It was almost exactly nine years ago that my husband and I purchased our townhome in Washington, DC. It was about eight years and nine months ago (who’s counting?) that I joined our HOA board as Treasurer.
HOAs, or Homeowners Associations, (or COAs/Condo Associations) sometimes get a bad rap. Some people view them as intrusive or overbearing, but HOAs are critical to maintaining many communities and even increasing the value of your home in many instances.
For what it’s worth, I’m still the Treasurer of my HOA (and have recently joined the board of an investment property as well). And the President, secretary, and architectural review board are all still the same people as well. We’ve developed wonderful friendships and have worked to oversee projects big (replacing the entire brick courtyard) and small (planting flowers in the courtyard.) These projects have been integral to maintaining the value of our investment and our community is thriving, well taken care of, and a place I can proudly call home.
Obviously I’m fully on-board and involved with my HOA. Whether you love them or hate them, here’s why you should be involved, too:
- Be “in the know” about what is going on in your community. Learn about what projects are planned, how your monthly fees are being spent, when the next community yard sale is, etc…
- Be a decision maker. You help decide which projects to prioritize and how the money is spent.
- It looks good on your resume. Taking an active leadership role should go on your LinkedIn profile and potentially on your resume. If you are looking to move up in your career, having extracurricular volunteer leadership activities can only help.
- Change the status quo. Many associations have had the same rules and regulations in place for years, but they may not be relevant to the times. For example, an HOA might require all front yards to be planted with a specific type of grass. What if that grass no longer grows well in that location? What if you would rather plant clover or flowers for lower maintenance? There are many HOAs that will not allow solar panels or EV chargers. If yours is one of them, consider trying to make that change. I have worked with many clients who view these outdated rules as dealbreakers. For a good laugh, google “weird HOA rules” and you’ll come up with some strange ones like a garage sale dress code or no blue trampolines.
- Your property value will thank you. If you have a well-run HOA that makes sure the grass is cut, trees trimmed, snow plowed, trash picked up, etc… and your community looks nice, your home will increase in value tenfold over the community that lets itself fall into disrepair.
- Make new friends. We all know that it is much harder for adults to make new friends than it is for children. Why not make it easier on yourself and get to know the people literally in your back yard? What we’ve learned over the past 3 years of a pandemic is that community is an important part of social connection. We spent many evenings out in our courtyard, distantly socializing with our fellow neighbors. It helped keep us all sane.
Help yourself and your neighbors by getting involved in your HOA or COA. You can start small by going to meetings, and then consider pushing yourself to take it one step further and joining the board. Your community and board will thank you. You have nothing to lose.