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  • 12/01/2023 4:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Caitlin Traub, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, RealManage Colorado

    In a world where it seems like the average attention span only lasts for the 120 characters that can be tweeted out on X, the social media platform formally known as Twitter, how can we expect already disengaged or apathetic owners to participate any more than that?

    In the reality of today’s communities, generally, those owners who regularly attend meetings come in two varieties: owners with ample time on their hands or those who are seemingly trying to orchestrate a coup over their perceived enemies, the Board, which leaves a large contingent of apathetic owners who are happily, or at least not angrily, “going with the flow.”  But what if you need those same owners to engage to pass an amendment or special assessment, what then?

    The truth is, in order to engage owners who have long been disconnected, you’re often fighting the same challenges that you face in getting volunteer Board members. Much like your Board, owners within your community often lead busy lives so engaging them in easy and different ways is the key to your success.

    Embracing The “Enemy”

    Yes, social media is often the bane of a community manager’s existence, or at least it seems that way at times. However, the truth is that social media is successful in communicating a message.  After all, how many times has a Board member brought up a concern that their community members have only noted on sites like Facebook or NextDoor? These same owners often don’t communicate that same issue with a phone call or email but are clearly engaged neighbors elsewhere. Today, roughly 69% of Americans are Facebook users and 75% of those users are on the site daily.  The same can be said of NextDoor where active users are engaging their neighbors nearly 4 times a week.

    History has shown it is not realistic to expect single methods of communication, like a mailing, to encourage participation, even on contentious issues.  Utilizing multiple mediums for communication that owners have clearly embraced will yield more participation (perhaps even more than you’re really wanting).

    Making It Easy

    Just as you’ll need to embrace communication alternatives, increasing participation for busy owners will be most successful if you make the process of actively participating in the decision as painless as possible.  

    On contentious or multi-layered issues like an insurance amendment or special assessment where the breadth of information can be overwhelming, consider breaking down the information into a few infographics on the process that owners can understand and quickly review, where the infographics are visually appealing and can easily fit in a social media post.

    Another consideration for communication is utilizing multiple platforms like those mentioned above, or other user-friendly options, for short 10-15 minute informational sessions to gain the most participation. The information sessions may be scheduled at various times, such as during the school day for parents who stay at home, late afternoon or early evening for commuters who could join in during their drive instead of listening to their favorite podcast that day, or before breakfast for the early risers.

    Finally, in a world where everyone is always connected, you should strongly consider utilizing online voting on issues if your governing documents allow for it.  With the simple click of a few buttons, you have a whole community participating in a way that is quick and easy for its members.  In the alternative, if an online vote is not allowed, you may consider making the process a bit easier by providing pre-stamped envelopes or an on-site drop box where the form can be dropped off to at a time that works for the individual owner.

    Keeping The Momentum

    For a large portion of owners, part of the problem is forgetting why they should be involved in the first place.  Now that you’ve reminded them, it is important to actively keep them involved so the next time an issue comes up you aren’t at the starting line again. Was utilizing Facebook the most successful in driving participation this time around?  Keep utilizing it!  Did people comment on how much they loved the easy infographics?  Start utilizing them for landscape tips, meeting reminders, or social events to continue providing information in a way that your community embraces and appreciates.  Was online voting a smashing success?  Then remember to get a contract for Board elections or other recurring items in order to continue providing online voting.

    In the end, behind each door in your community is another human who often wants to engage with their community but in a way that works for their life.  By giving them the information they need on a site or in a way that they’re already utilizing for the other facets of their life or making it as easy as possible to fit in their already busy schedule and then continuing to hold their interest, you’ve easily turned these apathetic members into actively engaged neighbors.

    Caitlin Traub, CMCA, AMS, PCAM currently serves as the Senior Vice President for RealManage Colorado.  Over her career that spans from Texas to Washington State and now Colorado, she has managed associations both large and small and understands the different and unique challenges that each face. 

  • 12/01/2023 4:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Melissa Garcia, Altitude Community Law

    Covid-19 and forced isolation? The curse of technology on quality connection? Numerous factors could cause loneliness, but the chapter asked me to focus on one: How do negative interactions in our industry impact loneliness? In my opinion, they are a key creator of it.


    I wasn’t aware of the current loneliness epidemic until I read the Surgeon General’s recent advisory: Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation. The advisory defines “loneliness” as:

    …a subjective internal state. It is the distressing experience that results from perceived isolation or unmet need between an individual’s preferred and actual experience. 

