Roll out the welcome wagons and red carpet! Cultivating a community of residents who are not only satisfied with their purchase but enthusiastic about their neighbors and general surroundings can indeed be a daunting task. For those joining a brand new co-op, condo, or HOA, getting familiar with not only new neighbors, but also with the bylaws, house rules and regulations of a new community can be intimidating as one adjusts to the unfamiliar environment.
As a resident, member of a board or one who manages property, one way to make the transition smoother for new residents is through the use of welcoming committees. A properly organized and educated welcoming committee could very well be a determining factor in the assimilation and engagement of new residents. It also makes for good morale – and good morale means the turnover rate remains low.
Many properties, from HOAs in suburban settings to high-rises deep within major metropolitan areas, have chosen to implement welcoming measures for new association members. Helping new folks learn the ropes and introducing them to their neighbors is a simple move that has the power to keep an association close as well.
So whose responsibility is it to help your neighbor feel welcomed into their new home, and by extension, into your community? While the bylaws of a given building or association may spell out the documents and information to be given to a new owner upon buying into the community, the members of the board might opt to take the time to give new owners or shareholders a more personal welcome with a packet of information about amenities, activities, social programming within the community, and even highlights of the surrounding neighborhood. Welcome responsibilities can also be divvied up between the professionals who manage the property, or current residents who have volunteered to act as a formal welcoming committee.
While not all communities have a formal welcoming/orientation policy in place, industry pros say that doing so is definitely a good move; it’s one of the best, easiest ways to foster the sense of community cohesion that makes an association feel like a true community. According to Susan Fitch, a property manager and president of AKAM On-Site in Dania Beach, Florida, “[Our] best practices are to provide new owners with a formal orientation upon approval of the sales or leasing application. This practice introduces new residents to a designated welcoming committee, representative for the association, or a member of the management team. The orientation experience should provide the newcomer with a clear understanding of the rules and policies of the community and include an introduction to some of their neighbors as well as the management team. The experience should be warm and welcoming, as well as informative.”