Three Templates Every HOA Should Have!

Three Templates Every HOA Should Have!

Burke Nielsen Sending out violation letters, entering invoices, issuing work orders, attending meetings, following up on action items -- managers and board members have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. Using HOA templates can be a great way to reduce project time and maintain consistency. Download HOA templates here. Read More...
Why Are HOA Reservations Such a Pain?

Why Are HOA Reservations Such a Pain?

Burke Nielsen Common amenities are the reason many home buyers choose to live in common interest communities. They have visions of relaxing by the pool, family reunions at the park pavilion, and movie night with friends in the clubhouse theater. But sharing these common facilities with hundreds of neighbors can be challenging. That's where HOA reservations come in. Read More...
Avoiding HOA Meeting Déjà Vu

Avoiding HOA Meeting Déjà Vu

Rachel Richardson One of the hardest things a property manager must do is manage, process and respond to abounding information. I was reminded of this when I read a recent forum on the subject of ‘motion spreadsheets.’ By my understanding, the question was — what is the best way to keep a searchable history of the Boards decisions (motions). Read More...
Millennial Takeover: the Changing HOA Demographic

Millennial Takeover: the Changing HOA Demographic

Meredith Pond Millennials are sometimes called Generation Y: those who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. Millennials will represent the largest group of American home buyers in 2017, at 33%, and many will turn to HOAs to make home ownership a better fit for their lifestyle. This is a good thing for your community, but this new HOA demographic can change the way you manage. Read More...
HOA Fees — Hated or Just Misunderstood?

HOA Fees — Hated or Just Misunderstood?

Burke Nielsen Nearly every homeowner in a condo or HOA has asked themselves at one time or another “What do the HOA fees pay for”. The answer is different for every community but the fact is the average homeowner doesn’t know where HOA fees are spent. Heck, you probably have a better idea where the homeless guy is going to spend the 2 dollars you gave him this morning. But every member of the HOA should know where the money is going — or at least be able to easily find out. Read More...
Choosing the Right HOA Management Company

Choosing the Right HOA Management Company

Burke Nielsen When looking for a new manager where do you look? Internet search, the phone book, your local CAI chapter, word of mouth — all of these are fine options — okay maybe not the phone book, after all it's holding up the shelf in the bookcase. The point is, it doesn't really matter where you look, it's what you look for that's key. Read More...
A Clever Name For a Closed HOA Meeting

A Clever Name For a Closed HOA Meeting

Burke Nielsen The work meeting gives boards the opportunity to get stuff done between regular meetings. But a work meeting is a magical meeting that doesn’t require notification of owners because, well… They aren’t invited. They aren’t invited because in theory, it’s not a meeting at all. No minutes are taken, no motions are made, and no decisions are reached. Sounds pretty good! right? Read More...
Who Runs the (CAM) World?

Who Runs the (CAM) World?

Tanoa Lynne Poirier As I was completing a busy morning that began with a 6:00 AM meeting with my husband and business partner, Robert, I also attended to a sick pet, fed and watered four cats, sent a slew of e-mails, and started making breakfast (spinach omelettes with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon and cheddar) which I happily do every day. In the meantime, I remembered that we’re having pot roast for dinner, so I prepared the roast for the slow cooker, and began to get ready for the day. Game on, girlfriend! Read More...
Funding HOA Reserves For the Common Good

Funding HOA Reserves For the Common Good

Robert N Roop Homeowner’s association boards are elected community members who are tasked to look after the shared amenities and physical assets of the community. And to ensure that each of these assets will maintain its value over time, a carefully planned reserve study should be conducted by the association to properly allocate the monetary resources necessary for any maintenance or improvements of the amenities and assets in the future. Read More...
The Perfect Hire for Community Management

The Perfect Hire for Community Management

Burke Nielsen When hiring, we look for skills in customer service, communication, and leadership (among other things). While these skills are great, and even essential for good community managers it seems that excellent community managers possess something extra – But what is it? These 4 qualities of excellent managers may not always be obvious at first but are the key to to what makes an excellent manager. Read More...
HOA Enforcement Without the Force

HOA Enforcement Without the Force

Meredith Pond As an HOA manager, you walk a fine line. You need to enforce the rules, but you don't want to alienate everyone. You need to stay professional, but your role demands friendliness. While it's your job to point out when people are skirting the by-laws, you have to do so in a tactful way. In other words, you're expected to strike a perfect balance between Darth Vader and Mother Teresa (even more awkward than it sounds). Read More...
Common Amenities — Make Them Pay for Themselves!

Common Amenities — Make Them Pay for Themselves!

Tina Larsson Start with amenities that can bring in the most money to the association for the lowest up front cost. This way, the first added amenity can pay for the next one; and so on. Adding advertising in the form of signs or billboards can be revenue generators, but are not allowed in many residential areas. However, ATM machines bring in revenue, can be thought of as an amenity by some, and do not take up a lot of room. Read More...
Does You Have a HOA Waste Policy?

