5 Reasons to Give Thanks for Your HOA

As you’re prepping the turkey and stuffing and planning any travel to see family members this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to use it as an opportunity to give thanks for everything in your life — including your homeowners association!

Here are five reasons to give special thanks for your community this year (and every year):

The Sense of Community

This one might be pretty obvious, but it’s too often overlooked and not remembered enough. Being in a homeowners association often provides a great sense of community, especially if your board holds regular social events and meetings to bring everyone together. This encourages others to join and draw in quality community members that care about where they live. If you can, even plan a Thanksgiving-themed event in the association that everyone can enjoy before having their personal celebrations.

 

Special Amenities

Many HOAs have their own pools, clubhouses, gyms, and other amenities that normally most homeowners wouldn’t have themselves. Those are great reasons to be thankful for what’s provided to the community.

 

Maintenance Services

Maintenance services provided in most HOAs cover areas, such as buildings and landscaping, that homeowners and community members don’t have to worry about. This can save a lot of money and hassle, especially for those who have disabilities or aren’t home enough to handle certain aspects of maintenance.

 

More Security

Most associations have enhanced security and a better sense of safety than properties outside of an association. This is increased when the sense of community is strong. Security might include patrols at night, private gates or security systems, or a neighborhood watch program. Either way, feeling secure where you live is a great reason to be thankful.

 

Community Volunteers

Any board member knows the struggle involved with getting some community members to volunteer for positions, so be thankful for those who do show interest or volunteer their time to devote to the association. And be thankful for yourself, too! Being on the Board of Directors is not an easy task, but it’s a noble position that benefits everyone in your community.

Being a member of an HOA includes many reasons to be thankful each year, and taking some time to recognize those can go a long way. You might include some of these reasons in your weekly newsletter to members, and let them know you’re thankful for them being a part of the community too!

How to Make Sure Your HOA Homeowners are Heard

Although board members in an HOA are responsible for making important decisions in the association, it should be noted that decisions affect every homeowner. Thus, it’s important to be sure all homeowners are still given a voice and an opportunity to be heard in the community.

Here are the top tips for making sure your HOA homeowners are heard:

#1 Communicate News and Updates

Figure out the methods of communication your homeowners most prefer, and use them to communicate regularly. If your homeowners are generally older, you might want to stick with mail or email; but if they include the younger crowd, it might be a good idea to use social media accounts and an HOA website for most updates.

#2 Give Homeowners a Place to Speak Up

As much as it’s great to keep homeowners up-to-date, you still won’t be hearing what they have to say by just sending updates. So make sure the communication is a two-way street. Encourage owners to submit their concerns and opinions on a website forum, through surveys, or communicate with your community on social media.

You can also make sure time is set aside for owners at each board meeting  to speak their minds. Update them on when the meetings are scheduled to be held and the topics that will be discussed. Your HOA manager can help with arranging this.

#3 Only Communicate When Needed

Remember that it’s not necessary to get input from homeowners every time. Research reaching out to homeowners for times when you’re making a decision on something that really affects them, such as making changes to amenities or proposing big projects that could change their monthly fees.

As an HOA board member, part of your responsibility is to make decisions that are best for the community. So when it’s important, reach out to homeowners so they have a chance to voice their concerns and opinions as well. Figure out which means of communication is best for your community and utilize it to the best of your ability.

Labor Day Weekend Block Party Tips

shutterstock_150294503Most of the kids are back in school and next week is Labor Day weekend – typically the final event of the summer before everyone transitions into fall. End the summer right in your homeowners association by holding a block party and encouraging your neighbors to come out and have some fun. By having everyone pitch in it will make planning less stressful and further encourage participation.

Have each family bring a different dish. On your invitation, assign different parts of the neighborhood to bring different types of foods and drinks. Certain streets can bring side dishes and others desserts, or all odd numbered homes on a block can bring a case of bottled water. Having each family bring their own grillables will also help cut down on cost.

