Saturday, August 26, 2006

Home Rental blog

Dave Drugal writes about renting homes at his Home Rental Blog.

This should interest anyone on the board of a townhouse, condominium or other home owners association as well as members of those associations who rent their condos, etc. Click the headline on this blog or the link in the right column to see Dave's blog. Click the banner on his blog to see his home page and the rest of his content.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Learned a lot on HOA board

Since my last post, we've sold our townhouse and moved into a bigger patio home community.

My term as HOA president ended just before we closed on the new home, and the new board took over with no problems.

Transitions can be easy or hard. This one apparently was easy, because I received no phone calls. Two of us left the three-person board and were replaced by people who've lived in the community a few years. I was elected to the board and president of the board a couple of months after we moved in.

Important lessons learned about being on the board of a small HOA (47 homes).

It's great to have fellow board members who really care and are home most of the time. They did the nitty gritty and helped make good decisions. And they had the historical knowledge I lacked.

Even better, they respected me for my business and communications experience. So I dealt with the lawyers, negotiated a major painting job contract and worked with the mangement company.

We were a great team.

It is important to have a responsive management company. The community we moved to already has changed management companies due to its non-responsiveness to owners. You've got to wonder how someone can run a business and not take care of the people who can get them fired?

Other lessons learned. Being on an HOA board is a little like being on hospital boards. The biggest difference is that you're dealling with relatively small dollars in an HOA compared with a hospital, and a hospital's board is usually seven to 20+ members versus three to five for an HOA. Regardless of the size of the board and the business, serving on a board, especially as president, takes time. You've got to be available for afternoon and evening meetings and regular monthly meetings.

And serving on an HOA board is like being the elected official of a small municipality. The budgets and problems are smaller, but the pressures are quite similar. That is, you don't want to raise monthly maintenance fees (taxes), you want to build a reasonable reserve and you want to give your members every opportunity to attend meetings and make their wishes known.

While some HOA boards historically have been secretive, ours was open. But while we had pretty good attendance at annual meetings, nobody but the board members and management firm's rep showed up for monthly board meetings, which was ok.

Still, board meetings take two three hours. It just take time to get everything discussed and decided.

Now I've been asked to run for a place on the five-person board of our new HOA. More about that later. I'm going to blog about the HOA management business at