Does You Have a HOA Waste Policy?

Waste problems affect everyone in a given area whether it is dog droppings or a mound of stinking refuse. They not only blight an otherwise lovely looking neighborhood, but they provide a real health and environmental risk. Accumulated waste material attracts flies, vermin, disease, and can leak into the local water and soil, contaminating local wildlife. They also, seriously affect house, apartment and condo prices. Read More...
The Difference in Common Interest Communities

The Difference in Common Interest Communities

Burke Nielsen No matter what kind of community you live in there are perks and restriction. In common interest communities, these perks and restrictions have a lot to do with the differences in the type of community it is and what you really own. Many buyers don't give a second thought to the difference between a condo and a townhouse. But these distinctions can make a difference especially when it comes to rules, fees, and amenities. Read More...
HOA Renters are People, Too

HOA Renters are People, Too

Meredith Pond HOA Renters are sometimes stereotyped as dead-beats who don't maintain the home or take care of the yard. Surrounding residents might see them as more transient, lacking the same level of attachment to the neighborhood as those who buy a home and intend to stick around. Read More...
D&O Insurance — Is Your HOA Covered?

D&O Insurance — Is Your HOA Covered?

Scott Hirschi Homeowner Association and Condo boards have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the community as a whole, follow the law, and protect the assets and financial stability of the community. Proper insurance plays a major role in fulfilling that duty. But many board members are unsure if they have the right coverage — even worse some think they're covered when they really aren’t. Read More...
Common Area Political Statement

Common Area Political Statement

Burke Nielsen These expressions of our first amendment rights can take many forms from kneeling during the national anthem, to flying a flag or a peaceful demonstration. These protests can raise awareness for a cause and be a driving force for positive change. But on the flip side they can generate hostility, divide us, and damage relationships. This is especially true in our communities and neighborhoods. Read More...
The Holly Jolly HOA

The Holly Jolly HOA

Meredith Pond From Halloween through the New Year, there are all sorts of opportunities to celebrate, decorate…and break every HOA rule in the book. But while you love the festivities as much as anyone else, you still have community standards to maintain. All too often, adherence to rules about decorations and such can put a damper on your delicate image. Read More...
HOA Legal Costs — Who’s Running Up The Bill?

HOA Legal Costs — Who’s Running Up The Bill?

John Richards Too often, board members will meet and discuss an issue or project that they need to discuss with their attorney and will not appoint a board member to contact the attorney. Before they know it, all board members have contacted one or multiple attorneys for legal advice regarding the same exact issue. As a result, the association will have to pay twice the amount, if not more, for duplicative work on the same project. Read More...
Should Owners Really Read The HOA CC&R?

Should Owners Really Read The HOA CC&R?

Burke Nielsen Don't get me wrong — I'm not saying that homeowners shouldn't read the CC&Rs. In fact, homeowners who take the time to educate themselves on the rules are valuable, and they’re the ones that usually end up leading their community on boards and committees. But next time you find yourself frustrated that they don't know or understand the rules — Maybe the question you should be asking is: “How can I inform homeowners better?” Read More...
The Buzz-Killing HOA — Don’t Let It Be You

The Buzz-Killing HOA — Don’t Let It Be You

Meredith Pond As an HOA manager, you probably run the organization like a business — and that's not a bad thing. After all, you have goals, budgets, and projects to worry about, just like any other business entity. But while you're focused on the workings of the organization, you also need to keep sight of the fact that an HOA — at it's foundation — is about people. Read More...
Making Smart HOA Budget Cuts

Making Smart HOA Budget Cuts

Tina Larsson HOA Managers and Board Members are constantly struggling with increasing costs, which they have to pass on to HOA members. For this exercise, the reason why costs are increasing isn't that relevant. The important point to remember when it comes to increases is that they usually increase, on average, at a rate greater than inflation. Read More...
HOA Records — Save or Shred?

HOA Records — Save or Shred?

John Richards Many community associations maintain documents and records for many years, even decades. Most state laws require that owners be allowed to inspect records of the association under specific conditions, but the inspection right is broad. In some cases homeowners will request documents in an effort to conduct a witch-hunt against the HOA. So how long do you keep records, and what records need to be kept? Read More...
New FHA Law & Your Rental Cap

New FHA Law & Your Rental Cap

Douglas C. Shumway One of the things that creates an obstacle for some associations in obtaining FHA certification is the requirement that 50% of the units must be owner-occupied. A new law changes this requirement, however, in a way that benefits condo associations, purchasers, and developers. On July 29, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (passed by unanimous vote in the US House of Representatives), which changes FHA requirements for condominium certification. Read More...
HOA Architectural Control Freaks

