associations (HOAs) are self-managed.  If you have 100 units/homes or less or have a high level of board participation you are a prime candidate to self-manage with support.  By support I mean with financial management services, administrative services and relying other professionals.  Benefits include saving money, increased control and often less frustration.  Self-management with support may be the best solution for your community.

 

Community Associations Institute (CAI) defines a self-managed community as meaning they may use professional assistance for specific projects, activities and services, but do not employ a professional manager or management company.

 

You Won’t Be Alone

According to the most recent Community Associations Institute (CAI) Statistical Review an estimated 30-40 percent of community associations are self-managed.  The number of community associations in 2018 is estimated at 347,000 which included 27 million housing units.  If we use 35% that are self-managed that means approximately 121,450 communities and 9.45 million housing units are self-managed.  A lot of communities use this form of management successfully.

 

Fear of the Burden

But you heard self-management is hard?  No one has time to volunteer for the board.  No one wants to do all the additional work involved. Well guess what – board members don’t have to do all the work themselves – does that alleviate some of your fear?  Maybe the self-managed community board member that told you it was a lot of work isn’t using the formula for success outlined below.

 

How to Make it Easier

Financial Management Services – Handle all the monthly accounting activities such as: mail or email monthly, quarterly or annual statements or coupon books, deposit funds, answer owner payment questions, apply late fees and send late letters to delinquent owners, pay approved bills, answer vendor payment questions, send out year end 1099 tax forms, liaise with your collection attorney with late payers, produce monthly financial reports and reconcile the reports against your bank accounts.  You don’t have to worry about pestering your neighbor that paid late or have to keep track of all the accounting activity on your own.

 

Administrative Services – Handle many of the common administrative tasks a community needs such as: assist with community mailings, handle resale certificates and lender questionnaires for refinancing, offer 24/7 emergency maintenance call handling, keep unit owner rosters and more.

 

Rely on your current cast of professionals – You probably have been using a host of community specialists successfully and that doesn’t have to change when you become self-managed.  Use your attorney that specializes in community associations to handle legal issues and foreclose on delinquent owners.  Continue using your CPA that knows community associations to do your tax return and audit.  Utilize all the good maintenance & construction vendors that have worked hard for your community who will still want to work for you – just get the vendor list from your manager before you leave.

 

By using these services you will also have an easier time attracting people to the board and keeping them on the board.  They won’t get burned out from doing all the work themselves feeling like it’s a pain in the patoot, part time, non-paying, underappreciated job.  Instead they will be supervising vendors that handle the majority of the work and provide guidance to make the board’s job easier.

 

Benefits

Savings.  Save over 50% of the cost of “full management” even after hiring a financial management company to do a lot of the work.  The cost of other professionals you use has been a line item in your previous budgets so not much will change there.

 

Increased Control. A manager won’t be paying for things that you are not aware of and you will have complete control over your expenses.  You will also have more control over when items on your to do list get done – remember having to go over the same items at every board meeting without getting results?

 

Less Frustration.  Remember having to email and call the manager numerous times to get answers – you won’t have to.  Through improved communication, including tools for 24/7 online access to information, you will lower your blood pressure.

 

Potential Additional Benefits.  Updated Features – your financial management vendor may offer e-statements, accept online payment of owner fees, reduce delinquencies with the threat of reporting late payers to credit bureaus (impacting their credit score), offer greater transparency to the board to review bills online before payment, may offer websites and mobile apps for enhanced communication, and other new features that your current manager doesn’t offer.

 

Summary

You can get what you want: less frustration, increased control and save big money without having the burden of traditional self-management.  By partnering with professionals you will get the support you need to make a change from “full management” to self-management with a much reduced and manageable workload.

 

If you want to learn more about making a change to becoming self-managed read our 10 Steps to Self-Manage your Community guide.

Eight Golden Rules for Boards of Directors

This article originally appeared on Associaonline.com’s Living Better Blog.

