Here are some tips for quickly, productively, and successfully getting up to speed and operating as a board member:
#1 Read Your Governing Documents - The best way to quickly learn how your association works is to read your covenants, By-Laws, Rules & Regulations, and other governing documents. You will quickly find out the things you are required to do, and where you have some flexibility. It is also easier to communicate with neighbors when you know the facts.
#2 Understand the Financials - Review the financial statements and do not be afraid to ask for help from your board treasurer or property manager. The board must ensure that budget, cash flow, and reserves are accurate.
#3 Learn the Business Before You Change It - Before you jump in and make a bunch of changes, take the time to understand why things are currently done the way they are. You may be surprised when you see the process and procedures from an insider’s perspective.
#4 Communicate - Transparency is critical to maintaining a positive relationship between the board, the management company, and the community.
#5 Be Patient - As a board member, you will most likely encounter challenges with neighbors, and even other board members due to reasonable (sometimes unreasonable) differences of opinion. Take your time to work through issues and remember that no party is ever 100% satisfied in a compromise.
#6 Remember that You Are a Fiduciary - This one is last because it’s important: even though you’re a volunteer, remember that agreeing to serve on your community board means that you take on some level of accountability for the management of your community and its assets. When you make decisions, you must make them according to your governing documents along with the best interest of the community, even if those decisions are not in your personal best interest.
Although many neighbors do not always remember to thank you, you are doing your community a great service by volunteering for the board! This is a great way to meet neighbors while you are helping shape the future of your community. Enjoy it!
#7 Property Management – Property managers understand the importance that the Board and the manager work together as a team. The Board adopts rules, enacts policy, and approves the budget. The manager executes the plan at the direction of the Board, ensuring that the actions comply with governing documents and state and federal law. Also making sure your community is well maintained, has a balanced budget & reserves, and the residents are happy owners.
Maureen Garchinsky is a Property Manager at Del Val Realty & Property Management and has over 12 years of property management experience in real estate including managing large multi-family housing apartment communities as well as numerous homeowner and condominium associations throughout Philadelphia and surrounding counties.
Maureen grew up locally in Delaware County and now resides in Chester County where a large portion of her portfolio is located. Maureen believes in order to be a successful property manager, you must be able to wear a variation of many hats, have financial stewardship, along with having strong leadership skills and having consistency with your board members, residents, and vendor relations along with compassion for each individual.