Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

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Random Poster
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Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Random Poster »

I’m considering running for an open spot on the neighborhood HOA board.

I have no board experience and am relatively new to the neighborhood and so I may not win, but regardless, I figure it might be worth a shot. The board is still controlled by the developer and no one seems to have any official title (as in, it isn’t clear who is officially the president, or treasurer, or secretary, etc).

However, for those who have experience with such matters, what are the pros and cons to being on a neighborhood HOA board?

If it matters, the board currently only has 3 positions and the neighborhood has around 100 houses.

Thanks.
Soon2BXProgrammer
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

I haven't served on an HOA board, but other boards.

I will only participate if the organization provides insurance:

https://www.travelers.com/professional- ... non-profit

this has actually been an issue with some small organizations (think PTAs)... i will participate (donate, donate time, etc) but not hold a formal role, unless they agree to provide liability insurance .
runner3081
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by runner3081 »

It is a miserable, thankless job, but I always stay involved because I don't trust other people, haha. Have been on HOA boards for 10+ years now.

We have insurance coverage for board members, I wouldn't do it otherwise.
Sic Vis Pacem
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Sic Vis Pacem »

I was on the Board of an HOA for our condo association for four years.

Pros: You will have insight and input into the direction of the HOA. This may include promulgating rules and regulations that benefit the association, or planned expenditures.

Cons: You will deal with a lot of petty stuff. Neighbor disputes, rule violations, and lots of "input" from people who want some pet issue addressed but are unwilling to devote their own time or energy to doing it. If your experience is anything like mine, half of the association will have no interest in the goings-on of the board, 40% will be attentive, attend meetings, listen, and offer the occasional useful input, and 10% will be just [expletive deleted by moderator oldcomputerguy] miserable to deal with. I mean true god-forbid-you-miss-a-chance-to-complain-about-something types. Or people that think it's OK to do remodeling at 11pm in a highrise condo and are shocked, SHOCKED when the neighbors downstairs are upset.

A good property management company can insulate you from most of that, but the amount of times I had to email someone with a nice version of "not my problem, go talk to your neighbor," "try not be a horrible person," and "if it's that bad, call the police," was ridiculous.
alex_686
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by alex_686 »

I would broadly second the above comments.

I would encourage running for the board for slightly different reasons. On the HOA board that I am on things run better when there is broad community support and interest. Things run worse when we had to forcibly draft people on the board so we could get a quorum.

Plus, it is always nice to know some of the technically workings, such as where the water shut off values are. Or how well funded the reserve account is.
Former brokerage operations & mutual fund accountant. I hate risk, which is why I study and embrace it.
BoomerM3
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by BoomerM3 »

I would urge you not to serve on the Board. Seems like you should/could make a difference. The odds are you won't. You will get embroiled it trivial things. I served on our Board (100 homes) for 4 years as Treasurer.

If you want to get involved, try doing it from the outside. The best thing for you as a newbie is to attend Board meetings (and other meetings like ARB, compliance, etc.) as a homeowner. That way you can get a feel for what's happening and perhaps provide input.

If a couple of years, you may feel that Board membership is warranted.

Peter
bluebolt
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by bluebolt »

Is there a management company currently? If so, it's likely they were brought on by the developer and I would immediately initiate a competitive bid to make sure you are getting a good value for your money and not just paying a friend of the developer.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by JoeRetire »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:21 pm I’m considering running for an open spot on the neighborhood HOA board.

I have no board experience and am relatively new to the neighborhood and so I may not win, but regardless, I figure it might be worth a shot. The board is still controlled by the developer and no one seems to have any official title (as in, it isn’t clear who is officially the president, or treasurer, or secretary, etc).

However, for those who have experience with such matters, what are the pros and cons to being on a neighborhood HOA board?

If it matters, the board currently only has 3 positions and the neighborhood has around 100 houses.
I'm on my HOA's board of directors. I'm also the Treasurer, handle the website, run the Long Range Planning Committee, am on the Maintenance Committee and help my wife with the Social Committee.

Pros: I like helping my neighbors and giving back to our 55+ community. Being on the Board keeps me informed of everything.
Cons: There's more work to do (we try to keep dues low, so volunteers do some of the work). Sometimes I have to tell neighbors things they don't want to hear.

Our board has 5 positions, no developer involvement, and 34 units.

