5 Things to Have On Your Homeowner Association (HOA) Calendar

Teips From The AMG Manager Blog

Teips From The AMG Manager Blog

Being on the Board of an HOA can be quite a difficult task. If you are volunteering it requires commitment and involvement of time. With so much on your plate, you want to make sure that your community is the best place to live. Residents of the complex, townhome or building should feel at ease. So, what can you do this summer to increase your HOA’s efficiency?

While the HOA plans a year-round schedule, and understands what the requirements of the community are, here are a few suggestions that you should include in your HOA calendar this summer:

1.      Community Maintenance and Repairs
Community maintenance and repairs need to be put on the calendar so that they are done routinely and in a timely manner. In different seasons of the year different repairs and routine maintenance is necessary. The summer hot days cause several inconveniences, like common sprinkler system repairs, pool cleaning, clubhouse air conditioning, common area landscaping and grounds upkeep and other tasks. As an HOA board member, you must work with board members and committees to ensure that these repairs are made as soon as possible.  During the winter months repair and routine maintenance may involve pipe repairs from cold weather or snow removal. There are year-round tasks that the HOA needs to be on top of. These may involve security, common area trash, pools, clubhouse cleaning, golf course grounds maintenance, playgrounds or other amenities your community offers. Everything a community offers will require upkeep, maintenance and repairs. These maintenance and repair tasks are paid for and budgeted from the funds receive from member’s dues and fees.

2.      Community Landscaping and beautification day
Scheduling the community landscaping or beautification day is a great event to put on the calendar in advance to gain volunteers and participation. The community entry landscape sets the first impression for guests who visit your community which is why it is important. Moreover, better surroundings have positive effects on residents and enhance property values. When there are high temperatures, plants start to die. To make sure that the community place looks healthy and beautiful, the HOA must inspect and replace any dead plants and trees. You can lighten the board member work load by asking residents to participate in this endeavor by making ‘cleaning’ a community event.  Your board might offer snacks and cool drinks to volunteers. An annual community clean up day is important for the overall beauty and enhancement of the community.

3.      Fun activities and events
The HOA should have meetings and appoint volunteers to committees for these community events to be a success. For best results, these events should be on the HOA calendar well in advance. Every community loves the family annual and holiday events where the entire family can get involved. By organizing fun events, such as a bake sale to collect funds for a cause, a future event, movie night, one-dish dinner party, BBQ, garage sale, summer book club, workshops by members to help other members, learn a new skill for free, you can make an effort to increase friendliness between members and allow them to unwind. You can also have kids’ friendly events during their summer break. All of this will enhance community engagement.

4.      Update and Evaluate Community Amenities
Every HOA should schedule an event where board members walk around or drive through the community to make assessments.  Careful evaluation of all common area buildings and grounds are essential to the safety and protection of the residents and reduces liability and accidents. The HOA board will want to schedule this well before summer which gives an HOA ample time to update amenities such as the hot tub, pools and playgrounds etc. Whether it is the gym equipment that’s worn out or the pool flooring that needs to be replaced, including amenity update to your summer calendar will save you from the hassle of updating them when everyone wants to use them.

5.      New season planning session for the Board
An efficient HOA always plans ahead of time. This practice will create a sense of security within members of the neighborhood when they will see how focused and d­­edicated you are. As an HOA Board member, it is your responsibility that all members connect during seasonal events. Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas, bring the community together by planning ahead. To make residents participate more, you can ask them for suggestions in the summers and start formulating a budget for the next season.

By adding these 5 things to your HOA calendar, you will be able to plan and chalk out annual activities better and make living in a community easy, simple, convenient and fun.  Moreover, members will also start to value your efforts even more!

Greensboro/Winston-Salem HOA and Condo Manager Crystal Beaman Completes Advanced Management Certification

PHOTO CUTLINE: Crystal Beaman, AMG’s newest Community Manager, recently achieved her AMS (Association Management Specialist) certification.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Crystal Beaman, AMG’s newest Community Manager, recently achieved her AMS (Association Management Specialist) certification.

Crystal Beaman, a new community manager at Association Management Group - Greensboro (AMG), one of the Carolinas’ largest professional homeowner association managers, recently achieved the rigorous AMS (Association Management Specialist) certification. The AMS is a credential from CAI (Community Associations Institute), the industry’s international membership organization dedicated to building better communities. The AMS credentialing process is an exhaustive program requiring two years of professional experience in association financial, administrative, and facilities management. Completion requires multiple management courses and passage of the comprehensive CMCA (Certified Manager of Community Associations) exam.

