Ways Your HOA Prepares For the Summer


Summer is a very busy time of year. There is a of home maintenance that is routinely required by both the HOA and residents. While homeowners are busy mowing, mulching, painting their homes and cleaning the garage, your HOA is busy, too.

Behind the scenes here are 5 things your HOA is doing to keep the community amenities running smoothly for your enjoyment.

1. Community Pool: Your HOA board or community association manager will have the swimming pool inspected, cleaned and serviced to ensure the pool is cleaned and safely maintained for the summer swimming season.

Loose debris, such as leaves, dirt, wrappers, plastic and more will find its way into your swimming pool. Though this debris floats on the surface for a while, it eventually breaks down and sinks to the bottom of your pool. This, in turn, can lead to an algae build-up and stain the plastering of your pool. This is why regular skimming during the summer months is a must.

Chemical levels are arguably one of the most important facets of pool maintenance. Improperly balanced water looks murky, irritates skin and eyes, and can cause your pool to become a breeding ground for bacteria. As a general rule-of-thumb, a swimming pool’s chemistry must be checked twice a week, most especially during the summer.

2. Landscaping: There will be a lot of cleanup going on after the effects of winter on the outdoor community lawn area. Your HOA will call the landscape service and have the lawn mowed and ready for summer. Your association management may need to replant fresh plants and lay a fresh layer of mulch in community landscaped areas.

There will be times throughout the day that are useless when it comes to watering the community lawn because the water will evaporate before it reaches the roots. The best time to water is in the early morning, while temperatures are lower and plants can make better use of the hydration— your roots will thank you. Additionally, during the hotter parts of the day, many plants go dormant. This means that water consumption is neither adequate nor efficient.

In addition, never allow weeds to grow, especially if you're trying to get a garden underway. Dandelions, for example, though enjoyed thoroughly by children, can be invasive and problematic, detracting overall appeal from the yard. Consider spraying pre-emergent herbicide within all garden beds to save time and trouble.

3. Update contracts with vendor: If your HOA and community have any contracts with outside companies, be sure to ensure that those contracts are up-to-date before the spring/summer begins and the services are utilized the most.

4. Prepare Amenities For Use: Your HOA will prepare communities outdoor amenities for summer use. This means ensuring playground areas, picnic areas and community leisure activity areas are safe and ready for use. Making sure grills have gas and are in working order.

One of the most requested amenities for HOAS is a gym. Maintaining this amenity is important, as it’s a hot spot for germs. According to Fitness Magazine, free weights (dumbbells, weight plates, kettlebells), weight machines, and exercise balls are the biggest culprits of cold bugs and viruses. Other germy areas include yoga/exercise mats, gym towels, water bottles, and cardio machines (treadmills, elliptical machines, spinning bikes).

The HOA community clubhouse is often rentable for holiday parties and other get-togethers. Restock bathroom paper towels and toilet paper. Clean bathroom mirrors, all windows, and glass doors with glass cleaner. Wipe down sinks, faucets, tables, doorknobs, and door handles daily with disinfectant. Sweep debris from entryway. Vacuum carpet or sweep hardwood floors. Report broken furniture to the homeowners association for replacement or repair. Organize storage room. Double-check the first aid kit and fire extinguisher for expiration dates, and replace as necessary.

5. Contact the members: It's a great time for the HOA to send a summer notice or email about safety reminders and summer news.

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tips That Work


No doubt you know that your HOA wants all residents to keep homes looking beautiful for the benefit of the community. Maintaining your home’s curb appeal does not have to cost a lot of money.

Following are some inexpensive curb appeal tips that really work.

Fresh Coat Of Paint

A fresh coat of paint adds curb appeal without busting the budget. With a gallon of paint you can freshen up the window ledges, shutters, front door and the garage door. Add a fresh coat of paint to decks and railings, and street lampposts, as well. 

Solar Lighting

You can find inexpensive solar lighting stakes at discount stores around the country. Add these to the edges of the driveway, along the front pathway and around front hedges for nighttime curb appeal.

