Five Ways to Keep Your Community Relevant in California

Surely you’ve heard the saying “keep your eye on the ball!” It’s a way to remind you to keep focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by outside influences. After all, if your attention strays, you could get hit with said ball.

Members of homeowner association (HOA) boards should keep that saying in mind, because after a lengthy time serving the community it’s easy to get distracted or become complacent. It’s human nature to get into a comfort zone, but soon you might realize you’re actually in a rut. Are you keeping pace with other association boards across California? You want to make sure you remain sharp so that your community is competitive and an attractive place to live for residents and potential homebuyers.

Below are some important areas to maintain your focus so that you—and the rest of the board—carry out the duties that are expected of your association.

Surround Yourself with Diverse Talent: Differing opinions and backgrounds can make for a more exciting, well-rounded board. A diverse board will keep a healthy flow of ideas coming in that can invigorate the community, and can help to make decisions, future projects, and discussions more thorough. For example, a board member with a design background might look at a landscaping project with a far different perspective than someone working in finance. But when both bring their ideas together, it can inject life into the community and the board. Also, keep your eyes and ears open for feedback at board meetings and other events, as you may find someone who wants to serve the community. That person could breathe new life into your HOA board.

Partner with Your Management Company: While your role as a board member is to enact policies, your community manager is the one enforcing your decisions. That’s a valuable asset, and your manager could be a great source for giving the board new ideas or keeping you informed about what other HOA boards across California are doing in their communities. The best community management companies have experience with all kinds of communities, from lifestyle to condo to high-rise properties. They will be able to understand your needs and offer advice tailor-made for your situation because there’s not likely to be a situation the company hasn’t seen and addressed before.

Keep Homes and Grounds Contemporary: As your community ages, so do the homes situated there. So does the entire infrastructure. Making sure the community remains an attractive place for potential new owners is important, as there are many options for community living across California. But you also want to make sure the homes and surrounding areas are of the highest quality for your current residents. What can you do to make sure the community has a current, modern look? Could you update the color palette? Could you consider a new landscaping method such as drought-tolerant planting that’s becoming popular in California and is designed to conserve water? Other ways to keep current with contemporary trends include hosting social events such as cookouts, movie nights, wine tastings, or even setting up a farmer’s market. These types of activities can build residents’ enthusiasm and help to form new bonds with neighbors.

Update Your Policies: This is an easy way to determine if your homeowners association board is functioning as well as it could be. It’s easy to grow comfortable with the way things operate simply because that’s always the way you’ve done things. But does it mean your processes are in everyone’s best interests? Perhaps you have architectural policies that seem archaic and are holding back your community. A regular review of policies can ensure the board’s work and the way the community operates is fresh, contemporary, and tailor-made for its residents.

Solidify Your Reserve Funds: Every HOA board has a budget to adopt and adhere to each year for regular operating expenses. It’s also typical that a reserve fund be set aside to include any surpluses at the end of each year, usually put toward future projects such as construction or additions. But these funds don’t just cover what you want to do; they also help with what you have to do. If there is a water main break that damages a road or a storm compromises a gate or fence, a healthy reserve fund can keep you on top of these issues so that you can remedy a problem as soon as it strikes. If you’re unsure if the board is prepared for future cost obligations or want to determine if past spending was done wisely, consider hiring a company to perform a Reserve Fund Study.

These are just a handful of ideas to keep your board focusing on the most relevant and impactful projects to benefit your community. For more ideas on how to ensure your HOA board is primed and ready to be effective well into the future, contact FirstService Residential.