According to AMG President Paul Mengert, the impressive AMS credential signifies expertise, extensive knowledge, and the smart application of best practices in the field of managing townhome, condo, and single-family HOAs. “This certification is a symbol of Crystal’s dedication to community management and her excellence in the industry,” he said. “It will be an invaluable aid in her job of supporting the day-to-day operations of her portfolio of communities, includingvendor oversight, paying bills, negotiating contracts, assisting homeowners, and advising volunteer Board members.”

Beaman, who moved to the Triad area in June, and has a strong background in customer service, leadership, and financial management, was a community manager in Charlotte before joining AMG-Greensboro. “It was very rewarding to receive my AMS certification,” she said. “The course work is challenging and it’s a tough industry to learn. I was proud of myself for reaching this milestone and am eager to continue my education and pursue a PCAM certification down the road. I believe it shows our clients that I am experienced and dedicated to my professional development. I am numbers-driven and enjoy working on budgets; I find it very satisfying when I can find ways to save money or afford additional improvements for a community. I feel that AMG is a good fit for me because it is a very positive and supportive environment.” To learn more about AMG’s community management services, email Beaman at cbeaman@amgworld.com.                                                          

About Association Management Group, Inc.: 

AMG is a professional community association management company dedicated to building effective community associations. AMG guides and assists executive boards to help protect the association's interests, enhance the lives of community members, and improve the property values in the community. With offices throughout the Carolinas in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, and Greenville and Aiken, SC, AMG is a knowledgeable partner in enforcing community governing documents with a proven set of processes and techniques, and supporting communities with a broad range of services that can be tailored to individual community needs. Association Management Group, Inc. is a locally Accredited Business by the BBB and is a nationally Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC) by the Community Associations Institute. For more about AMG, visit www.amgworld.com.

 

 

 

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH STEIN ALERT - ECLIPSE TIPS

 

In anticipation of the solar eclipse scheduled to take place on Monday, August 21, the State Highway Patrol is placing an emphasis on safe travel. Due to the expected number of people taking part in the event, roadways across portions of the state will see a significant increase in motorists.

A total solar eclipse will be visible in the western portion of North Carolina, drawing several visitors from surrounding states. Authorities are encouraging onlookers to arrive early for the event in an attempt to decrease the number of vehicles on the roadways at one time.

Safety Tips Prior to and After the Eclipse:

https://www.ncdps.gov/state-highway-patrol-hopes-eclipse-doesn%E2%80%99t-shadow-safety

 

Association Management Group’s Paul K. Mengert Joins Carolina Theatre Board of Directors

Paul Mengert, Founder and CEO of Association Management Group, was recently invited to join the Board of Directors of the Carolina Theatre. He will serve this signature Greensboro performing arts facility for three years.

Paul K. Mengert, founder and CEO of Association Management Group, Inc., one of the Carolinas’ largest professional homeowner association managers, has accepted an invitation to join the Carolina Theatre Board of Directors.

Deemed the finest theatre between Washington, DC, and Atlanta, the Greensboro “Showplace of the Carolinas” opened in 1927 and delighted audiences with vaudeville acts in a sumptuous setting of sparkling chandeliers, gilded decor, marble columns and classical statuary.  Now a state-of-the-art performing arts center, the historic theatre continues to enthrall a new generation of audiences with ballet, theatre, opera and musical performances. 

During his three-year term, Mengert will support the theatre’s mission and vision with leadership and guidance, financial expertise and community engagement support. “Association Management Group is in the business of creating and preserving community,” Mengert said. “As a member of the Carolina Theatre Board of Directors, I bring decades of experience connecting people to each other and their neighborhoods, and educating volunteer homeowner boards about good financial and legal stewardship, budget management, strong governance and engaging marketing. I believe this experience will prove beneficial as we grow the stellar legacy of this downtown Greensboro institution for years to come.”

To learn more about Carolina Theatre, visit https://carolinatheatre.com/history/.   

About Association Management Group, Inc.:  AMG is a professional community association management company dedicated to building effective community associations. AMG guides and assists executive boards to help protect the association's interests, enhance the lives of community members and improve the property values in the community. With offices throughout the Carolinas in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, and Greenville and Aiken, SC, AMG is a knowledgeable partner in enforcing community governing documents with a proven set of processes and techniques, and supporting communities with a broad range of services that can be tailored to individual community needs. Association Management Group, Inc. is a locally Accredited Business by the BBB and is a nationally Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC) by the Community Associations Institute. For more about AMG, visit www.amgworld.com.

