1887 – Empowering HOA and Condo Boards for Success with Tina Larsson

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Co-Founder of The Folson Group, Tina Larsson.

Larsson Wide

Tina Larsson, co-founder of The Folson Group, explored the complexities of HOA, co-op, and condo boards. Her insights proved invaluable to those managing or residing in these communities. Tina and her team specialize in consulting for volunteer-led boards in these sectors, mainly in New York City and nationwide. Volunteers face challenges in balancing board duties with personal and professional commitments.

A significant challenge for these board members is maintaining and upgrading outdated infrastructure. Tina emphasized the importance of addressing emergency repairs and initiating major projects like facade, roof, and elevator replacements. She advocated for a proactive approach to management, which involves anticipating and resolving potential issues before they become emergencies, thus saving time and resources and reducing stress.

The Folson Group's growth has been fueled by word of mouth, networking, and the influence of Tina's book. She invites anyone facing community-related issues to seek their support, highlighting their dedication to assisting boards in overcoming unique challenges.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • The Folson Group's consulting services for HOA, co-op, and condo boards
  • Challenges faced by board members, such as aging infrastructure and emergency repairs
  • Transitioning from a reactive to a proactive approach
  • Dynamics within the boards and making tough decisions
  • The role of The Folson Group as coaches and therapists for boards
  • Tina Larsson's book, “Living the High Life,” as a guidebook for community owners
  • Positive feedback and impact of the book
  • Attracting clients through word of mouth and networking
  • The importance of proactive solutions for community-related challenges
  • Encouragement to reach out to The Folson Group for assistance

About Tina Larsson:

Tina Larsson is a multifaceted entrepreneur known for her expertise in real estate and commitment to sustainability. Originally hailing from Sweden, Tina has significantly impacted New York City, transitioning from a successful career on Wall Street to revolutionizing the real estate industry. Her journey began with a remarkable achievement: saving her own cooperative housing (coop) $340,000, which laid the groundwork for her consultancy services. Tina's consultancy focuses on aiding cooperative and condominium boards to enhance their property values through strategic advice and innovative solutions. She holds a LEED Green Associate designation and is a recognized author and speaker, with works such as “Living the High Life” under her belt.

With her venture, The Folson Group, Tina has established herself as a key figure in encouraging sustainable and efficient management practices within the cooperative and condominium communities. By co-founding this consultancy firm, she has dedicated her expertise to guiding boards toward managing their buildings like businesses, emphasizing sustainability and affordability. The Folson Group's mission aligns with Tina's personal and professional ethos, offering tailored solutions that promote environmental responsibility while ensuring financial savings for their clients. Through her efforts, Tina has influenced the real estate sector and positioned herself as a leading “Green Queen” in the industry, advocating for a more sustainable and economically savvy approach to property management.

About The Folson Group:

The Folson Group is a pivotal ally for New York City cooperative (coop) and condominium owners aiming to maximize the potential of their properties. With a team of seasoned experts, the firm excels in meticulously analyzing a building's financial health, followed by developing a strategic plan tailored to reduce costs and augment property value. Their approach is holistic and client-centered, ensuring the creation of a customized plan and its seamless implementation. This commitment allows property owners to allocate their time to other critical areas of their lives, knowing their real estate investments are in capable hands.

Offering a suite of specialized services, The Folson Group differentiates itself by focusing on value addition beyond the scope of typical property management. These services are designed to complement the efforts of property managers and coop or condo boards, addressing a gap in the market for strategic, business-oriented management of residential buildings. Their philosophy is to treat each property as a business, aiming to enhance operational efficiency, sustainability, and profitability. Through this unique approach, The Folson Group empowers property owners to achieve more from their real estate investments, making it a distinguished partner in the competitive New York City real estate landscape.

Tweetable Moments:

06:23 – “We act as a little bit of coaches and therapists in addition to helping them make decisions that are tough. It's very often very tough decisions to make a decision to assess each owner of $40,000.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out The Folson Group’s website at

Check out The Folson Group on LinkedIn at

Check out The Folson Group on Facebook at

Check out The Folson Group on Twitter  at

Check out The Folson Group on Instagram  at

Check out  Tina Larsson on LinkedIn at

Check out  Tina Larsson’s book “Living the High Life” at

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Josh (00:00:04) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence. Com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now. Tina Larsson Tina, you are the co-founder of the Folson Group. Now, the Folson Group is found on the web at the Folson Group. Com Tina, thank you so much for joining us.