Metallic Paint

If you can’t afford brand new hardware for your front door, consider investing in a small tub of metallic paint. Refinish the doorknob, door knocker and the metal porch light fixtures. 


Landscaping can be pricey, but with a couple dozen inexpensive blooming annuals you can transform your front walkway. Choose the most colorful annuals you can find at your local discount store. Plant right alongside the path leading to your front door. Fill in empty spaces in between plants with colored mulch. 


Simply hanging an attractive wreath on your front door adds a tremendous amount of curb appeal that can be seen all the way from the road. To avoid marring the wood, use a wreath hanger that installs over the top rim of the door. 

New House Numbers

Pick up a set of brand new house numbers from your local hardware store. Hang them front and center next to your mailbox on your porch, on your mailbox post or over your garage door.

Refreshed Mailbox

Mailboxes get ignored so many times. It’s a shame because it’s easy to add curb appeal with an inexpensive magnetic mailbox cover. If you have a different kind of mailbox, consider just giving it a fresh coat of spray paint. 

Bird House

Another inexpensive way to add curb appeal is with a decorative bird house or similar lawn ornament next to your front porch. These are on long stakes that you simply push into the ground. Tick one into your hedges for a charming look.

You can complete these inexpensive curb appeal tips with a minimum of time and money. Yet, they’ll have a similar impact as if you spent hundreds of dollars. 

Be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional for more tips and tricks on how to ramp up curb appeal that will generate the most interest in your property.

Paul Mengert to Address Management Convention

President of One of North Carolina's Leading Homeowner and Condominium Association Management Companies - Paul Mengert to Address Annual Convention on Community Management

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Greensboro, N.C- Paul Mengert, President of Association Management Group, which manages condominium and homeowner associations throughout North and South Carolina, has been tapped to address the 42nd annual international Community Association Institute convention, which will be held in Orlando, Florida May 15th - May 19th.

Mengert, considered a thought leader in the management of common interest communities, such as homeowner and condominium associations, will offer managers from around the world seven specific techniques to obtain happier customers.

Mengert's firm has often surveyed customers and received results as high as 98% satisfaction. In an industry littered with stories of unhappy community members, Mengert's firm has pioneered efforts to increase satisfaction among members while working to raise property values and protect community assets.

Mengert commented, “By setting realistic expectations, establishing standards and delivering what is promised leads to not only happier members but increased property values.” Mengert previously served as the President of the North Carolina Chapter of the Community Association Institute (CAI). For more information on the Community Association Institute, please visit www.caionline.org.

About AMG: AMG is the Carolinas leading professional community association management company dedicated to building effective, successful 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 of the community. With offices throughout the Carolinas in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, as well as Greenville, SC, AMG is a knowledgeable partner in enforcing community governing documents with a proven set of processes and techniques. AMG specializes in 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, as well as a nationally Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC) by the Community Associations Institute.


Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tips That Work


No doubt you’ve been told that curb appeal will help sell your home. But if money is short you’ll need to do some curb appeal on a budget tricks.

Following are some inexpensive curb appeal tips that really work.

Fresh Coat Of Paint

A fresh coat of paint adds curb appeal without busting the budget. With a gallon of paint you can freshen up the window ledges, shutters, front door and the garage door. Add a fresh coat of paint to decks and railings, and street lampposts, as well. 

Solar Lighting

You can find inexpensive solar lighting stakes at discount stores around the country. Add these to the edges of the driveway, along the front pathway and around front hedges for nighttime curb appeal.

Metallic Paint

If you can’t afford brand new hardware for your front door, consider investing in a small tub of metallic paint. Refinish the doorknob, door knocker and the metal porch light fixtures. 


Landscaping can be pricey, but with a couple dozen inexpensive blooming annuals you can transform your front walkway. Choose the most colorful annuals you can find at your local discount store. Plant right alongside the path leading to your front door. Fill in empty spaces in between plants with colored mulch. 


Simply hanging an attractive wreath on your front door adds a tremendous amount of curb appeal that can be seen all the way from the road. To avoid marring the wood, use a wreath hanger that installs over the top rim of the door. 

