The Power of The People–Using Condo, Co-Op and HOA Clout to Your Advantage

Hi everyone, just got back from vacation, sorry for the blogging break!  I never feel comfortable announcing a vacation to the Internet beforehand, just doesn’t seem prudent…  In any event I’m back home and back on the job.  Today’s blog will be a bit shorter, but I’ll make sure to do two full blogs this week to catch us up.  Look for another post this Saturday, on schedule.  But for tonight…

I often reference Habitat Magazine, one of the biggest and best publications about shared ownership, especially in the New York City area.  Habitat recently published the following article about how a group of condo and co-op board presidents and residents used their clout to protest New York City’s plan to raise their tax valuations.

The article explains that some areas of the outer boroughs of New York, and especially Queens, have seen a proposed triple-digit percentage increase in their property valuation for tax purposes.  The city claims that the valuation is accurate, and is a quirk of the properties being undervalued in the past.  Residents counter that common sense dictates that property values in the borough have remained flat or even decreased, and that there is no possible rationale for the huge increase in assessed value, other than as a way to combat the city’s budgetary shortfall.

So to get the attention of the city’s finance commissioner, a group of presidents and residents staged a protest and held a public meeting, and it worked–with the help of their councilman the group was able to gain an audience with the commissioner, David Frankel, to air their grievances.  The meeting was described as positive, and the commissioner agreed to review the valuations, although he unsurprisingly did not commit to any changes.

However, the moral and important part of this story is that shared ownership communities, simply by their nature, have a lot of clout, and you should never discount using that clout to your advantage when working with government officials.  SOCs represent large collections of voters that tend to have similar goals and issues, and organizing a neighborhood’s worth of condos, co-ops and HOAs can quickly and easily build enough person-power to get the attention of even the most jaded politician.  Ultimately, representatives care about elections, and the loudest and best-organized group often gets to control decisions that are made by our government, from the local level all the way up to state or federal office.  So remember that, in addition to being your home and your neighborhood, your SOC can also be a pretty influential political group as well–don’t be afraid to organize your community and assert its power when issues arise that affect unit owners.  You may find that you can get a lot more done as a group than could ever be done individually.

Enjoy the article, and look for our regular schedule to resume this Saturday!

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