Beyond Basics: 5 HOA Topics Board Members Should Know
It turns out that your board’s knowledge on certain HOA topics has a direct impact on property values.
In the world of HOAs, your reputation as a well-informed and engaged HOA board member is a big deal, making it important to prioritize ongoing board education even after your initial orientation. Having the practical education, technical know-how, and emotional IQ can help you make better informed decisions for your community, which elevates the resident experience and ultimately improves your association’s reputation. And of course, this revived reputation overflows into property values (because who doesn’t want to choose a property known to have a fantastic association and community experience?).
In order to maintain ongoing training and keep up to date on HOA topics, it is crucial to partner with an experienced community management company that can provide you and your community manager with specialized in-house education and training. It is also important to get consistent feedback from clients to ensure all needs are addressed. The best community management companies will offer resources in a variety of platforms that line up with your schedule via in-person training, online programs, educational articles and white papers and access to industry experts. The question is, what are the areas that will most benefit your association’s reputation now and in the future?
1. Board responsibilities
No matter the type of community or where your association is located, as part of your orientation, you have likely taken a training course on the basic responsibilities of being a board member. However, your knowledge of association standards and applicable laws should not end on day one. Instead, it should go beyond that initial training and should be part of your ongoing training. Case in point, you should view your role as a board member with the same amount of professionalism that you give any other job. As one on-site community manager said, “Professionalism and standardization are the two ways we are going to elevate our communities. Without the right mindset and a continual appetite for training, board members will find it more difficult to excel at their position and add value to the community at large.”
2. HOA legislation
As a board member, you should know that it is not a matter of if legal questions start coming in from residents and board members, but how often. Potential legal issues not only affect the board, but it also affects the association at large. Your first step in better understanding HOA legal issues is to consult with your association general counsel. While you cannot replace the personalized legal expertise that your general counsel will offer, but an experienced and knowledgeable community management company can provide you and management team members with resources that will help you better understand laws that affect your association. It is important that your community management company employs a variety of knowledgeable specialists who stay informed about the latest legislation that may affect your community and also help to shape that legislation. For example, Steven Parker, president of FirstService Residential in Nevada, studies proposed legislation and works with lawmakers to help them understand the industry and how proposed statutes would apply in practice. Knowing is half the battle when it comes to changing legislation, and having the resources to help you better understand it will benefit your association.
3. Association technology
As times change, so does technology. Being a board member today is very different from being a board member 5 years ago. Technology changes at a rapid pace, so it’s important that board members and community managers be trained on the latest technologies and digital tools in order to remain relevant. Your community management company should provide in-house software that is designed to work with necessary association applications as well as complimentary training so you can reach out to their team directly for support when needed. Furthermore, due to the evolving nature of technology as well as the recent spike in cyber threats, both board members and community managers should learn as much as they can about safeguarding their HOA’s sensitive data at the beginning of their HOA board orientation.
4. HOA financials
Although your initial orientation covered basic HOA topics, it is best to take a refresher course on HOA financials. While you don’t need to do a deep dive of all financial-related matters in your community, it is important to be at least familiar with HOA financials. For topics involving finances, board members and community managers alike should consider taking an in-person training session or course so that they can ask any questions and get a deeper understanding of the topic. FirstService Residential offers a variety of ongoing courses on this topic, ranging from Budgeting and Financial Planning 101 to Understanding Your Reserve Fund.
5. Effective communication
Having a solid “emotional IQ” is crucial to being an effective board member (or community manager). In order to establish great relationships with fellow board members and residents, it is important that you are a good listener and communicator. While this may seem like a basic social skill you have already mastered, becoming a good communicator is harder than it sounds. It may be beneficial to take a communication course or workshop that is specifically designed for community associations. One great tool to learn how to communicate more effectively is DiSC training.
Effective communication can have a powerful and positive effect on your community’s reputation in the marketplace and can go a long way with residents and fellow board members alike. It is important to continuously communicate any changes within the community to the residents to avoid any confusion. Additionally, during board meetings, it is important to hear out every opinion to avoid any conflicts, even if you disagree with what is being said. Additionally, it is important to focus on the bigger picture and do what is best for the community as a whole.
In order to succeed on your HOA board and make a difference in your community, you need to prioritize education and training. A well-educated board member plays an important role in improving their association’s reputation by practicing solid decision-making skills and developing equally strong relationships with residents and homeowners. Your community manager should also undergo ongoing training to help you and your community excel in this area. To aid in this process, your community management company should offer a variety of helpful resources on important HOA topics in various platforms that line up with your schedule.
FirstService Residential provides clients and their community managers with flexible training, industry experts and a variety of educational outlets that are nuanced based on feedback from ongoing surveys such as NPS and communication with association members and community managers. These resources include in-person training, an extensive library of robust articles, and access to industry experts.
To learn more about board member and community manager education, contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community management company.