New House Numbers

Pick up a set of brand new house numbers from your local hardware store. Hang them front and center next to your mailbox on your porch, on your mailbox post or over your garage door.

Refreshed Mailbox

Mailboxes get ignored so many times. It’s a shame because it’s easy to add curb appeal with an inexpensive magnetic mailbox cover. If you have a different kind of mailbox, consider just giving it a fresh coat of spray paint. 

Bird House

Another inexpensive way to add curb appeal is with a decorative bird house or similar lawn ornament next to your front porch. These are on long stakes that you simply push into the ground. Tick one into your hedges for a charming look.

You can complete these inexpensive curb appeal tips with a minimum of time and money. Yet, they’ll have a similar impact as if you spent hundreds of dollars. 


Four ways your HOA prepare the community for Spring


Spring is upon us and it’s time for the dreaded chore of spring cleaning. This can be a daunting task for most homeowners to get started.

Spring cleaning can begin in your local community. Homeowners Associations can help residents get in the mood and start thinking about their spring cleaning at home.

Here are four things your home or association can do to get the season started and encourage homeowners to jump on the bandwagon and start sprucing up for the warmer weather.

1. HOAs should start early on some of the spring-cleaning items that will make residence want to be ready for the warmer weather. The first thing the HOA board should do is call their local pool service and have the community pool uncovered from the winter, cleaned and all chemicals prepared so the residents can enjoy this amenity as soon as the warm weather breaks.

2.  HOAs should hire and engage the services of a lawn maintenance company to begin mowing, removing leaves, debris and other items left from the winter. It would be a great idea to have your landscaper start planting a few spring plants around the common areas of your community. Once homeowners hear the lawnmowers start up and see the community start to take on new life for the spring season, it will help get them in the mood to do the same. Soon you will have mowers starting up on lawns throughout the neighborhood.

3.  A newsletter should be sent out every spring with activities that are planned for the spring and summer, like tips for spring cleaning, improvements that are coming to the community and much more. After a long cold winter, homeowners begin to look forward to outdoor activities and enjoying the amenities of their community. Newsletters are a great way to get families excited about their community. Make sure to include local events outside of your immediate neighborhood, such as city athletics and sporting events, parades, cleanup days and other local town events that families can go out and do together.

4. Plan community spring and summer events within your community. Spring gatherings, egg hunts, community clean ups, spring community garage sales are just a few examples of events.


Five Ways Your HOA Shows Love to the Community

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Often times residents in HOA communities are not fond of the Homeowners Association. Many times residents feel their HOA has too many rules and regulations. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Let’s consider these 5 things a Homeowners Association does for the community.

1.    Your HOA takes care of your community in many ways to make it enjoyable and beautiful. They maintain the common area lawns and landscaping year around, including maintaining pools, playgrounds, leisure equipment and golf courses.   

2.    Your HOA provides amenities for your family enjoyment and livelihood. It provides enjoyable facilities like community club houses with recreational equipment, pools, golf courses and playgrounds. Some communities also provide golf courses for HOA members.

3.    Your HOA puts into place regulations for all members to abide by to help standardize the community and uphold property and home values. It's always important to review your CCR's and know what standards are in each community. You are required to participate in these standards to help make it a better living experience for all residents in your community.

4.    Your HOA deals with municipalities and local government's with respect to sidewalks, street lighting and other safety items within communities.   If this type of equipment needs repaired or replaced, your HOA will work with local governing bodies to handle the situations.

5.    Your HOA has a fiduciary responsibility to dues and fees paid by its members. Your HOA uses this money for the upkeep, preservation, addition and maintenance of all areas within the community where needed. It's important that members know that your HOA is responsibly using their dues and fees for the betterment of the local community and its residents. 


How to Prepare your Home for the Spring Season

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Spring is right around the corner, and for most home owners it’s an exciting time to get your home ready. In the winter time, many portions of your home are neglected or aren’t used as often because of home owners staying inside their homes.

From the interiors of your home to the exterior, getting your home ready for spring will ensure you’ll be ready to enjoy the warmer weather once it hits. It is important to space out your maintenance chores so that when spring arrives, you will be able to enjoy the season!

