The Key to Increasing a Community's Real Estate Values.
What really differentiates a community from another? Is it the value of the real estate? Amenities? Location? Low HOA fees?
Although one or all of the aforementioned factors play a role, we believe that after it is all said and done, the ‘community’ is what makes the most significant difference.
I am fortunate to leave in a very nice community, where homeowners are very much “engaged” in acting in the best interest of the community. We continue to improve and maintain amenities, even those amenities that are difficult to justify. For example, my community is committed to funding the local equestrian center, expanding our trail systems, adding new features to our pools, and beautifying community entry ways. Why? We can all take the position “my kids are grown why do I need to pay for someone else’s kids to use the pool, our trails, and equestrian center?” I believe that the answer lies in what we at Zeato have identified as “community engagement”; it is this engagement that creates and maintains the value of a community.
The commitment to the good of the community, working together for the common good vs. the individual is what has kept our property values steady during the “great recession” and makes our properties so desirable that most neighbors buy each other’s homes as opposed to moving to another community.
So what is “engagement”?
Perhaps you have heard of this term at work. In this context, it is identified as “employee engagement”, a term difficult to define but it pertains to an employee willingness to commit to the good of the organization by tapping an innate level of energy that collectively can take the organization to a higher level of performance.
For example, experts claim that engaged employees are over 25% more productive than just satisfied workers. You can imagine the differences in performance and innovation between an engaged versus a non-engaged employee.
The same concept applies to communities.
What constitutes an engaged community:
Homeowners who believe in the good of the all.
A community with strong communication processes; on-line access to community information, services, and a monthly newsletter for example
A commitment to financial an HOA transparency
Strong and proactive maintenance programs
Reasonable and community supported rules
A commitment to finding opportunities for events that bring the community together more than just the annual pool party.
Without “satisfaction” you can’t have “engagement”. Like Maslow’s “hierarchy of need”, where basic needs have to be met before you can reach “self-actualization”, a community satisfaction with basic services must be met before a community and its leadership can get beyond the 3 “Ps”, “parking, poop, and painting”.
We at Zeato highly recommend the following steps on the road to community engagement:
Take the time to assess the community’s level of satisfaction. There are a number of survey tools that are inexpensive and quite easy to use.
Evaluate and communicate the results of the community satisfaction survey.
Discuss the results during a community meeting and begin the first steps of a property plan by asking the community to prioritize needs and wants.
Develop a property plan into four major categories: financial health, property maintenance and improvement, compliance with HOA regulations and State HOA Laws, and community development, the plan to ensure community engagement.
What are indicators of a healthy community?
I propose little things like low homeowner turnover, above average property valuations, and a high demand for your homes. In my neighborhood the best way to get into the community is to find a friend in that community that can tell you who is selling their homes before they are listed with a realtor.