Almost two years ago, Ian and I purchased our first home. We thought (and still think) that it is great – it’s in a relatively safe East Cobb neighborhood, which is very close to a few different downtown areas, a lot of our neighbors have kids, and we have neighborhood events and parties, in order to foster the feeling of being in a community. When we first moved into the neighborhood, I felt like there was not enough community, so I decided to join our HOA Board. Currently, I am in charge of managing the neighborhood events and our social media page and they have improved significantly since I have joined. Being on my HOA board is not what I thought it would be, though. It’s a lot harder and more grueling than I originally anticipated. Today, I want to share with you the HOA Responsibilities to Homeowners, and what it takes to be on your HOA Board (because it is not for the faint-hearted!). I am not going to talk about my points in any specific order. Instead, I am just going to list off a few things that I have noticed over the past year of being on my HOA Board. First, let’s jump into what the HOA Responsibilities really are.
HOA Responsibilities To Homeowners
Maintaining Common Areas // Maintaining the common areas is harder than you think. We have three neighborhoods – one has a lake, pool, playground, and small pavilion, the second neighborhood doesn’t have much at all, and the third neighborhood has a pool, tennis courts, huge pavilion, and playground. You have to think about all of the grass and flowers in the green spaces, as well (and we have a lot of green space!). We are in charge of making sure all of these common spaces look good, function properly, and are safe. We clean out pool storage rooms, we empty trashcans when we have to, and we donate our own time and money (occasionally), in order to keep these spots looking good.
Creating & Following A Budget // The HOA board is responsible for creating and following a budget. Luckily, we have an awesome treasurer, but this is harder than expected because we have a lot of unexpected fees (which I will get to more in a minute!). Homeowners have to trust us with their HOA dues, to manage them properly and use them in the right way. We have to create a functioning budget, keep records of where our money goes, and we even file taxes and have the chance of getting audited. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to create a functional budget, follow it, and keep many records. Although we donate our time, an HOA really is just like a normal business.
Creating A Reserve // This is a major responsibility of the HOA Board. We are in charge of creating a reserve account for larger purchases. Why? Because we do not want to go into debt. Engineered Tax Services says, “The objective of a reserve study is to recommend the minimum annual reserve Contribution Rate made by a condominium association to its Reserve Account. Legislature encourages every condominium association to establish a Reserve Account to fund major maintenance, repair, and replacement of common elements, including limited common elements that will require major maintenance, repair, or replacement within thirty years. The Reserve Study is intended to provide adequate funds for the replacement or major repair of any component of the property as it becomes necessary. It is a budget planning tool which identifies the current status of the Reserve Account and a stable and equitable Funding Plan to offset the anticipated future major common area expenditures.” So, for example. We had a reserve study done and the engineers that did it said that we will most likely need to replace our fence in 2020. This is a huge cost (I mean, over $100,000!) because we have a lot of fencing. The reserve study is done by a professional to ensure that we are saving and budgeting enough to be able to afford this when the time comes, instead of going into debt. Engineered Tax Services, a professionally licensed engineering firm that is based Nationally, does reserve studies that are conducted by an engineer who knows building construction, making it extremely accurate. Then, your study is reviewed by other senior engineers, which is an extra step to ensure accuracy. The CEO, Julio Gonzalez started Engineered Tax Services with a goal to bring specialty tax engineering services to mainstream America. Now, they are the country leader in these services that increase cash flow to allow for United States job growth and expansion.
Representing The Homeowners // As an HOA board, we have the responsibility to represent the homeowners. Like every other homeowner, our goal is to make our neighborhood flourish and increase home values, in any way possible. You guys, if you have a strict HOA in your neighborhood, this is why it is a good thing (even if it is annoying!). No matter what kind of decision it is, every time we make a plan or payment for a service, we always have the overall homeowner in mind. We are their representatives and our goal is to make our neighborhood a better place. While this is a huge responsibility and commitment, I also really like this part of the volunteer job because it gives me a purpose and allows me to control the growth of our community.
Enforcing Rules // While we are not an extremely strict HOA, we do have rules and we enforce them, but we only have and enforce them because they will keep everyone safe and improve our home values (this really is the ultimate goal!). Yes, we have to approve outdoor home improvement projects, but it is only because we want to keep our homes in tip-top shape, to ensure that future home purchases are interested in our neighborhood. You would not believe some of the requests we receive!
Handling Issues & Complaints // This is my most hated part of the volunteer job. Since I am in charge of social media, I receive the bulk of the complaints. Unfortunately, people do take their ‘anger’ out on you, as well. I do not think that people realize that we do not get paid and all we want is for the neighborhood to improve. Either way, it is our responsibility to manage and handle these complaints, as well as any issues that arise in our community. I have met with homeowners late at night and early in the morning, so they can point out that we have too many ants in our pool area, or that someone put up a fence or painted their home when they were not supposed to. It’s definitely a huge part of the job and it’s not extremely fun, ha!
What does it take to be on your HOA Board?
So, now that you know a few of the many HOA Responsibilities to Homeowners, let’s quickly talk about what it takes to be on your board. You need patience, determination, and a want to improve. There are days when I get 100 or more emails from just board members that are trying to solve an issue or do not understand a concept and I really want to rip my hair out, but there are other days when the homeowners tell me how thankful they are that I volunteered my time to create, manage, and promote a neighborhood garage sale, or hired the best food truck in Atlanta to cater our summer party. It really is hard and intense volunteer work, but I really enjoy the challenge (on most days, at least).
This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.