Replace Filters

Replace all your filters including water, range hood and air vent filters. You should replace these filters every 3-6 months depending on the type of filter you have.

Test All Smoke Alarms

Test smoke alarms and CO detectors and change out batteries as needed. It's cheap, only takes a few minutes and can save your family's lives.

Check Your Foundation Vents

A house with a crawl space has vents along the foundation walls. The vents provide air circulation that helps prevent excess moisture and mold growth, and they prevent critters from taking up residence underneath your home. The screens collect leaves and other debris from fall and winter. Clean these vents by hand or use a shop vacuum. Repair any damaged screens — critters can get through even the smallest holes.

Clear Your Gutters’ Downspouts

Dirty gutters are an eyesore and a liability not only for you but for potential buyers, as well. Cleaning your gutters will take roughly 15-30 minutes but will save you money in the long run. You can avoid flooding during spring rains by clearing gutters of all rubbish using a ladder, a small hand rake, and a hose.

Prepare Your Garden

Throughout the fall and winter, your garden can be exposed to the elements and what’s left behind from storms. “You want to first start by clearing all of your garden beds and lawn of broken branches, leaves, and other debris that have collected.

Pull out those tools that have been sitting around all winter. “It’s almost time to use your tools again, so you want to make sure they are ready for the job,” says Lambton. “Clean off the tools with soap and water, and use mineral spirits on wood handles. The mineral spirits will help prevent the wood from splintering. I clean my tools every spring and fall, or if they are especially dirty.”

Check Exterior Roof for Damage

Check your roof for any exterior damages. If you notice faulty shingles or other areas of concern, you need to consult a professional to have the issue repaired immediately. Any roof damage will quickly develop into a huge problem when you receive April showers in undesirable places.

Five New Year's Resolutions Members Can Make to Help Their HOA.

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1.       Use Proper Channels - Use the proper channels as set forth in the members regulations for communicating with your association regarding issues. Handle things in a professional and courteous manner.Otherwise known as “covenants, conditions and restrictions” (CC&Rs), HOA rules must be understood by each member to effectively understand and communicate the issues at hand. Doing so in a courteous and businesslike manner will help the association respond quickly and accurately.

2.       Personal Responsibility - Each member should take personal responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of their property. It is important for the member and the safety of the community   to keep your immediate common areafree of litter, toys, trash cans and other belongings. This includes sidewalks, streets and common grass areas. Such items should be neatly stored away where they belong.

3.       Protecting Community Property - Each member should assume a certain amount of responsibility for helping to protect and maintain community property and amenities. Playgrounds, pools, golf courses and club houses are all part of community amenities that are provided for the leisure and enjoyment of the paid member.

When the member or members guests and families are using the amenities, it is important to use them with care and restore them to the condition they were in when they found them. Community amenities are highly sought after by homebuyers shopping for an HOA community. The condition of the amenities is equally important. Part of the members monthly HOA fees go towards the maintenance, repair and upkeep of these amenities.

If each member works together towards a common goal to keep their community amenities functioning properly and looking beautiful, it will help enhance the communityand help the HOA use funds and other needed areas within the association.

4.       Be a Responsible Pet Owner - Each member of the HOA should have thoroughly read the members packet with instructions for pet owners. Each member should help the association by following these instructions and being a responsible pet owner. Is important to locate the designated pet walk areas and walk your pet only in those places.  It's also important to have litter or waste bags readily available when you walk your pet to pick up any pet waste your pet makes during walks in the common areas. If there are pet waste bags provided in the pet walk area and if it is required to use it to pick up waste in the work area, then follow those instructions as well.

It's important that each member or resident have a well-behaved pet. Your pet should be controlled and not aggressive towards other people while walking through communities. While   on your own property, pets should not be excessively barking loud, imposing on the peace and repose of neighboring community members. Loud barking dogs or nuisance pets is often a complaint to HOAs. If we all do our part to ensure our pets are well behaved it makes for a happier community for everybody.

