A homeowner association or condo association is an organization that is more than a neighborhood…more than a congregation of individual homeowners. It encompasses a geographic community, the properties within that community, the governing board, and to some extent, the management company that works with the association. Equally important is a form of goodwill that your community has earned. It is called ‘reputation’. What others think and say about your community defines its reputation. Is it ‘upper crust’ with a guard service, safe and secure with a wall and gate, is there pride of ownership that is reflected in the cut of the yard, freshly painted homes, and well manicured landscape?
Is this important? You bet! Why?
After all, why should one care what outsiders think of their community? Because their perception affects your home’s value.
We manage a handful of communities that are structurally identical to adjoining neighborhoods without a homeowner’s association. Because the standards imparted by the association’s covenants and adherence to those standards, the reputation of the two communities and their property values differ by as much as 22%. Unfortunately, this means very little to most until it is time to sell. There is no reality like the one that hurts the wallet.
It is therefore incumbent upon the association (its board and members) to use its authority granted by its Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions to make their neighborhoods the best that it can be…within reason of course. In less time than you think, a reputation can change for the best and improve your property values as a reward for your efforts.
Most of us typically wear clean clothes, reasonably pressed, and keep our hair combed or heads shaved. We do this because we care what others think. The concept also applies to your community.
Start by taking a look at your community’s overall appearance. Neatly manicured landscaping, well-maintained homes, and pristine common areas are all a must for an attractive neighborhood, as are low crime rates. This means that the association must enact and enforce rules and regulations designed to keep the community attractive and safe. Homeowners can do their part by maintaining their homes, sheds, mailboxes, roofs, and yards. And even in a safe community, homeowners may want to consider the formation of a neighborhood watch.
To improve the reputation of a community, the association must enforce rules and maintain common areas, and they should strive to remain in compliance with legislation pertaining to their homeowner association. Positive image and PR is a must. Meetings and community updates such as newsletters enhance the Association’s image among homeowners which opens the doors of communication between residents, board members, vendors, and the management group. All of these considerations can only help increase property values, and encourage participation within the community. And above all else, these efforts can maintain and improve upon the community’s reputation.
Like it or not, there is another consideration. Every association should be aware of its online reputation. It’s becoming more common for the association to monitor and respond to what people within the community and outsiders are saying. This can be a tall order for an already overtaxed volunteer board. However, for a fee, an online reputation specialist will welcome the opportunity to jump in and work diligently to enhance the reputation of your association.
Associations can use both their own and third-party platforms to address negative comments and concerns, whether they’re posted by members or those outside the community. It’s important to see negative commentary as an opportunity to open the lines of communication, solve problems, and turn around public opinion through reasoned interactions. Afterwards, the association can encourage commenters to remove negative comments and post positive feedback. Communities don’t need to close accounts to scrub bad reviews. Instead, negative reviews can be used to a positive advantage, creating the opportunity for change and improving an association’s reputation in the process.