    First, loneliness is subjective. For some, being alone frequently or having few social connections is not loneliness. When I’m alone, for example, I often take comfort in the solitude, as it allows time for both reflection and getting things done. The distraction of people is gone. But being lonely? I could be in a room full of people, or engage in several connections a day, yet still feel lonely. Loneliness is personal.

    Second, loneliness is the upsetting experience of perceived isolation; when we perceive a gap between our desire for social connection and our actual experience of it. And, while our individual circumstances could be what brings about loneliness, our HOA experiences can exacerbate it.

    The Surgeon General emphasizes how loneliness poses a serious threat to general well-being and long-term physical health. Citing well-documented studies, the advisory states that lack of social connection: 

    1. is as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day,
    2. is associated with a 32% increase in risk of stroke, 
    3. (iii)more than doubles the odds of depression or anxiety, and 
    4. is the strongest, most reliable predictor of suicide attempts. 

    I suggest you read the advisory, as the statistics alone are startling.

    If loneliness is a “significant predictor of premature death” (my favorite grim reaper line buried in the advisory), then social connection is the goal. In explaining the level of one’s social connection, the advisory provides these factors: 

    1. Structure – the number and variety of relationships and frequency of interactions.
    2. Function – the degree to which relationships serve various needs (your support system). 
    3. Quality – the positive and negative aspects of relationships and interactions.

    The third factor seems most relevant to this article. We may have a high volume of interactions but need to draw attention to their quality.


    The HOA industry has always been a difficult one, not only because of the numerous conflicts, but also the constant negative portrayal of HOAs. But what is it about today that makes it more difficult? What present factors shape the quality of our HOA social connections?

    First, we are living in angry times. Nerds like me who read Gallup polls know that we are living in a sadder, angrier, and more stressful world. The animosity in the air is hard to ignore; the political climate is horrendous; the seeming lack of care (or energy to care) is woeful. 

    The HOA world is a natural arena for venting anger and disputes. But where there used to be gradations of disagreement (and respectful or at least professional debate), today there is polarization at every turn. And, instead of thoughtful discussion, there is chest-beating, circling of wagons, preparation for a fight. Loneliness can arise in the constant face of, and preparation for, anger and conflict. 

    Second, we have demanding jobs, often with little help. Our industry focuses on one of the most important things in people’s lives – their homes. So, we are constantly scrutinized for timeliness, responsiveness, and accuracy (which is within our control), but also dispute-resolution skills, patience, and thick skin (which we may not have expected when signing up for the job).

    Demands are high, so support is critical. Still, folks are not exactly lining up for the job. It’s difficult to find and retain board members, managers, HOA attorneys, etc. The lack of help, in face of increasing demand, could produce loneliness through:

    1. feeling like you have to shoulder all of the burdens yourself;
    2. feeling isolated, invisible and insignificant;
    3. feeling like you’re not making any headway, in individual tasks and the general success of your community(ies).

    Third, frequent exposure to negative interactions. In this respect, I’m writing specifically about community association managers - the front line. You may have one boss at the office, but you have thousands of critics in the field, each with the ability to connect with you and make your day infinitely worse, just through the power of words. 

    And the frequency of interaction comes from the numerous opportunities for contact: at meetings, in the clubhouse, during walk-throughs, in your office, over the phone, via email, on Nextdoor, the list goes on. You may manage 10 communities, but those communities spawn infinite opportunities for negative interaction. Constant criticism, persistent conflict, and a daily environment of hostility, could all lead to loneliness, particularly if you feel like you’re fighting it alone. 

    I believe we in the HOA industry, because of all of the above, have trained ourselves to be self-reliant and to bury our feelings. This leads to loneliness and isolation.


    So how to combat loneliness in our industry? I don’t have the answers, but I suggest that it takes thoughtful conversation, then deliberate action. 

    I’m certainly not trying to diminish the numerous resources and opportunities for positive social connection that are available to anyone who works in our world. But we still need to raise awareness of the loneliness epidemic, understand, and respond to it, and adopt a culture that promotes social connection.

    The Surgeon General’s advisory includes six pillars to advance social connection, some of which are highly applicable to our industry. I suggest we start there, then keep the conversation going.

    Melissa Garcia, Esq. is a shareholder at Altitude Community Law P.C., the premier HOA law firm in Colorado. With almost 25 years of experience representing associations, Melissa frequently writes and teaches on HOA topics, and has earned several Education awards from both Colorado chapters of CAI.

