This month we’re focusing on all things related to becoming or being an HOA Board member. We always encourage homeowners to get involved in their community, whether it’s through social events or lending a hand. For those who want to make a yearly commitment by joining their HOA Board, don’t be afraid to jump in, it can be a fun and educational experience.
Whether you’ve just been elected, or you’re on a board about to take on some new members, here are 10 tips for quickly, productively, and successfully getting up to speed and operating as a new board member:
The best way to quickly learn how your association works is to read your covenants, by-laws, and other governing documents. You’ll quickly find out the things you’re required to do, and where you have some flexibility. It’s also easier to communicate with neighbors when you know the facts.
Review the financial statements and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your board treasurer or property manager. The board must ensure that budget, cash flow, and reserves are where they need to be. If the new board is not comfortable with the financials, consider scheduling an audit or other financial procedure to verify the community’s financial health. Additional source: HOA budget timelines and Tasks, and what you should do first.
There’s a natural tendency to want to jump in and do everything all at once. Take your time and prioritize so you don’t get burned out. You’ve got plenty of time during your elected term. Also, while your association is a business, don’t forget that you’re a volunteer. Learn when to say “no” to keep this role from cutting into family time.
Before you jump in and make a bunch of changes, take the time to understand why things are currently done the way they are. You may be surprised when you see the process and procedures from an insider’s perspective.
Sometimes vendor performance (good or bad) can be linked to a variety of external factors. Board or property manager interaction may impact performance, such as someone failing to give the vendor feedback about a specific issue. Draw your own conclusions before taking on the hassle of a vendor change.
In addition to all of your neighbors lining up to give you free advice, there are a number of resources available to help you become a productive and effective board member. Call on prior board members and current committee chairs for ideas and opinions. Crummack Huseby, along with several local law firms and property management companies, offers boot camps and other educational opportunities. Many are free or very low cost.
While you’re deciding whether to re-carpet the community room or send a delinquent neighbor to the collections attorney, don’t lose sight of the big picture. What’s your vision of your community and goals to get there? If you’re not sure, add that to your next board meeting agenda.
Transparency is critical to maintaining a positive relationship between the board and the community. Unless required by law (such as communicating about employee performance), keep your community informed about issues, opportunities, ideas, financial results, etc. A little hassle today is far better than a big fight (or lawsuit) later.
As a board member, you’ll most likely encounter challenges with neighbors, vendors, and even other board members due to reasonable (sometimes unreasonable) differences of opinion. Take your time to work through issues, and remember that no party is ever 100% satisfied in a compromise.
This one is last because it’s important: even though you’re a volunteer, remember that agreeing to serve on your community board means that you take on some level of accountability for the management of your community and its assets. When you make decisions you must make them in the best interest of the corporation, even if those decisions are not in your personal best interest. This might be a good time to review your board’s directors and officers (D&O) insurance policy to ensure you’re covered if the board’s decisions are ever questioned.
If you have more questions or desire more information about what it takes to become an HOA Board, our award-winning Crummack Huseby team can walk you through it.
ABOUT CRUMMACK HUSEBY PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
Crummack Huseby is an award-winning property management company who understands what it takes to create a community within the community association’s they partner with. Our successful business partnerships with homebuilders, developers and homeowner’s associations have brought value to clients throughout Southern California. Our talented and award-winning managers work closely with our clients to determine the specific needs they have - to elevate, inspire and achieve their goals for their communities.