Welcoming New Owners and Renters

/ Owner - July 6, 2011

A number of years ago I went to work for a subsidiary of a local management company. The owner of the company had surveyed new owners six months after they moved in asking them about their understanding of the association they lived in, based on the communications they had received to date. He found that slightly less than 50% of the owners had read all of the materials they had been sent and, had retained less than 20% of what they had read.

We tried to overcome this problem with a videotape, figuring that new owners would be willing to spend 15-20 minutes learning about the community association lifestyle. The problem with video is that because of the cost, it has to be generic in content and therefore was only a marginal improvement over the unread written welcome packages. Too often associations and management companies used it as a substitute for, rather than a part of, a well thought out program for new owners.

The point I wish to make is not the success or failure of the video, but that overcoming the tendencies of new residents to ignore or forget what you show, tell or send them is the key point of any successful welcome program.

What is it that you want to accomplish when communicating with new residents?

How about:

  • The smooth assimilation of the new resident(s) into the community
  • The reinforcement of the new resident(s) decision to move into the particular community as a good decision
  • Providing information that results in the new resident believing that professional management of their community is a positive benefit for them and that the fact that your company is handling that management is a great benefit.
  • Encourages them to become knowledgeable about their association and to consider participating in its activities.

To accomplish this you will need to:

  • Provide them with the necessary information needed to function as a member of a community association
  • Provide them with multiple reference sources to find answers to questions at the time the need arises
  • Communicate with them often enough and at the right time to get the message across without being a pain.

The information needed by a new resident is often too broad and yet often presented in too detailed a form to be absorbed in a single reading, or scanning. It needs to be designed in such a way as to attract and hold their attention, when they have the time and interest to look at it.


Did you notice the picture as soon as the page scrolled down? It is the blend of visual and written that will make a good communication piece. If you simply have paragraphs of detail, the reader will tend to scan the documents, possibly focusing on certain words that are of interest to them, but they may miss many important points. By adding a visual reference, you will focus their attention to the items that they might be concerned about or that you want them to concentrate on. If you want them to notice the rules about pets, use the picture above to draw their attention.


Timing is always a touchy point. Send something too soon and it may be ignored among the mass of closing papers and the hurly-burly of moving in. Send it too late and the damage may already be done. For each component there will be a suggested time frame for using it. This isn’t tested or carved in stone, adjust it to your needs and experience.

Components of the New Resident Welcome Program

  • Alert and request for move-in date
  • Note/card
  • Letter
  • Handbook
  • Forms/Documents
  • Internet
  • Visit


Closing will probably be your first real opportunity to communicate with a new owner and it’s probably the worst time. No matter what you do its going to get buried in the rush to get everything signed and settled. I would suggest that you include a document with the Status Letter (or whatever you officially provide to let the new owner know the account is up to date). This should be printed on brightly colored paper to call attention to it. It should include a simple form and an envelope addressed to the management company and stamped.

Basically the Alert should remind the owner that they are purchasing or renting a home in a community association, that they should have received certain documents (list), what to do if they didn’t, and a request for basic information (names, address of property if you can’t match it, and an approximate move-in date.


The Note can be a postcard or other format (a customized Greeting Card would be best) and should be mailed around the move-in date. It should be simply a “Welcome” to their new home and community, letting them know you’re there to help if they have any questions, and alerting them to the fact that you will shortly be sending them a larger, more informative package of information. It should also direct them to the “New Resident” section of your internet site.  You should come up with a basic format then have each association professionally print up a quantity at their cost. Have the President and the manager sign enough for 6 months or so at a time.


The Letter is the official welcome package.

One to two weeks after move-in. They’re unpacked and somewhat settled, and may now have the time to read something.


I’m a believer in the following:

  • Information must be given in an easy, friendly format
  • It must be retrievable. In other words, the Handbook should cover all of the important points
  • It should be printed in a size that will allow it to fit in the same drawer as the resident’s address book. (The sample is done in 8.5×11 for convenience in editing)
  • It should not read as if it was written by a lawyer
  • It shouldn’t be filled with just the things a resident can’t do

Send with letter


Any forms or documents should either be included in the Handbook, or as part of that mailing.


I would suggest the internet be used as a visual medium to welcome new residents. Here I would do the following:

  1. create a special section designed for new residents that either provides or links them to all of the information they will need; and,
  2. create an interactive, or flash-type welcome that walks them through community association living.
  3. create a video welcoming them to the association and highlighting areas of importance

[Feel free to link to our welcome videos.  Although generic, they do provide basic information]

Everything they need to fill out, or sign up for, should be here. Information at their convenience.


If the association is large enough, or active enough, it would be nice to have a “Welcome Committee” stop by and visit the new residents (owners or renters), drop off a basket of local products, coupons for local services and the Handbook. If not, any personal contact early on would probably be helpful in giving a good first impression of the association.

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