  • 12/01/2023 4:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Angela Stevens, Westwind Management Group, LLC

    Having a solid foundation in the relationship between community and management is key to a successful partnership, which is why qualifying the association prior to accepting a management role and knowing when to step out of that role are so vital. Continuing a management relationship that is not fulfilling on either end only serves to burn out the management company and frustrate homeowners. By engaging in vetting client communities before and during management, management companies can ensure they are working with clients that are a good fit for their services and in line with the core values of the company, which will help prevent conflicts, misunderstandings and legal disputes down the road.

    When to Break Ties with an HOA - Breaking ties with an HOA can be a difficult decision. However, there are times when it may be necessary to do so. Here are some signs that it may be time to break ties:

    1. Lack of Communication: If the HOA is not communicating with the management company or homeowners, it can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Lack of communication can make it difficult to manage the community effectively.

    2. Financial Issues: If the HOA is experiencing financial issues, it can put a strain on the management company. This can include unpaid dues or unexpected expenses that were not budgeted for, or even strained relationships with vendors whose invoices are not being paid timely.

    3. Poor Governance: If the HOA Board is not performing its duty as the duly elected governing body of the community and / or as specified in their Bylaws, it can lead to a decline in the community's appeal and functionality. This dysfunction can also lead to conflicts and disappointment in management by community members.

    4. Legal Disputes: If the HOA is involved in legal disputes, it can create a difficult situation for the management company. This can include disputes with homeowners or conflicts with contractors.

    If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to evaluate and assist the Association in resolving the challenges, and if there is an unwillingness to do so, possibly to break ties with the HOA. Breaking ties with the HOA can help the management company prevent further conflicts or legal disputes.

    Qualifying HOAs on the Front End - To help prevent these issues from arising, it’s important for management companies to qualify HOAs on the front end. Here are some steps to take:

    1. Review the HOA’s Financial Statements to ensure it has a solid financial foundation. Look for any red flags, such as unpaid dues or out of control expenses.

    2. Review the HOA’s Governing Documents: Review the HOA’s governing documents to ensure they are in line with the management company’s proposed services. Look for any conflicts or inconsistencies that may cause issues down the road.

    3. Schedule a Meeting: Schedule a meeting with the HOA board to discuss their needs and expectations. This will help ensure that both parties are on the same page and that the management company can adequately meet the HOA’s needs.

    4. Check References: Check the HOA’s references to verify they have a positive reputation in the community. This will help ensure that the management company is working with reputable and trustworthy HOA leadership.

    Homeowners association (HOA) management companies are responsible for managing and maintaining community properties. These companies are hired by HOAs to oversee the day-to-day operations of the community, including enforcing rules and regulations, collecting dues, and maintaining common areas. While management companies play a vital role in keeping communities running smoothly, there are times when it may be necessary to break ties with an HOA. Additionally, it's important for management companies to qualify HOAs on the front end to ensure they'll be a good fit for their services.

    About the Author: Angela Stevens is the Director of Operations – Northern Colorado at Westwind Management Group, LLC. She has over 20 years of experience in the custom home industry and 10+ years as an Association Business Manager. She has experience with all property types from single-family homes to extensive multi-family home developments and has a passion for helping people live better lives.

  • 12/01/2023 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Tom Westing, Advance HOA Management

    Roughly a quarter of all Americans live alone and the need for socialization has become more important than ever in our communities.  COVID put a spotlight on loneliness and deaths of despair caused by isolation.  Increasing the sociability of our communities may not be in your job description, or even on your radar, but it may raise the property value of your community and make your job more enjoyable.

    Each community is unique, and younger people may not have the same time and availability as retirees, but each community can create a culture of greater socialization however that may look.  Utilizing your communities' recreational facilities and amenities can be a great way to encourage socialization and events.

    Here are some strategies to consider in helping your community become more social and engaged:

    1. Social Committee – Try to keep it consistent and plan at least one social a month.  Here are some fun things to consider: food trucks, concerts on the grass, pool parties, Halloween parades, holiday parties, etc.  
    2. Communication Committee – Periodically have interesting speakers share their stories or teach the community about a specific topic of expertise.
    3. Social Media Platform – One community I work with decided to purchase software called GroupValet.  It has been wildly popular with the community.  It has many great features such as “The Wall” where you can post about your lost cat or recommend a vendor.  It has a scrolling calendar of all events, board & committee meetings with Zoom links, and it is also a platform for reserving the tennis & pickleball courts.
    4. Hybrid Meetings – ensuring your community has capabilities to put on virtual, or hybrid, meetings allows members to participate in board and committee meetings from anywhere.
    5. Gathering Places – Places to stop and rest, socialize, and enjoy the beauty of the community – however that may look for your specific community is a constant reminder and encouragement to be a little more social.
    6. Directory – Whether digital or paper, a directory can help people know their neighbors.
    7. Welcome Committee – Having members welcome new residents and share important information and answer questions about living in the community can help show new members or residents the social culture of the community.
    8. Digital Monthly Newsletter – Providing updates on Board and Committee work in addition to highlighting social opportunities helps to keep members engaged with their community.  
    9. Interest Groups – Yoga, book/reading group, bridge, Mah Jongg, knitting and walking groups can all be great ways to connect members with similar interests.
    10. Committees – It sounds crazy, but the more committees the better.  It is a great way to encourage engagement and for newcomers to get acquainted with their neighbors.