Ask for volunteers. From serving food to helping with music, extra hands are needed everywhere. Form a planning community to make sure everything is taken care of.

Be prepared. Secure any necessary permits ahead of time if you need to block access to roads, and have a plan should the weather not cooperate.

Keep it simple. You don’t need extravagant games and events to make sure everyone has fun. Clothespin drop, sack races, bean bag toss, bubblegum bubble contests, and ‘minute to win it’ style games are simple and fun for attendees of all ages.

Be safe. Make sure whoever is handling the grill knows what they are doing and have a bucket of water or garden hose nearby. It’s also a good idea to set up a first aid station for scraped knees and other minor injuries.

Most importantly, have fun and get to know your neighbors. In homeowners associations, knowing your neighbors not only enhances the community and friendships, but is also good for safety. Have a happy Labor Day weekend!

Community Curb Appeal

As a community matures, landscaping in older communities may show signs of aging. This is the time of year that many boards across the country are considering different ways to update and enhance their landscaping. It’s a good financial investment that can enhance the curb appeal, add direct value to individual residences, and increase the quality of life in an association.

So, what are a few ways established communities can renovate and upgrade its green spaces?

Have a plan – It’s hard to know where to start if you don’t know what you want. Find a professional to partner with – an architect or seasoned contractor – and share your vision. Your partner will help you navigate the thought process by focusing on high impact areas first, then smaller areas. Breaking large spaces down into sections, prioritizing them and then figuring out what is needed is crucial – and the right partner will develop the plan with you, in order to achieve your vision.

Establish a regular program to replace plant material – Select new plants that tie in to your present landscape configuration. Also, choose plants that will bloom at different times of the year, so there is always some natural color around to brighten the view.

Replace shrubs – Shrubs have a relatively short life span – around ten years. They are often replaced or removed because of declining health or incorrect location. Consider replacing with drought-tolerant shrubs; they can thrive in either sunlight or shade, and also will bloom during the year.

Use ground cover – Converting small lawn areas or other greenbelt areas to ground cover, dwarf shrubs or tall grasses will often reduce maintenance and water costs. Associations with a well-conceived water conservation program can save money and better protect the value of their property.

Replace trees – Traditionally, communities planted Eucalyptus, Ficus and Melaleucas trees, which can grow large enough to crack curbs and gutters, lift sidewalks, and create hazards. When considering replacement tree options, research to find out how big the tree will be in 10 to 15 years, and the required maintenance. For example, trees that drop leaves in the fall mean more maintenance expenses.

Upgrade Irrigation – Old systems typically don’t provide much water conservation, while newer systems can be programmed to make every drop count.  Many communities have reduced water consumption by up to 20 to 30 percent. Your landscape contractor can help to design the best system for you with new sprinklers, a hose system with emitters, or smart clocks.

Landscape is usually one of the largest and often the most visual part of a community. Enhancing it not only brings enjoyment to your residents, but it’s an investment that can increase property values. Check with local landscape professionals for help with making appropriate plant selections.

Lucinda Hoe
Executive VP Property Services
N.N Jaeschke, Inc.

Neighborhood Association: Why Neighborhoods Matter

Your neighborhood association can help build a community that connects people.  It helps provide safety and a sense of community.  Great neighborhood associations also empower people and encourage participation in community activities.  And, they provide a safe environment for children to socialize outside the family.

A strong neighborhood provides the foundation for families and creates the building blocks for a better America.  That’s why neighborhoods matter so much and why AAM is committed to providing the highest levels of community management.

To create great neighborhoods, we recognize we need to listen to those we serve.  Therefore, we’d like you to take a few moments to explain why your neighborhood matters to you.  Our brief neighborhood survey should only take about three to five minutes to complete.

The information collected from the survey will help us understand how members prefer to interact within their neighborhood.  In addition, we’ll get better ideas on how to enhance the process.  After submitting your completed survey, you’ll be automatically entered into a monthly drawing for a $50 gift card.

Continue to read the Associated Asset Management Blog for information about Neighborhood Association.