The “Green Banana Theory” goes something like this: Why should I buy under-ripe bananas for someone else to enjoy since I may not be here when they ripen! In other words, “why should I invest in the community by maintaining or increasing the reserves for the benefit of future owners? Let my estate worry about it!”
Anyone who has been a manager in a common interest community for any length of time has heard this refrain at least once. It is an unfortunate perspective. The owner is essentially saying that he or she has no regard for what happens to the community beyond their ownership. Imagine if this were the historical perspective in our beloved country? There would have been no planning for the rebuilding of the country by our forefathers who knew the benefit would be for their children, grandchildren and beyond. You may be thinking that this point of view is not isolated to common interest communities, but this is not the forum for that conversation.
When I hear an owner espouse this comment, I try to use reason to make it clear that it is not fair that they have benefitted from the planning and investment of previous owners, yet are unwilling to do the same for future owners. I point out the amenities they currently enjoy, like the pools, tennis courts, deeded beach access, docks and seawalls, properly maintained decks, balconies, roofs and parking lots that they use frequently with their family and guests was planned and paid for by prior owners whom you have never met! They are proud to show off their association’s amenities, and that community pride should extend beyond their occupancy. The cost to maintain, repair and replace common elements requires a plan, and funding that plan requires investment immediately for future use.
I would like to encourage community managers to not get discouraged by what appears to be a lack of interest or selfishness. Often, people just need to understand the bigger picture. When you explain why something is important, owners will listen. Please be respectful when discussing sensitive issues. It is not so much what you say, as how you say it.
Endeavor to persevere.
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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