    When a community focuses on engagement and social events, not only do people love living in the community but they tell their friends about it.  We often see people moving in specifically to be near friends.  While the social scene isn’t the only reason people choose where to live, it can certainly play a role.

    Helping your community become more social will take time, but the benefits are worth it.

    Tom Westing has been in the HOA industry for about 20 years serving as both a portfolio manager and now an onsite manager at Cherry Hills III.  He currently works for Advance HOA Management.  

  • 10/01/2023 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Damien M. Bielli, VF Law

    For the past several years, the homeowner association (HOA) space has seen and continues to see many changes in regulation, including legislation around renewable energy options. Various states have taken a more proactive stance on the installation of solar panels, explicitly targeting HOAs that enforce restrictions on these devices. According to HOA-USA, there are 370,000 HOA-run communities in the U.S., with 53% of all homeowners living in an HOA community. An HOA's ability to regulate solar panel installation requests on an owner's property will be significantly impacted as legislation continues to develop throughout the country. However, HOA communities will still have the ability to restrict or prohibit solar panels in an association's common area. To ensure fair governance, it is crucial that HOAs stay up to date with changing regulations, understand the caveats that come with new laws, and adjust their governing documents accordingly. 

    Colorado alone has an estimated 10,410 HOA-run communities, with roughly 2.35 million people living in them, equaling approximately 40% of the state's population. Colorado House Bill (HB) 21-1229, which passed in 2021, increased protections for property owners within HOA-guided communities. Specifically, the bill keeps HOAs from prohibiting the installation of various home additions, including renewable energy-generating devices such as solar panels. However, HOAs can still enforce "reasonable" restrictions on installing solar panels. A "reasonable" restriction pertains to aesthetics and safety concerns that do not significantly increase the cost of the device or significantly decrease its efficiency. HB 1229 clarifies "significantly" to mean no more than 10%. Any rule imposed by an HOA that increases the cost of a solar device by more than 10% or decreases its efficiency by more than 10% is not reasonable.

    This still allows HOA-run communities to enforce restrictions and standards on solar panel installations, but careful regulation is required. With that in mind, here are some key points to ensure your community regulates solar panels fairly and correctly.

    Review Governing Documents

    Boards must review their governing documents concerning restrictions or requirements for solar panel installation. If your documents outright prohibit the installation on an owner's property, it is time to amend them to adhere to current law—outright prohibition cannot be enforced. Additionally, any restrictions already included in governing documents must be scrutinized to ensure they are "reasonable." As each situation can vary, bringing in a seasoned HOA law attorney can make this process easier and legally sound, ensuring compliance with the law.

    "Reasonable" Restrictions

    Keep the 10% rule in mind when adopting restrictions for solar panel installations. Ensure any rules implemented do not explicitly prohibit solar panels from being installed on roofs and require them on the ground. This could effectively prevent owners from installing solar panels outright, making it unlawful and unenforceable. Instead, create rules that specify preferred locations for solar panels; require the solar panels to be painted or otherwise screened from view; limit the total amount of roof space utilized; or establish a preferred distance for solar panels above roof tiles. These rules must ensure they do not reach the 10% threshold. By accomplishing this, HOAs can still establish a uniform policy that all homeowners can follow for solar installations, thus maintaining the desired aesthetics of their communities.

    Timely Review of Applications

    Another facet of HB 1229 is the requirement that all fully submitted solar installation applications in an HOA be approved or denied within 60 days of submission. While the timeline for approval cannot be extended, it can be truncated if the associations governing documents provide a shorter time for review and approval of architectural submissions. If an HOA fails to take action on a solar application, it is automatically deemed approved after the expiration of the 60 days by state law. HOAs should establish a cohesive, streamlined review process to avoid delays, confusion, or enforceable denials.

