There’s a lot of talk in the media and online about bad Boards of Directors, including our recent article on how to tell if your Board is stealing from the association. But how do you tell if the Board of your Condo or HOA is doing a good job? Not all Boards are bad, right?
The truth is, most Board members are honest people that meant well when they campaigned for election and mean well when they attend and vote in each meeting. They have reasons for making the unpopular decision that the residents complain about. Oftentimes those reasons are valid and the unpopular decision was actually the lesser of two evils. But, how do you know for sure?
To find out what HOA managers and management company executives thought was the ultimate sign of a good Board, we conducted a survey on LinkedIn. The survey responses were almost tied. It turns out, there isn’t one ultimate sign. Instead of one thing that makes your Board great, there’s a list of things that make your Board of Directors successful… or not.
The most popular survey response with 33% of the vote, having a well-funded budget and reserves is a hallmark of a good Board. But other factors go into good financial management as well. A good Board is honest when spending HOA funds and uses them for the good of the community. They communicate with the membership about the reasons for budget increases, how they are using the money collected, and what the process is for paying vendors and for dealing with homeowners who aren’t paying on time. Big projects are well-researched and planned to limit unexpected expenses that make special assessments more likely. Speaking of special assessments, good boards know that regular dues increases that keep up with inflation are a better way to fund projects than special assessments.
Coming in at 29% of the vote is proactive maintenance of the facilities. This means little to no deferred maintenance in the community. All buildings, parks, equipment, etc. are inspected often. Preventative maintenance is completed because the Board knows it will save money in the long run. When something needs repair or replacing, it’s completed as soon as possible, because the longer it waits, the more it costs. What good does it do to have a well-funded budget if money is never spent on maintaining the physical assets of the community?
Tied with maintenance at 29%, some managers and executives felt that the number one sign of a good board is how it feels to attend their meetings. Good Boards can disagree without slipping into childish or inappropriate behavior. They read the packets and reports that management provides them before the meeting and show up prepared to vote. Members feel comfortable attending meetings, and because the Board sets a good example of how to behave, most of the members follow it.
Another sign of a good Board is goal setting. It’s hard to steer a ship if you don’t know where it’s headed. A Board that plans ahead and sets goals for the direction the community should head in is a Board that has a better chance of getting there. A Board that doesn’t plan is going to find itself spinning around in circles.
People might not like to talk about it because it can be emotionally uncomfortable, but to be good at their job the Board must do something about owners that don’t pay their dues. It’s not fair to the owners that do pay to have to carry the burden of those that don’t. But a good Board is not overly aggressive when it comes to collections. They make sure that the collection solution they use is fair, not predatory, and advocates for the association to collect every possible penny.
Do you want to grade the Board of Directors for your community to see how good or bad of a job they’re doing? Using the following checklist, give your Board 5 points for every answer that you checked “yes”.
- Increases to assessments are small and regular
- The budget, reserve study, annual review, and other financial reports are accessible to the members for review
- Reserve funding levels are above 80%
- Special assessments are rare
- The final cost for projects is usually in line with the projected cost
- Components are inspected often and repaired as needed
- When components fail, they are replaced and not abandoned or removed
- The Board behaves like professionals at meetings even when they disagree
- Meetings are business-oriented and not popularity contests or social hours
- Members are welcome and feel comfortable attending meetings
- A goal-setting discussion happens at least once a year
- Experts are consulted and their advice is considered when making decisions
- The number of owners that are late on their dues is less than 10%
- Collection practices are fair and judgments and foreclosures are a last resort
- The Board uses a professional collection solution instead of doing it themselves
Now, add up those scores and see how the Board did. A great score is 60-75, a good score is 45-60, an average score is 30-45, a Board that scores 15-30 needs improvement, and if the Board scored less than 15 points you might be in trouble.
Even good Boards of Directors sometimes find that their collections could be improved. Contact us today to find out why Axela Technologies is a better collection solution than your attorney, and learn more about our options for helping you recover late payments from delinquent owners.
By, Dee A. Rowe, Guest Writer