By Mike Packard at Associa

Board members must interface with their membership, management team, association vendors and other members of the public pragmatically at all times. Following are my personal “Eight Golden Rules” to assist you with achieving that goal:

  1. Always be a straight shooter.People admire this trait in other human beings more than almost every other characteristic. Those who quibble or, at worst, lie about something are destined for failure. Effective and respected board members always practice this principle.
  2. Praise in public; criticize in private. Never publicly ridicule nor scold someone. “Someone” is any of the many, many people that you interface with as a board member. People who rebuke in public are neither respected nor admired. When I was an officer in the military, I never, ever witnessed someone being admonished publicly (except in “boot camp”!).
  3. Read, read, read.The world, and certainly the responsibilities of serving on a board of directors, require staying abreast of legal issues, state statutes, finance, insurance, risk management, etc. Unless you keep current on public events and issues, you will suffer in terms of lacking a better understanding of how to perform your job as a board member.
  4. Emulate the quality traits you see in others.To do so is “OK plagiarism”!
  5. What goes around really does come around. Treat others as you would like to be treated. An axiom for this is “never throw anyone under a bus as there will certainly be a bigger bus coming for you”. This rule complements rule # 1 but deserves its own place in the hierarchy of “golden practices”.
  6. Never get in a hissing contest with a snake.Those few people in your community who may want to pick a fight are not worthy of your energy and time. When confronted, turn the other cheek as you cannot nor will not win battles with those kinds of folks!
  7. Don’t put something where you don’t normally put it. If you violate this edict, men, it’s in the back seat of your car, and ladies, it’s in your purse. Life is too short to be looking for stuff when you should know where it is in the first place.
  8. Don’t borrow something of value from a friend or a team member. How many times have you violated this important universal rule and damaged or lost that item of value? Be honest! Too many times?

 

These tips will help you become a better person and, most importantly, a person of influence. Influential people are the most respected in any profession, and this is especially true for the profession of leading community associations as a board member.

 

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5 HOA Terms Every Board Member Needs to Know

Whether you just got elected to the community association board or you’ve served for years, you want to make a good impression. Knowing these common HOA terms will help you sound like you know what you’re doing while you get up to speed or serve as the refresher you need to keep growing as a community leader.

  1. Fiduciary Duty

The highest ethical and moral obligations and duty of good faith a person is charged with for fulfilling their responsibilities. The board of directors of a community association has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the association.

This is a fancy sounding term that applies to the board of directors of a community association. It boils down to trust. The straightforward definition of “fiduciary” alone is stated as: involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.

That definition is not very practical. In a nutshell, when you are a board member for a community, you need to act for the good of the community as a whole and not for yourself. You have a duty to make decisions for the benefit of all instead of just your home or your friend’s homes nearby.

I know of one board member in a condo association who was great friends with one of her neighbors, but that neighbor fell behind in their assessment payments. Even though it might’ve been tempting to look the other way, the board member joined the rest of the board in applying their community association’s written collections policy in this situation. This put the community first over the board member’s personal interest and ensured equal treatment of all homeowners.

 

  1. Governing Documents

The declaration, bylaws, operating rules, articles of incorporation or other documents which govern the operation of the association.

The governing documents, sometimes referred to as the CC&R’s (Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions) is where the HOA and the board get their authority. They will spell out exactly what you can and can’t do when governing the community.

Governing documents are arranged in a hierarchy of descending authority:

  • Plat map
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Declaration
  • Bylaws
  • Rules
  • Manuals/Policies

In general, the documents above the line cannot be changed by the board alone; it will be spelled out in the documents themselves how to do so. They will require a vote of the membership, usually an approval of 66 percent or more of the residents, to actually pass changes to these documents.

The documents below the line are more fluid and can clarify the property restrictions in the documents above them, but cannot contradict documents higher in the hierarchy. For instance, if the Declaration says rentals are allowed, the board cannot pass a Rule saying no rentals are allowed. You may, however, be able to set parameters around rentals or procedures to follow if the Declaration is vague. Always check with an attorney for your state’s specific laws when implementing Rules.

As a board member, you should actually read these documents and understand the hierarchy of them.

 

  1. Business Judgment Rule

Actions taken by directors of a community association in good faith, that are within the powers of the association, and that reflect a reasonable and honest exercise of judgment, are valid actions.

The business judgment rule is a presumption that in making a business decision, the directors of a corporation acted on an informed basis, in good faith and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the corporation, in this case, a not-for-profit corporation or homeowners association.

Given that the directors cannot ensure success, the business judgment rule specifies that the court will not review the business decisions of directors who performed their duties (1) in good faith; (2) with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances; and (3) in a manner the directors reasonably believe to be in the best interests of the corporation.