I'm not sure I'd want to be part of an HOA Board with ill-defined roles and rules.
Last edited by JoeRetire on Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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stan1
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by stan1 »

Thankless job, but someone has to do it and best if people who are rational and not pushing personal agendas take on the duties. Boards can get involved in politics or personal agendas such as dislike of children in non-age restricted communities. I would not be involved with a combative board, but some people seem to live for confrontation.

It helps if there is a professional management company which keeps the HOA compliant with all state and federal laws and helps keep expectations reasonable. Also manager is the front line for dealing with issues such as parking enforcement or neighbor disputes about CC&R compliance. I would not do it without a professional management company involved personally. Also liability insurance.

In the case where the developer is still controlling the board my first question would be when and how the transition out to owners will occur. The developer is of course focused on selling property now (current property values) not how the community operates years in advance (future property values). The developer is incentivized to have low association fees that may or may not be realistic for the types of services provided by the community.
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Clever_Username
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Clever_Username »

I've done it twice. I'm glad I did, but I don't plan to do it again.

I owned a condo for a while in a building where around a third to a half of the units were owned as investments. It might have been a bit higher, I don't remember. In any case, the board was primarily investor-owners who were using it in ways I felt were inappropriate, as did some other like-minded owners (some were residents, others were investor-owners). So we organized for the next election and took over the board. I found myself as HOA president. Thankfully, the VP I ran with was very experienced in these things, and we turned the place around. I also oversaw the first HOA dues increase in a decade, which was needed with the previous board not maintaining a reserve fund.

A few years later, I had sold that place and bought a townhome elsewhere. Much smaller community. The board, at that point, had one active person. I went to a few meetings, which were mostly him telling us how things were going. I think he did a great job and I would have been happy to keep him as HOA president for a long time. When election time was coming up, he suggested I run. He made the same suggestion to two other homeowners. There were three spots available, including his. He didn't put his own name in, so there were three candidates. I ended up on the board again. We ran it well, and went to him for advice when we needed it. He still had input but not a vote.

Definitely make sure there's D&I insurance. Despite what The Internet(tm) tells you, most HOAs are good organizations. Join the board, do well.
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BolderBoy
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by BolderBoy »

Make sure there is D&O insurance coverage provided then do it. It can be quite eye opening and some of the stuff the Board has to listen to can be quite amusing.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
Normchad
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Normchad »

I showed up,to the HOA meeting once, and by the time it was over, I was the president.

It can be a lot of free work you’re doing. But you get a say in what the community and management company focuses on.

For me, I was planning to sell my house within a year. So we focused on getting people to clean up their yards and paint their houses, to make it look better.

It was a good experience. You learn a lot about people and your neighbors. There are a lot of sad stories out there. One guy wasn’t taking care of his house. He admitted that, and felt bad about it. He wanted to do the right thing. But he was dying from cancer at the time.

During this time, I learned just how many real estate transactions are due to people getting divorced. I had no idea.....

I don’t go to HOA meetings anymore. I don’t want to be on the board again....
athenslb57
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by athenslb57 »

I'm president of an HOA for two different properties. It is a thankless job and like everyone else mentioned you will have to deal with a lot of petty issues. If you are lucky maybe 25% - 40% will attend a meeting or two. Generally, the ones who complain the most are never willing to help do anything to better the community. Make sure your HOA's governing docs are in order and make sure the HOA carries a separate D&O policy.
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Steelersfan
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Steelersfan »

I've been on the board of my small condo for 14 years, treasurer for the last five years. Our management company does all the detail financial work so my work is more as a financial analyst. We have a good board with many long time members so it has been a positive experience and I feel good about my contribution. Things to think about:

What time commitment will it take? I'm retired so have plenty of that and didn't join the board until I retired.
How good is the management company and what services does it provide? The more the better.
Do you have any sense of the current board, how capable they are, and how well they get along? Trying to right a listing ship is not easy.
Cruise
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Cruise »

Used to be in a HOA and was a board member for a period of time. Have been on numerous other boards.

My big suggestion is to know the skill sets/temperaments and dynamics of the current board members. If you enjoy living a peaceful life, the worst thing you can do is to join a dysfunctional board. If you have a well-functioning board, it can be a pleasure to give back to the "community."
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grogu
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by grogu »

I found I spent a lot more time having to deal with issues I had no interest in, while I didn't get to spend as much time addressing the issues I was hoping to correct.
schachtw
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by schachtw »

runner3081 wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:52 pm It is a miserable, thankless job, but I always stay involved because I don't trust other people, haha. Have been on HOA boards for 10+ years now.