HOA Architectural Control Freaks

Peter Harrison Architectural Control is one of the key reasons people either choose to live in or run from an HOA. Some people appreciate the HOA’s ability to enforce architectural controls via an Architectural Control Committee (“ACC”); whereas, others resent the thought of another organization telling them how they can modify or decorate their home. Read More...
The Revenue Roller Coaster

The Revenue Roller Coaster

Burke Nielsen The problem with increasing dues every 6 years, is that the amount is usually so large that it becomes a big financial hit for most homeowners. When dues don't increase for a long time, many homeowners start to believe that dues should never increase. The way they see it, “the HOA was just fine up until now, so this 30% increase seems like an outrage” — and quite frankly they're right! Read More...
No Need to Ignore the Elephant in the Room!

No Need to Ignore the Elephant in the Room!

Jill Kalter Another quick example of pursuing mediation with or without representation comes from a variety of programs offered through your State. The State of Utah for example has Utah's Dispute Resolution Center1 available to its citizens. The Utah Dispute Resolution Center is a non-profit and has an impressive Community Association Program offering a sliding scale fee and qualified pro bono Mediators. Additionally, the Center offers mediation services to low income homeowners in disputes that do not require a monetary settlement. Great resources such as this program are offered in most states nationwide. Read More...
Chronicles of the HOA Superhero: And Why That Shouldn’t Be You

Chronicles of the HOA Superhero: And Why That Shouldn’t Be You

Meredith Pond As HOA manager, you will face a lot of challenges. Too often, people see you as “The Fixer.” You're the manager, so naturally, you must be the source of any and all information, the sounding board for every problem, and the mediator for every conflict. You're expected to be an attorney, police officer, detective, judge, personal assistant, accountant, building inspector, therapist, and magician. Most likely, at the heart of the challenges (that are the HOA manager duties) is the duty to handle conflict. The type of conflict you're dealing with can vary like the days of the week. Basically, the only thing you can be sure of is that another one lurks around each corner, ready to pounce on you like a sumo wrestler. Read More...
How to Change the World – One HOA Election at a Time

How to Change the World – One HOA Election at a Time

The odds of making an impact look a lot better if you focus your efforts on small groups — like your community. This is particularly the case if you live in an HOA. Here's an example: let's say that you live in a moderately sized HOA with 100 doors, and that about 50 people vote in the board election (great turnout!). Let's also say that you got informed on the issues and influenced 10 others in your community to vote a particular way. That means that you have about a 1 in 5 chance of affecting the final outcome. I like those odds! Read More...
Heating Up and Cooling Down

Heating Up and Cooling Down

Victoria Cohen Homeowners living in Common Interest Development (CID) deed restricted communities, also known as homeowner associations (HOAs), must submit architectural applications to the Architectural Review Committee, or the Board of Directors to obtain permission to install air conditioners, in many cases. As you can imagine, this will add some heat to the already warm weather. So how do you prepare for this? Read More...
HOA Hoarders — It’s Not Illegal to Live in Filth

HOA Hoarders — It’s Not Illegal to Live in Filth

John Richards HOAs are being confronted more and more with hoarding, but when working with the homeowner to correct the problem fails — what is the association to do? Some Associations look to state and municipal governments for help, but these organizations simply don't want to get involved and will only go so far if you live in a private condominium or association. In most cases this leaves HOAs to take corrective action themselves in order to stop the hoarding and restore the quality of life. Read More...
Solar & HOAs — Who Has The Power?

Solar & HOAs — Who Has The Power?

Tyler Lamarr Homeowners are increasingly recognizing both the financial and environmental benefits of installing solar panels on their homes and the solar industry is booming. You may be considering the benefits yourself; but, if you live in or serve on the board of a homeowners association, beware of some important pitfalls before you go solar. Failing to carefully think through the complexities of solar panels in HOAs can lead to costly and contentious conflicts. HOAs and their members should consider several important factors before installing or allowing others to install solar panels. Read More...
HOA Mediation — And Your Community

HOA Mediation — And Your Community

Jill Kalter Oftentimes when someone mentions mediation, divorce instantly comes to mind, not how it applies to your HOA. Some states have adopted mediation as the “go to” standard in HOA disputes prior to entering litigation. The State of Florida Homeowners Association Act requires presuit mediation before litigation.i Colorado’s Judicial Department Office of Dispute Resolution promotes HOA mediation, guiding parties through the system and promoting the benefits of mediation.ii These are just two examples of states that use mediation in HOA disputes. Read More...
Meeting Minutes Matter™ The Short Term Rental

