Planning to give a perfect HOA welcome letter to new residents? Wondering how to structure such a letter and what goes into it?
Moving into a new house is a major event in anyone’s life. It comes with a lot of exhaustion and stress and, at the same time, a lot of joy and excitement.
Then depending upon whether it s a local or a long-distance move, people can be less or more overwhelmed. And without a doubt, each of them will appreciate the warm welcome and gestures from the community they are moving into.
Also, moving into a community itself signifies that they are wanting to live a quality life filled with good connections.
So, when someone is moving into your HOA, it is the right moment to make them feel like a part of the community and give them all the information they need that will help them in the coming days.
An HOA new homeowner welcome letter is the perfect way to do that, and it goes to the new residents in an HOA welcome packet.
So before I move on to discussing how to write a perfect HOA welcome letter, let’s see what the purpose of an HOA welcome packet is and what its contents are.
HOA Welcome Packet - its Purpose and Contents
First impressions count
One of the main reasons you should welcome new residents with a welcome packet is because you are not all about business and compliance.
The HOA board becomes out of the members of the community only and carries a human face and human values. Members expect the board to be friendly and not authoritative. Also, a good HOA’s goals include boosting community participation, among other things.
Now, if you want your first impression to be a friendly one that says you care, a welcome packet can say that for you out loud.
A perfect introduction opportunity to the HOA
By keeping the right contents in your HOA welcome packet, you can introduce the new residents to all your achievements and amenities. At the same time, also make them aware of your values and expectations.
Your unique way of saying things will itself be an introduction to your HOA’s personality and attitude. Whether it is super formal, super friendly, or a mix of both, your members can start to get a picture of the HOA board with the welcome packet.
HOA welcome letter
Imagine moving into a new place and realizing that no one gives a hoot. With time, you only need to go out and collect information about the HOA. Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
On the other hand, imagine getting welcomed with a welcome packet including a personalized note that welcomes you to the community. What would you prefer?
I am guessing the latter one.
List of Facilities in the HOA
One of the main reasons people choose to live in an HOA is because of all the amenities and facilities that it provides.
Typically, an HOA provides:
- Parking lots
- Swimming pools
- Tennis courts
- Party spaces, etc.
Include a list of all such facilities as a ready reckoner for your new members to start enjoying the experience of living in the HOA. Do not forget to include information about the hours of operation, rules and regulations, and other requirements about them.
HOA governing documents
Civil code section 4150 defines an association's “governing documents” as “the declaration and any other documents, such as bylaws, operating rules, articles of incorporation, or articles of association, which govern the operation of the common interest development or association.”
And so, it is very important to make these documents a part of the welcome packet, so each new member knows the rules, duties, and rights they are operating within.
However, these documents are long and comprehensive in nature. So, it is a good idea to highlight or separately provide a brief document with the main regulations that the new members should know with immediate effect. For example, include details and rules about:
- Garbage disposal
- Visitor parking permits
- Upcoming board meetings or any other events
- Architectural guidelines
- Parking, etc.
Introduction to the HOA board members
The board members, including the President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, are the set of people who lead the HOA community. So it is very important that each member knows them at least briefly.
Keeping a document in the welcome packet with a brief introduction to each HOA board member, with an introduction to their roles, is a wise choice.
Important HOA contacts
One of the most important pieces of information for new residents is the contact information that they can use in an hour of need. So include numbers for:
- HOA manager
- Board members - phone numbers and emails
- Services and Utilities
- Garbage disposal services, etc.
- Utilities and facilities
- Business centers
- Entrance and security gates, etc.
A how-to/ FAQ list
Everyone appreciates a how-to list or a ready frequently asked questions list, including new homeowners. After all, they have so many questions to ask you once they arrive. So why not make a list of those and give them to keep handy?
Address questions like:
- Which parking space is mine?
- How do I pay monthly dues?
- What happens if I break the HOA rules
- How do I report violations
- Are there any good restaurants in the area?
- Are any baby-sitting or pet-sitting services available nearby?
- How do I set up my gas account?
- Are there any hospitals/ vets in the vicinity?
- Where can I buy grocery items nearby?
Do not limit your questions to the HOA. Think of all the questions that they will have as a new resident to start living a comfortable life and answer them.
