As a HOA and Condo management specialist, we have certainly deal with our fair share of vastly different people who make up our community's board of directors. They come from all walks of life and from all different backgrounds. Some are very productive and accomplish numerous things for their community while others struggle to make even the smallest of decisions.
Over our 25 years of working with our board of directors, we have learned what it takes to have successful community leaders. We have come up with the Top 5 qualities that make up a successful HOA or Condo association board of directors.
5. – Balance
An efficient board of directors always has a well rounded balance about it. A balance of men and women of varying ages and backgrounds helps keep things interesting. Younger people tend to be more aggressive with their ideas wanting to look for alternatives to their current situation where older board members tend to be a bit more conservative and less resistant to radical change. The mixture of the two help avoid total chaos.
Varying backgrounds help add hands on knowledge to the group. Someone of a construction background would certainly be interested in a building or redesign project where as someone from a accountant background would have certainly be interested in the long term financial success of the association.
A diverse board of directors helps bring a different perspective to the table and helps ensures that the community is fully represented by all members of the association
4. – Common Sense
It is important for a board of directors to have a bit of “street smarts” or common sense when making community decisions. There are times which you have to stop, stand back and think about the situation
Community documents are written when the community is first established. Some HOA and condo communities have been around for 50 years, and over time, things do change. If your community has rules or policies that are agreed and no longer relevant, it is important for a board to know to stop the insanity and make the appropriate changes.
Having common sense usually means also not being stubborn and looking at the big picture. For Example, let's say you have an insurance claim because a storm took down a portion of your community fence. Your community has a $ 1000 deductible which is pretty standard. If the damage is say $ 1850, as a group it would be a wise decision to pay the repairs in cash instead of making the small claim. Why would they do this? Because extremely, the following year your promotions will most likely go up and will quickly eat into the $ 850 of short term cash savings that the community experienced over the short term.
3. – Communication
A board of directors that fails to communicate effectively fails to accomplish what they need to do for their HOA or condo community. This means not only amongst them as a board, but also working in sync with the current management company as well.
Every reputable association management company should have a plethora of communication options available for both your community's homeowners as well as the board. When a decision is needed from the board, it is critical that the board make sure that they can come together and make that decision. Weather a board is meeting in person, emailing back and forth, or even in a live chat room, it is important for the board to be able to communicate all the details of the issue, come to a decision, and do all of this in a timely manner.
Conveying what the board wants accomplished to the management company is just as important as the board making the community decisions. Some associations work best with a assigned point of contact on the board to communicate with the management company, to prevent a variance of opinions and extra confusion.
2. – Selfless and Unbiased
Being a HOA or condo association board of director means being a volunteer who represents the entire association in which you live. However, although a volunteer you do have minimal responsibilities that you must maintain.
There is no room on a community's board of directors for anyone that has an ax to grind. Do not even run for your association board if your only goal is to get your neighbor in trouble for all these years that he has annoyed you with his or her antics. Getting elected to the board also does not give you permission to hire your buddy as the landscaper and recommend community improvements that only affect your area of the neighborhood. All decisions need to be made with the overall interest of the entire community.
I have even witnessed witness to extreme cases in which board members, after serving their board term, attempt to enter the property management industry and attempt to take their community with them to another company. This is a very greasy business tactic and does not speak well of any ethics that you might be bringing to your new company. If you are not currently in the industry, and then you wake up one day thinking “I can do this” think again. As well as you may think you know your community, imagine catering to the needs of 10 more communities that are all completely different from yours with unique needs and expectations.
This stands alone as the number one factor in the success of an association board. Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.
In order for a community to thrive, it must have an active participation amongst the leaders. This means more than anything, doing all the little things:
- Attending all HOA related meetings possible – if your schedule does not allow it, do not volunteer
- Giving your vote when a decision is needed – making basic community decisions is a main role of being a board member
- Attending community events that you help plan – this sends the right community message to other homeowners
- Obeying the deed restrictions – do not be a hypocrite, these apply to you as well
- Maintaining financial responsibility – You do not want to be on the association aging report for fellow board members to see, it causes undo hostility amongst board members.
There is also a fine line between being active and involved, and being obsessed with your position. Remember, you are a volunteer with responsibility; this is not your career. If at any point you feel that you are taking on too much, or doing everything that's when you need to make some adjustments. Talk with your association management company to make sure you are on the same page with them. If something is not being done that the management agreement calls for, then bring it to their attention. Also, do not be afraid to distribute duties among the fellow board members. There are some people in a group that will sit back until called upon. They are your fellow board members, they are there to help as well.
There is no perfect recipe for a good HOA or Condo association board of directors. A well-run community does start with a committed group of community volunteers leading the charge and making wise decisions for the community as whole. Maintaining core values and maintaining the responsibilities of a HOA or condo association board of directors will lead to a well-run association.