Tina (00:01:11) - Thank you, Josh, so much for having me.

Josh (00:01:13) - Yes. So tell me a bit about what you do.

Josh (00:01:17) - What is the Folson group and what is the impact that you have in the world?

Tina (00:01:20) - Thank you. That's a great question. So we are consultants. We specifically consult HOA boards or co-op and condo boards in New York City, its co-op and condo. But elsewhere in the country it's HOAs. So they're nonprofits and they are board members. So just like any other nonprofits, they're volunteering their time and they need some help.

Josh (00:01:45) - Yeah. Tell me about the typical person who joins, let's say HOA leadership or a board. My suspicion is that a lot of people aren't like they're coming in. I don't think that that's what they do professionally. Let me just say it right there.

Tina (00:02:00) - No, it's not what they do professionally. And they have a full time job. They probably have hobbies. They probably play golf for whatever they do tennis and have families that are very busy people, and then they volunteer their time to handle things that they have limited knowledge about in many cases. Yeah. So there are owners in the HOA or co-op or condo and they're just volunteering their time.

Josh (00:02:32) - Usually I would imagine you know they're not doing it for fame. They're not doing it for glory. They're pretty much doing it just to, you know, kind of serve and kind of maybe advocate for, you know, their fellow residents. And so where does the Folson group come in then.

Tina (00:02:49) - Yes. So every other industry has a consultant in the HOA or co-op and condo space. There's almost no consultants. There are some consultants reducing the energy use. There's some other consultants. And nowadays there's a lot of proptech that's trying to fix all the not so efficiently run nonprofits. But for the most part, there are no consultants. So we consult them on reducing their expenses and getting their projects done. And in New York City, to our knowledge, we're the only ones who take a holistic approach on consulting every aspect of them running their nonprofit.

Josh (00:03:32) - So what are generally some of the main issues that a board may be working on or dealing with? Or it's, you know, some of the biggest things that might take, you know, might happen over the course of, you know, a couple of years tenure.

Tina (00:03:48) - Yeah. So there's no end to this. Okay.

Speaker 4 (00:03:52) - Is this going to be a very long.

Josh (00:03:53) - Here we go. We got a list.

Tina (00:03:56) - So in New York City, as in many other large cities, Chicago and well in Florida there's a lot of. So buildings are typically very old. And because they're old, there's a lot of systems that are breaking down. So the traditional way of handling their board engagements or their volunteer position has been to take care of emergencies as they happen. So you remember the condo that collapsed in Surfside, Florida, which was actually the reason I wrote my book, because that's the worst case scenario. So they're basically taking care of emergencies. So there's electrical lines and plumbing and sewer that are behind the walls that you don't really know if they're functioning or if they are in the 80 year position that the building is in. And they're not so easy to change. They're not so easy to change either. Inspect and change. So we're helping boards get ahead. So they're currently operating in a reactive mode, only taking care of emergencies to helping them navigate to become a proactive board so that they can take care of issues before they become emergencies.

Josh (00:05:14) - Yeah. Right. Right. And I'm sure that, you know what I've seen in my experience, I'm in Florida, so I'm well familiar. Yeah, yeah. With HOAs. and I'm sure that there's quite often, if, you know, when you do have the opportunity to come in, oftentimes you're probably seeing a lot of discord or disagreement. We should say, you know, between board members. And my observation is that a lot of those, points of view are based on maybe some evidence, but mostly opinion. again, because I think, you know, you're seeing just well-meaning citizens that are just doing this work and, and maybe don't have the wisdom or hindsight that you would in having been through this, a couple of hundred times or at least looked at hundreds of case studies of here's what happens when you don't replace or you don't get those pipes checked out. Here's what happens.

Tina (00:06:16) - Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Josh (00:06:18) - So how do you yeah, how do you navigate personalities, which I'm sure come into play.

