Top 10 Reasons Why Homeowners Should Attend Board Meetings. A Primer for board members, homeowners and community property management professionals.
By Salvatore J. Sciacca – Chicago Property Services. www.chicagopropertyservices.com, 312.455.0107 x102
Are you a homeowner and are you part of a condo association, townhome association or HOA? What is your desired community living experience given that you are part of an association? Are you looking to maximize your living experience within the community or are you simply satisfied with homeownership and are not looking to get involved within the community? More likely than not, you are looking to maximize the benefits of living within a community. As a result, it is important to know the best ways to accomplish your community living goals. Community living has many perks if you know the secrets to maximizing the benefits.
Virtual Board Meetings
So how do you maximize the benefits? One of the most important ways to ensure benefit is to attend the board meetings. Yes, I know. This is asking a lot especially in today’s busy world. You probably are thinking that you have many more important things to do other than attend association board meetings. But I can assure you that the time investment required is well worth it. These days, the board meetings are probably held virtually via an online conferencing tool such as WebEx, Gotomeeting or Zoom. Over the next several months, the board meetings will probably start to take place in person as the State of Illinois is in Phase IV and hopefully continues toward Phase V and further loosening of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Ironically, most people do not attend board meetings. Some homeowners attend board meetings at first but then stop attending. Others attend board meetings only if the board is proposing to increase the assessments or have a complaint to share with the board. While others do not attend because they are too busy. Another group of homeowners probably do not attend the meetings because they do not feel that attending the board meetings is a productive use of their time. Regardless of the reasons why homeowners attend or don’t attend board meetings, it is important to note that the highly effective and efficient board meetings are the most important element of a functioning community association. As a result, I would like to share the top 10 reasons as to why homeowners should attend the board meetings:
- Get to know the neighbors. This is critical for many different reasons. If you have a leak coming from your neighbor’s unit, you don’t want to be knocking on a stranger’s door for the first time when there is a water leak issue. It is also great to have friends close by in the event you need a cup of milk in case you are baking banana bread late at night and the grocery stores are all closed.
- Get to know the board of directors. You want to have a good relationship with the board of directors. The better you know them, the more influence you might have on the community even without having to serve on the board. Also, in the event there is some conflict between you and the association or another homeowner, it is better to know the board than to be a stranger to the board.
- Learn about upcoming projects. The more you are in the know, the more you can plan out your finances. Often, the board plans capital projects years in advance and in some cases, they might involve special assessments. If you are selling your unit, it is really important to know things that are happening currently and in the near future as well.
- Express your opinion on important topics. Do you love expressing your opinion? Your opinion matters especially for board members that want to hear from homeowners. The board of directors typically have the final say on most everything that goes on around the association. However, some boards do seek input from homeowners and the best way to have a say is to attend the board meeting.
- Influence the board of directors on their decision making. Do you want to have an impact on the association without necessarily serving on the board? Maybe the board is looking to remodel the lobby, stairwells, and hallways. If your association has committees, then you might consider participating on one of the committees that interest you. Otherwise, make sure to attend the board meeting and speak up and have your say.
- Give support to the board members. Board members really appreciate it when homeowners attend the board meetings and show their appreciation for their dedication and service. Board members are spending their personal time helping run the association in an unpaid capacity and it is important for the homeowners to show appreciation for their fellow board members.
- Volunteer for association projects. Do you have a specific skill set that can benefit the community? Perhaps you are an attorney, an interior designer, or a project manager. Why not attend the board meetings and contribute some of your time and efforts towards association projects? This is a great way to ensure that projects are successfully completed.
- Create a working relationship with the property manager. You may not realize this but sooner or later you will probably need to communicate with the property manager of your association. And the better you know the manager and the better your working relationship with the manager, the better he/she will respond and support your request. It is just human nature.
- Get better response times when you need something. The same is true when you contact a fellow homeowner or board member. The better you know them, the better the response will be. When you need something, you will want a timely response and your odds are stacked in your favor if you are reaching out to someone you know and have built a relationship with previously.
- Build a network within the community that can enhance your career. What is the best way to build a referral network? Create it through your network of friends and family. So why not create friendships with your fellow homeowners and board members and use it to your advantage.
Why should you attend the board meetings? Is it to file complaints about noisy neighbors? Or to complain about the rising assessments? The initial reaction from most owners is to avoid them and deal with community association maters only when necessary. Although this might seem like a fair and logical approach, the opposite is true. Attend the board meetings, get to know your neighbors, board members and management staff and reap the rewards. It is a great investment and a guaranteed payback.