5.       Parking - In your community resident members package are instructions for each resident as to the parking regulations within your community. Whether a town home, Condo or single-family residence, each homeowner should read the instructions regarding the designated parking areas and follow them. If a resident or member is having a special event or party, it may help to call your HOA office and ask if there are any provisions for overflow parking and find out if extra parking is allowed in any community area or on the streets.

If every member in the community made a New Year's resolution to follow the regulations as set forth by the HOA, this would help your community association function better and let them focus more on the enhancement of the community.If all members work together for the betterment of the entire community, the community would be a more pleasant place for all members to reside with peace and enjoyment.

Working together as a team will also protect and preserve community common areas and amenities, keeping high standards in the community and preserving property values for your investment, as well as enhancing the future sale of your property, and the investment of new homeowners coming into the community.

Tips For Winter Weather Emergency Preparedness

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As temperatures drop, the risk of severe winter weather conditions and sudden power outages rise. Winter storms and blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. Preparing your family ahead of time can help minimize the impact on your home and family. Every home should have an emergency plan for adverse weather.

Here are a few tips for your emergency plan.

  1. Assemble an emergency kit and talk to your kids about how to respond in certain situations. Keep blankets, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries.

  2. Be careful using space heaters and generators. If your power is out and you are relying on a fireplace, fire hazards are also a concern. Take precaution when heating your home.

  3. A burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage! Thankfully, you can do something to help protect your pipes from freezing in bitter cold weather.

    Let faucets drip during serious cold snaps to provide relief for your pipes.

    Give your home a once over for any exposed or vulnerable piping, and wrap them with insulation. Hardware stores usually carry foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves for pipes, which are easy to install.

  4. When snow is forecast, try to avoid making unnecessary journeys, or wait until the roads have been gritted. If you need to clear a snowy or icy path or driveway, only do so if it won't pose a risk to your safety. It's also a good idea to buy de-icing salt for your drive or path before snow or ice comes.

If you live in an HOA community and extreme weather or ice impacts community property, follow the emergency guidelines that are in place in your HOA information.

Stay safe contact emergency offcials when necessary.

5 Things To Do To Get Ready For Winter


Simple home and yard tips don't have to take a lot of time, but can save a lot of headaches if that first winter storm catches you unaware. Here's a checklist to help you prepare:

Assess Your Windows and Doors

Take a walk around your interior, preferably on a windy day. Check for drafts and air leaks; replace weather-stripping, align door thresholds. and repair window frames and sills if they're damaged. If you have storm windows, make sure they're ready to install. Replace the screens in a storm door with glass panels. Also check your garage door to make sure that it operates properly.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly half of a home's total energy use is for heating and cooling, so it makes good financial sense to assure that your systems are as efficient as possible for every season. 

Check Your Furnace and Fuel

Before cold weather arrives, schedule or perform any necessary routine maintenance on your furnace or HVAC systems. Clean ducts, replace filters, calibrate the thermostat, and fill the fuel tanks as required. This is also the time to clean the flue and check the chimney if you have a fireplace or woodburning stove. If your home doesn't have a carbon monoxide detector, consider installing one to assure your safety during the winter. 

Prune Trees and Shrubs

Working outside can be a pleasant weekend task during the cooler autumn season. It's also the time to do some prep work on your landscaping so that your plants will be at their best for the next growing season. Depending on your location, and your commitment to your yard, now is also the time to prepare new garden beds and plant spring bulbs, or tackle projects like brick walls, planters and stone pathways.

Undo Outdoor Hoses 

Burst outdoor hose bibbs can be the source of serious interior water damage, and the most common cause is a hose left attached when the first freeze occurs. Eliminate that possibility by undoing your outdoor hoses early in the fall. If you still must water the lawn or your garden, it's easy enough to reattach the hose as needed. Also, remember to store coiled hoses in the garage or in a shed during the winter. They'll last longer!

Check Roof Shingles and Gutters

Although it's not a bad idea to check your roof and clean gutters and downspouts at least quarterly, it's especially important before winter. Take note of cracked or curling shingles; check to make sure no daylight is visible from the attic, and make sure that all gutters and downspouts are clear of debris prior to snow and ice buildup.

