west-region.jpgMaster-planned communities are large developments that integrate a variety of neighborhoods, sub-divisions, recreational facilities and amenities under one community umbrella, with a focus on lifestyle, convenience and quality of life.  Most master-planned communities offer homebuyers a range of residential options suited to different life stages and price points, from single-family homes to townhomes to condominiums to apartments. These residences are often located in distinct neighborhoods within the community, and may be developed by multiple builders. 

Master Association and Sub-Associations

If you live in a master-planned community, you are a member of its master association, and are responsible for paying dues and complying with its governing documents, articles, by-laws and CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions).  As the umbrella association for the entire community, the master association maintains common areas such as community roads, entrances and amenities. 
Many people think that the master association is always the only homeowners association with the community.  However, within the master association, there may be separate sub-associations, or “subs,” with their own dues, policies and governing documents, as created by their developers.  If you own a home in one of these standalone subs, you are a member of that association as well.  That means you must pay a second set of dues to help cover the sub’s costs of maintaining your neighborhood’s common areas and amenities, if applicable. In addition, you must obey the sub’s CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), architectural guidelines and other provisions, as well as those of the master association.   

Professional Community Association Management – One Company, or Several? 

Now here’s where it sometimes gets tricky.  Within one master-planned community, the master association and sub-associations are governed by their own Boards of Directors.  As part of their duties, each Board decides whether its association should be professionally managed – and if so, which property management company it wishes to hire.  As a result, you’ll sometimes see master-planned communities with a master association and sub-associations managed by different community association management companies. 

In some cases, that’s a good decision – for example, the management company may have specific expertise or experience that serves the association’s needs.  But sometimes, having multiple management companies within one master-planned community creates misunderstanding and conflict.  Homeowners may be confused about which association or management company to contact if they have, say, a maintenance issue or noise complaint, want to pay their dues or need architectural approval.

To ensure harmony and maximize value and lifestyle, it’s important that master associations and subs work together to avoid conflict and achieve the same goals.  That means subs shouldn’t compete and put their own goals ahead of others.  They should set rules that are consistent with those of the master association and follow similar procedures.  All of the associations within the master-planned community should be transparent, responsive, cooperative and communicative at all times – and the same goes for their community association management companies. 
If the management companies for the master associations and sub-associations have different agendas or goals, aren’t cooperative, or don’t have the skills or experience to get the job done, nobody benefits.  But if that’s happens – and it’s more common than you may think – there are a few options. 

For starters, one, several or all of the associations can replace their community association management companies with others that are more experienced, capable and/or cooperative.  A better option? All of the associations can choose the same management company. 

Benefits of One Association Management Company for All

For obvious reasons, when one management company serves all of the associations within one master-planned community, it eliminates association conflict and homeowner confusion.  Subs no longer feel the need to compete or squabble to achieve their goals, and homeowners have one reliable go-to source for information, answers and action – and that goes a long way towards increasing customer service, building relationships, increasing effectiveness and building homeowner loyalty and engagement. 

By working closely with both the master association and its subs, a community association management company can significantly increase its community knowledge, engagement and effectiveness.  It is better positioned to not only help each association meet its needs and reach its goals, but also help the entire master-planned community achieve its vision. That goes a long way to adding value and enhancing quality of life of all its homeowners – and isn’t that why they choose a master-planned community in the first place? 

Master-planned communities offer a level of lifestyle, amenities, value and quality of life that are hard to beat – and for many people, hard to resist. Contact FirstService Residential for more information about master-planned communities and property management.
Wednesday January 20, 2016