Meeting Minutes Matter™ The Short Term Rental

Victoria Cohen Most governing documents regulate the minimum length of time a residence may be rented; this is usually no less than 30 days. Yet, with the advent of Airbnb and similar sites, owners have discovered a new income stream through short term rental of their homes, often at the expense of the entire community. For some communities, short-term rentals are OK. The owners want to use their dormant property for short term rental and income… For other communities, short-term rentals mean noisy parties, damage to common area, and a general unease of having strangers in your community. Read More...
Doing “Online” Better

Doing “Online” Better

Burke Nielsen Homeowners nowadays expect to find the information they want, when they want it without too much effort. With almost all homeowners having access to the internet and email and about 75% using some form of social media, the way homeowners get information has changed. It’s no surprise that today, the tried and true newsletter of the past, quickly finds it’s way to the recycle bin with the rest of the junk mail. Read More...
Meeting Minutes Matter™ California Open Meeting Act — Setting Homeowner Expectations

Meeting Minutes Matter™ California Open Meeting Act — Setting Homeowner Expectations

Victoria Cohen When an upset homeowner attends a homeowner association (HOA) board meeting, they believe they have the right to speak to the board, and sometimes demand answers or immediate action by the board. Although most of us would like immediate answers from the board, it is important that the board, management, and sometimes experts, like roofers/plumbers/arborists, and so forth, review the homeowner request before an informed decision can be made. Read More...
Solving the Social Media Problem

Solving the Social Media Problem

Why does social media so frequently go sour in HOAs when it works great in most non-HOA neighborhoods? Can the problem be solved? Or should community associations just avoid social media altogether? These problems can be resolved and the risks can be mitigated. If done right, social media can be the best way to communicate in your community. Read More...
Community Associations — What to Know Before You Buy.

Community Associations — What to Know Before You Buy.

Burke Nielsen If you’re considering buying a home in a condo or HOA, chances are you have some preconceived ideas about what that means. Some of those ideas may be true and some may not. The truth is, every community is unique, with a different set of benefits, problems, and rules that affect how you enjoy your new home. So, what do you really need to know, and how can you find out before it's too late? Read More...
Are Your Reserves Protected by FDIC?

Are Your Reserves Protected by FDIC?

Craig Huntington With the recent stress in the financial market, many boards and property management companies are beginning to more closely monitor the insurance of their funds. For many years now, leaders in the HOA banking and auditing industry have stressed the importance of following established laws and adhering to their fiduciary responsibility that governs the insurance of these funds, and the recent financial stresses further emphasize this need. One of the most widely accepted and valuable tools for ensuring full insured funds are a program called CDARS. Read More...
Dissident or Fake HOA Website:  Is Free Speech Really Free?

Dissident or Fake HOA Website: Is Free Speech Really Free?

While technology has many advantages, the internet and social media has led to a decline in human interaction between neighbors. For as little as $0.99, anyone can create a website. Many homeowners associations are behind the times and have not yet created their own HOA website, let alone registered for a HOA website domain name. Accordingly, when neighbors are not neighborly, and tempers flare, the creation of a dissident website (fake HOA website) using the name of the homeowners association is becoming an increasing popular way for members to voice their dissatisfaction. What should a homeowners association do when this happens? Read More...
HOA Insurance — What You Don’t Know,Can Hurt You!

HOA Insurance — What You Don’t Know,Can Hurt You!

Victoria Cohen The purchase and annual renewal of the Master Insurance policy for most homeowner associations (HOAs) is probably the quickest and least understood decision an HOA board makes each year. Lincoln Cummings of Cummings & Associates related a story about board members who unlawfully approved a reduction of insurance coverage, to save money, before a catastrophic fire caused $1 million more damage than the reduced policy covered, which resulted in a $100,000 personal judgement, on appeal, against each board member. Protect yourself, and protect your association, by hiring a qualified insurance broker who can advise your community based on the needs, trends, and threats that exist for your distinctive community, and then follow their advice. Read More...
Avoiding the Headlines

Avoiding the Headlines

Harvey Radin Not surprising that in a random sample of newspaper and TV stories focusing on HOAs and condo associations, 13 of 16 stories were about disputes and controversies. Only 3 stories were positive.The news media love controversies. And why wouldn't they? Controversies attract readers and viewers like poop attracts flies. So you can bet if there's some controversy brewing in your association, a newspaper or TV reporter just might come knocking on your door. And it's not fun when that happens. Read More...
Stop Playing HOA Rules Wack-a-Mole

Stop Playing HOA Rules Wack-a-Mole

Burke Nielsen You’ve read the news stories about the homeowner who was treated unfairly by their HOA. In fact, if you’ve worked in the industry you may have witnessed it first hand. Whether these stories are valid or just fodder for a good news story, is a discussion for another blog post — But as a CAM manager, I found myself talking the HOA board out of creating unreasonable or unlawful HOA rules on more than one occasion. Read More...
Poisonous  Clients