We have insurance coverage for board members, I wouldn't do it otherwise.
+1
In total agreement, I echo the above reply. Exactly my reasoning.

That’s what happens when you’re picky, and want things done your way.
camden
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by camden »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:21 pm I’m considering running for an open spot on the neighborhood HOA board.

I have no board experience and am relatively new to the neighborhood and so I may not win, but regardless, I figure it might be worth a shot.

Thanks.
“may not win”? In my neighborhood, if you breathe a word to anyone that you might even consider being on the HOA board, you will be summarily drafted on to it.

Make certain that liability insurance for Board members and a functioning professional management company are in place.

Having the developer still in the picture adds another layer of difficulty to an already thankless job, as the desires of the developer and the Board are often at cross purposes, and the original PUD for the community may well be written so as to give the developer controlling authority over many decisions.
michaeljc70
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by michaeljc70 »

runner3081 wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:52 pm It is a miserable, thankless job, but I always stay involved because I don't trust other people, haha. Have been on HOA boards for 10+ years now.

We have insurance coverage for board members, I wouldn't do it otherwise.
Good summary.
MikeZ
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by MikeZ »

There are a lot of things I could say about serving on a HOA board.

All of them would get deleted by the admins :twisted:
michaeljc70
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Our HOA is considering doing an expensive project that will result in a special assessment. I don't think the project is necessary (mostly cosmetic and not needed on many units). I thought about joining the board to influence this decision. In the end, I decided I didn't want the hassle. Our board only has 3 out of 5 members because no one wants to bother.

I wouldn't consider it if there wasn't a management company. If there is and I was on the board, I would direct anyone that tried to communicate directly with me to contact the management company.
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Kenkat
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Kenkat »

I am the Treasurer of our small HOA - 19 houses. Over the years I have been Treasurer - 15+ - nobody is screaming for the position :happy - there’s been maybe three situations that were a bit of a pain. Otherwise, it’s a pretty easy job. We are insured and have a landscaping company mow and maintain the front entrance to the neighborhood.

I’d consider giving it a go if there are no big red flags (like neighbors saying how much they hate the HOA).
Last edited by Kenkat on Thu Apr 08, 2021 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
N.Y.Cab
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by N.Y.Cab »

I think it’s a good place to gain experience on how to run a business. As a tech nerd with a few accounting courses in college, I enjoyed serving as the treasurer. It was fun figuring out how to use Quickbooks, mail merge in Microsoft Office, filing taxes. It’s all good if you have the capacity to learn.
Rdytoretire
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Rdytoretire »

I would suggest you attend a few meetings just to get an idea of how the board is run. I was an HOA board member for a couple of years, it was pretty disappointing. I felt that the HOA president and management company just wanted to continue doing what they were doing and did not really care about my input. It's a relativley large HOA with about 100 townhomes and it appears that not many people want to be on the board let alone attend the meetings.

Before I would even consider another HOA membership I would attend a few meetings and see how suggestions or input from others is treated by the board.
RJC
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by RJC »

It's all good and fun until a "potential" for a lawsuit gets brought up in the meetings.
MikeZ
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by MikeZ »

I went to an HOA meeting were an owner showed up to ask why a lien was put on his house. The HOA said he did not pay his dues to the property management company. The owner showed cancelled checks that were paid to the old management company that cashed them. The new management company has his billing address wrong and never found out he paid the old company.

Just seems like lawsuit city to serve on a board that deals with this sort of stuff. I get having insurance to protect you personally, but intentionally putting myself in close proximity to lawyers and legal actions is not something I want to do.
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PoultryMan
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by PoultryMan »

Pros:

**Involvement in your community
**Awareness of how money is spent
** Someone has to do it

Cons:

**Petty issues
**Much like American politics, everyone wants things and doesnt want to pay for them.
**Dont expect it to be run like a business, meaning people are often volunteering with little business acumen and there is no accountability

Advice: Take a long look at prior board minutes to see what you are getting into. Better yet, ask to observe one. If you REALLY want to be helpful, look at the CCRs and founding developer documents and long term plan to change them. Developers make these and their goal is to sell homes. Clarifying and ratifying updated CCRs is time concuming but can be very helful down the road when periodic maintenance items need to be addressed.
Ollie123
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Ollie123 »

Considered running for mine after a debacle of a few years ago. However its a bunch of retirees who love to meet mid-day during the week, so wasn't really feasible.