The business judgment rule along with directors and officers insurance will cover you as a board member for any decisions you make, even if they turn out to cause more problems than they solve for the community. However, the big caveat is that you must follow the spirit of the rule.

Did you act in good faith? In other words, did you deal with homeowners, vendors, and management in an honest and fair manner. Did you utilize care? In other words, did you read the board packet and understand the information in it prior to the meeting when making your decisions. Finally, did you act in the best interests of the community? This goes back to the fiduciary duty: acting in the best interest of the entire community and not in the interest of your friends, your neighbors or yourself.

 

  1. Insurance

A practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.

In light of the natural disasters in 2017, including multiple hurricanes on the east coast and wind and hail damage in the midwest, you’ll want to make sure you understand your community’s insurance policy.

You’ll want to know terms like “per building” versus “per occurrence” deductibles, and the answers the key questions: Is there a per building cap? Is there a percentage wind or hail deductible? Do you have or need flood insurance? Do you have a basic, broad, or special form property policy (sometimes referred to as “all risk” coverage or “named peril” coverage), and what does that even mean?

Just for the record, “special form policy” covers everything except what is specifically excluded within the policy. “Basic and broad form policies” only cover the perils that are specifically named in the policy and excludes everything else!

Invite your insurance agent to a board meeting or schedule a conference call to ensure you know and understand what kind of coverage your community has so you can effectively communicate that to your members and/or homeowners. Condominium and townhome owners will need to have a personal lines policy (HO-4, HO-5, HO-6, etc.) to cover their personal belongings, their personal liability, to cover a possible deductible assessment, and for any physical property not protected by the community’s property policy. It’s also wise to ensure your community’s insurance agent specializes in community association coverage and can readily explain the insurance needs of your community according to its governing documents (including any insurance-related amendments or resolutions).

As mentioned above, you’ll want to ensure you have a directors and officers policy that covers the association and its board of directors for both monetary and non-monetary claims. Some policies in the marketplace exclude coverage for non-monetary claims, so it’s especially vital for the board to review this policy closely since non-monetary claims make up roughly 60 percent of most association-related D&O claims.

You cannot expect a homeowner to understand the association’s insurance policies if you as a board member don’t understand them. That’s why it’s imperative that you partner with an experienced agent to ensure your association’s policies make sense, and that they address all of the community’s exposures to loss.

 

  1. Objectivity

The quality of being objective; not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased.

As a board member you are going to be making decisions for the community, and you’ll never be able to please everyone. Some owners will want more services and be willing to pay for those services; other owners will want to keep assessments as low as possible by any means possible; some owners will have purchased in the neighborhood because of the rules in place; others will want there to be absolutely no rules whatsoever.

You may have to make unpopular decisions such as raising the assessments to cover increasing costs for insurance, landscaping, or repairs and maintenance expenses as buildings get older. You’ll be selecting contractors, and sometimes they will do a poor job. Or, in trying to keep costs low you will choose fewer services and then owners will complain that they aren’t getting the service they “used to” receive. You are in charge of enforcing the Rules and Regulations and governing documents, making decisions on possibly fining owners that do not comply or enforcing them to remove that fence that is too tall. You just have to remember that all owners agreed to abide by the governing documents when they purchased in the community and apply the standards fairly and uniformly to everyone.

Don’t take it personally when someone acts inappropriately in response to you simply performing your duties as a board member. They are usually not mad at you but mad at the situation, and they may even apologize in the future.

Be prepared for these conflicting situations and act objectively knowing deep down you’re being a true community leader.

 

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How to Protect Your Home From Flooding and Other Disasters

In 2016, natural disasters accounted for $23.8 billion in covered losses in the United States. When a flood, storm, or other disaster unexpectedly shows up on your doorstep, it is already too late to take any protective measures. Although some damage cannot be prevented, there are some steps that you can take to reduce the harm to your home and protect your family in case of these events.

Flooding

In terms of sheer destruction and cost, flooding is one of the top natural disasters in the United States. Here is how to protect your home as much as possible:

  • Know your risk: Check flood maps to see if you are living in or near a flood-prone area.
  • Buy flood insurance.
  • Keep your most valuable belongings on a higher floor as well as any electronics.
  • Raise your home if possible, especially if you live in a modular or mobile home.
  • Elevate any appliances that you can to reduce potential damage to them. This mostly applies to appliances found in the basement including the washing machine, dryer, and furnace.
  • Install a sump pump. Make sure it has a backup that is powered by a battery in case of a power outage.
  • Seal any cracks in your home’s foundation and consider putting in a floor barrier. These waterproofing steps will help reduce the amount of water coming into the basement in the case of a flood.
  • Have a flood safety plan in place and learn your evacuation routes.