Pool Safety/Drowning Prevention For HOA's

A private swimming pool run by a condo or homeowners’ association can be a very attractive amenity to potential homebuyers. However, while they can be popular with owners, pools create a number of liabilities for the association that need to be addressed to avoid safety concerns.

Learn the action steps you can take for safeguarding children in and around the water.

SUPERVISION

Curiosity, rapidly changing skills, and an inability to understand danger place young children at high risk. Adults must establish and communicate responsibility for child supervision:

• Assign an adult "water watcher" to supervise the pool/spa area, especially during social gatherings.

• Assign a second adult to maintain constant visual contact with children in the pool/spa area. Don't assume someone else is watching a child.

• Never leave a child alone near a pool or spa, bathtub, toilet, water-filled bucket, pond, or any standing water in which a child's nose and mouth may be submersed.

• Don't rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or any other equipment to make a child "water safe".

• Don't allow children to play in the pool/spa area.

• Look in the pool area first if a child is missing.

• Communicate pool safety measures with the baby-sitter and train the sitter in CPR.

PREPARATION

• Learn how to swim, proper rescue techniques and CPR.

• Mount rescue equipment by the pool. This should include a lifesaving ring, shepherd's hook, and CPR sign. Many float-type toys like arm floats and inflatable rings are thought to be lifesavers. They aren't. They are only toys and should be used only as toys.

• Post the 9-1-1 emergency phone number on your phones. Have a phone near the pool area. Don't leave children unattended while talking on the phone. Important Facts About Childhood Drowning

• Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death to children under five years of age in 18 states, and California leads the nation.

• A pool or spa is 14 times more likely than a vehicle to cause the death of a child under five. • Drowning is a silent event. Children under five do not understand the dangers of falling into water and do not splash or cry out for help.

• Children can drown during surprisingly short breaks in visual contact.

Helpful Insights for New Board Members

Helpful Insights for New Board Members

Congratulations on your new role of serving on your community's board of directors! While you were not likely given much information to help ready yourself for your new “job”, there are right ways and wrong ways to begin your term on your community board. Below are some useful tips to help you gain insight and better prepare you for your new position as a community association director.

Do your Homework

Once you join your board of directors, your work is just getting started.  You must be prepared to attend your board meetings as well as any membership meetings; however, it doesn't end there. You will need to review reports, minutes and many other materials pertaining to your role as a director before you weigh in with a decision on them. You should not expect others such as another director or the manager to do your job, but you should consult with them and try to incorporate various points of view.
 
Familiarize Yourself

You should become familiar with your role and your association's documents as soon as possible. There are materials the manager can provide that will help you better understand your role as a community association board member as well as online material. It is best to start with your Community’s Governing Documents. You may also want to consider reading the statute which governs your particular type of association. Do not expect to interpret everything on your own; that is your association attorney's role.
 
Ask Questions

Asking questions is always a good way to learn anything that is new to you. Rather than making assumptions, ask questions about why the board is doing certain things and enforcing or ignoring certain policies. However, questions should remain genuine with the purpose of obtaining information, not veiled accusations or criticism. There will be a time to address issues after all the facts are gathered first. 

Take Your Role Seriously

You cannot fulfill your fiduciary (acting legally, ethically, and in the best interest of the community) obligations if you do not attend meetings, are not adequately prepared, and do not take your role as a director seriously. Keep in mind, that even if you think the role easy, you might learn a hard lesson to the contrary in court. It is your responsibility to be focused on what is in the best interests of the community while putting aside any personal issues. You cannot truly represent your community in good faith if you do not put the interest of the association's homeowners collectively first.


Your voice and your vote count, so use both wisely. Volunteers like you can make a difference. I am also mindful that state legislators, the North Carolina governor, and even the President of the United States, first got their start as community leaders/organizers. The work you do is important and should always be treated accordingly. 


 

Questions To Ask When Hiring Contractors

Every year millions of people hire contractors to remodel or somehow improve the biggest investment they’ve ever made – their homes. And every year we hear stories about shoddy workmanship, overcharges, even damage to other parts of the home. Homeowners spend thousands of dollars on remodeling projects and fail to get what they pay for, often because they spend to little time asking questions and planning, before work begins.

According to contractor members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), homeowners do not ask enough questions. Of the questions they do ask, too much emphasis is on when a contractor can start, when the project will be finished and how much will it all cost.


While cost and timing are important, ensuring that a contractor is both trustworthy and reputable are the most important. Once the decision is made to hire a particular contractor, then you can discuss the start and end times of the project. If it is a remodel requiring construction, these are details that should be addressed in pre-construction meetings.

