If you have recently joined the board of your homeowner or community association – congratulations. It’s a great way to volunteer your time, especially when you care about your neighborhood and the people who live in the same community. Joining your HOA board is also an excellent way to grow as a leader. You can now impact the way your community responds to the needs of its homeowners and properties.
This can be a tremendously rewarding role, but most board members will tell you that it’s also a bit confusing and even overwhelming. If you are a new board member, we have some tips for how to settle in and make a big difference quickly.
1. Review and Study Your Governing Documents
Your first task as a board members will be to familiarize yourself with all the governing documents for your association. Get to know your Declaration or Master Deed, which includes the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (or CC&R’s), and sets forth the responsibilities and authority of the association. It also outlines the rights and responsibilities of owners in the community.
Read the Articles of Incorporation as well. This is the legal document that creates the association as an entity. It defines how many directors the corporation has and what the functions of the Board are. Check your bylaws so you understand the rules and regulations of the association. You most likely read through these already – when you moved into the HOA, but you’re looking at them from a different perspective as a board member.
2. Find a Friend Who Can Mentor and Support You
A board member’s job is to protect the best interests of homeowners, help preserve the value of the homes in your community, and improve the quality of life of residents. You’re part of a team, and while most board have a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, there’s not much of a hierarchy. You’re all working together to keep your policies, procedures, rules and regulations easily accessible, and you’re ensuring your fellow homeowners follow them at all times.
As a new member of the board, it will help if you can find someone to work closely with. A mentor or a more experienced board member can be invaluable in assisting you to better understand your role as a board member.
3. Focus on Communication
Transparency and communication are important to credibility when you’re on the board and even within the community. No one likes being kept in the dark, and people tend to take it personally when they’re lied to or misled. This is especially true inside a homeowners association. Commit to keeping your residents informed and educated. Let them know that their opinions matter. This contributes to a sense of community and gives your entire Board a sense of respectability that you’ll need to establish and enforce rules.
4. Keep Board Meetings Productive and Meaningful
Board meetings are generally dreaded, but as a board member, you don’t get to avoid them anymore. And, they don’t have to be painful. Instead of making your board meetings miserable, you can contribute to making them meaningful. Increase attendance by reaching out to homeowners. If you and your fellow board members can be prepared, organized, and open to the entire community, you’ll have better meetings. Stick to your agenda and keep the meetings short. No one should have a platform to take up too much time. Implement and enforce time limits for comments from homeowners.
Stick to parliamentary procedures in your meetings. This provides structure. At the end of every meeting, the chairperson must read out loud the summary of all the decisions made and what the next steps are. Everyone should leave the meetings with a full understanding of everything that was discussed, agreed on and the next steps.
5. Invest in Long Term Planning
New board members often bring more than influence to their organization – they bring fresh energy. You’re in a position to contribute ideas for what your community can become in the future. How do you want to make things better where you live?
Coordinate with fellow board members and talk to your neighbors. Discuss plans for the future and put together a budget that will support those plans. Brainstorming is an important responsibility when you’re on the board.
6. Use All Available Tools and Resources
Professional tools and resources are available to HOA boards, and you should take advantage of all of them. If your HOA isn’t already working with a property management company, this might be a good time to consider it. It will make a huge impact on what you’re able to accomplish.
7. Lead With Accountability and Character
Board membership has its challenges, but when you decide what kind of impact you want to have and then you set about achieving those goals, you’ll have a successful term as a board member. Make sure you stay honest, open, and accountable. Remain calm and professional, even when you’re challenged or attacked for your views. You’ll have to put the needs of the entire community over your own desires. That speaks to character.
If you’d like to learn more about the work we do with HOA communities in Winston-Salem and the surrounding areas, please contact us at Capstone Realty.