    Installation Agreements

    Lastly, once an HOA board decides they want to enforce restrictions on solar panel installations, it is crucial to establish guidelines and formal agreements for homeowners to follow. Suppose a homeowner wishes to install solar panels on a Townhome roof that is maintained by the Association. In that case, a maintenance and repair agreement can stipulate reasonable restrictions that the homeowner agrees to, address situations such as the removal of solar panels should a homeowner choose to do so, and the homeowner's responsibility to maintain and ensure their solar panels and the portion of the roof affected by their installation. Additionally, specific enforcement mechanisms, unique to each installation, may be addressed in the agreement should a homeowner breach the contract. 

    As the U.S. continues to shift away from traditional fossil fuel-driven energy sources, HOAs must keep a compliant mindset concerning renewable energy options that homeowners want to install on their properties. Establishing reasonable, unified, and cohesive guidelines for these kinds of installations will better protect HOAs and homeowners from litigation arising due to disputes or outdated governing documents. The legal landscape continues to evolve around renewable energy, so it is important to stay informed about requirements and have trusted legal counsel to advise and protect from litigation.

    As a partner in Vial Fotheringham LLP, Damien M. Bielli has a unique background in HOA Law, trial advocacy, insurance defense, professional liability, coverage disputes, labor law, employment law, construction, commercial litigation, and contracts. He may be reached at

  • 10/01/2023 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Ashley Douglas, Reconstruction Experts, Inc.

    As our communities age, one of the major capital expenditures that needs to be planned for is the exterior façade of your building envelope assembly. The simple definition of building envelopes is the assemblies that separate the interior from the exterior of the home. These assemblies include things like doors & windows, roofs, floors, foundation, insulation, and the exterior façade. In this article, we will be primarily discussing exterior façade which includes stucco, metal, stone, and siding products. 

    If the exterior facade of your home isn’t properly maintained, you will begin to see signs of serious damage that will result in costly repairs. Some of these signs include:

    • Staining of interior walls and ceilings
    • Water-damaged insulation
    • Water-damaged soffits and sills
    • Peeling of wallpaper
    • Stains and dirt along window tracks
    • Mold
    • Stains alongside AC units
    • Rust marks
    • Spalling brick
    • Cracks that go through the masonry and mortar
    • Discolored stone or masonry

    Ideally, you’ve already looked in your CAI Membership Directory and hired a reserve study company to plan and budget for your community’s long-term maintenance. If you’re behind in the financial aspect of that plan, you can also consult with one of the qualified banking partners in our industry to inquire about a loan to fund an upcoming project. 

    Once your plan for funding is established and you begin to look at ways to make efficient use of your community’s money, we want to highlight a product that we believe is a good investment to make into your exterior façade. 

    LP is a manufacturer of various building envelope products and their Smart Siding line is something we recommend to communities often when they’re considering an upgrade. The LP Smart Siding products are manufactured using their proprietary Smartguard process which produces one of the most durable lines on the market. This durability allows them to provide an upgraded warranty, along with the cost benefit of a longer-lasting product that won’t need to be replaced as often. 

    Along with functionality, LP Smart Siding comes in 16 different pre-finished colors so you don’t need to paint with installation. There are also various styles available that mimic a cedar look giving a great aesthetic. 

    Lastly, and the main reason we recommend this to our clients, LP Smart Siding is easier to install providing efficiency in cost to you as the customer. The siding comes in longer pieces resulting in less time cutting and integrating seams. Furthermore, with less seams comes less waste factor leading to less overall materials costs for the installation of the product. When installing any product, there is a certain factor given to “waste” during install. This waste is a result of breakage during installation, and with a more durable product requiring less seams, the cost savings are tangible for you as the homeowner. 

    There are many different products to be considered so we recommend doing your research and talking to a trusted contractor to see which is best for your specific needs, but if you’re looking to make upgrades to a building or even a single elevation or side of one building at a time, we love this product for our clients. 

    Ashley Douglas

    Colorado Regional Vice President

    Reconstruction Experts, Inc.

  • 10/01/2023 2:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Karen McClain, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, Associa Colorado

    Receiving credentials is especially important if you have chosen community management as your career. Designation sets you apart from others for several reasons: (1) It shows your dedication to the industry; (2) It demonstrates to others that you’re willing to go the extra mile to better yourself professionally; (3) It lets others know that they can come to you for your expertise when needed; and (4) It allows you to become the professional you want to be and opens many new opportunities for you.

    This credentialing process can be difficult to manage while working full-time and keeping up with personal obligations. Obtaining the PCAM designation has always been a goal of mine, one that I set my sights on within my first six months of being in the industry.  Although it was 10 years before I made the decision to go for it, I knew that to get where I wanted to go career-wise, I would need this designation.

