Cultivating a Sense of Community in Your HOA

A subdivision can be identified by its geographical location–the physical infrastructure of its streets, parks and common areas, defined by tangible fences or its entrance sign.  But, a community has also been described as having emotional benefits that are intangible and are more connected to our interpersonal sense of home.  Our community is what makes an address a home, and not just a location.

“Most people who knowingly move into a planned community are aware that a governing body is tasked to manage and maintain their association, but many of them want to know their neighbors and create relationships with them,” says Michael Madson, CMCA, president & CEO of MGM Association Management, a 20+ year HOA manager.  “For many people, who are moving into Idaho, they are drawn to our strong sense of community and that’s often why they buy a house in a shared community.”

“Building a community culture builds trust with their Board, builds unity within their community and positively affects property valuation,” says Madson. “It allows the community to live in harmony and adds to one’s sense of home.”

Building Culture

Building a sense of community culture is invaluable; it creates a network of communication, enhances personal security, builds cohesion with varying living styles and enlarges support structures among neighbors. But, to tap into these benefits may take a creative approach by the Board, as many of today’s homeowners have dynamic family schedules, hectic lifestyles and often socializing with neighbors takes a back seat.

It’s up to the Board to instill the feeling of community. Their leadership and connection with their membership will influence their culture.  In the past, Board member’s only interaction was at their annual meeting to disclose financial reports or to elect new Board members.  Freeing them from administrative tasks or financial obligations allows them more time to address community concerns and follow through with neighbors.

“At MGM, we want to free-up the Board from these time-consuming tasks and refocus their attention on activities that will make their neighborhood thrive.  We encourage our associations to hold a lot of social events and the homeowners love them,” says Madson. “Lots of people are community conscious, so we’ll sponsor Christmas coloring contests, Halloween house decoration contests, community clean-up days or even host a movie in their common area.  Our goal is to get homeowners out of their house and into situations to meet their neighbors.  It’s a win-win.”

Online Resources

A few associations are making use of online communications technology to strengthen communication with their HOAs.  MGM uses an electronic communications and financial accounting system that provides each property owner with a secured, private account and access to all of their HOA documents, updates and information, and a community calendar —all continuously updated in real time.

Homeowners can login using a private password to receive updates and communicate maintenance requests. An HOA Board can use this tool to keep homeowners informed on all levels, that is financial, social and maintenance.  The Board can proactively anticipate the questions surrounding any posting and have the answers readily available.  Answers to questions like “architectural standards” or “how to secure trash cans” can reassure homeowners and strengthen a sense of community by effectively saying “we care about you.”

Stepping Outside the Box

Board members should regularly attend social gatherings and holiday parties. “Social events provide an excellent opportunity for interaction with neighbors in an informal setting,” Madson explains. “There is an opportunity for Board members to hear the concerns of their neighbors outside their official capacity.”

When there is a shared sense of community ownership, homeowners usually take more interest in the care and maintenance of their property, and become more compliant neighbors. If there is a loss of the sense of community, it can transfer to a lack of interest, low engagement, poor attendance at meetings, and ultimately affect the real and perceived value of a property.

For more tools and resources to build an effective community culture, contact MGM Association Management at (208) 846-9189 or visit