If you ask anyone to describe what a great community looks like, they are likely to paint the picture of happy homeowners, smiling faces, residents taking advantage of the amenities available to them, and buildings and neighborhoods that are well-kept and look amazing.
Good community living may look easy, but it takes a lot of work to make it happen. Who is responsible for creating, and maintaining, a place that residents love to call home? How does it all come together? Let’s take a look at six essential elements of a great community.

1. A Board that understands its role

Association Boards are typically made up of residents who have been elected by their peers in accordance to the processes set forth in the association’s bylaws and applicable laws. Officers generally include the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Once elected, Board members have a big job to do. In fact, they have many jobs, such as serving as the fiscal stewards of their homeowners’ or condominium association, ensuring that the association’s governing documents are being enforced, and making sure that the property’s common areas are properly maintained. Many times, Boards will enact policies to help them carry out these duties and enlist the assistance of volunteers to accomplish specific projects or objectives on behalf of the association.

2. The right personalities

You can formalize your processes, enact policies to carry them out and define every role needed to accomplish them, but if the wrong personalities are part of the equation, none of this matters. Not only will they hamper efficiency, but even worse, they may cause conflict. That’s why Board members need to learn to put business first and set aside the politics.

3. The right property manager

While some communities are self-managed, many Boards look to the expertise of a reputable, experienced property management company (learn more below) that is equipped with the tools to implement and enforce their vision for their community. And that’s just the big picture of what property management companies do. Property management companies will offer a host of day-to-day services too. 

The first order of business will be to assign a property manager who will work well with the personalities on the Board and in the culture of the community. The property manager will have a host of responsibilities – from acting as the liaison between the Board and residents and the companies tasked with servicing and maintaining the property, to addressing resident’s immediate needs and answering questions. Property managers are also responsible for collecting association dues and assessments. Their role, then, is to provide the full-scope of property management services so that the association Board can focus on other, more important duties.

4. Expertise where it counts

Great property managers usually possess a certain skillset – they are dedicated, committed and available to their Board and residents around the clock. They know how to be friendly with residents but firm with vendors. But different communities require expertise in different areas. Fortunately for association Boards, seeing what special certifications a property manager has is sometimes as easy as looking at the acronym following his or her name.

5. A property management company that’s a great fit

While the right property manager is crucial, it is equally important that this individual is supported by the right team. Also referred to as a community management company, the organization is responsible for managing the association’s accounting needs and offering much-needed support to the property manager. This may include keeping a database of trusted and certified vendors, pioneering new technology to streamline the community’s day-to-day tasks, and providing industry-specific expertise so that associations have the resources necessary to make important decisions and/or deal with issues that arise in their community.

6. A shared vision of value

It is very important that Boards and their property management companies share the same vision of value. This philosophy affects the board’s activities – from choosing vendors to deciding which property management company to partner with. When both groups realize that added value supersedes bargain pricing, then effective decisions can be made and solutions realized. In fact, a company that delivers value-added service actually saves you money when compared with the headaches that often come with working with budget vendors. 

And there you have it – the six essential elements that play an important role in creating, and maintaining, a great community for your residents. Each element is an important part of the puzzle, but when all of them come together, great things begin to happen for your community. For more on what a great property management company (and an expert property manager) can do for you, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s property management leader.
Tuesday August 30, 2016