Serving as a homeowners association (HOA) board member can be an extremely rewarding experience. As an active voice in your community, you can help to protect property values, make association improvements and create opportunities to enhance the lives of your neighbors. Your goals for serving on your local condominium or residential community board may also include developing leadership skills, making new connections or simply giving back to your community.
No matter your reasons, there are several qualities that will help to ensure your success. Here are five key traits every HOA board member should bring to the table:
1. Bring an objective perspective
It’s important as an HOA board member that you are prepared to make decisions for the good of the community. Board members that seek to serve on the board to fulfill a personal agenda can end up causing more harm than good. Be objective on all matters in front of the board and operate with a business mindset. Handle issues in a professional manner and remember to not take things personally.
2. Be supportive and in alignment
Regardless of your personal opinion, it’s important that the board be in unity. As a group you must identify top priorities and support the concept of majority rules. “The most successful boards act as one leadership voice for the community,” according to Terry Bascher, senior vice president of management for FirstService Residential in Dallas. The board should follow proper protocol to make decisions, and then once made, those decisions should be upheld by all board members.
3. Be an active listener
In order to make good decisions and act fairly, you must have a true understanding of the needs of your community. Ask for feedback from residents on their concerns and bring valid issues before the board to be considered.
4. Demonstrate honesty and integrity
To put this trait simply, you should always do the right thing. As an HOA board member, your neighbors are counting on you to preserve, maintain and enhance the value of the assets of the community, which directly affects the property investment of all residents. You should always manage association business and finances with the utmost care and follow protocols as outlined in your governing documents. If not, you can open yourself and the association to unnecessary risk and liability.
5. Serve as a dedicated leader of your community
When considering whether or not serving on an HOA board is right for you, it’s important that you understand the time commitment and requirements of the role. “Board members that do not fully understand the complexity of the association’s operations tend to have the most challenges,” says Bascher. “It’s essential for each board member to take the time to review their association governing documents and state statutes, as well as understand association finances and what should and shouldn’t be disclosed related to an owner's privacy.”
It’s also vital that you dedicate the time needed to stay actively engaged in association business. Here are some examples of what you can expect:
- Board meetings – typically held once a quarter to conduct board business.
- Working sessions for special projects – additional attention may be required to resolve a particular issue. Successful boards should plan to conduct an annual strategic planning workshop that may entail a full working day.
- Email communication – correspondence between other board members, the residential management company or residents could be 1 to 2 hours per week.
- Annual budget planning – usually a dedicated time once a year. A solid HOA management company should do most of the heavy lifting, but you will need to dedicate time to review and approve this critical document.
- Attending lifestyle events – will depend on the activity level in your community.
While the decision to serve on an HOA board should not be taken lightly, it can be a fun and fulfilling experience, especially if you bring the right mindset to the table. It's also helpful to have a professional residential management team that can provide the support and guidance you need to be successful.
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