RealManage Insight

Why Attending Your Homeowner / Condo-Owner Orientation Matters

by Kara Cermak, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM® on Nov 28, 2019 8:57:00 AM

One of the most important things you can do when buying in an association-run community is get orientated. You know, at least in passing, that the CC&Rs of your HOA or COA govern everything about the homes and communities, but you might be surprised just how few homeowners have actually read the documents. Even board members often don't know what all is in there, and their job is to uphold and augment the rules as written.

So whether you are a new resident recently moved into the HOA/COA community or a recently elected board member ready to make some changes for the better, orientation is remarkably important. Going through new-resident orientation and new board member training is like learning what the community gameboard really looks like and the rules by which everyone must play. Only then can you make the best decisions for both your home and the community as a whole.

Why Come to Homeowner or Board Member Orientation?

To Get a Detailed Tour of the Community

Have you ever lived in a neighborhood where you had no idea there was a park three streets over, or that the clubhouse had a complimentary gym, because you never explored? Well, now you're an owner-member and have every reason to get a full tour of your new domain. Get to know the neighborhood from the pool to the parking lot and all the important locations you'll want to visit later.

To Learn the Highlights of the Community Culture

For new members, orientation is the perfect time to get all those useful tidbits of information like trash day, maintenance schedules, and free cookies night at the clubhouse. Any quirks of the community like shared holiday decoration efforts and charity drives, you'll also learn about quickly and easily through orientation.

To Run Through the Rules and Ask Questions

No one wants to learn about HOA/COA rules with their first violation notice. Learn the basic outline of Dos and Don'ts so you get started on the right foot. This means even as you're unpacking and decorating, you'll be sure to be in perfect harmony with the community standards. And anything that doesn't make sense right away, you'll be in the right place to ask questions.

To Build Your Success Strategy for the Future

With all this information available, you can start planning to really thrive in your new home. Inside the rules and taking advantage of all the amenities.

How to Encourage Orientation Attendance?

Make It Fun - Throw an Orientation Party

Most people think of orientation as work-like and dreary, so they'll skip it. Instead, make orientation a party that happens to involve helpful pamphlets and a Q&A session. Invite neighbors or fellow board members to join in the fun. Let everyone grab snacks and punch before cracking open the CC&Rs for a chatty session about the basics.

Make It Easy - Schedule at Easy-to-Attend Times

Make sure your orientation is actually attendable. HOA/COA boards sometimes don't realize their scheduled events are difficult, impossible, or inconvenient for the guest of honor. If necessary, work out a time with the new resident or board member before planning the orientation party.

Make It Immediately Beneficial - Offer Tours, Tips, and Highlights Before the Nitty-Gritty

Finally, make it quickly beneficial. Instead of flipping through the whole document and droning like a bored teacher, put together the highlights of the most important, controversy-causing, and helpful tips. Then break it down into details if your guest of honor has time and interest. Otherwise, just make sure they have the basics. They won't remember a point-by-point in detail anyway.

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When it comes to joining an HOA or COA, knowing the rules is the single most beneficial way to thrive in your new environment. Whether you're a new resident or a freshly elected board member, attend your orientation. You'll learn the stuff that experienced residents and board members know that you need to know. You are free to decide what to do with that knowledge, but it should be stored in your brain nonetheless. And when you get a moment or need some before-bed reading, flip through the CC&Rs and bylaws to learn them in-depth. You might even enjoy the read.

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