Over the last 20 years, community association living has exploded across the United States. In Illinois alone, there are more than 25,000 associations. Homeowners have bought into associations with the hope that the experience will be less demanding than owning a single-family home and more enjoyable since there are other homeowners living closely together within the same community.
Unfortunately, more often than not, homeowners buy into community associations without realizing that there are duties and obligations as a homeowner that are amplified for those serving on the board.
Shortage of Volunteers
As a result of the unexpected time commitment required to serve on the board, there are frequently shortages of homeowners willing to serve as volunteer board members. In relation to this shortage, community associations around the United States struggle to find volunteers to serve on the board. Whether there is a 10 unit building with only 3 board of directors or a 100 unit building with a 7-person board, associations sometimes do not reach quorum to have an election or don’t have enough volunteers to fill the open positions.
Causes of Volunteer Shortage
In some cases, the governing documents are at fault. For example, there is one particular association that I know with only 13 units that requires a 7-person board according to their governing documents. How realistic is this? This is the fault of the developer who hired an attorney who used a boiler plate template from a larger building and did not bother to review the details of the document and just reused it for a smaller building.
In other circumstances, homeowners are reticent to volunteer due to their experience attending board meetings that were not well run and left a poor lasting impression upon them. Other causes include apathy or a lack of understanding of how important serving on your board can be. Regardless of the reasons for a shortage of homeowners, there are actually many strong reasons as to why homeowners should volunteer for the board.
Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Serve on Your Board:
10. Keep abreast with association issues. It is important to know what is going on around the association so you can determine what is important to address and what are the priorities. The more knowledgeable you are, the more effective you are as a board member and decision maker. This applies to other areas in life such as your career and personal life.
9. Develop relationships with the other homeowners. Contrary to popular belief, it is better to get to know the homeowners within your community than to avoid them. Eventually, you will need other people to serve on the board and you will need others to support your vision for the association.
8. Refine your decision-making skills. Believe it or not, serving on the board can enhance your decision-making skills and it is an excellent opportunity to do so. We all need to make decisions in life and if you have difficulty pulling the trigger when it comes to decision making, then jump on the board and use the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.
7. Leave a legacy. Imagine serving on the board and creating an amazing well-run community that is well funded, well maintained and has wonderful curb appeal. This is certainly possible if you get on the board and make it happen. And once you sell your unit, you will be very happy you invested the effort as your ROI will be well worth the time you spent.
6. Develop and enhance leadership skills. Serving on the board is NOT a thankless job. It is an opportunity to refine your leadership skills. All employers are looking for employees with some level of leadership skills and the better your leadership skills, the more valuable you will become for your company. Even for those who are self-employed have opportunities to become a better leader by volunteering for the board.
5. Learn to work as a team. There is no “I” in teamwork and it is important that the board work together as a team. Whether you work for a company or are self-employed, you will need to work with others and volunteering for the board is a great way to enhance teamwork skills.
4. Learn the art of displeasing. This is one of the more significant challenges of serving on the board for some people. For example, some board members have a really difficult time raising assessments because they think the other homeowners will be upset. In actuality, the consequence of not raising assessments is worse. The association then cannot pay for necessary repairs and will have to steeply raise assessments down the road or will almost certainly have to pass a special assessment. Get on the board and learn to displease with ease and you will reap the benefits of this important skill set.
3. Directly influence the resale value of your investment. Everyone wants to reap a financial reward for their investment. By serving on the board, you have a direct say and impact on your ROI.
2. Enhance your ability to influence others. Don’t you want to learn how to better influence others? Serving on the board is a great way to learn this skill set especially if you want to get something done that is not a popular idea. For example, let us say you want to redecorate the interior lobby of the main entrance and it is not popular with the other board members. Do you stop and give up? No, you find a way to influence the other board members and find a way to convince them of all the wonderful benefits of enhancing the lobby through a redesign.
1. Determine who is the management company. This is a huge reason and a reason alone to serve on the board. The difference in the quality of management services from one company to the next is often times very large. And if you care enough about your assessments and how they are spent, then this is a great reason to volunteer and make a difference on who is the associations’ management company.
Many people who buy into an association do not attend board meetings and don’t ever serve on the board for various reasons. However, the reasons to serve on the board far outweigh the reasons to not serve on the board when you really get down to it. Make a difference, enhance your professional skills, and serve on the board. You will reap the rewards and gain from it in more ways than one.
Salvatore J. Sciacca is the nation’s foremost expert in the community property management industry. With over 30 years of real estate property management experience and as a former
board member of a 56-unit condominium association, Salvatore’s extensive knowledge in the community property management industry has resulted in a transformation in the way property
management companies serve community associations throughout the Chicagoland area. He is also the President and Founder of Chicago Property Services, Chicago’s #1 condo management company specializing in management and operations of condominiums, townhomes,
and HOA’s of 100 units and under.
Salvatore J. Sciacca
Chicago Property Services
Chicago Condo Management Experts
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