Mostly wise advice on community property values

Seven great ideas for increasing the value of property in housing communities have been offered by Robert Nordlund. Then, instead of stopping while ahead, he has added three more ideas that need a lot of work.

Robert Nordlund has dispensed 10 ideas for increasing the value of property in a common interest development (a.k.a. housing community).

Ideas 1–7 seem, in principle, unproblematic:

  1. Budget accurately & honestly.
  2. Maximize curb appeal.
  3. Avoid deferred maintenance.
  4. Avoid special assessments.
  5. Create a culture of transparency.
  6. Build community.
  7. Adhere to your association’s rules and standards.

And Nordlund effectively explains why those ideas make sense.

The other 3 ideas, however, seem more self-serving.

Idea 8 is “Employ accredited, credentialed managers”. That may seem prudent, but it rejects the very idea of managing one’s own housing community. In some cases, this latter model offers compelling benefits similar to those enjoyed by do-it-yourself owners of single-family homes. Nordlund also claims that “Accreditation from CAI assures associations that they can expect professionalism from their managers.” That is an exaggeration. I have personal experience with a manager having such an accreditation but not professionalism.

Idea 9 is “Train board members”. Yes, but once they are directors it’s too late. The mere decision to become a candidate in an election for director is almost destined to be an irrational decision without training in the powers, duties, liabilities, and risks of service as a director. Thus, all members of a common interest development need access to training if the CID is to function effectively. Nordlund also describes “CAI board training” as if it were synonymous with board training. CAI (the Community Associations Institute) is hardly the sole authority, and in fact regularly lobbies for legislation hostile to the exercise of democratic governance rights by members of CIDs.

Idea 10 is “Team up with knowledgeable business partners”, including “an accountant, attorney, banker, insurance agent, and a reserve study professional”. Fine, but, once again, Nordlund adds a plug for CAI: “professionals who earn CAI’s ‘Educated Business Professional’ distinction demonstrate they know how to help community associations foster excellence and avoid expensive mistakes and conflicts”. That is nonsense. Possessing the “CAI Educated Business Partner member distinction” (Nordlund names it incorrectly) requires listening to 3 hours of lectures, passing an examination, and thereafter remaining a member of CAI at $605 per year—nothing more. The lectures contain useful information, indeed, such as the facts that landscaping insurance does not always cover snow plowing and board meetings often last about 2 hours. Even memorizing all that information does not “demonstrate” that vendors “know how to help community associations foster excellence”.

In conclusion, my recommendation, if you are helping to govern a common interest development, is to read and heed Nordlund’s points 1 through 7—and stop right there.

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