Keep in mind that there are many types of storms that can lead to flooding, but there are also other causes such as burst pipes, improperly sealed basements, and poor drainage systems.

Storms: Hail, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and Lightning

Early summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, which can bring storms that affect people thousands of miles away from the actual hurricane path. There are threats from many of the natural phenomena that can occur with a storm. Lightning, hail, heavy rains, and howling winds can do major damage to a home either directly or indirectly by causing other objects to crash into or fall on top of the home.

 

Hail

  • Use sturdy roofing materials to help protect against hail damage.
  • Keep cars in your garage or somewhere undercover nearby if you know that a storm is coming.

Tornadoes and Hurricanes

  • Consider reinforcing your roof with clips that attach the roof more securely to your home’s framing.
  • Seal roof joints with a moisture barrier to help protect against water intrusion.
  • Make sure to regularly trim trees around your home. This will ensure that there are fewer weak branches that can break off and come through a window.
  • Check door hinges and locks to make sure they are in good condition.
  • Put important belongings and papers in a safe that is fireproof and waterproof.
  • Regularly clean your gutters, as you will need all drainage systems working properly in the case of heavy rains.
  • Immediate preparation for tornadoes and hurricanes includes boarding windows, closing shutters, and bringing in anything that could be launched by heavy winds.
  • It is important to evacuate if directed to do so by local emergency services.

 

Lightning

  • Lightning during a storm as well as heat lightning can cause significant damage to a home.
  • To protect your home, there is the option to install a lightning protection system, which attracts the lightning, harnesses it, and then directs it away from your home.
  • It is also important to install surge protectors or to unplug everything when there is a threat of lightning, as a strike as far as a few miles away can cause a power surge that will destroy electronics and other systems in your home.

Animal Disasters

Even in the city, there is the risk of animals causing damage to your home. Rodents such as rats can get into the walls of your home and chew through wires, leading to the potential for fires. They can also spread germs and illnesses, especially to people with weakened immune systems, the very young, and the very old. Raccoons are notoriously smart and incredibly strong; they will rip off window screens and even tear holes in the roof to gain access to your home.

  • Eliminate easy access points by trimming tree limbs that hang over the roof.
  • Cover gutters with a fine mesh screen. Rodents love to use these as their personal highway and may be using it to get inside. They also tend to form nests in gutters, which blocks rainfall and can lead to flooding issues and water damage. Clean out the gutters before covering, or you will be stuck with the smell of dead rodents for some time.
  • Cover your trashcans securely. Don’t count on a lid keeping the raccoons out.
  • Eliminate bird feeders on the porch or very near the side of your home because other animals may come to feed, see themselves in the window’s reflection, and become confused and cause damage.
  • Cover outside food and bring in food dishes so that you do not end up with wild animals, including bears, on your property or even inside your home.

Natural disasters can be terrifying for anyone who experiences one. By taking steps now to help protect your home against potential damage, it can be one less thing on your mind while you focus on keeping your family safe.

Buying Vacant Land to Build a House — 6 Things to Do

Buying a finished home is a tricky process.

Building a house from the ground up isn’t any easier. Finding land for sale is the easy part — the real work happens as you move to turn your vision into reality.

The payoff is well worth the effort, though. If you’re truly committed to building a home of your own, you’ll want to do these six things in order.

1. Set Out Your Vision for the Parcel

First, set out a cohesive and comprehensive vision for the parcel. Early on, this vision will consist of broad strokes: placement of the main house and outbuildings, driveways and other rights of way, infrastructure improvements, and any special features you’d like to include.

Eventually, you’ll need to create a schematic that can pass muster with local zoning authorities. If you’re not up to the task, consider hiring a site planner.

2. Have Cash on Hand

Lenders are generally reticent to underwrite vacant land purchases. If you are able to secure a loan, it’s unlikely to cover more than 50% of the transaction. Shore up your cash position accordingly.

