Keeping neighbors neighborly; That’s what we at Gulf South Property Management do!
You don’t have to look far to see examples of Homeowner Associations (HOAs) being stereotyped as controlling, power-hungry organizations that bring about no discernible benefit. While some memes and blogs may go a little too far, in some instances there can be an underlying element of truth to that message.
We believe that a well-organized Association with the right intentions can turn any community around, no matter the history.
While keeping up appearances are all well and good, getting along with your neighbors is also equally important. After all, you wouldn’t want to end up featured on an episode of Fear Thy Neighbor would you?
Below we share a list of ways to foster a sense of community in your neighborhood.
1. Capitalize on common concerns
As an HOA board member, your most effective tool for managing compliance issues is the fact that everyone in your association bought in that neighborhood because they liked how it looked. Capitalizing on that common thread is a great way to address compliance issues and work toward the goal of fostering a sense of community in your neighborhood.
Common areas are the heart of the association. Whether your neighborhood has common parks, pavilions and pools or simply a common entrance, the HOA should take an active role in ensuring the upkeep of designated common areas. These common areas help bring residents together and encourages them to mingle and interact with one another. It’s a great way to demonstrate to neighbors that the Board of Directors takes preservation of property values seriously and is working for the greater good of the association.
2. Listen to understand, not to respond
The most common HOA complaints come from neighbors who have no idea what the Board of Directors does to preserve their community. After all “where are all the dues going?”
One way to combat this question is full transparency. Open meetings once year are great but often times schedules conflict and people can’t attend. If your association is struggling with neighbor satisfaction consider alternative ways to keep neighbors informed. Examples of ways to do thins include quarterly “update” meetings, newsletters and email blasts.
Rather than keeping meetings in-house and behind closed doors, your HOA should encourage all residents to participate. For maximum participation, residents should be provided with an easy-to-use channel to provide their feedback. By doing so, this passes on a clear message that the voice of each and every single homeowner is valued by the committee.
The best property management companies have technology in place to receive and respond to homeowner concerns immediately. At Gulf South Property Management all of our clients have access to an online platform to raise maintenance issues at any time day or night.
Organize fun events
One opportunity we see for most associations is organizing fun events for the entire community. Most associations struggle with this because, as a non profit organization striving to keep dues down, the HOA simply doesn’t have the funds available to host multiple parties a year.
No worries! There are a lot of options keeping costs down while hosting neighborhood events. Pot luck events are a great way to bring folks together. Most neighbors will jump at the chance to showcase their best dish for their neighbors! Does a neighbor have a jump house? An inflatable large screen tv? Bingo, Bunco and a cake walk are all great ways to bring neighbors together while being a good steward of association resources.
HOAs can help new neighbors feel welcomed by sending over a welcoming committee. This can be an informal affair, consisting of a few volunteers who will introduce themselves and provide a helping hand if needed.
Such a simple gesture will go a long way to create goodwill amongst neighbors.
At Gulf South Property Management one of the Lagniappe services we provide to our clients is free welcome packets to all new neighbors. A member of the GSPM team will greet new neighbors with a dozen fresh baked cookies and a packet of relevant neighborhood information. This friendly gesture is one way we get to know the neighbors we serve. Providing new neighbors a complete packet of neighborhood information ( Covenants and Restrictions, By Laws, Architectural Request Forms and Board Member Directory) is a great way to proactively inform them of association rules thereby lessening the chance of a violation.
And the best part? We do this at no charge to our Association clients!
Circulate a newsletter
Periodic newsletters are a great way for the Board of Directors to share neighborhood updates throughout the year. If you have a tech savvy neighbor, ask them to volunteer to draft the newsletter. Another way to control costs is to circulate it electronically and post it in common areas, thereby cutting down on printing and postage expenses.
To conclude, fostering a sense of community in your association is not as difficult as it may seem. The simple steps outlined above are a great way to start a new chapter for a struggling association and increase homeowner satisfaction for those who are already in good shape. If your association is struggling or in new of new ideas on how to foster a sense of community, give us a call and see how Gulf South Property Management can add value to your association.