Owning a home requires ongoing maintenance to assure that it will truly be a haven during foul weather, but it doesn't have to be an unending task or cost a lot of money.

Location, Location, Location: How to Ensure You're Buying a Home in the Right Community


When investing in a home, one of the most important things is buying a place that you and your family can feel comfortable in. However, while a place you can envision yourself in is important, it's not worth neglecting the neighborhood you'll be moving into for the perfect home. If you're wondering what you should be looking for in the neighborhood you choose, here are a few things to consider before making an offer on a home.

Is It Safe?

It may be common to feel bowled over by a home and want to invest immediately, but the right home in the wrong neighborhood may not be the best choice for many reasons. Part of feeling comfortable in your home is being safe among its streets, so ensure you research the neighborhood and its history, and check in on the crime rate. You may even want to consult with your agent or some local neighbors to see what information they can provide about the area's history.

Are There Local Amenities?

If you're used to getting in the car to run errands, it might not be important to not have a grocery store or pharmacy nearby. However, if there are no amenities you use frequently close by, it can start to be a bit of a drain on your lifestyle. While you don't necessarily need to have the trendiest restaurants or best shopping, it's important to have a few choice places in case you run out of something and need to make a quick run to the store. 

What's Your Neighborhood Style?

It might seem like a strange thing to ask yourself, but the neighborhood you live in is going to become a big part of your life and that means you'll have to see yourself in it. If you want neighbors you can trust and community-mindedness, you'll want to seek out an area with these qualities. On the other side, if you happen to prefer a busier urban atmosphere that offers more independence, this may be the way to go.

There are a lot of things that go into finding the right home, but it's important not to forget about the neighborhood you're living in and what it will mean for your lifestyle.

Pumpkin Spice - The History of the Iconic Symbol of Fall

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Pumpkin spice has become the iconic symbol of fall. Check out these details about the history of the iconic autumn flavor, from holiday pie to lattes and even dog treats.

Pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and sometimes actual pumpkin.

Early settlers may have made pumpkin pies that contained similar spices  as early as 1620, by making stewed pumpkins or by filling a hollowed out shell with milk, honey and spices, and then baking it in hot ashes. But it isn’t until 1936 that we find the earliest popular mention on record for anyone using the term “pumpkin spice” for this blend of flavors.
(Washington Post)

It wasn’t until the 1950’s that spice companies actually began selling blends labeled “pumpkin pie spice”, which was then simplified to “pumpkin spice” in the 1960’s. While these flavors had been frequent companions in pumpkin pie for some time, cooks soon began to get more comfortable using the blend in a variety of other dishes, often those containing other squashes or sweet potatoes.(Wikipedia)

While everyone may assume that Starbucks was the first company to begin the modern pumpkin spice craze, it actually appears that a candle company in New Mexico beat them to it, releasing a pumpkin spice candle in 1995.( Fact from Wikipedia)

Soon after that, small coffee shops around the country began to become interested in the spice blend, and pumpkin spice coffee started showing up everywhere. By the early 2000’s, someone had realized the flavors were even more delicious if you added milk and sugar, creating the latte. And, well, you know the rest.

Food manufacturers and grocery stores bet heavily that pumpkin products will help sales during the fall. At Trader Joe’s, the amount of pumpkin products has steadily increased since the grocery chain began offering them in the mid-1990s, according to a company spokesperson. This year, Trader Joe’s shelves will be stocked with more than 70 pumpkin items, up from around 60 items in 2015.

Today, pumpkin spice products generate $500 million in annual sales – most of which happens in a single season.

How to make your own pumpkin spice at home:
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
2 teaspoons ground ginger.
1 teaspoon ground cloves.
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe | Taste of Home


Learn more about the 2018 CAI Advocacy Summit and other regulatory trends homeowners and property managers are facing.

Dawn Bauman Interview [Video]
Meet the Community Associations Institute's (CAI) Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, learn more about the 2018 CAI Advocacy Summit and other regulatory trends homeowners and property managers are facing.