The NARI website at www.nari.org lists these questions every homeowner should ask before signing with a contractor:

1. How long have you been in business?
2. Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
3. Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
4. Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? (Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party. If licensing is required in your state also ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law. Not all states offer or require licensing. Check with your local or state government agencies.)
5. What is your approach to a project such as this?
6. How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
7. May I have a list of references from those projects?
8. May I have a list of business referrals or suppliers?
9. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
10. Are you a member of a national trade association?
11. Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education, such as earning a Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC), Green Certified Professional (GCP), Certified Remodeler Project Manager (CRPM) or Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP) designation?

Whatever you do, never hire an unlicensed home improvement contractor. In most states it is against the law to act as a home improvement contractor or subcontractor without a license. Sure, it is tempting, especially when the rates these people quote are so much lower than licensed workers. Just remember: You get what you pay for.

What Your Homeowners Association Board Can Do for You

 

As a recognized homeowners association, most communities have a board to help the HOA run smoothly. The board consists of volunteers who execute a wide variety of tasks residents may not be aware of; however, their work affects every single resident.

One of the most important things the board does is create and enforce the association rules. While some residents may not like being told what they can and can’t do, ultimately the board is looking out for the greater good. By enforcing the rules, the board is doing its best to keep property value up to maintain community standards. Of course, the board wants to make sure the rules are beneficial for the majority—and hopefully all—residents.

Another major responsibility of the board is to collect assessments from homeowners. Collecting this money is important for the stability of the association, because the assessments pay for the common elements enjoyed by all residents. Assessments also help to replenish the reserve funds, which pay for any major repairs the association may need. The board is responsible for the association’s finances, and collecting assessments is how it ensures that the association remains solvent.

Finally, the board acts on behalf of the association by hiring managers, attorneys, contractors and other professionals who help better the association and also help keep the community safe. Board members also help conceive and lead many of the projects that will improve the HOA.

Every board benefits greatly when people volunteer to serve on committees and boards. People are busy and it may be difficult recruiting volunteers. There are a few ways to get the message to residents that the board is in need of volunteers.

1. Send a community letter of education explaining how volunteers impact the board and the community and ask for people to get involved.

2. Personally talk to people. When you see residents in and around the community speak to them and mention the opening the board has. If they are not interested in serving ask them to pass along the information.

3. Offer it to past complainers. People who complain often have some sense of wanting to have a say so around the community and complaining may be their only platform. They can make a good board member or volunteer.

4. Keep publicizing. Keep putting the need for volunteers in the community newsletter, keep talking, put up signs in the common buildings and keep announcing it at all public meetings.

While it’s a big job, board members are happy to serve the residents and make the community a great place to call home. So why not learn more about what these volunteers do by talking to your board members, attending an open board meeting or even running for a seat on the board during our next election? The more people we have looking out for our association, the stronger it will be.

If you serve on a board or your board is in need of management or training, Association Management Group provide tools, training, services, management to HOA's and Condo Associations across North and South Carolina.

 

 

 

5 Keys to Increase Safety in HOA Communities

Home is a place that brings the secure and safe feeling; the HOA community ensures and optimizes the neighborhood security with precautionary measures to keep their member residents and their properties safe. These associations strive to extend safety measures with several options. 

1. Local Law Enforcement Assistance

HOA associations play a very effective role in establishing a responsive and strong relationship with local law enforcement officers. They set up meetings of home owners with them to familiarize, feel comfortable and bring the voice of their concerns. The association ensures the regular patrolling in neighborhood to prevent illegal activities.

Home owners can help by informing the community board before going on vacations or business trips, and watching out for any unusual or suspicious commotions in the community that can assist in deterring crime.

2. Install alarms and appropriate lights in the community

HOA association takes active part in the assurance of the well lit and secured community area. Cost efficient motion sensor lights can provide ample lighting, alarm system installations can bring advantages in various situations, as well as, all the assets are protected and maintained by apt monitoring. 

3. Ground inspection on potential hazards in timely manner

This is something HOA associations are already doing in a proper manner. They evaluate the community area for potentially dangerous situations such as damaged property, fallen trees and debris that can become risky for the neighborhood. 

It is also a responsibility of homeowners to inform their association and alert the board on any concerns so that the situations can be properly addressed without any damages. What HOA associations can do is to have a place where homeowners can file their concerns and check their follow-ups. 

4. Road and Street Safety

Budgeting on speed bumps and traffic signs for pedestrians and driver’s safety can make a good impact on lowering traffic incidents. HOA associations develop events to educate the community about traffic precautions, or simply update them on monthly board and member meetings to implement right speed limits. This can make the community a safer and pleasant setting to live in. 

