Friday, August 2, 2013
Why I got my CAM license?
There's been a lack of posts over the last few weeks mainly because I've been spending my spare time studying for the community association managers (CAM) license exam. I took the test last weekend in Tallahassee and Spoiler Alert...i passed the test ( first try :) ). I wanted explain why I got my CAM license, provide some suggestions for others interesting in getting their license, and finally share my thoughts on the exam itself.
As stated on the top of this blog, the purpose of the blog is to help educate, inform, and create a community of discussion regarding community associations...enhance association living. For the right people communal living is a wonderful way of life and fundamentally it's a great concept. Yet there are misconceptions about the responsibilities of the various parties involved with the association, how finances and meeting should be handled, etc. Let's say I'm not running short on topics to discuss on this blog.
If the goal is to help communities thrive then I need to understand more than the high level legal analysis of conflicting covenants or drafting the perfect declaration of condominium. In 9 out of every 10 issues I deal with the answers are not in the textbook and the practical considerations of money, time, and politics play a real impact on the decision of the association. How can I advise an association on special assessments when I don't know the about reserve requirements, adopting a proper budget, what to do with surplus proceeds, and the like? I know I've said this before but keep in mind that community associations are CORPORATIONS! They are organized under Chapter 607, Florida Statutes, like thousands of other corporations in the state. They have balance sheets, income statements, revenue, expenses, liabilities, equity, shareholders/members, manage real property, employees, and on and on. To provide comprehensive legal advice I cannot simply look at the legal issue in a vacuum. As with any good corporate counsel, the adviser MUST understand the business itself in to provide the best advice. By studying for and getting my CAM license at least DBPR feels that I've achieved a minimum level of competency regarding the day to day operations of an association. So I've got that going for me.
For others interesting in getting there license here are my thoughts. First, it is a legit license. Here's a link to the requirements to get the license. My initial feeling was that if you took the class and semi-paid attention you could walk out and pass the exam. I was wrong. My class was A+ and provided great material (w/ hundreds of practice questions), taught by a local PCAM (highest designation for a CAM), with assistance with another local PCAM. To pass the exam though it takes significant study time and review. I studied for the exam a solid 12-15 hours (1-2 hours/day for the two weeks leading up to the exam) and I had to fall back on my legal knowledge for some of the questions. Meaning, the test requires understanding of the concepts and the the ability to use critical thinking to figure out the answer. While deadlines and definitions are important, I don't feel that brute memorization of these will pass the test.
My suggestions for the exam is to not just force memorize the Florida Statute numbers or deadlines for everything (although there are a lot of deadline questions) but think about why something requires 14 as opposed to 30 days notice; why would another issues require a response in writing withing 5 days; and, what rule does each governing document have in the overall scheme of things.
The exam is 100 questions and you need 75 correct to pass. You have 3 hours to take the test which is MORE than enough time. Read the question carefully and don't get tripped up not reading all the available answers...there were situations where one answer was right, but another answer was MORE right. Make sure to eliminate as many wrong answer choices as possible (if you know 50 for sure and can get the other 50 down to 2 choices, statistically you'll pass). and finally, as my class instructor said....if in doubt go with the longest answer.
Last suggestion.....get the Peter Dunbar books The Condominium Concept and Law of Florida Homeowners Association.
As always, if you have specific questions or would like further guidance please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me in the contact box on the side of this blog. Good Luck!