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 quickly.

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

Dave Russell

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 repair.

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 community around.

Russell said homeowners suspected the property management company was mishandling the association’s finances several years ago but couldn’t prove it.

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 these Associations.

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 Homeowners Association.

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