Poisonous Clients

Alan Crandall Every company needs clients. Without clients, well, you don't have a business. But is the customer always right? Most of the time yes, but there are times when the best course of action is to “kick the bums out”! Yes, I said it! Even if they are profitable! You know who I'm talking about — Clients that take up an inordinate amount of your time. Ones that always complain about costs. The ones that treat you and your staff without respect. Especially the ones that generate the least amount of revenue. Read More...
Meeting Minutes Matter™ — Hanging on Every Word

Meeting Minutes Matter™ — Hanging on Every Word

Victoria Cohen Many people ask the question, “What is the responsibility of the meeting recorder or secretary to record the homeowner concerns, comments, recommendations, etc. into the meeting minutes?” The answer is simple. Nothing that the homeowner says should be placed into the Board Meeting Minutes. In fact, no comments from the Board members are placed into the Board Meeting Minutes either! Read More...
Getting Rid of a Common Amenity

Getting Rid of a Common Amenity

John Richards Even thought the most logical decision may be to close the amenity, the moment you do, many will argue “ …I bought here because of the pool (or whatever amenity is at issue).” The fact is, they’re right! The ultimate goal of a Homeowners or Condominium Owners Association is to maintain a beautiful and safe community. In order to achieve that goal, the board may ask if they can “close” or “abandon” an original amenity such as the pool, clubhouse, hot tub, weight room, or tennis court. It may appear that no one is using it, or that the cost of upkeep is too high. Sometimes the most logical solution is to permanently close the amenity or replace it with something that is far less costly to maintain. Read More...
Great Expectations: What Homeowners Want From Their HOA

Great Expectations: What Homeowners Want From Their HOA

Meredith Pond Today, there are roughly 57 million Americans living in managed communities, or HOAs. Of those 57 million, every single one of them has a certain set of expectations about what that should mean. While most homeowners would reasonably expect things like grounds maintenance, snow removal, and maybe some nice amenities, that's not really the point. Residents have some deeper needs, and as an HOA, you have a responsibility to meet them the best way you know how. Read More...
BBQ on the Deck? — You May Cook More Than Your Steak!

BBQ on the Deck? — You May Cook More Than Your Steak!

Scott Hirschi Most insurance companies have a Loss Control Team that inspects communities periodically to assess potential threats. After the inspection they send a report to the board or manager with requirements and recommendations. One of the most common, and difficult items that come up in these inspections, are the BBQ grills on the decks or too close to the buildings. Not only does our Loss Control team see this as a significant fire danger, but local fire codes and quite possibly your own CC&Rs forbid Grills on decks. A FEMA report from 2010 estimated that on average there are 10 deaths, 100 injuries, and $37 million in property loss each year as a result of grill fires. Read More...
Trendy for Politicians, Terrible for HOAs

Trendy for Politicians, Terrible for HOAs

Harvey Radin Editors and reporters know a good thing when they see it. Just about anything involving HOAs is bound to be controversial.But there is a little something HOA volunteers and property managers can do to become more aware of potentially nasty issues and to hopefully keep them from hitting the fan. They can take some time to think about issues, and ask themselves a simple question: What if this or that happens? After identifying what might hit the fan, HOA leaders can think about how they would handle questions and determine when they may need to call in the cavalry, a property manager or HOA attorney, for their insights and expertise. Read More...
Fully Funded Reserves — Is it Possible?

Fully Funded Reserves — Is it Possible?

Burke Nielsen If you manage communities you probably recognize the underfunded community a mile away. You know the one — it's never had a reserve study, the shingles should have been replaced five years ago, there are a dozen pothole patches in the parking lot, and homeowner are upset claiming, “the HOA does nothing”. If you're a new board member this story may be a new one, and now, you and your fellow board members are faced with the difficult task of deciding what to do. Read More...
CAM Licensing Survey Results

CAM Licensing Survey Results

Burke Nielsen For many, the need for states to require CAM licensing is obvious and necessary. While for others it is viewed as another burden on managers, with no benefit to consumers (the homeowner). In a recent blog article about the merits of CAM licensing, written by Sterling Jenkins back in October 2015, we asked the questions, “Why do so few states require CAM licensing?” and, “How is it working in the states that already have it?” Read More...
Invasion of the Drones

Invasion of the Drones

Meredith Pond Yeah, you read that right: drones. Call it a sign of the times, but the rising popularity of remote-controlled drones means you're likely to see this issue in your community in the near future – if you haven't already.While many would consider drones little more than a grown-up toy, metro areas like Phoenix and others are starting to take them seriously. In fact, some universities are even beginning to offer degree programs in drone piloting, due to their increasing usefulness in several industries. And what's more, about 1 million drones are expected to be sold in the United States during the holiday season, making it even more likely that you'll start seeing them soon. Read More...
Do HOAs Hate Christmas?

Do HOAs Hate Christmas?