5. Professional Services

Standard Operating Procedures can be obtained from professional consultants adapted to meet the community and association’s needs. This service can help the board to enhance security features, background checks of vendors and other inspection elements of their neighborhood through training and orientation in suggested systems. With specialized services, board can provide a complete toolbox of security techniques and prevent their members from vulnerabilities. 

Association Management Group
614 W Friendly Ave, Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
(888) 908-4264
pmengert@amgworld.com
www.AMGworld.com


 

5 Safety Tips For a Fun & Safe July 4th in Your Homeowners Association


At AMG we believe everyone  has the right to celebrate our country's freedom on the 4th of July with Joy & Enthusiasm. Keep in mind that your right to celebrate ends where the local noise ordinances, laws, your neighbor's rights and property begins.

Any fireworks that explode, emit a flame or spark, performs as a projectile, may be illegal and prohibited in many municipalities by Fire Prevention Codes. Violators could be subject to arrest,  fines, and could be liable for damages or injuries caused by those fireworks.

Here are 5 tips to help you have an enjoyable July 4th celebration if it involves fireworks:

1. Use only legally purchased, approved fireworks. Use them as directed, under supervision and clear of any combustible material and clear of all buildings.  Legal fireworks should be used or overseen by a responsible adult. No such fireworks may be thrown into, over, or around other homes, forested areas, or left in the common areas of the HOA. Residents who fail to comply with these restrictions will be held responsible for any damage and repairs. Review this  this infographic regarding fireworks injuries. 

 2. Local Code enforcement Laws - If you plan on using fireworks you should first check with the local law enforcement or city codes before setting off fireworks. There may be noise ordinances and fireworks may be illegal all together. This goes beyond the governing by your HOA.

 3. HOA Property rules and regulations - If you plan on using fireworks for a 4th of July celebration it is important to check your HOA documents,  Association’s CC&Rs regarding the use of fireworks. You could be in violation of HOA rules or safety rules.

4. Safety-Insurance - You need to fully understand your homeowners insurance policy regarding your own property damage, accidents or injuries as a result of using fireworks. If your fireworks go or land on another resident's property or on common areas, you may be responsible for damages to property and accidents or injuries that may occur.

People think sparklers are safe. Some sparklers can attain a temperature as high as 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and cause severe injuries. Whether a spectator or the user of malfunctioning fireworks, victims may be able to seek damages for their injuries.

5. Littering - Fireworks leave debris, paper shreds, fuses, powder residue and other materials that may leave a mess and be potentially harmful.   Be sure to clean up after your fireworks display. You could incur a fine for littering or damage to yards, sidewalks, streets or other common areas.

To ensure a safe 4th of July, we encourage residents to know and adhere to all policies by your community association and local laws before having a fireworks display.

It is reported that 200 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.

It’s the responsibility of the HOA board to uphold, enhance, and maintain the Association. Reminding residents of 4th of July safety lets them know you care about their safety.  This is why HOA 's must implement and enforce rule and regulations to protect the association, homeowners and the community.

It’s not too late to get patriotic and think about your HOA hosting its own July 4th celebration to let members know they live in a fun and safe HOA. 

Ways Neighbors Can Help Neighbors During a Hurricane

We have just entered the 2017 hurricane season. In past years the Carolinas have fallen victim to devastating storms. At AMG we want to help homeowners keep their homes safe and reduce injury from storms. Hurricanes and tropical systems can cause serious damage on both coastal and inland areas. Their hazards can come in many forms including: storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds and tornadoes. To prepare for these powerful storms, AMG is encouraging families, businesses, and individuals to be aware of their risks; have a community preparedness plan; prepare your home, workplace and community.

When you live in an area where hurricanes are a risk, planning is essential. Here are some ways  you might be able to help your neighbors. If you live in a community, your neighbors can be a great help in case of an emergency, and you can also be of service to your neighbors. Working together can help keep everyone safe. A community working together during an emergency makes sense. 

Here are some ways you can help neighbors (and they can help you) in case of a hurricane:

Get to know your neighbors. Think about people in your neighborhood who may need your help, for example:
Older people living by themselves;
People with physical or sensory disabilities;
People with a chronic illness or with a mental illness; single parents with young children; large families; 
People newly arrived, including tourists, refugees or immigrants.
Talk to your neighbors to identify those who may need assistance

If you are an HOA board member or leader of your community association you may want to consider a community plan and getting the information out to the residents:

Where to go for community resources

How to prep your home, close and lock hurricane-proof windows, seal all openings, secure rooftops and yard items

Emergency phone numbers

Community associations can get residents involved and working together by holding safety and preparedness events. Use the space in your association newsletter to communicate preparedness information to the residents of the community. Here is a list of items that might be helpful in the event of a hurricane.