Essential HOA forms
There can be many instances in the life of an HOA member when he needs to fill out a form to execute something. For example:
- Violations appeal
- Compliance issue
- Architectural submission
- Entry access request
- Board member application
- Fee waiver request
- Tenant registration
- Maintenance requests, etc.
Include a form for all these and more, if there are, and preferably make them available online too. In case you do not have the facility to submit these documents online, do mention how they should be sending you the respective forms.
Latest HOA Newsletter
An HOA newsletter is an important tool for various purposes:
- To foster a feeling of community
- Keeping the members on the same page
- Keeping the community active, etc.
Also, it makes the experience of living in your HOA come alive. So, make sure to include the latest copy in your welcome packet.
A welcome gift (optional)
Not all HOAs are the same, there are big, professionally run communities, there are self-managed associations, manufactured housing communities, etc.
And depending upon what kind of community you are and what budgets you have, you may or may not decide to include a welcome gift as part of your welcome to the new members.
If you decide to include it, however, some good ideas are:
- A gift certificate to a nearby restaurant
- Ready to cook food packets
- Garden ornaments
- Cleaning supplies
- Snack basket, etc.
In fact, even if you have a very limited budget, do consider including a welcome token like a card, a desk plant, a can of cookies, and even a bottle of sanitizer!
So, now that we know that the welcome letter is an essential part of the HOA welcome packet, here is how to write a perfect one.
How do I Write a Perfect HOA Welcome Letter?
#1. Try to handwrite it
Yeah yeah, it may sound a little far-fetched, but handwritten letters scream ‘class’. They do not take much time once you have all the content together and give an extremely personal touch.
On the contrary, a typed letter may just give a very run-of-the-mill feeling with a much lesser sense of personalization.
#2. Make it personal and human
A good welcome letter sounds like it is written by a human being for a human being. So first and foremost, address the homeowner by name, not by a common designation.
And while words like congratulations and thank you are common, paint a picture of them like this:
The Beachwalk HOA draws references from real-HOA situations and talks about meeting the new residents in the coming days while walking down the streets, at the pool, or at a community activity. In doing so, they bring the HOA to life by talking in a rather visual manner.
#3. Keep a friendly yet professional tone
If you keep the tone of the welcome letter too casual, the members may not take the association seriously for the professional body that it is. And if you keep it too professional, you run the risk of sounding authoritative and rigid.
A friendly and professional tone both have their benefits, and the best idea is to mix them up to keep a perfect balance.
- Use professional vocabulary, but string it together in a semi-casual tone.
- Be assertive but not rigid
- Stick to the point but in a human way
- Build the relationship by talking directly to them and showing concern about them, etc.
#4. Introduce yourself
Before you start talking about anything else, make a proper introduction to your association.
You may start by saying who governs the HOA operations, for example, the board of directors. How are they elected and who elects them? What is the board responsible for briefly? When do board meetings take place and where, etc.?
Also, in the introduction itself, request them to go through the main documents that a new member must go through in detail, like CC&Rs, and then move on to the next part.
#5. Drop-in key knowledge base and contacts
The welcome letter is a good place to mention all the knowledge bases and repositories of information that you have. For example, your HOA website, blog, social media pages, etc.
By doing so, you give them easy access to information and save your and their time in answering repetitive questions. Because, after all, running an HOA is a taxing volunteer effort that you have taken up for passion while having other responsibilities.
So, you would rather focus on answering complex questions about compliance and architectural maintenance of the neighborhood than answering FAQs.
#6. Briefly discuss specific HOA functions and their significance to them
The best HOA boards keep things transparent between them and the members. Because when the members understand why you are following a certain procedure or have a specific rule, and its benefit to them, they are more likely to comply.
For example, you have an architectural review committee to maintain the quality of the neighborhood. It is compulsory for each member to get their plans for all exterior landscaping evaluated by this committee before making any changes.
If the rule is simply there, it may feel like a limitation to the members. But when you explain the purpose of this, say, to protect the scenic environment of the HOA and maintain the property values, they will see the greater picture and will be happier to comply.
Explain one or two rules like this in the HOA welcome letter to encourage compliance.
#8. Close at a warm note
Just like first impressions matter, closing words also leave a deep impression on the reader’s psyche.
- Make them feel welcome again.
- Congratulate them again.
- Say some exciting words that make them look forward to their life in the HOA
- And encourage them to also accept you and make an effort to actively participate in community affairs.
I hope that you will be able to write a perfect welcome letter with the guidance given in this article.