Personally, I find the “HOA vs Christmas display” stories fascinating. There are few topics that get homeowners more fired up than a story about an HOA that forces someone to shut down their awesome Christmas display. Chances are high that you feel the same… unless of course you've ever seen the issue from the perspective of the board of directors. Here's my take on both sides of the issue. Read More...
Don’t Let Your Rules Violate Fair Housing?

Don’t Let Your Rules Violate Fair Housing?

Quinn Sperry It’s not uncommon for homeowner associations to adopt rules that violate federal and state fair housing laws, or the Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”). Violations of the FHA can bring severe penalties, as demonstrated in a recent case where an individual was awarded damages in excess of a hundred of thousand dollars against an HOA. A valuable strategy for board members is to carefully review their HOA’s governing documents with legal counsel and other industry professionals on a regular basis to ensure that the HOA’s rules and other governing provisions comply with the fair housing laws while balancing safety issues that your HOA must address. Read More...
“It’s Not Me It’s You” Knowing When to Fire a Client

“It’s Not Me It’s You” Knowing When to Fire a Client

Burke Nielsen If you're a community association manager (CAM), you've probably had one of those clients who soaks up too much of your time and energy. This type of client can be stressful and exhausting for managers and will, in the long run, affect your overall customer service and reduce profits.The question is — What to do about it? The simple solution is to just fire the client. But let's face it, if we fired every client that had a 3 hour meeting, we wouldn't have very many clients. In many cases these problems come down to misunderstandings and poor communication. So before you fire that client, here are a few things you may want to consider. Read More...
Is Construction Defect Litigation All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Is Construction Defect Litigation All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Tyler Lamarr When an HOA board discovers construction defects in the common property it’s faced with some very difficult decisions. In Utah, like many states, an HOA’s ability to bring a claim for faulty constructions is relatively new. The fact is, there are no guarantees that you will win the case, and even if you win, the proceeds may not cover all of the costs. It is critical that the HOA select lawyers who are knowledgeable about construction defect laws and the nuances of HOA law. Read More...
To CAM License or Not to License. That Is the Question.

To CAM License or Not to License. That Is the Question.

Most states in the US don't require you to get a license to manage community associations. But every state requires you to get a license if you want to cut hair for a living. You've got to admit — this is more than a little ironic.There's an expectation for a certain standard of service in our industry but there is little official accountability. Insurance agents, real estate agents, plumbers, and contractors all require a license. Why not community association managers? Requiring managers to pass an exam and receive a license doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't have to create undue burden upon small businesses. In my opinion it will only help our industry to hold ourselves to a higher standard and to be accountable to a governing body. Read More...
HOA Budget?  Yeah… I Think We Have a Budget.

HOA Budget? Yeah… I Think We Have a Budget.

Burke Nielsen As a HOA manager I was often approached by potential clients, at their wit's end with HOA issues. Often these issues were about finances. When I asked them about their HOA budget, I would often get a response like. “Budget? Yeahhh… I think we have a budget.” In most of these cases there was either no budget at all, or the HOA budget hadn't been given a second look since the day it was compiled. The HOA budget is more than just writing down estimated expenses. Proper budgeting helps the board be responsible with association funds, and reach their financial goals. Here are some tools and tips that will help your HOA create and stay on budget. Read More...
How to Avoid a PR Nightmare

How to Avoid a PR Nightmare

Meredith Pond Success in any business — including your HOA — involves a heavy dose of PR. Just as possession is nine tenths of the law, good PR makes up the lion's share of effective marketing. For good or bad, publicity inside or outside your community can create a lot of emotion. In an HOA, homeowners are your “public.” As a board member or manager, you must take their perceptions and feelings into account in all you do. The decisions you make and the rules enforced will have an undeniable effect on how residents view not only the Association, but your community as a whole. The key is to find a balance between your public's perception and what keeps things running smoothly. Read More...
Meeting Minutes Matter™

Meeting Minutes Matter™

Victoria Cohen Nobody likes to take meeting minutes (or so I have been told). As an HOA Meeting Recorder and Parliamentarian, I take the meeting minutes for many associations. My method is easy and simple. Here are some steps that I hope you will find useful in taking proper minutes. Read More...
Is Your Business Too Competitive?

Is Your Business Too Competitive?