Lanterns
Batteries (in different sizes!)  
Matches
First aid kit
Duct tape
Rain gear
Candles
Battery operated radio
Clock (wind-up or battery-powered)
Plastic garbage bags
Fire extinguisher
Scissors
Can Opener
Clean clothes
Extra blankets
Heavy gloves

If your community association becomes aware of impending storms, it is helpful to notify residents of some home preparedness items they can do to get ready. Here is a list to share with the residents of your community:

Remove outdoor items
Trim dead branches from trees
Board up windows
Fill gas tanks and extra containers
Get extra cash
Move furniture away from windows
Store important documents in waterproof containers
Extra supply of medicines
Prepare for the needs of pets
     
Another great way to get your residents involved is holding a canned food drive to collect items to distribute before the big storm arrives. Here is a list of items residents should have on hand during any emergency.

Bottled water (1 gallon/person/day) 
Bottled juice
Two coolers: One for drinks & one for food
Canned foods
Manual can opener
Dry pet food
Medic-alert tags
Insect-repellent sprays
Feminine hygiene items
Sunscreen
Soap
First aid kit
Prescription medication
Over-the-counter medication
Children's medicine
Bandages
Adhesive tape
Antiseptic solution
Thermometer
Tweezers

If you are having an actual emergency please dial 911 immediately. Please be aware and publish all emergency contact numbers.

For more information on how AMG helps serve community associations visit our website at http://www.amgworld.com

Five Key Factors To Operating A Successful HOA Meeting.

Great HOA boards hold efficient, productive meetings while still offering a platform for  homeowners to air opinions and board members to discuss, debate and take action on various issues. There are five key factors to operating a successful board meeting.

Having a set format or procedure for the meetings will help keep things running smoothly. Some associations abide by the Robert's Rules of Order and many simply have their own meeting procedure.

Having all board members in one mindset with one common goal is essential in running successful meetings.

Great boards with dedicated members will successfully handle all of these areas while conducting the meeting.

  • Keep the meeting running on time and according to the planned agenda.
  • Remain clear on priorities and keep them in order. (Don't get sidetracked)
  • Delegate responsibility for every action or implemented item voted on
  • Focus on the success of the overall meeting
  • Listen to and manage homeowners comments and complaints with professionalism.

Increase Your Home’s Value Up to 28% with These 5 Tips

Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors, here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal.

1. Make your home’s exterior look like new.

For many potential buyers, the condition of the exterior of a home can offer clues to the condition of the interior. The first place to start when boosting curb appeal is the exterior of your house.

Paint. Paint is the best way to make your home appear newer. While you can paint your home yourself, if it’s large or more than one story, consider hiring a professional. Painting is a fairly inexpensive improvement with between 60 to 100 percent return on investment.1

Maintain your siding. Over time, weather and the elements can make your home’s siding appear dull and dirty. Use a pressure washer to clean stains, spider webs and accumulated dirt and grime, or use a soft cloth and a household cleaner to get into those small nooks and spaces. Although the average life expectancy of siding ranges from 60 to 100 years, depending on the material, extreme weather may reduce this number. If you need to replace the siding, you’ll enjoy a 77 percent return on investment.1

Paint or replace garage doors. If your garage doors are in good condition, give them a new coat of paint. If they’re beginning to show their age, consider replacing them. Not only are new garage doors more energy efficient and better insulated than older models, they also have a 91.5 percent return on investment.1

Maintain your fence. Replace rotted or worn posts and panels and freshen it up with a coat of paint. If you have a hedge that serves as your property’s border, keep it trimmed and in good shape.

2. Pay attention to the small details.

The small details tie your home’s exterior together and help it stand out from others in the neighborhood.

Paint front door, trim and shutters. This inexpensive improvement adds brightness to a home, whether you choose a bold color, a neutral tone or classic white.

Install new door fixtures and be sure they match in style and finish and complement the style of your home.

Update your house numbers. Make sure potential buyers and guests can find your home. If the numbers have faded or need an update, replace them. If choosing a metallic finish, make sure it matches the finish of your exterior light fixtures.

3. Tend to your driveway and lawn.

Well-landscaped homes may sell for between 5.5% and 12.7% more than other similar homes and studies show it may also add up to 28 percent to your home’s overall value.5

Place a border along your driveway or walkway made of brick, stone, pavers or another hardscape element to add visual interest to a plain driveway.       

