One election away from being a disaster
You can buy a unit in a well-run condominium that is well-maintained
and is in good financial shape with a fully funded Reserve Fund. Yet,
when the board changes, the condo could start going downhill very
The following article from The Kansas Star describes an HOA in Arizona
that was a complete disaster and how an owner, Dave Russell, turned
the corporation around. Undoubtedly, it is a success story.
Yet Mr. Russell is very skeptical about homeowner associations. His
experiences are with HOAs but the situation is similar with
condominiums. Read the newspaper article below and watch the video that accompany's the newspaper story.
Finally read the blog that Dave Russell wrote below.
Taking on an HOA that’s a mess and more
The Kansas City Star
By Judy L. Thomas
Several years ago, describing Circle Tree Condominiums as a mess would have been generous.
The 256-unit complex in Mesa, Ariz., was plagued with crime — among the
residents were 68 convicted felons — the property manager had been
charged with embezzlement, and the buildings were in desperate need of
Everything was falling apart
“Everything was falling apart,” said Dave Russell, who bought his unit
there in 2007. “Fifteen buildings had leaking roofs, siding and stucco
were falling off, and there was a murder of a 19-year-old girl and her
unborn baby during a drug deal that went wrong. “
Russell decided it was time to step up, and today his work is held up as an example of how HOAs should be run.
Russell already had been volunteering with the Mesa police to help
clean up the property. So in 2010, he became community manager of the
Circle Tree Owners Association.
Now, residents say, it’s a different world. New roofs, paint, swimming
pools, nice parking lots. All accomplished without having to slap
special assessments on the homeowners.
Books are audited annually with budgets and other documents available
to any homeowner who requests them. And Russell’s expertise is often
sought by other HOA boards, which contact him for help on how to turn a
Russell said homeowners suspected the property management company was
mishandling the association’s finances several years ago but couldn’t
that’s a red flag
“When the money’s coming in and nothing is being fixed, that’s a big
red flag,” he said. “When you ask for financial records and they refuse
to give them to you or make it extremely difficult for you to get them,
that’s a red flag.”
Today, Russell oversees the property, which includes four swimming
pools, Jacuzzis, and tennis and basketball courts. A management company
handles the finances.
“We have the most complete set of financial records that any HOA could
possibly have,” Russell said. “I can show you a receipt for every
screw, bolt, nut, bearing, whatever we buy. We keep minutes of our
meetings, and we put them on our website.”
having a good board
Russell credits much of the success to having a good board.
“I probably have the most intelligent set of people you could ever ask
for,” he said. “I have an aerospace engineer, a nurse, a woman who is a
distributor, a retired school teacher, and the director of IT for the
state of Arizona.”
You Can’t Say We Didn’t Warn You!
Neighbors at War
09 August 2016
guest blog by Dave Russell
I was recently interviewed by the Kansas City Star, for their series,
HOAs from Hell. While the story about my HOA was flattering, please
don’t think for one second that I actually encourage folks to move into
I’ve said it millions of times, and I’ll say it again: “You are just
one board member, manager or management company away from insanity.”
Really, you are.
Sure, I was very flattered that the Kansas City Star selected my
community as the one HOA that actually does it right. While our four
swimming pools now sparkle, our roofs are sound and my HOA lives up to
its original brand, ‘Welcome to Resort Style Living,’ this wasn’t the
case seven years ago. And if you really think about it, in a few years
from now, my HOA could easily fall once again into the abyss.
I could tell you stories about now-sparkling pools that were once
literally swamps, leaking roofs and enough crime that the City of Mesa,
Arizona actually had a strategical and tactical plan for our HOA.
our completely dysfunctional former board members
I could also tell you stories about our completely dysfunctional former
board members, who collectively had an I.Q. of three, who once
attempted to manage my neighbors’ financial affairs. But I’m sure you
have all heard these stories before.
you can’t say that we ALL didn’t warn you
Now that you have heard all of the HOA horror stories, have read and
watched the series, HOAs From Hell reported by Judy Thomas, and you are
still considering purchasing a home within an HOA…you can’t say that we
ALL didn’t warn you about the pitfalls of owning or renting in a
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