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There is a great expression for giving the customer what he wants: "If the man wants a blue suit, turn on the blue light." This wisdom is based in the curious phenomena that perception is more important than reality. As any successful salesman knows, the sale is in the bag if the customer thinks it's his wise decision making at work, not "being sold".

This same philosophy can assist in the vexing issue of what color to paint the HOA buildings. There is no greater political football than paint color. Often when board members move to make a color change, they regret it. The heated debate that ensues sends them packing back to the political fence of repainting the same color.

But there are often compelling reasons to change: The '70s colors never worked even in the '70s. Dark colors absorb heat and cause premature failure of the paint. Since one thing leads to another, paint failure leads to a shabby look and premature failure of the trim and siding. And this means money.

Ouch!

To dodge the politics of paint, the Board should defer to a design consultant from a local paint supplier. On the gamble that the association will buy its paint from them, most companies will provide these consulting services for nothing (a very good price). Ask the consultant to recommend three contemporary body and trim color combinations suitable for your buildings. Ask also for recommendations of how trim should be painted for a contemporary look.

The painted trim combinations of yore are often glaringly old fashioned and detract from value. A new trim look with cutting edge colors can fast forward the curb appeal. Have the consultant prepare these trim style and color recommendations in a side by side color board and hang the board on a sunny building wall so that residents can see what the "experts" recommend. Have them vote on the combination they prefer. Majority wins.

If your project is large enough to justify a number of different color schemes, let the residents of each building decide which color combination they want for their building. Again majority wins.

Using an outside color consultant removes this political football from the Board's hands and helps keep the peace. Letting the residents choose gets them invested in the result. Remember the Blue Light Special. It works.

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