    Setting the goal was one thing but completing that goal was going to be a challenge.  The PCAM Case Study - how can two words give such anxiety?  As 2020 began, I decided December would be my best option.  As the year progressed, more and more things began to be postponed or outright canceled.  I watched as CAI National canceled each case study location.  I became concerned that I would not be able to meet my self-imposed goal.  

    CAI announced this new format of a “Virtual PCAM Case Study”.  Participants were required to watch a prerequisite community video and login to two days of Zoom seminars. At first, I was very hesitant to enroll, but I felt there was no other option if I wanted to remain on track.  There were so many questions I had.  How will we do an adequate site visit? What if I miss something?  Will I be able to interact and participate?  What if my internet crashed?  Then the unthinkable happened -  my laptop crashed the week of the case study and I scrambled to purchase a new computer.

    On day one, everyone was eager and ready to go.  Manager after manager logged into the meeting, chatting about where they were from and how long they’ve been in the industry.  It was great to see so many of us united on this unique journey.  We were officially participating in the first virtual PCAM case study. Not only will it be an amazing accomplishment to attain this designation, but to do it virtually!  The first stop was an introduction from the instructors, and then we were welcomed by the manager. They gave us an overview of what to expect, and we moved on with meeting the attorney, the insurance agent, the CPA, and many other professionals related to the community.

    One thing that I did notice was that many of the participants were at home, but some appeared to be in their office.  How amazing - you can just shut your door and take three hours out of your day to participate in the most important event of your career.  As the sessions wrapped up over two days, they opened it up to discussion from the participants. One of the major questions from all the candidates was whether we were missing out on the in-person opportunity to view the property.  All the instructors and the staff at CAI National reassured the participants that we are not missing out on any instruction time.  One of the major bonuses to attending virtually was that all of the recordings were available for us for the 30-day duration until the paper was due.

    As I reflect on the changes to technology over the recent years and changes that CAI National made in its approach on continuing education, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.  Part of the reason I waited was the adjustments I would’ve had to make to my schedule in order to fly to a location outside of my city; the time needed would have been unattainable.  Attending virtually was both logistically and financially a more productive use of time.  As we look to the future, and we find new ways to learn, I would recommend that you strongly consider the virtual options.

  • 10/01/2023 2:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Matt DeWolf, FRONTSTEPS

    In the community management industry, we're entering an era where homeowners and board members, the core stakeholders of every community, are becoming the new focal point. While the industry has long prioritized back-office efficiency, a new emphasis on putting technology directly into the hands of homeowners and board members is emerging. By enabling the homeowner and board member, management companies benefit from fewer questions and tickets generated. This streamlines operations and costs for the management company while improving homeowner satisfaction through instant responses and complete transparency. 

    There's a simultaneous recognition of the rising significance of community managers who play a vital role in enhancing community happiness and productivity, thereby fueling industry engagement and prosperity. In this article, we'll explore these transformative trends, bridging the gap between technology and the end-users who define the essence of community living, and spotlighting the community manager as the linchpin of this exciting evolution in association management software. Welcome to a future where innovation empowers stronger, more vibrant communities.

    1. Mobile Accessibility and User-Friendly Interfaces

    Homeowner engagement is paramount, and to achieve it, we must meet homeowners where they want to be – on their mobile devices. They crave intuitive, easy-to-use mobile experiences that seamlessly integrate with their daily lives. Simultaneously, community managers are seeking tools that provide speed, convenience, and safety, enabling them to excel in their roles and tackle more significant responsibilities.

    However, it's not merely about making the experience mobile; it's about proactively engaging homeowners when action is required. Homeowners will not go searching for information; they need immediate alerts on their mobile devices, informing them of new events, invoices, or tasks that require their attention.Push notifications are a crucial component of a mobile app that meets market expectations.

    In this era, community engagement and transparency are the lifeblood of our industry. Their absence can lead to ongoing grievances about HOA overreach. However, we have the power to evolve and return to the original vision upon which the HOA industry was built – thriving communities marked by happiness, health, and prosperity.

    2. Enhanced Data Security and Privacy

    As community management continues its digital transformation, the need for uncompromising data security and privacy takes center stage. In an environment where cyber threats continually grow in sophistication, community manager software must advance to safeguard sensitive information effectively. In the future, we can expect to see advanced encryption techniques, robust authentication protocols, and multi-factor authentication becoming standard features in software.

    An example of improved security requirements can be seen with recent transitions away from NACHA files. These files, the long-time industry standard in community management, also represent a potential vulnerability in the realm of cybersecurity. Transitioning to modern and secure payment solutions instead helps prevent these security risks from occurring.

