Most homeowners association (HOA) board members are not experts. Board members are well-intentioned, dedicated volunteer-leaders who want to protect the value of their property and ensure their community continues to be a great place to live. Of course, the act of becoming a member of your HOA board of directors doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about how to run an association.
Every homeowners association is a legal corporation, which means the board must follow federal, state and local laws that govern HOAs as well as the rules laid out in the association’s governing documents. There’s a lot to learn!
“An educated board member is a more effective board member,” according to Edwin Lugo, vice president of FirstService Residential. “The board is best able to act as a cohesive unit and focus on important tasks for the association when everyone on the board has become educated about what they really need to do and the right way to do it.”
So how can a board member volunteer come to understand the nuances of successfully running an HOA?
The best thing you can do is make learning part of the job. Register for online courses, conferences, training seminars and other events offered by experts in the industry. Industry professionals like property management companies offer this sort of training and education opportunities. In addition to providing you with a better understanding of your role and responsibilities as a board member, these events allow you to network with board members from other HOAs and exchange ideas, best practices and information. You will also have the opportunity to meet local professionals with specialized expertise that can be utilized within your association including landscapers, attorneys, insurance brokers and accountants.
Here are a few of the educational opportunities your board may be able to take advantage of.
Convenient online training for board members who may not have the time or flexibility to attend classes in person. A property management company may offer these online courses. For example, FirstService Residential utilizes its e-Learning platform, BoardAdvantage
. This proprietary program includes “Board Member Basics,” a custom curriculum that offers an overview of roles, responsibilities and activities for key board positions.
Conferences and Events
Immerse yourself in HOA-related topics at a conference! Conferences and other large events provide a day-long or even multi-day opportunity to learn about a variety of topics. Learn from industry pros, meet vendors and discuss your association’s concerns and issues with other board members from neighboring communities or across the country.
Seminars generally last for no more than a couple of hours. They focus on one specific topic, in-depth, and may include any number of topics that are of interest to association board members. Topics may include legal issues, legislative changes that may affect your HOA, financial issues and responsibilities, budgeting or policy and compliance matters.
Ideas for effective and insightful seminar topics:
- Budgeting and Financial Planning 101
- How to Read Your Financial Statements
- Understanding Your Reserve Fund
- Board Training for New Members
- Strategic Thinking for Your Community
- How to Maintain Harmony in Your Community
- New Legislation and How It Applies to Your Association
Take advantage of every educational opportunity you can. Whether you have been active on the board for a while or were just elected, there is always more to learn. Your residents—and your fellow board members—will appreciate your willingness to expand your knowledge and bring back some key information that can be applied to enhance the community.
To learn more about board member education opportunities, contact FirstService Residential
, North America’s leading property management company.