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How To Green Up Your Home To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint


If you are a home owner trying to reduce your carbon footprint, it's time to make some changes to your property. The more you can do to reduce energy costs, increase efficiency and reduce waste, the less impact you and your home will have on the earth. From small changes, such as using energy efficient light bulbs, to big changes such as adding solar panels to your home, you can make your home a more Earth-friendly space.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Appliances that are labeled energy efficient are going to help you reduce your carbon footprint. When you need a new appliance, look for ones that are energy efficient. When doing things like washing dishes, flushing the toilet or washing clothes, look for the settings that use less water and energy. Take the time to understand your dishwasher or washing machine to see how you can reduce energy and water waste.

Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs

One of the easiest ways to make your home a little more Earth-friendly is to replace old light bulbs with energy saving ones like LED lights. In many areas you can have an energy audit done on your home and get ideas on ways to save even more on energy related costs. Pay attention to turning off your lights when not in use.

Saving Energy Saves Money and the Environment

When you reduce your use of energy to heat, cool or run your home, you are going to save money on utility bills. Try having your home a few degrees cooler in the winter to see if it is still comfortable. Use fans instead of air conditioning whenever possible in the hot weather. Hang out clothing to dry instead of using a clothes dryer. Save money on bills to run your home and protect the earth at the same time.

Collect Rainwater for Your Garden

If you have a garden, use rain barrels to collect rainwater to be used to water your flowers and vegetables. You won't have to turn on the hose, and you will save a little bit of money on water fees. Rainwater is healthy for your plants, and can be used for a variety of things when you collect it properly.

Check Into Solar Energy

Check with a solar panel company and see if you can have solar panels installed. This may save you money on electrical bills and may allow you to sell electricity back to the grid if you produce enough. Saving energy and water is possible in your home, you just have to look for ways to do it.

Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement Project


Have you been scratching your head, wondering what your next great home renovation project should be? If you are like most homeowners, you have many areas that could use a little attention. Let's explore three reasons why installing solar panels should be high on your list of home improvement projects for 2018.

The ROI On Solar Is Getting Better

It might seem counterintuitive to think about spending money to save money, but with solar panels, that's precisely what you are doing. Solar is an up-front investment that returns money to your bank account over time. As you are generating your own electricity, you will spend less on utilities each month. Depending on your setup, you may even be able to sell surplus electricity back to the grid, lowering your monthly bills even further.

Don't think about solar panels and installation as sunk costs that will never be recovered. Instead, work with your solar installer to determine what your return-on-investment should be.

Solar Drives Property Values Higher

As you might expect, installing solar panels can also increase the value of your home. Many potential home buyers are searching for modern, efficient, climate-friendly homes that allow for a bit of energy independence. If your home already has these features, it is likely to be more compelling than other houses on the street without them. If you are thinking of selling your home in the future, installing solar is a great way to increase its value.

Protecting Your Local Environment And Community

Finally, let's not forget that investing in renewable energy means protecting the health of your local community. Every solar panel installation that goes up means one less home relying on power produced by other means. It might not seem like much, but over time a single home's worth of solar panels can prevent a significant amount of emissions from reaching the sky. You can even take things one step further and invest in an electric car which can be connected to and charged by your solar panels.

In closing, these are a few of the many good reasons to consider an investment in solar panels in 2018.

Summer Home Safety Tips - Conduct a Home Safety Check


Summer is approaching and it's time to go around the home looking for potential safety hazards. Inside and outside are potential dangers that could cause harm.
It’s important to us all that our home be considered safe. Accidents happen all the time within the home, though. Listed below are several tips to follow to ensure safety in each room in your home.

In the Kitchen

* Keep flammable objects away from the stove. Do not let oven mitts, paper towels, etc. come into contact with the hot pots and pans or the burners.

* Use cleaning products with caution. Ensure that you do not put the cleaning products within reach of your children. Keep them out of reach so they cannot accidentally poison themselves.

* Never leave sharp objects and tools unattended in a place where little hands can reach them.

