7 Steps to Creating An Amazingly THRIVING Community Association
Why Do People Live In a Community Association?
In the US, there are now 350,000 community associations with 66.8 million or 22% of the US population living in them. Compare this to 1970 when there were only 10,000 communities and only 2.1 million people living in them.
So why are more and more people moving towards community living?
Well the theory goes something like this. It’s CHEAPER and much more CONVENIENT and MAINTENANCE FREE than living in a single family home. Homeowners move in and connect with the fellow homeowners while having the opportunity to volunteer their time for the betterment of the homeowners of the community. Furthermore, volunteer board members get to make decisions for the good of the community and the betterment of the lives of the homeowners. And the best part of all is that the homeowners get to support their neighbors and fellow homeowners even in difficult times such as a divorce or death in the family. This all leads to community living at its FINEST.
Community living in theory is not reflective of community living in reality
The only problem is that the above statements are not reflective of the current situation in community living. It certainly seems that the concept of community living has not reached its full potential. In some ways, it seems like community living is more like the opposite. In my experience as a CEO of a community management company for the past 15 years, people are more likely to avoid condo meetings rather than attend them. People are more likely to avoid interaction with their neighbors than to reach out. And most of the board of directors that I have asked have stated that they tried to have a social event for the community and no one showed up.
There are 7 steps to creating an AMAZINGLY thriving community
So what are the solutions to turn the tide of disconnectedness with communities? I believe there are solutions. In fact, I have come up with 7 concrete concepts that I believe will turn average community living into AMAZINGLY thriving community living. Here are those seven key elements.
- Effective Board Meetings. The single most important element of a high functioning community association is having HIGHLY effective and efficient board meetings. In order to have effective board meeting, the board must properly prepare as well as have clarity of the desired outcome which would include making decisions that are for the overall good of the community over the long term.
- Excellent Communication. This means open and transparent board meetings as well as regular emails and notices sent and shared with the community. This also means communicating the vision and long term plan of the board and for the association. More is BETTER when it comes to communication.
- Capital Planning. Planning well in advance for high dollar capital expenditures is absolutely critical for the financial well being of the association as well as for generating the highest ROI for the homeowners that choose to sell and leave the community. Plan at least 5 years in advance and further out if at all possible and in accordance with state laws where applicable.
- Property Maintenance. It is ALWAYS better to take a proactive approach to property upkeep versus waiting for the physical infrastructure or common elements to fall into disrepair. Besides, it usually ends up costing more by waiting until things are beyond repair. So why not come home to a beautifully landscaped HOA community that puts a smile on your face? Why not come home to a condo association that has professionally decorated stairwells and hallways that have expertly matching colors?
- Financial Controls. There is nothing more stressful for the board and homeowners than when the association is a victim of fraud. Associations across the nation are victims of fraud on a growing basis year after year. Take aggressive measures TODAY to ensure the association is properly protected. Don’t assume ANYTHING regardless of who the community management company is or who the treasurer is especially of a self-managed association. Ensure controls are in place and contact a CPA firm that specializes in forensic investigations of community association fraud if you need assistance in these important matters.
- Homeowner Engagement. Do you realize how important this is in order to create a THRIVING community? This is incredibly important. The benefits are tremendous. How do you improve homeowner engagement when there is general apathy? Simple. Start by having contests, rewards and recognition for the homeowners that come to the events. Start recognizing people’s birthdays by sending out an email to the community members recognizing the individual’s birthday and share something about the homeowner. This will get people engaged into the community before you know it. Then build on the momentum by having regular social events.
- Resale Values. Homeowners want to turn a profit when it comes time to sell. The question is whether or not board of directors are thinking about the ROI of the community members when they defer capital projects, when they pass budgets that are clearly under-funding the reserve account and when they don’t bother to repaint the hallways and stairwells for 10 years. Raising the assessment might not be popular but the board of director’s responsibility is to run the association for the long term success of the community.
Community living is about connecting with fellow homeowners. It’s about knowing the neighbors and getting to know them on a personal level. It’s about taking pride in home ownership and sharing your talents with others within your community. Community living is not about avoiding board meetings, keeping a low profile and staying out of site from the fellow homeowners. If you follow these 7 steps, I can assure you that you will more than likely transform your community into a place that you would never imaging possible. And you might actually never want to leave.
About the Author
Salvatore J. Sciacca aka “Condoboss” is one of the nation’s leading experts in the community property management industry and is also recognized for his stress relieving blogs and insight on personal and organizational transformation. He is also the President and Founder of Chicago Property Services, Chicago’s #1 community property management company specializing in management and operations of condos/townhomes/HOA’s of 100 units and under. Salvatore is also the founder of managmycommunity.com (MMC), which is a state-of-the-art online support portal for community associations.
With over 20 years of industry experience, Salvatore is recognized for his extensive knowledge of capital planning, preventative maintenance, cost-saving measures and community building techniques. He holds industry stature as a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), the designation of Association Management Specialist (AMS) and is fully licensed as a manager (License #: 261.001386) through the State of IL.
Salvatore has also traveled extensively around the world and has meditated with Buddhist monks in Nepal and met the world’s happiest man, Matthieu Ricard. He’s passions include cooking, traveling, meditating and hiking. He is also the founder and executive director of the Chicagoland Italian American Professionals organization and an amateur chef.
Salvatore can be reached at: 312.455.0107 x102 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.