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The empty chair: Who's missing from your planning meetings?

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Cynthia Van Cleave

After a developer acquires a piece of land and establishes a vision for a new common interest development, there is a lot of work to do to bring that vision to reality. Typically, from conception through the forward planning stage of the process, the builder will engage various consultants, including engineers, architects and the attorney who will form the HOA. All too often, however, a key consultant is missing from the forward planning process – the HOA Management Specialist usually employed by a management company. This specialist can provide invaluable insight into the pros and cons of the various governance models, assist with amenity planning and create community guidelines that will define and enhance the lifestyle envisioned by the developer. Simply put, incorporating your HOA Management Specialist into the team from conception through build-out is a critical component in the overall success of any new common interest development.

When making a major purchase, such as a home in a community association, buyers are concerned with the expectations for what will be received. Whether the expectations are presented as part of the governing documents, as part of the marketing literature or by the developer's representative on the initial board of directors, if the actual purchase does not match the expectations created, disappointment and disillusionment will likely result. This can then translate into all parties spending a great deal of time, money and energy to resolve both perceived and real problems. For this reason, thought must be given to the design and development of any community association so that expectations are both realistic and realized.

An experienced community association management firm specializing in the management of developing communities can assist in the design of the community association to ensure success from day one. Your management firm should offer a wide variety of forward planning consulting services that include the following, at a minimum: feasibility and pro forma operating budgets, BRE processing, amenity analysis, legal document review, architectural design guideline and rules and regulation creation, a common area maintenance manual, insurance procurement, initial vendor contracts, sales force training, grand opening support, onsite staffing and a variety of lifestyle programs. In addition, the management firm should administrate a successful transition from developer control to the homeowners.

Partnering with your HOA management firm early in the process enables them to capture your community vision and see it through long after the last home has been sold.


Cynthia Van Cleave, CCAM®, SCM®, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM® is the Vice President of Associa Developer Services, Inc. As the industry leader in community management, Associa proudly serves nearly 4 million homeowners every day. With a wide array of programs and services ready to fit your specific needs, we help bring superior results to your community. Are you looking for a forward planning partner for your new community? Contact Cynthia at 760.822.2451 or Cynthia@associaonline.com.

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