    By taking proactive steps, as in this case with NACHA files, our industry can ensure the trust and confidence of homeowners and clients alike. In doing so, we are on the path to achieving the vision of a community management landscape where data security is synonymous with peace of mind.

    3. Cloud-Based Solutions for Scalability

    Scalability is a vital consideration for community managers as they grow their portfolios. Cloud-based software solutions offer the flexibility and scalability needed to accommodate an expanding property management business. With cloud-based software, management companies can easily add new properties, users, and features without the need for significant infrastructure investments.

    Furthermore, cloud-based solutions provide real-time data access from anywhere, facilitating collaboration among community managers, maintenance teams, and tenants. This accessibility is crucial for agile decision-making and efficient community management.

    Looking Ahead

    In conclusion, the future of management company software brims with potential. A commitment to innovation in technology will empower community managers to inspire homeowner associations to evolve and thrive. We envision that technology will act as the catalyst for HOAs to achieve their original and highest aspiration - fostering transparent, safe, and collaborative communities that enrich the lives of all.

    About the Author:

    Matt DeWolf is the CEO of FRONTSTEPS, a leading provider of community management software solutions. With a background in technology and a passion for improving the community management industry, Matt is dedicated to helping management companies leverage innovative software to enhance their operations and deliver exceptional service to their communities.

  • 10/01/2023 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jeff Kerrane, Esq., Kerrane Storz P.C.

    Following the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, Fannie Mae took a significant step to modernize lending requirements. These new requirements place a greater emphasis on the property condition and the strength of the community’s reserves. In response to growing concerns about aging infrastructure and extensive deferred maintenance in certain buildings, Fannie Mae introduced a series of measures that will have a profound impact on the condominium market.  

    In 2021, Fannie Mae unveiled the Temporary Requirements for Condo and Co-Op Projects, a set of guidelines that reshaped the landscape of mortgages in condominium associations.  Earlier this year, Fannie Mae amended the temporary requirements, and made them a permanent part of their underwriting standards.  The new permanent rules are effective as of September 18, 2023.

    Seventy percent of home mortgages are supported by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private corporations created by Congress to provide liquidity in the mortgage market.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and package them into mortgage-backed securities that may be sold.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have thousands of pages of regulations that provide the standards by which mortgages can be approved.  Mortgages that qualify under these regulations are often referred to as “conforming” or “conventional” loans. 

    The first step in determining which Fannie Mae underwriting rules apply to your community association is to know which level of review will apply under the Fannie Mae guidelines:

    Full Review

    Limited Review

    Review Waived 

    New Condo Project

    Established Condo Project (with a high loan to value ratio)

    2-4 Unit Condo Project

    Co-op Project

    Detached Condo Project

    Manufactured Home Project


    Under the Fannie Mae rules, a condo project includes associations where the owners each own an undivided interest in the common area.  A PUD is an association in which the HOA owns the common property.  PUDs would include most single-family home and townhome communities.  


    For projects subject to a full review, the new Fannie Mae requirements will exclude from financing eligibility any of the following:

    • Projects in need of critical repairs which significantly impact the safety, soundness, structural integrity or habitability of the project
    • Projects with mold, water intrusion, or potentially damaging leaks
    • Projects with advanced physical deterioration
    • Projects that have failed to pass any state or county inspections
    • Projects with unfunded repairs exceeding $10,000 per unit that should be undertaken in the next year
    • Projects with evacuation orders due to an unsafe condition

    These disqualifications allow for a few exceptions where projects may still be eligible for financing, such as projects where the damage or deferred maintenance is isolated to just one or a few units, and does not affect the overall safety, soundness, structural integrity or habitability of the project.  The new rules also will not exclude projects in need of only routine repairs that are preventative in nature and are accomplished through the HOA’s normal operating budget or through special assessments that are within guidelines.

    In addition, Fannie Mae will now look at an HOA’s reserve funds to ensure that the HOA is budgeting at least 10% of its assessment income to reserves.  Alternatively, the reserve funds will be deemed acceptable if the HOA has adequate funded reserves that meet or exceed the recommendations included in the HOA’s reserve study.  

    The new requirements will now strongly advise lenders to review, at a minimum, the following documents:

    • HOA board meeting minutes
    • Engineer reports
    • Structural and/or mechanical inspection reports
    • Reserve studies
    • A list of necessary repairs provided by the HOA or the HOA’s management company
    • A list of special assessments provided by the HOA or the HOA’s management company

    Fannie Mae’s guidelines also extend to special assessments. Lenders must review current or planned special assessments, seeking documentation to ensure they don't negatively impact the project's financial stability, viability, condition, or marketability.  In the case of assessments related to safety, soundness, structural integrity, or habitability, Fannie Mae requires that all repairs be fully completed. 