Tina (00:06:23) - A lot of personalities. So navigating personalities. So it's just like the country 50% think this way and 50% thinks the other way. so what we we act as a little bit of coaches and therapists in addition to and helping them make decisions. That are tough. I mean, it's very often very tough decisions to make a decision to. We're going to assess each owner of $40,000. I mean that's not an easy decision to make, right. And you're not going to be a very light if you make that decision. So it's just what experts would just would experience that we have developed a way to help them navigate it. And. The more we have built our credibility. So we've been in business for ten years, the more we have built our, reputation and credibility and our confidence. The more the easier it has gotten to unify boards to make the right decisions. My book is also about how to take over the board. So if you have that one difficult person or two difficult people who you can't make those headwinds, then in my book, I talk about how to get them out of there.

Speaker 3 (00:07:48) - To make their life miserable so that.

Josh (00:07:52) - They leave. No. That's horrible. but, yeah, I mean, that's got to be frustrating, you know, when there's this imminent problem and you have someone that's just being a stick in the mud. yeah, I would imagine, you know, and so I would think that, you know, one of the big things that that you likely advise on is just simply having great communication with residents. Then, I've seen that. Like, thankfully, I think we live in a community where the board does a really, really great job. Not that everybody agrees with them, but man, they seem to work very, very hard for us. And obviously, again, they're not doing it for pay. They're doing it, you know, just kind of for the good of the and you know, we're lucky that, you know, we've got a, you know, maybe a wide variety of experiences, including some attorneys who no contract law, you know, happen to be on the board.

Josh (00:08:48) - So that's pretty helpful. What happens when you're dealing with a board or leadership where I mean, there's just I mean, God bless these people. But, you know, there's just really you can tell like, whoa, boy, these folks are pretty green here.

Tina (00:09:07) - Yes. And that's a great question. And pretty green is one thing because we provide a lot of resources so we can guide them. So not knowing is not an issue for the most part because we can help them and educate them. So we do a lot of education. But the one time when it's not so easy is when they are too risk averse to making changes. So for instance, we had a board where I would say that there were nine board members. We were able to save them a quarter of $1 million within the first six months of of them hiring us. They had three attorneys on the board and those three attorneys, they stopped everything. So in our experience, having one attorney is a good thing. Maybe two even, but three, they were so risk averse that they didn't want to make any changes.

Speaker 5 (00:10:04) - So. Oh no. Yeah.

Tina (00:10:06) - So that was not a good partnership. So nowadays what we have learned is that if there are too many attorneys then it might not be a good fit.

Josh (00:10:18) - So our most of the issues dealing with things like infrastructure.

Tina (00:10:23) - Yes, it's heating water, electricity that we reduce how much they use. But then it's also or an insurance is another one. Insurance premiums we are very often able to reduce substantially. And then it's also all of their projects. So it's the cost of their facade replacements or repairs or their roof replacement. Elevator replacement. So any kind of projects? yeah. We have a building that needs to change all of their sewer, their entire building, all their sewer lines inside of the walls, going to the toilets. All of them needs to be replaced. So it's some major projects that then need to be. The cost of them needs to be passed on to the owners.

Josh (00:11:11) - Have you ever stepped into and maybe this is just way overstated or way over feared by residents, but, have you ever stepped into a situation where the board and you're looking at the.

Josh (00:11:23) - I don't know if you get into the numbers, a whole lot of budgets and that sort of thing, but but maybe you're seeing some, some either negligence or gross mismanagement or even stuff that's like, that's. So that might be a little shady there. I don't think you should be spending money. Like, have you ever seen stuff like that?

Tina (00:11:40) - No.

Josh (00:11:41) - Oh, okay. Yeah. Because everyone always freaks out about that. I think most I believe most boards, it's not a position of huge authority and influence. Right.

Tina (00:11:50) - But we get the question all the time. But we have not. And we get very often we're the one board calls, a board member calls us. And they said, oh, we just took over the board. And we think that there's all kinds of shenanigans going on, and then we dig. And there was nothing, no real shenanigans at all. There might be. That they weren't paying attention to details, but it's a complex organization and they're taking care of emergencies so they don't really have time.

