Today, many people across North America live in a homeowners’ association (HOA), and more than half of U.S. homeowners call an HOA home. The appeal is understandable, as HOAs typically provide neighborhood amenities, standards for property maintenance and aesthetics, an avenue to address resident concerns, and the potential for higher resale values. But a poorly run HOA can lead to homeowner dissatisfaction. Here are five ways board members can foster a positive homeowner experience.
1. Encourage connections.
From the very beginning, strive to create a welcoming, friendly, inclusive environment. Develop a new homeowner welcome packet that goes beyond the required legal information. Include details about social events and organizations within the community. Ask nearby restaurants, dry cleaners, nail salons, and pet groomers for coupons or promotional offers available to new residents. Also, consider other ways to connect, such as:
- Soliciting ongoing feedback from homeowners throughout the year. Homeowners who know their ideas are welcomed by the board tend to have a more positive relationship with the HOA and are more supportive of and compliant with rules and procedures.
- Hosting social events and making sure board members attend. The more homeowners get to know their neighbors and board members, the more likely they are to become involved with the HOA. Include neighborhood children with activities like guided trail tours and events at the neighborhood park.
2. Communicate often.
As a board member, you must never forget that your homeowners are your constituents. HOAs generate their operating funds by collecting fees, fines, and assessments from association members. This money allows the HOA to carry out its responsibilities, so residents deserve to have full knowledge of how that money is being spent and a voice in all decisions. Communicate openly and frequently with homeowners. Inform them of upcoming board meetings, elections, and opportunities to serve on committees using a multimedia approach, such as a combination of emails, social media, and notices on the HOA website and newsletter.
And don’t overlook your fellow board members. Thank them and acknowledge their hard work by expressing appreciation and recognition throughout the year.
3. Be responsive.
Community leaders and managers should be accessible and respond quickly to homeowner concerns and questions. It might take some time to resolve a situation or answer a specific question, but best practice is to immediately email the homeowner and let them know that you’ve received their communication and are looking into the matter.
If possible, include an approximate date when you’ll be able to provide additional information.
4. Be flexible.
At its core, an HOA exists to serve its residents. While it’s important to be consistent, it’s equally important to know when to be flexible. For example, some communities schedule a green waste day in the fall to allow homeowners to dispose of large bags of leaves and tree limbs—items not usually picked up as part of routine weekly trash service. This might always be on the calendar for the second week of September, but if the weather has been exceptionally warm and most of the leaves are still on the trees, it may make more sense to reschedule the date of green waste pickup to early October.
Being flexible and working to reschedule the pickup for a date most beneficial to your homeowners shows you’re truly committed to serving their needs.
5. Maintain professionalism.
Make smart, strategic decisions that address both short-term and long-term objectives. As a board member, it’s necessary to be action-oriented and decisive, but it’s just as crucial to be competent and caring. Address board members whose primary objective is to serve their own self-interests and strive to create an atmosphere of trust, responsiveness, and transparency. Exhibit professionalism by:
- Choosing vendors that project professionalism. They should always be friendly and respectful when interacting with your homeowners.
- De-escalating tough situations by remaining level-headed, knowledgeable, and non-confrontational.
- Enforcing rules consistently and fairly.
Dispel the Misconceptions About Living in an HOA
For homeowners, moving into an HOA is a very big decision that may come with many preconceived notions about living in a managed community. Board members play a key role in helping dispel those misconceptions. In our ebook, “7 Common Misconceptions About HOAs,” we reveal the often-heard misconceptions and highlight what’s myth versus fact when it comes to living in an HOA.