by Adia Walker / Published October 2014
People from all over the country who want to escape a cold and dreary winter have been flocking to Florida for years. The mild weather, abundant sunshine, and relaxed Florida lifestyle annually brings more than 800,000 snowbirds to community associations across the state. While this influx of residents within a community can put a strain on resources, there are actions that community association managers can take to ease the transition for their residents.
“Community association managers should be conscientious of the increasein demand and make adjustments where needed,” says Diane Braswell from Leland Management. Tips for staff members who want to make the return of the snowbirds easier on everyone include:
Sentry Management, Inc. says that permanent residents are often unhappy with seasonal people due to the amount of tenants; they feel that tenants are not as responsible as owners and fail to maintain the property as an owner would. “We try to use the time snowbirds are on site to educate them on the year-round issues of the community and better prepare them to deal effectively with their renters and leasing agencies,” says the company’s Regional Vice President, Robin Spencer.
Many times there can be a delicate balance between year-round residents and snowbirds. During the winter months, a quiet community can be completely transformed into a lively place bustling with additional residents and activity. “Commu-nity association managers need to help the residents embrace the benefits of being part of a snowbird community by offering social events that welcome the snowbirds and allow them to get to know their neighbors,” says Braswell. “Many of our communities host ‘snowbird socials’ for their returning residents. These events range from BBQ luncheons to throwback movie nights, but all feature food, fun, and Florida sunshine. Other communities simply send out a welcome letter containing dates for social events within the community and any updates they should be aware of.”
Sentry Management encourages the residents within their communitiesto coordinate the activities and events during the snowbird season. “Many communities have social committees that develop a complete schedule of activities,” says Ann Concannon, Vice President of the Volusia CountyFlorida Division for Sentry Management. “It is best to have a social committee formed that is comprised of year-round owners or early arrivers who are prepared to be knowledgeable about the happenings of the association. This allows the owners to share experiences and information, which minimizes staff time from answering many similar questions.”
While the community association managers, staff, and year-round residents can all play an important role in easing the transition, the snowbirds themselves play a key role as well. Leland Management and Sentry Management, Inc. suggest seasonal residents use the following tips to help adjust during their annual move:
One of the biggest nightmares for a snowbird, who has just arrived at their Florida home ready to relax, is dealing with damage that has occurred while they were gone. Much of this headache can be prevented by closing your unit properly.
“When closing up a condominium to head back north, keep in mind that water, both in a liquid state and in a vapor state, is your biggest enemy,” says Patrick Dunifon, Sales and Marketing Director for Florida Pipe-Lining Solutions. “Next to fire, water does the most damage to a home. The biggest offender is burst washing machine hoses followed by toilet supply tubes, water heaters, and then pinhole leaks in the walls. Other possible threats include pest invasions and sewer gas entering your closed condominium from drains.”
Florida Pipe-Lining Solutions recommends all snowbirds follow ten steps for a worry-free departure and a happy arrival next season to their Florida home.
By providing guidance and assistance to seasonal residents, community association managers can help minimize the number of problems that occur during the transition period of the early winter months, making a happier community for all.