3. Get to Know the Property

Before you build, you need to be intimately familiar with the property: grading, timber coverage, wetland areas, existing rights of way or easements, neighboring uses. Consider conducting a proper land survey. The more you know upfront, the less likely you are to encounter serious issues during build-out.

4. Understand Local Codes

Understand your obligations under local zoning and building codes. These regulations vary widely by jurisdiction, so it’s important to check directly with local sources for up-to-date information. You’ll also need to understand for what, if anything, you’ll need to pull building permits and when, if ever, you’ll be required to file site plans or schematics with the proper authorities. Since this information could significantly affect your building plans, it’s important to ascertain it as soon as possible.

5. Feel Out Your Neighbors

Before you build, get to know your neighbors, or at least learn as much as is publicly available about the parcels adjoining your land. As long as your building plans comply with local zoning and building codes, your neighbors have limited recourse — but making the effort to reach out and explain your position nevertheless engenders good will.

6. Put Your Financial Plan in Motion

You’ll most likely need to finance the initial purchase of your vacant plot out of your own funds. Once that’s done, you’ll find it much easier to secure a loan to finance your lot’s build-out. Before you begin applying for loans, tally up your expected construction costs and research values for comparable homes in the area. You’ll need to make a convincing case.

A Home of Your Own

There’s no place like home.

That’s doubly true when “home” is a place you’ve helped create. If you’re prepared for the unexpected, building your own house is a rewarding, life-changing experience — one that will pay dividends for years to come.

 

3 Tips for Keeping Your Association Safe During the Winter

The weather in most places this year has been reasonably mild for December. However, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the time ahead as the temperatures continue to drop.  To err on the side of caution, HOA boards should be prepared with the best ways to protect building operations and residents. Here are some tips for keeping everyone safe and avoiding seasonal emergencies this winter.

 1. Check Your Walkways

Some of the most common types of winter injuries come from trips, falls, and slips on icy or wet surfaces. Patrol your community’s perimeter looking for any hazardous routes that could need attention. Apply salt to icy walkways, and have security keep watch for any potential areas that could be missed or become a hazard. If there’s a chance of your community getting lots of snow, have a plan for proper snow or ice removal.

2. Watch for Cold Rooms

Include routine security checks in your HOA emergency management program. Your security officer can be tasked with checking for rooms that could become unusually cold without monitoring, such as mechanical or electrical rooms, sprinkler rooms, fuel storage rooms, generator rooms, and parking garages. If you work with a property management company, let your manager know about the unusually low temperature. Otherwise, note it for yourself and continue monitoring in case you need to take action. Dropping temperatures can mean a risk of false alarms going off, frozen pipes, or HVAC issues. Being diligent about checking these possible hazards up front will help you prevent or prepare for temperature-related complaints from residents.

3. Keep Residents Informed

Make sure those in the community understand the risks involved during the winter months and how to respond in case of an emergency. For example, they will need to know their options for evacuation and safety in the event of a fire. It’s best to hold information sessions for your HOA going over the details. Send out email reminders, and maybe even give residents the instructions in print format, in case they don’t or aren’t able to attend the sessions. Make sure they understand their building’s approved fire safety plan.

And to ensure this information is readily available, it’s a good idea to schedule these sessions at least once a year, not just during the winter time.

These steps can greatly assist in keeping your HOA and residents safe and prepared for any potential hazards this holiday season. No one wants to have their family and celebration time interrupted by an unwelcome safety risk, so it’s best to keep everyone informed and safe.

Crucial Items to Be Reviewed By Your Board Each Year

Your HOA likely already has a list of events and to-dos for the association that must happen each year, such as inspections, renewals, and maintenance. But there are a few extra items that might get overlooked yet are essentials each year.

Here are some management areas your board and HOA management company will want to add to your calendar for reviewing once a year. Doing so can help your HOA in saving a lot of money on otherwise unanticipated emergencies.

Review Rules and Regulations 

It’s always a good idea to schedule a comprehensive review of your HOA’s rules and regulations to make sure they are still being fully followed and enforced.

Leases and Contracts

Look over all tenant leases to review renewal dates. It will also give your board a chance to discuss solutions for any problem tenants.

You’ll also wants to review your contracts with vendor and when they expire. Discuss how each member feels about the quality of work and whether or not you plan to renew the contract.

Security and Safety Plans

Re-evalutate your HOA’s disaster preparedness and recovery plan. Ensure everyone is up-to-date on any changes and understands their role in the plan.

