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Cornelius News

HOA’s: Some advice after 12 years at the helm

July 28. By Dave Vieser. When my wife Gloria and I moved from Long Island to the Townhomes at Harborside in 2004, two unanticipated things happened rather quickly:

First, we made great friends. Whether they hailed from the Carolinas or other states, it’s been a blessing.

DAVE VIESER

Before you know it I became president of our homeowners association. I retired in February after 12 years.

Suddenly I was running annual meetings in a variety of venues while communicating with our residents almost on a daily basis.

It was a steep learning curve from Long Island to Cornelius since HOA’s are not as common on Long Island.

HOAs don’t always have the best of reputations, so I set out to establish good lines of communication with the owners and explain that we all pursued the same goal: To make our community a great place to live and raise a family.

For those not familiar with the HOA structure, the boards are usually comprised of three, five or more members—uneven numbers to prevent ties—who establish policy and monitor overall finances. We retain a separate management company for day-to-day issues, such as repairing exterior leaks.

This was one of the most misunderstood aspects of our structure and for the first few years residents would come to our annual meetings with a laundry list of items that needed attention in their own townhomes, whereupon I had to refer them to our property manager.

One of the most crucial items that we addressed as a board was to establish our HOA fees, when fee increases were needed, and to initiate special assessments for major projects such as new roofs and exterior painting.

Those special assessments could be a tough sell, since our bylaws require a 67 percent approval, and we always had a certain number of owners who voted no on any financial requests.

What we always tried to do was spell out the facts, explain the ramifications of not doing the needed work (replacing roofs for example) and then letting the owners make their decision.

For the most part, I found that this process worked well.

Here’s a few tips I compiled over the years:

If you’re an officer:

1. Always be open and honest with the owners and residents. If you don’t know the answer, say so and try to find out. Also, return phone calls and emails promptly, even if it is a simple “I’ll check and get back to you”. But make sure you do!

2. Make recommendations and decisions based on whats best for the community. reminding everyone that HOA Board members live here too.

3. Safeguard the community’s finances as if it was your own..cause in a way, it is.

If you’re a property owner:

1. Respect your HOA board members. We are volunteers trying to do the best we can.

2. Don’t be afraid to offer recommendations and solutions.

3. Volunteer and serve when board and/or various committee openings occur. The more residents involved, the better it is for all.

—Dave Vieser is a retired public affairs executive and radio personality from Long Island, Baldwin to be exact. He and his wife Gloria have lived in Cornelius for 16 years. He is also the go-to reporter for Cornelius Today and Business Today.

Discussion

6 Responses to “HOA’s: Some advice after 12 years at the helm”

  1. Great information! However,I can’t help but wonder why you refer to there being “several” special assessments during your 12 year tenure? You refer to roofing but shouldn’t that have been covered in the reserve funds? In my experience special assessments should be infrequent and cover extraordinary circumstances. Multiple special assessments over a short period of time point to a problem in the way that budgets are managed and I can understand how residents are going to push back when they become frequent.

    Posted by Ken | July 29, 2020, 11:19 am
    • Not necessarily. In some communities the residents make a choice to keep reserve funds low. This can make sense in non-condo communities with affluent residents, where paying a special assessment is not a big deal. It’s seen as a way to keep a tight leash on the board, prevent it from raiding the reserves for someone’s pet project.

      Posted by canuck_in_ca | July 29, 2020, 9:54 pm
  2. Oh boy! Dave sounds like a very rational person.
    Respect is the most important trait of a board president.
    I was board president of my hoa for a few years. The reality that l was there to serve the needs of the community was paramount to me.
    So many boards lose sight of their mandates and fiduciary responsibilities.
    In the 25 years l have lived in my community, l have witnessed plenty of shenanigans and poor behavior.That hasn’t stopped me from continuing to try to enjoy my neighbors.

    Posted by Wm Suchmann | July 29, 2020, 7:26 pm
  3. I will never live in a community with an HOA, make an investment of that type on a property to have a bunch of nonsense rules is just not right after I have seen so many complaints from many residents on different HOA communities. I’ll say no thanks.

    Posted by Roberth ducht | July 29, 2020, 8:26 pm
  4. They fix things on the EXTERNAL without any kind of approval in general no matter what they just do what they think it’s right? They hire non-license people to do the job with no qualifications at all, and they don’t know the requirements. BYLAWS?

    Posted by Sider | July 30, 2020, 1:12 am

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