Maintain your green space. If you have grass, a well-maintained, green lawn makes your home look inviting and picturesque. However, in many parts of the country, water conservation is becoming more important. Xeriscaped landscapes incorporate drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives in warm, dry climates, such as lavender, sage, wisteria and agave, with water-saving drip irrigation and mulch. Xeriscaping has a cost savings of 36 cents per square foot annually through reduced irrigation and maintenance costs.3 Additionally, these landscapes are virtually maintenance free, which makes it an attractive option for busy buyers

Include trees and shrubs to create texture and add interest to your landscape. Planting a few types of trees and shrubs of varying heights, widths and flowering times boosts your home’s curb appeal year-round.

4. Make it feel inviting.

It’s no secret that emotions play a role in a person’s decision to purchase a home. Stage the outside of your home to evoke warm feelings.

Stage your porch. If you have a front porch, make it feel more inviting by including seating, such as a chair or loveseat, an outdoor rug and a small table. If space is an issue, incorporate small decorative touches, such as a festive wreath or potted plant.

Hang flower boxes on your front porch railings and/or below your windows. If you don’t want to affix flower boxes to your home, purchase nice planters and containers and place them around your porch or on your front steps.

Choose flowers and plants that bloom at different times of the year for year-round appeal. For example, bulbs not only bloom all spring, they also multiply and come up every year. Perennials often flower for most of the year and will prevent you from having to replant them every year.  

If you don’t have a green thumb, choose low maintenance plants and flowers. Flowers such as lavender, rosemary, and zinnias are a few low-maintenance and drought-tolerant options.        

5. Boost Your Online “Curb Appeal.”

For those interested in selling, it’s important to know the effect online curb appeal has on a home. The better impression your home gives online, the more likely buyers will want to see it in person. Here’s how to get your home ready for its listing debut.

Stage your home. Staging shows your home in its best light and helps potential buyers picture themselves living there.

Hire a professional to take photos. A photographer has the skills and equipment to shoot your home in the best light and make it look its best.

Include a short video tour of the home. Videos are becoming a popular way to give buyers a glimpse of the home before they step foot in it.

Before you start a home project, keep these four things in mind:

1.         Why are you renovating? In other words, is your intention to update your home and get it show-ready or do you want to sell it for more money? Don’t fall into the trap of undertaking major renovations that may not pay off when you sell. If your home is in good shape, a few inexpensive updates may be enough to make your home attractive to buyers.

2.         The style of the neighborhood. Whenever you renovate your home, make sure the project fits with the style of the neighborhood and rules of the homeowner association. For example, an HOA may limit the choice and number of trees you can plant on your property. Similarly, a tall hedge border may not fit in in a neighborhood of low, picket fences.

3.         Permits. If you’re planning an extensive exterior renovation, you may need a permit from your municipality or other authority.

4.         Budget. A budget keeps your project’s costs and scope in check. Make a list of the improvements you’d like to make, set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you’d like advice on improvements you can make to boost your home’s curb appeal, give us a call.

Are you thinking of boosting your home’s curb appeal or renovating your home before you list? Do you want help making your home more appealing to potential buyers online and in-person? Give us a call and we’ll help you present your home in its best light.

Sources: 1. Remodeling, 2016 Cost vs Value Report

                2. Realtor Mag, September 22, 2016

                3. REALTOR.com

                 4. Houzz, Houzz & Home-U.S., June 2016

                 5. Houselogic.com

 

What Security Measures Does Your HOA Take? 

What Security Measures Does Your HOA Take? 

When it comes to safety and security of a Homeowner's Association community, often times the best defense is good offense. Each state has different requirements connected to an association’s responsibilities when it comes to defending its dwellers, however, at some point, everyone needs to ask himself the simple question – what security measures does your HOA take? Warning alarms, advanced gates, guards — are great measures to keep the unwanted visitors away from our walls, however, there are other ways to prevent thieves and other uninvited individuals. 

1. Has your Homeowner's Association developed a safety policy? In this policy, HOA should create a process for annual revision of on-going security systems and find out what kind of security measures to consider in the future, and then tailor a budget accordingly. 

2. Has your HOA established a relationship with local police? Invite local police officers who protect your neighborhood to come and talk at board meetings. This is mainly because you wouldn't want your first interaction with law enforcement to be in the event of an accident. 

3. Has your HOA created a safety committee? This group of people would be in charge of  supervising the property on a regular basis, in order to recognize possible security flaws.

