Back to the Future in Community Association Management [Quiz]

Posted by Andrea Drennen, CMCA on October 21, 2015

Guess who's turning 30! If you guessed the Back to the Future franchise, you're half right. 30 years ago, Marty McFly jumped in Doc Brown's time machine DeLorean and went to save the future. That same week on October 22, 1985, TOPS Software was born!

In Back to the Future II, Marty goes to 2015 and experiences all sorts of exciting new future tech, from flying cars to hoverboards. In the 30 years we've been around, we've seen some exciting predictions for future technologies too. And, like the movie, some have come true and others well, haven't. We thought it'd be fun to take a look back at the 'future' of community association management and see how close we've come to the predictions.

Future Prediction:
Community Associations Will Replace Rentals

In his 1999 document article for the St John's Law Review, "Preparing Community Associations for the Twenty-First Century", Patrick J Rohan predicted the demise of rental communities:

"Economic conditions and the landlord's legal exposure will cause the rental option to all but disappear in every major city. The residential rental market will wither as buildings are torn down or converted into co-ops or condominiums."

While it is nice to imagine a world in which everyone owns their own home, sadly, that prediction did not come true.

Verdict: About as likely as a Flying Car (but a girl can dream, right?)

Future Prediction:
Association Boards will Hold Virtual Meetings

Many of us were convinced that all board meetings would be virtual by 2015. Today, most states ban email based meetings, but they have been opening up on the possibility of web conferencing board members in. The meetings are still not allowed to be 100% virtual in most cases, since there is required to be a "at least one physical location where owners may attend. Someone designated by the board must also be present at that location." (quoted from California's Davis-Stirling law)

Verdict: About as Likely as Holographic Billboards (we'll probably get there someday.)

Take the quiz!

Future Prediction: 
Throw out the Filing Cabinets! The Age of the Paperless Office is Upon Us!

30 years ago, we were certain that paperless community management was right around the corner. (We've actually been saying it since the 1975.) So what happened? Between the law not catching up and the good old human factor, we're still at the 'just around the corner' phase. We fully expect management companies to be able to be 100% paperless in the near future, but we aren't going to hold our breath until it happens.

Verdict: As likely as Hoverboards (they actually do exist, they just don't work all that well.)

Future Prediction:
We'll Build Community with Social Media Adoption

Ah social media - in the early days of you, we had such high hopes for your potential... then reality set in and homeowners used it as a platform to bash the board and lambaste the manager, and get into fights with their neighbors and there goes the neighborhood. The backlash caused boards to withdraw completely, and it looked like social media and community associations just couldn't work together. Recently, the rise of private social platforms with homeowner accountability have opened up the possibility that community associations can build community and share the love on social once again.

Verdict: As likely as TV Videoconferencing (We did it! Now to get everyone to actually use it.)

Future Prediction:
Dog poop will never be an issue again when we can ID the doggy DNA

Maybe it was the rise of CSI and other procedural science based cop shows that made the idea seem like a real no-brainer. Got problems with people not picking up their pup's poop? Why not identify who the doggie offender is by their DNA! Now this technology actually did make it out into the market. Unfortunately, most communities couldn't afford it, not just the cost of the whole DNA testing, but also paying someone to walk around the neighborhood several times a week collecting 'samples' to test. To date there are still some higher end communities out there employing this strategy, but for most, it's gone into the realm of 'cool ideas that don't work so well in practice.'

Verdict: As likely as the dehydrated pizza cooker - plausible, but not practical in practice

Take the Quiz!

When TOPS turns 30 the same time as the Back to the Future franchise, it's something to celebrate! We're kicking it off with this fun quiz for community association management professionals!  


- Image credit Mr Spock via Walgig to Walldevil.
- Movie still images belong to Universal Studios.
- Back to the Future™, Back to the Future™ Part II and Back to the Future™ Part III are registered trademarks and copyrights of Universal City Studios, Inc. and U-Drive Joint Venture.

Header image credit Pixabay user Wokandapix
Take the quiz!