We all want to succeed, but sometimes we sabotage ourselves by the way we choose to do it. This is exactly what happens when — in the name of getting ahead - we are antagonistic in business.It might seem counter intuitive, but competition isn't always about grabbing the biggest share of the pie. More often than not, there are ways to make the pie bigger for everyone. My co-founder, Burke, told me a great story that applies well here. As a former HOA portfolio manager, he maintained a friendly relationship with another company that frequently competed with him for the same business. As they got to understand the other's business, they realized that they specialize in different areas. To this day they refer business to each other. Read More...
Trial and Error Policies

Trial and Error Policies

Burke Nielsen Homeowners who aren't happy with their HOA often cite inconsistent or changing policies as the reason. The fact is, it's tough to create rules and policies that are perfect. You have heard the cliche “the devil’s in the details” - well in the case of HOA policies and rules this couldn’t be more true. One of the primary responsibilities of the Board is to set policies and define rules to fit the unique character of their community... Here are a few common mistakes that boards should avoid when adopting policies and rules. Read More...
Social Media — Risk vs Reward

Social Media — Risk vs Reward

John Richards While HOA social media definitely has its rewards, there are many who perceive it as too big of a gamble. The drawbacks can be hard to quantify, but basically come down to the potential for misuse.From simple communication, to events, feedback and more, there's nothing like social media for building a sense of community and keeping everyone up to date. As long as membership is verified and secure, and the above considerations are put in place, there's no reason why social media can't be remarkably useful in your HOA. Read More...
Changing the Direction of Your Association

Changing the Direction of Your Association

Burke Nielsen Changing the direction of your HOA is kinda like turning the Titanic. Whether it's a change in policy or the change to the whole system, it takes time and you're going to hit some bumps along the way. Okay, maybe the Titanic is a bad example since it's sitting on the bottom of the ocean. But if you plan ahead and make the right moves the experience can be a positive one. As a manager I've had the opportunity to implement many kinds of change. Some went very well and some didn't. Hopefully this example of a change that took place a few years ago can help you in your next big change. Read More...
Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad HOA?

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad HOA?

Believe it or not, there are people around the web who hate HOAs. Actually, it's not too difficult to find them. A quick google search and you'll be lucky to find someone who isn't filled with vitriol. There are so many people online saying the same things about HOAs. My guess is that almost all of these people have a true HOA horror story to tell. There are real problems with some HOAs. There are examples of fraud. There are some ridiculous rules out there. And there are abuses. The people who have lived through that stuff have a good excuse to be upset. The problem is that some of them project these terrible experiences onto HOAs in general. Are they right? Is there widespread corruption in HOAs? Read More...
Complaints Are Good

Complaints Are Good

Meredith Pond While dealing with complaints isn't the most pleasant part of your day, it's still a critical part of your business. The way you handle those grievances can either make or break your success. When you regard complaints as a nuisance, that attitude projects itself onto the people making them. Your perspective becomes reality — with everyone annoyed and defensive before the conversation even begins. And we all know what happens then. But what if a simple change in attitude could change everything? Read More...
It Matters How You Say It

It Matters How You Say It

Meredith Pond Your messages to homeowners must be delivered properly to be appreciated — even if they contain happy or important news. Even a delicious cake makes an unwelcome gift when delivered the wrong way, and it's the same thing with your HOA. Your messages to homeowners, even if they contain happy or important news, must be delivered properly to be appreciated. Otherwise, your efforts are at best a waste of time, and are likely to become a nuisance. In marketing, the way a product is packaged is key to its acceptance. In your HOA, your message is the product, and the packaging has to be just right. Read More...
HOA Transparency Needn’t Be Scary

HOA Transparency Needn’t Be Scary

Burke Nielsen HOA transparency is a hot topic and a buzzword that we hear a lot. But what does it mean to be transparent? We all want homeowners to understand the goals and objectives of the association but to be completely transparent means we could be open to scrutiny and criticism. The fact is — homeowners DO care about their community, but if they can't see what's going on, they think the board or manager is hiding something, and if they are hiding something it must be bad! What does it mean to be transparent? And how far should we go? Read More...
Leading Change in Your Community

Leading Change in Your Community

Chelle O'Keefe We've all done it. We walk through our community and see something that we'd like to change: a rule regarding hours of trash collection or maintenance, or a change to the facilities in a common area like the addition of a playground or swimming pool. As Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” So, how do we make change happen? Read More...
Is Social Media Making Your HOA Less Social?

Is Social Media Making Your HOA Less Social?

Meredith Pond Social media was invented to help people connect. But virtual connections can be hollow and unfulfilling. Wouldn’t it be nice if social media actually encouraged real, healthy, and personal human interactions? It can. Imagine that. Real people doing real stuff — together. Your HOA's social media can — and should be — the catalyst for all things warm and neighborly, resulting in thriving, happy communities. Try it! Humanity will thank you. Read More...
Do HOAs Really Increase Property Values?

Do HOAs Really Increase Property Values?

