Are you a member of a community association?
Do you serve on the board or volunteer for one of the committees? Are you looking for ways to improve your community living experience? Here are several ways to enhance your experience and guarantee to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience with your follow community neighbors.
1. Do read your governing documents including your declaration, bylaws and rules and regulations. This should be done as soon as you become a homeowner but it’s never too late. It’s a lot of reading but it is really important information that is crucial to understand even if you don’t serve as a board of director.
2. Do attend the board meetings on a regular basis. Although it might seem not necessary if you don’t serve on the board, it is actually as important if not more important to attend the meetings. Board members generally speaking do care about what homeowners think. And it is also important to develop relationships with your board members and fellow homeowners. It’s also important to know about issues that are confronting the board members and association. It is especially critical to keep update to date about association business such as large special assessments. You don’t want to find out about it when you open up your mail and realize that it was already discussed and voted upon by the board of directors.
3. Do volunteer and run for the board. This appears at initial glance to be a thankless position. Who would want to spend their personal time to serve on the board and not get paid! It actually is a great experience that in many ways is a great way to refine leadership skills. So if you are looking to refine your people skills and leadership skills, serve on the board and add it to your resume.
4. Make sure to read the meeting minutes. Do you want to keep in touch with the affairs of the association? As I stated above, it’s best to attend the board meetings but if not, make sure you read the meeting minutes and stay abreast of the association business.
5. Make sure that the association has 4 board meetings and an annual meeting each year. Perhaps you are an attorney and perhaps you are not. Regardless, your condo association should have 4 board meetings every year and 1 annual election every year. You should insist that these meetings take place for your association. This is the IL law and it is best for the association to keep business moving along.
6. Make sure that a budget is passed at the end of each year. Even if you never attend board meetings and you never read the minutes, you should care about this very critical issue. The budget reflects the next 12 months of the association financial projections. Make sure your association passes the budget before the start of each fiscal year.
7. Treat your management company and your neighbors respectfully. Everyone wants to live peacefully within their community and wants to experience the best service possible from their service providers. So apply the Golden Rule and treat others the way you want to be treated. I can assure you that if you are kind and considerate to your management company personnel, they will go the extra mile to serve you and your community. It does make a difference!
8. Encourage your neighbors to engage within the community. Is it better to have homeowners engaged within the community or have almost no homeowners engaged within the community? Your home is a part of the community. And in order for the community to thrive and produce a pleasing experience for the homeowners, it is important to have a high level of homeowner engagement. Remember the age old adage, you reap what you sow.
9. Use positive language with all vendors including the management company. Are you wanting to receive outstanding service from your service providers? Do you want to have vendors take care of the association issues in professional and time sensitive manner? It is all possible with the right effort and the right approach. Speak respectfully to the management representatives and to the vendors. It will encourage your providers to go the extra mile. All service providers are looking to take care of their current client base and to get referrals so they are always looking to provide great service. Give them that extra incentive to do so.
10. Give vendors the benefit of the doubt if and when something goes wrong. If something goes wrong with the association, don’t automatically assume that a vendor or service provider caused the issue. If a plumber is sent out to fix a leak and then there is another leak a few days later, don’t assume the plumber did not fix the original leak correctly. Give the vendor the benefit of the doubt and don’t cause undue stress in a situation that is already stressful such as a water leak that is causing damage. All quality vendors and management companies are wanting to resolve all issues as quickly as possible and want to address things correctly the first time around. No plumber wants to improperly fix things so that they have to return again to fix the problem that wasn’t fixed properly the first time.
11. Get to know your neighbors and encourage the community to have social gatherings. Spend time getting to know your neighbors and insist on having an annual community gathering. The better you know your neighbors and fellow homeowners, the better your community living experience will become. If their is a leak coming from above you, you will probably want to knock on the neighbor’s door and see if it is coming from above. This is probably not the first time you will want to meet them. It would be much better to have already gotten to know them as this will create a better working environment and living environment all around the community.
12. Consult advisers when necessary and don’t rush to a lawsuit if something goes awry. Are you experiencing a difficult situation within your community? Make sure to have the right advisers in place and don’t rush to a law suit. Make sure you have a good working relationship in place with your fellow board members and homeowners. By having good working relationships in place, it will most likely help avoid any serious conflicts that end up in court and end up costing everyone LOTS OF MONEY.
Why do homeowners buy into condo, townhome and HOA communities? The thought of maintenance free living is attractive and it is also the lure of living within a community that is enjoyable and is filled with warm and friendly people. Follow these 12 simple steps and don’t miss out on an opportunity to maximize your community living experience.
About the Author
Salvatore J. Sciacca is the nation’s foremost expert in the community property management industry. With over 25 years of real estate property management experience and as a former board member of a 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 is also the founder of managemycommunity.com (MMC), which is a state-of-the-art online support portal for community associations. With over 20 years of industry experience, Salvatore is recognized for his extensive knowledge of capital planning, preventative maintenance, cost-saving measures and community building techniques.
He is also a frequent social media blogger and speaker on a number of sites including: Linked In, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, as well as on the corporate website. He also regularly publishes videos on Youtube.
Salvatore has been featured as a guest contributor to articles published by the Chicago Tribune, CAI, ACTHA, and MCD Media’s Condo Lifestyles.
In addition, Salvatore has spoken at numerous events and workshops for the major industry organizations including: Community Association Institute, ACTHA, and is on the Advisory Board for MCD Media’s Condo Lifestyles.
He holds industry stature as a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), the designation of Association Management Specialist (AMS) and is fully licensed as a manager (License #: 261.001386) through the State of IL.