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HOA Living 101: The Best Advice You Can Get About Serving on Your HOA Board

As a board member, you’re responsible for balancing the needs and obligations of the community with those of individual owners. Your fellow neighbors trust you to fulfill your fiduciary duty of acting within your authority, exercising due care, and always working in the best interest of the association. To help you become the best board member you can be, we asked experts to weigh in and share the advice they would give to someone who has never served on an HOA board of directors. Here’s what they had to say.  

  1. Leave your personal agendas at home.

“As an elected leader, you need to look out for the good of the community. Refrain from just taking on your own pet projects or focusing on your friends and neighbors - every decision you make needs to be unbiased and beneficial to all members. Enforce all rules fairly and don’t give variances to some people because they are nice and enforce on others because they ate the last hot dog at the community picnic.”

–  Jesse Dubuque, CMCA®, General Manager, Associa Minnesota

  1. Speak as one voice. 

“All board members choose to serve for their own reasons and not all decisions are shared as a unanimous vote. However, it’s important to remember that when you step out of your meetings, you represent the board as a whole. This helps eliminate unnecessary confusion within the community and with any outside vendors or management and will prove that you’re working as a united front in the best interest of the community.”

- Erin Baker, Regional Sales Director

  1. Understand that disagreements will happen.

“Disagreement is inevitable, and you cannot eliminate it. What you can do is control the tone and nature of the disagreement.”

– Mark Dodge, CMCA®, AMS®, President, Desert Resort Management

  1. Don’t take things personally.

“Sometimes it’s very hard to separate the message from the messenger, especially when dealing with something as personal as your home. That’s why the ability to not take things personally is so important. Homeowners can be abusive with their language, and oftentimes it’s unintentional. When tempers flare, remember that you are an elected leader and shouldn’t rise to the bait. If you have a track record of being calm, consistent and fair, you’ll be a respected neighborhood leader and homeowners will know you have the best interest of the community at heart, even if they disagree with a ruling.”

–  Jesse Dubuque, CMCA®, General Manager, Associa Minnesota

  1. Listen to the professionals.

“Don’t rely on your own expertise or lack thereof. The best board members realize they aren’t the experts and that they must rely on the opinions of outside professionals to help guide them in their decision-making processes.”

–  Janis Schock, CCAM®, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Branch Director, Associa Northern California