Today the market is very competitive and any real estate agent or business organization will tell you that you have to "sell" your request to those living in an HOA or Condominium Community. Homeowners like to be advised of all major decisions, especially a special assessment. You need to help them understand why a special assessment is needed and how it will affect them as a homeowner. Such a debate falls into that "buying" and "selling" model.
If your board members are convinced your community needs a special assessment, they must take a course of action help homeowners understand their goals for the community. Here's how to "sell" a special assessment by being crystal clear, having several community meetings to facilitate understanding of all the issues, enable a forum to ask questions, and give board members an opportunity to rise above objections.
Watch Your Language: Be careful not to make false or exaggerated statements that may come back to haunt you. For example, phrase statement such that you could stand on them if you had to prove your statements in a court of law. Some board members feel they don’t have to explain anything; in other words just trust us. In order for intelligent decisions to be made, facts must be clear and accurate. A detailed checklist showing your plan needs to reflect the honest and true motives and goals of the project.
Provide Evidence for a Special Assessment: Show where the homeowners association is financially, the reasons why your community requires a special assessment and what the end result benefit will be for all homeowners. Taking all this into account will help your Community address how the project will affect owners' property values. In a lot of cases, the board members fall short to get enough information to adequately present their case. Homeowners are realistic and they’ll understand how the problems you’re trying to solve will affect their Community including how it impacts lenders desire to lend on properties in your Association. Keep in mind financial institutions watch how many special assessments are requested by Common Interest Communities as part of their yardstick for lending into a neighborhood. Your facts must be accurate.
Provide as much information as possible. Give owners lots of complete and well-written information including statistics, graphs and show how every penny will be spent and send it to them before the meeting, so they have time to digest it. Show all the steps you plan to include in all bids, why each bid was chosen, and prove to the homeowners every dollar will be spent wisely. Charts and detailed expense reports are a positive way to win support.
And include any information about well-thought out financing options. Consider how you're going to implement the assessment, how big will it be, and what kind of payment arrangements are you going to offer neighbors? On a large Special Assessment small monthly payments need to be available to all homeowners who likely haven’t planned an assessment in their household budget.
Several Arizona HOA/Condominium communities are thriving and have taken steps to prevent having more renters then homeowners living in their communities to keep FHA loans available, improving property values, and increase revenue without going into the red and requesting special assessments. However, today’s board of directors must not rely on getting information from one source. Researching, listening and open meetings to share ideas will help a community grow with constructive ideas and results.
Here are a few examples of valid reasons to request a special assessment; balcony repairs, gutter repairs and replacements, hot water heater replacements, second floor walk way repairs, structural maintenance, and cosmetic repairs such as painting. Some special assessments can qualify for assistance with grants eliminating the need for the assessment at all. Do your research. Think outside of the box, there are a lot of organizations today working with Common Interest Communities in need of assistance.
Above all, have the who, what, when, where, why, and how’s all answered before proposing an assessment. It can make all the difference between being a burden or a benefit in the eyes of your Community neighbors.
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