Tina (00:12:24) - Right. But it's very common that they call us and say, I think that they're the board president stealing money. And we have never found it. We hear about it.

Speaker 3 (00:12:35) - We hear.

Tina (00:12:36) - About it. And from time to time we read about it in the newspaper. But we have never had any clients where it was that bad.

Speaker 3 (00:12:44) - It's.

Josh (00:12:45) - I would have to imagine, like, you know, you think about like, boards or, you know, positions, you know, where people are quote unquote officials, right, that get oversight. And I have to believe that hoa's have to be the most over sighted type of, because it's just so local. Right? It's a it's a small group of people. And, you know, these are people that know each other. These are people that live together. They're very interested in outcomes as opposed to maybe budget for something that barely affects us. So we're just not as emotionally connected to observing the outcomes. It's kind of my observation on that.

Tina (00:13:22) - And that is the case that it's very personal.

Tina (00:13:26) - Right. So it becomes more political and a little controversial than maybe it should be. But I mean, it's understandable. So we do a lot of listening to make sure that we're really listening to what is the real issue here. What is it that we need to get done. Yeah. To make their community safer and better.

Josh (00:13:50) - Yeah. So, Tina, tell me about your book. And, let's see, I was just pulling up trying to find the, the promotional image for it. Living the high life. Can you tell me a bit about it? And, who should be reading this book?

Tina (00:14:04) - Yes, absolutely. So, living the high life, how smart co-op and condo owners protect themselves and their investment I wrote to two years ago. It's available on Amazon and it's about it's a guidebook for co-op and condo and HOA owners on how to take a proactive role in their community. And the guidebook has all kinds of tips and templates. How to best be an owner in a community and how to get on the board.

Tina (00:14:39) - Worst case scenario. Surfside. Best case scenario? Operate proactively. And yeah, I've gotten a lot of good feedback on it. It's my first book. I might.

Speaker 4 (00:14:51) - Write one.

Tina (00:14:52) - I have a little bit of I talk a little bit about New York City specific items in this book. Not Surfside, of course, but. So I might do a second version which will be more national.

Josh (00:15:05) - Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Well, there's a lot of people that that could use your help. how do you typically like, where are you just running around attending board meetings or how do you generally I want to say drum up business, but where does your business come from?

Tina (00:15:20) - So it's word of mouth. And we do do a lot of networking. So it's my husband and my business. We do. We're very active on social on specifically on LinkedIn. Not so active on the other platforms, although we probably should be. We do a lot of networking and we have been doing this for ten years.

Tina (00:15:40) - So a lot of our clients come from other clients recommending us. the book has really helped. The book has really helped.

Speaker 3 (00:15:49) - Yeah. To get the excellent.

Josh (00:15:51) - On your website, the Folson and to our friend is listening. You can go there. You can follow along. That's you can get the book from there. There's a workbook that goes along with it to very very cool.

Speaker 3 (00:16:03) - A free.

Speaker 4 (00:16:03) - Free one.

Speaker 3 (00:16:04) - Yeah.

Josh (00:16:04) - The workbook is free. Wow. Look at that. And also the first chapter. You can grab that as well. looks like the book is it's on Amazon. It's you've got a lot of five star reviews, that's for sure. again, it's called Living the High Life. How smart co-op and condo owners protect themselves and their investment. Tina Larsson, again, your website is the Folson Anything else that you'd recommend someone do after they've listened to this conversation? I'm like, I'm ready for the next step.

Tina (00:16:34) - Go to our website. Contact us there and I would love to hear from you.

Tina (00:16:39) - I want to hear every single co-op and condo owner or HOA owner what their the problems that they're facing, or if they don't like their board president. They want to volunteer to the board. They don't know how to do that. And also from every board member out there.

Speaker 3 (00:16:58) - Yeah.

Josh (00:16:59) - Awesome. All right. Tina Larsen, co-founder of the Folson Group, found on the web at the Folson And your book, of course, is called Living the High Life. Tina Larsen, thank you for joining us.

Tina (00:17:11) - Thank you very much for having me, Josh.

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Speaker 3 (00:18:21) - Minutes each.

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