4. Has your HOA met all the neighbors? Developing the awareness of community will support everyone. Neighbors  who are on friendly terms with each other, are more likely to look out for one another and be more aware of what’s going on in their community. It's important to plan  occasional gatherings where neighbors can get acquainted with one another. 

5. Has your HOA reminded home owners about security? As simple as it may sound, this is one easy way to get everyone's needs met. If HOA goes into the trouble to publish at least a bi-monthly safety tips in homeowners association publication, this alone can raise the awareness and security at once. Demonstrating crime statistics of the community they live in  and talking about measures that are designed to keep your neighborhood safe. 

These are the questions everyone needs to ask themselves at some point, but whichever safety measures your Homeowners Association takes, make sure you understand your personal responsibility in your home's security.

Guidelines for the Homeowner Forum

Residents are encouraged to attend and observe association board meetings. If you’d like to bring an issue to the board’s attention, you’re welcome to speak during the homeowner forum—a time set aside just for you. So that everyone who attends has an opportunity for a meaningful exchange with the board, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:

  •  Although we’re all neighbors, this is a corporate business meeting. Please behave accordingly.
  •  If you’d like to address the board, please sign in when you arrive. You will be called in the order you entered. This allows the board to contact you if we need further information and to report back to you with an answer.
  • The homeowner forum is an exchange of ideas, not a gripe session. If you’re bringing a problem to our attention, we’d like to hear your ideas for a solution too.
  • To keep the meeting businesslike, please refrain from speaking if you’re particularly upset about an issue. Consider speaking later, speaking privately with a board member, or putting your concerns in writing and e-mailing them to the board.
  • Only one person may speak at a time. Please respect others’ opinions by remaining silent and still when someone else has the floor.
  • Each person will be allowed to speak no more than five minutes. Please respect the volunteers’ time by limiting your remarks.
  • If you need more than five minutes, please put your comments in writing. Include background information, causes, circumstances, desired solutions and other considerations you believe are important. The board will make your written summary an agenda item at the next meeting.
  • We may not be able to resolve your concerns on the spot, and we will not argue or debate an issue with you during the homeowner forum. We usually need to discuss and vote on the issue first. But we will answer you before—or at—the next board meeting.

Summer Home Decluttering

Spring and summer are a time to declutter and organize the home.  One way to eliminate unnecessary items in your home that have been accumulated over the years, and are rarely used, is to donate them.  Donating unused items will help declutter your home as your give clothing and household items to those in need.

When you donate goods to a charity, you can often get a tax donation receipt which can often be used as a tax deduction at the end of the year.  In some cases if you have large items, your local charity and thrift shop will come and pick them up.

Donating used items is a great option as long as you do a little homework to find out which local organizations and donation centers are most appropriate for the items you’d like to give away. You may want to begin with your local Goodwill, which is nationwide, or your local Salvation Army. There are also local veterans charities to help our veterans. 

Use the following tips as a guideline for determining what goes where and how to get it there:

·         Many items are eligible for donation. You might be surprised to learn exactly what items you can donate. In addition to clothing and furniture, cars, cell phones and other electronics, fitness equipment, home appliances—even art supplies and old towels—are widely accepted by specialized organizations. If you’re looking to donate a unique item, or several of the same items in bulk, do some further research about local organizations and donation centers in need of specific things.

·         Consider what shape your items are in to determine where you donate. If you’re planning to donate a broken refrigerator, make sure the organization is aware the item is in need of repair. Some donation centers accept broken items for parts; however, most organizations and donation centers prefer to accept gently used items in working condition. Be sure to communicate the item’s condition prior to arranging a donation.

·         After choosing where to donate, decide how you’ll get the items to the organization. Oftentimes large organizations and donation centers are able to arrange a day and time to pick up your unwanted items directly from your home or business. Smaller organizations in need might instead have certain days and times available for you to arrange a drop off at a specified location.

·         Make sure to get a donation receipt for tax purposes. Before donating, make a detailed list of the items you’ll be giving away along with the estimated values. Keep in mind that, since the items are used, price points might be lower than expected. When your items are picked up or dropped off, request a receipt from the organization or donation center to keep track of what to count as a tax deduction. Speaking with a tax professional for advice also is a good idea.

 

The importance of reading your HOA Documents before you close on a home

The importance of reading your HOA Documents before you close on a home

So you just bought a new home or condo in a great neighborhood and you're super excited about it. You got your set of keys, garage door opener, mail box key, and huge stack of paperwork. You know that the stack or paperwork is probably important, but of course like most new owners, you are so excited about your purchase that the documentation gets thrown into a drawer somewhere during the moving process.

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