Congratulations on your new HOA board position!
Whether you emerged victorious after a heated political battle, or ran unopposed, you’re now an HOA or community association board member. Thank you for volunteering to serve your community. Now that you’re stuck (just kidding), let me start by saying that serving on a board is a great way to meet neighbors and help steer the future direction of your community. The down side is that it takes time and energy above and beyond your already busy schedule. After spending all day at work or managing your family, you now have another job.
Based on my experience working with hundreds of board members, as well as my own eight years of service as a board treasurer and president, here are five pieces of advice for new board members.
Understand your commitment. You may have volunteered for this role, but you are now accountable for the management of your community and all of its assets. You have a fiduciary duty to the community, meaning that you have to put the community’s best interests above all others. Time to cast aside personal interests or agendas.
Run the business. Even though this is where you live, a community association is a business with revenues from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the community. You’re now on the leadership team – an integral part of that business. You need to think like a business owner rather than a resident and neighbor.
Act like a board. The board of directors is responsible for protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the association. The board’s primary role should be oversight, providing direction, approving major expenditures, and resolving issues. Let the experts – lawyers, accountants, property managers, etc. – run the day to day operations. Don’t lose perspective by allowing yourself get sucked into all the minutia.
Trust your property manager. Assuming that your community has more than a few residences, you probably have a property manager or management company in place. If not, you may want to consider that type of professional support. Just like it takes training, skill, and experience to do what you do for a living, the same applies for managing a community. Then, let your manager do his or her job.
Participate. For your board to be effective, all board members must pitch in and participate. That means showing up for meetings, volunteering for projects, responding to requests, and taking an active role in the management of your community. Be prepared to allocate some nights and weekends to the cause.
Getting up to speed as a new board member
Serving your community can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Take some time now to understand your role as a board member, and get up to speed on rules and finances. If you’re interested learning more about successful HOA board management, here are two other articles to read:
Want to learn more? Attend an HOA board “boot camp” run by a local property management company or law firm.
Neal Bach, CPA