you're reading...

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.


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.