    Fortunately for owners in PUD projects, these new Fannie Mae requirements will not apply.  PUDs need only meet the normal Fannie Mae underwriting requirements.  

    The collective impact of these new modern lending standards is expected to render many condominiums ineligible for loans, potentially affecting the ability to buy and sell condominiums and, ultimately, property values. HOA boards and community association managers will need to become familiar with the new rules and adapt their reserve and maintenance practices to ensure their future viability and safeguard their property values.

    Jeff Kerrane is a shareholder with Kerrane Storz, PC, which exclusively represents property owners and community associations in construction defect litigation.  Jeff can be reached at or at 720-277-2076.

  • 10/01/2023 2:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Adam Thompson

    Have you heard of the recent “Xeriscape Bill” [SB 23-178] that was signed into law at the end of May?  This new bill overrides pre-existing HOA guidelines that restricted residents from installing xeriscape, artificial turf, and vegetable gardens in their yards. The intent of the bill is to promote water-wise landscapes. Some fear this bill will bring a reduced home values and aesthetic appeal to their neighborhoods.  Others see the bill as an opportunity for communities to develop their own unique look, rather than the ‘cookie cutter’ manicured turf landscapes and shrub beds that are common in most residential developments. 

    Across the front range, steady population growth is bringing in new developments that are putting increased demands on our water supply. Water costs make up a significant portion of an HOA’s budget and we are seeing spikes in water prices as demand makes this resource scarcer. 

    So what is Xeriscape and what do each of the new changes mean?

    Xeriscape (not “zero-scape”) is an approach to landscaping that is mindful of water usage to grow and maintain a landscape. It is not the elimination of water needed to maintain the landscape. Xeriscapes can, and do, include plants and even turf - although many experts would limit turf to areas where it will serve a purpose.

    • Drought tolerant plantings must now be allowed to at least 80% of a resident’s yard. This change allows much of the turf to be removed and replaced with drought tolerant plants. We have many great examples of how nice these landscapes can look, while simultaneously reducing maintenance costs when low maintenance plants are utilized. 
    • Nonvegetative turf grass, more commonly known as artificial turf, is no longer restricted in back yards. Artificial turf is a polarizing subject because it is a visual and tactile replacement for turf that requires no regular irrigation, but these areas become heat islands, still require maintenance to keep them nice, and generate plastic waste when they are no longer useful. 
    • Vegetable gardens may be the most contentious item on the bill for some communities but when properly planned out, they can be as attractive as any conventional landscape. They help to build a sense of community in an HOA because when people have gardens, they tend to spend more time in their yards which betters the chances that they will get to know their neighbors. How many conflicts do you deal with daily that could be resolved if people would just take the time to get to know their neighbors? Veggie gardens aren’t sounding so bad anymore, are they?

    Three pre-approved designs are required for every community which will enable residents and boards to start xeriscape implementation without overburdening the ARCs. Many free designs are available at or residents can submit their own water-wise designs for approval. It may be preferable for a community to work with a landscape designer to create a proprietary set of designs and work to establish a common theme. 

    While there might be a strong push for people to convert their yards to drought tolerant design, several considerations should be made before committing to a yard renovation:

    • What plants should be used?
      • Plants should be selected for their ability to survive in our climate.
      • Native plants are a great place to start. Another great resource is Plant Select which publishes a list of recommended plants annually.
    • How will the area be maintained to keep a visually appealing landscape throughout the year?
      • Xeriscapes tend to require less maintenance and create less waste as plants are allowed to grow naturally and only require pruning as needed. 
      • Plant selection should consider appeal in all seasons.  
    • How will this new area be irrigated? 
      • We cannot just replace the landscape without adjusting the irrigation system.
      • Plants should be grouped into “hydrozones” based on their exposure and irrigation needs.
    • Will the new design save more water than the original design? 
      • Whenever new plants are installed, they have an establishment period where they need more water than they do during their maintenance period. 
      • Sometimes maintenance standards (and residents’ expectations) can be modified to save water without needing to renovate the entire yard.

    How ever you choose to implement these new rules, I hope you see it as an opportunity to improve the beauty of your yard and your neighborhood. 

    Adam Thompson holds a B.S. Degree in Landscape Design & Management and has worked in the landscape industry since 2007 working in construction and maintenance between single family homes to resort properties. 

(303) 585-0367

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