Also, review any issues with security or safety that have been reported or noted in the last year and decide on a plan for continued resident and guest safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any condominium association boards will need to look over their Frequently Asked Question and Answer sheet at least once a year. Since a lot can change with an association in a year, you’ll want to make sure it is still accurate.

Emotional Support Animal Cases

All approved pets will need to checked annually, in case they have been retired from service. This is likely more relevant to 55+ or condominium communities.

Access Devices

If your HOA uses any devices for member access, such as gate cards, vehicle permit tickets, or other exclusive access items, protect your community and double check any inactive ones are no longer functioning.

The more steps toward prevention that your community board can take each year, the better equipped you will be in avoiding any unnecessary risks or challenges. Take the next step by ensuring these items on on your calendar.

Are You Being the Greatest Board Member You Can Be?

As an homeowners association board member, you may have realized that sometimes there’s a fine line between success and failure in the position. For example, sometimes issues can leave you in a gray area where you must use your best judgement or board member knowledge to proceed. Or you may promise you’re going to deliver on an improvement one day, but what truly matters is if you follow through.

Here are some tips from homeowners association managers that can help ensure you’re being the most efficient and responsible HOA board member you can be.

 Successful Board Member Traits

  • Understand your responsibilities and duties: A great board member will make sure they fully understand any contracts and governing documents for the HOA. These documents are detailed, so you must be willing to put in the hard work and time towards learning them.
  • Be respectful:  A bad board member constantly uses their power and knowledge as a vendetta against those they disagree with, or as a way to only benefit their friends. A responsible board member is respectful of everyone’s position and knows they are to use their position in lifting up the whole community.
  • Stay consistent: Board members must follow the rules, just like everyone else. Be careful to follow them at all times, setting a good example for all residents and owners. They are more likely to respect the rules if they see those in charge doing the same.
  • Be more than just a warm body: Great board members will do more than just show up for the HOA board meetings. Come with the intention to actively serve your community, and offer your assistance in all places you can. Be prepared to ask questions and answer them effectively. HOA members will feel secure knowing there are board members they can trust and rely on.
  • Show passion: If you are passionate about your association, others will catch that fire, and it can do amazing things! Sometimes it just takes one person to get people motivated for change.
  • Know when to ask for help, and do it: It’s important to realize when the board can benefit from outside work or opinions. If you continue with methods that are not getting the results you desire, it might be time to do what’s best for your association and consider hiring an HOA management company.

These are attributes that successful HOA board members process. If you find yourself or other board members lacking in certain aspects, you may want to work with other members, a committee, or a homeowners association manager to get you back on your feet.

Improving the Operational Effectiveness of Your Association

Does your homeowners association tend to run things a certain way because “that’s how you’ve always done it”? If the answer is yes, it’s time to start focusing more on improving your HOA’s operational effectiveness.

Operational effectiveness means opening your association up to new strategies and ideas, especially if they have the potential of working better than your current ones. Your board, your homeowners association management, and any committees your HOA has set up will need to understand operational effectiveness as they work together to better your community.

The HOA Board’s Role

Your association’s board of directors will need to make sure the association is acting according to the business side of things, such as the governing documents and your state’s regulations. Successful operation overall is especially important for the board to monitor.

The board will also need to manage anyone employed by the association and monitor their performance, just like any leader of a business should do. Board members can hire a property manager to do this while also giving recommendations about the sorts of changes to be made.

The Committees’ Role

If you haven’t already, consider creating committees to improve the effectiveness of your board. A committee’s main role is to focus on specific areas of interest or projects for the community and collect suggestions and other information concerning them.

It’s also very important that those on a committee have clear roles and be organized. Each committee will need to have a plan for when and how often meetings are held, their process for using funds, and when to report updates to the board.

The Management Team’s Role

An HOA management team can have several different units, depending on the needs of the community. Part of operational effectiveness involves making sure each facet is streamlined and integrated when it needs to be. You can work with an HOA management company to make this happen more smoothly.  An association manager can help you in finding areas to reduce costs of staffing and find the correct number of employees for your community to save money in the process.

Your manager can also help in updating your community with advanced systems and new technology to help streamline processes.

Staying up-to-date on the best practices for operational effectiveness and keeping your association on top of industry standards and advances is the best way to ensure your HOA and board are experiencing the most success.