If you do end up on the board, just don't do what mine did and secretly try to buy a golf course. Country club in the neighborhood is not doing well. The golf-loving residents on the million+ dollar homes overlooking the golf course were worried about sinking property values if the club went defunct and were also board members, so tried to have the HOA buy the club. That way every neighborhood resident will become a club member for the low--low price of only $400/month! They'll even waive the initiation fee! You'll also gain access to the run-down pool no one uses and a gym with 30 year old equipment that isn't much better than most home gyms. So really its a big win for everyone. Who wouldn't want this?

The folks in the 250k homes on the other side of the neighborhood were not pleased. Forget lawsuits, I genuinely believe the board members and their family's physical safety would have been at risk if they had managed to sneak this through.
MikeZ
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by MikeZ »

I think there are stories of the mob getting into HOA's because of the lack of oversight in spending.
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Elric
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Elric »

I've been on our neighborhood board about 5 years now, treasurer for about 4, and run the website (which I think I'll be able to hand off this year to a new board member, and I plan to step down from the board and as treasurer when my current term ends after next year). In the past, I've also served terms and my wife has also served time on the board and been the treasurer as well. Also, I *DON'T* want an overly activist HOA, so being on the board help with that!

I see it as 1) like jury duty, a civic obligation to serve from time to time, as if we had to hire a management company the annual assessments would likely quadruple. (We have a small, 48 home neighborhood). Our board, FYI, tries to have 9 people on it, elected for 3 year terms, 1/3rd of the seats open up each year. Some always have to recruit new members (we try to get turnover and a mix of returning and new board members every year). Some years we have to recruit 1 or 2 candidates the day of the election, which, pre-COVID, we hold at our annual picnic and meeting.

It's mostly a nice way to deal with minor things that need doing and get together regularly with some of the neighbors (via Zoom this past year). Yes, there are occassionally headaches and 1 or 2 annoying homeowners. We just resolved one issue with a covenants violation that impacted a neighbor of the violating property and dragged on for 18 months. But those are relatively rare.

DO be sure the HOA Board has D&O insurance, as others have said. Unlike others, unless you have a lot of HOA-owned property and capital items (like a townhome association), I think you're too small to want to hire an HOA management company. I live in Virginia, and frankly the biggest recurring hassle, which isn't THAT big, is the state keeps adding rules year after year that we need to track, and update the state-mandated disclosure packet for prospective buyers. We have to send out dues reminders and a few people are a little late each year, but that only really affects the treasurer. We did have to file a lien on one house, which didn't pay for several years, but that was a very rare exception.

Bottom line: if you're interested, it's worth doing, so long as the board isn't toxic.
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daytona084
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by daytona084 »

I have been on my board for over 12 years, mostly as president. I do it for one reason - to avoid a possible nightmare a rogue board. I'm sure you have heard about power hungry boards going crazy and foreclosing on people due to nit-picky violations. Then there are other boards who are not that bad but are basically dysfunctional. Whenever we have a board opening, as much as possible I try to recruit like minded board members. We are of the opinion that the board that governs least governs best. We have a management company, so it's not a lot of work for the board members.
Hebell
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Re: Thoughts on HOA Board Membership?

Post by Hebell »

President for 1 year of 220 units,
Vp for 4 years prior, with a very obstructionist former president.
Florida condominiums are subject to slightly different laws than HOAs
We have a large property Management company
It was a bit of a hostile takeover because the former president was depleting our operating cash too quickly in order to essentially keep our monthly payments down, rather than exercising cost control over work being performed. Fortunately I did not inherit any scandals, but a pile of mismanagement problems.

In my life as a defense contractor, I was used to salvaging a lot of programs that were near death, or handling dysfunctional mergers between companies we had acquired. So this was right up my alley.

I guess I couldn't help myself, when I wanted to use my job skills in retirement to help get the Board on new footing

I do really like my community, and have plenty of friends here. I find doing the job helps me keep up a broad set of acquaintances, because naturally I am introverted and would just hole up like a hermit and write software, given my druthers.

My intention is to help the board with some of the problems of our aging infrastructure, revisit our reserve studies, and hopefully keep us out of special assessment territory. Then hand it off, once we get over this hump

In some ways I really wish I hadn't done it, as it is sucking up far too much time. But I keep getting told I'm doing a good thing. So I hope, when I reach the pearly Gates (hopefully many years from now) I'm allowed in.
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