Living in a community association can help us avoid many neighborhood headaches. But do HOAs really provide any value that can be measured in real dollars? If you ask the internet, the answer is a resounding “no”! But according to a study by George Mason University, HOAs do increase property values. On average, a home in a community association sells between 5% and 6% higher than an equivalent home in an equivalent non-HOA neighborhood. Read More...
Your HOA Website Matters

Your HOA Website Matters

Meredith Pond Your HOA website is your community's billboard to the world. It will make a difference in what prospective home buyers think about your community and how well it's run. Like any business entity, your website is your face to the world. When people are researching places to live, the first thing they do is go online for information. Your website is where those people will get the feel for what your community is all about, and what it might be like to live there. If they can't find what they want, pucker up. Because you can kiss those potential residents goodbye. And that's sure to have a negative impact on property values. Read More...
Always Connected, But Never Connecting

Always Connected, But Never Connecting

Meredith Pond Ahhh, technology. We love it — and for good reason. It makes life easier, gives us instant access to information, and it keeps us connected… at least in theory. You probably have friends and neighbors on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. But can a “like” or a comment on someone's status replace the fulfillment of a handshake or personal conversation? No way. Read More...
Homeowners Are on Your Side. Act Like It.

Homeowners Are on Your Side. Act Like It.

If you've ever been on the managing end of a community association then you've probably wondered at some time if you're the most unpopular person in the community. Quite the contrary. In fact the CAI recently did a survey that found that 90% of homeowners are either satisfied or neutral with their community association experience. Industry experts also told us in a survey that only about 5% of homeowners ever cause any trouble. Read More...
Animals and Your HOA — The Straight Poop

Animals and Your HOA — The Straight Poop

John Richards Your HOA probably has some pet restrictions in place. But what can you really expect? Your HOA has rules for a reason. They protect you. They protect the organization. They make your HOA a more beautiful, pleasant place to live — at least that's the idea. This legal framework of regulations isn't meant to be overly restrictive. They aren't there to make you feel like you can't hang a wreath or listen to music without getting a nasty note. Read More...
Effective HOA Communication… No. Really.

Effective HOA Communication… No. Really.

Meredith Pond Ever wondered why nobody reads your HOA or condo newsletter? The vast majority of homeowners are like everyone else: busy and distracted. Information must be incredibly easy to get, and in bite-sized chunks. Asking a 32-year-old with a family and career to sit and read a newsletter is like nailing pudding to a wall. Not gonna happen. Not to worry! There are much better ways to communicate today. If you do it right, your budget, your homeowners, and the trees, will thank you. Read More...
How to Keep Your HOA’s Social Media Out of the Gutter

How to Keep Your HOA’s Social Media Out of the Gutter

Meredith Pond Nobody likes people who constantly stir up trouble. You've seen them on Facebook, Nextdoor, and online forums: instigators, rabble rousers, gadflies. Whatever you call them, they're pretty annoying to the rest of us. And even worse, they have a way of ruining your otherwise pleasant social media experience. But whatever their problem is, it doesn't have to be YOUR problem.The key is to keep things clean and friendly without clogging up the social flow. A robust and user-friendly social media application can do a lot of the work for you, leaving you with a healthier, happier HOA. Read More...
Why Homeowners Are a Pain

Why Homeowners Are a Pain

Homeowners are the greatest cause of pain for HOA managers. Are the homeowners themselves at fault? Or do we simply not know how to deal with them very well? The answer to this question is a big deal because it will impact how we go about managing our communities. If, for example, we conclude that homeowners are just going to be a pain and there's nothing we can do about it, then we're not gonna spend any time trying to fix it. We'll also probably subscribe to the idea that the more information we give homeowners the more work and trouble they will create for us. Read More...
Why is Managing an HOA So Hard?

Why is Managing an HOA So Hard?

Seriously. Managing an HOA is not an easy job. I've been an association manager and it didn't take long before I gained a high admiration for those in this profession. Don't get me wrong, managing a community can also be very rewarding, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart. But we all know this. The real question is, "Should we care about 'why' it's hard?" Read More...
“Why Aren’t They Reading My HOA Newsletter?”

“Why Aren’t They Reading My HOA Newsletter?”

Meredith Pond What's the deal with HOA newsletters? HOA newsletter circulation is at it's lowest rate in recent history. Why? Think about it. Newspaper readership is going the way of the dodo. Most of today’s publications have stayed successful by migrating to a digital format. In doing so, they’ve also modified their style of reporting to reflect the new ways people like to get informed. Sending homeowners a paper newsletter is the same as expecting them to get informed in the old way. The old way takes a lot of time and energy. It’s increasingly obsolete. And worst of all, it’s boring. You might as well use a hammer and chisel. Read More...
Why Your Community Website Stinks – and How to Fix It

Why Your Community Website Stinks – and How to Fix It

Meredith Pond The average community website has one unfortunate problem. They're no good. It sounds blunt; maybe downright mean. But the vast majority of community websites aren't doing the job they're meant to do. What job, you ask? The job of marketing your community to future residents. The sole purpose of your community website is to showcase your neighborhood. It should show off the benefits of your neighborhood and why people love living there. Read More...

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