* Ensure that all electrical cords are kept away from water and flammable objects like curtains and hand towels. The cords could overheat and catch fire.

* Ensure that your appliances are getting the proper ventilation. You can do this by keeping them away from other objects and regularly vacuuming out the back of your appliances.

In the Bathroom

* Just like in the kitchen, ensure that all cords are kept away from water. Water and electricity does not mix and can cause an electrical fire.

* Use non-slip floor mats. The shower floor can be slippery when wet. By using a non-slip floor mat you are protecting yourself from slip and fall accidents.

* Like in the kitchen, keep cleaning supplies locked up and out of reach of small children to prevent accidental poisoning.  

In the Bedroom

* Never smoke in your bedroom, or anywhere in your home. Flammable objects could catch fire from your cigarette and destroy your home and belongings.

* Purchase a mattress that is flame resistant. If a fire breaks out in your bedroom, then you want to be protected and allow yourself the time you need to figure out your escape route and get out of your home.

* You’re most vulnerable when you sleep. To ensure your safety in case someone were to come into your home, keep a phone and light by your bed.

In Your Yard

* To ensure the safety of your pets and kids, surround your yard with a fence.

* If you have a pool, make sure that it’s covered and fenced in. This will protect your kids from any risk of falling in and drowning. Having an alarm on the fence or the door leading out to your pool will alert you of any possible security breaches by your children so you know where they are and can prevent accidents.

In Your Garage

* Keep any harmful substances you store in the garage out of the reach of your children and pets.

* Keep the space clean and organized. Ensure that there aren’t sharp objects that are out in the open and in easy reach of your children and pets.

Your home is a place to live and relax in, so you should feel safe there at all times. To ensure that you achieve the highest degree of safety within your home, follow these steps and do what you think is right for your home. All homes and families are different, so there will be different ways of keeping each other safe. There are companies that you can hire to come in and evaluate your home to make sure you don’t have any holes in your safety armor.  


4 Tips to Keep Your Community Beautiful This Summer

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Everyone wants a beautiful looking community.  With this comes the responsibility and everyone working together to achieve this goal. A clean and tidy outdoor environment benefits everyone in the community.
Here are 4 tips every community resident can do to be a part of the community beautification effort this summer:

1. Littering

Everyone in the community can do their part to eliminate littering.  Whether on the street, sidewalks, common amenity areas and in our own yard. Everybody can pick up any litter that is seen.  

2. Recreational Items

All residents can work together to put bicycles, toys and other items in the garage or stored neatly in their place. This will keep each home from looking cluttered.

3. Lawn and Garden

All community residents can work together and make sure water hoses, sprinklers, lawn tools and other similar items are put away safely in the garage in thier storage space. This is also crucial from community safety.

A clean and beautiful community benefits all residents.  Having a sense of pride in your community plays a vital role in enjoying where you live.  

How to Handle Extreme Heat During The Peak of Summer


Every HOA is different and so are their covenants, conditions and restrictions. Some HOA regulations require homeowners to keep foliage alive and the color of the lawn to stay green through sufficient watering.

According to Virginia Tech's A Landscaping  Guide for  Homeowners  Associations (http://www.manassascity.org/DocumentCenter/View/3981):

Most plants need about one inch of water on a weekly basis. Normally, cool season grasses go dormant in the summer and only need water in cases of extreme drought.

Most of the time spent on lawn maintenance is spent mowing. Mowing correctly is one of the easiest things that can be done to help keep turf happy. Because mowing causes physical injury to grass, it is important that no more than 1/3rd of the total leaf height is cut at any one time. This allows the grass sufficient leaf area to photosynthesize the energy it needs to heal. When grass is very high due to wet weather, it needs to be cut in stages, taking 1/3rd off at a time and waiting until the clippings left on the ground disappear between cuttings. 

We suggest the following tips and tricks in order to maintain a healthy, intact lawn during the extreme heat of the summer. http://yardcare.toro.com/maintain/how-to-maintain-the-grass-in-extreme-heat/


Smoke Detectors Should Be Changed Every 10 Years… Is Yours Up-to-Date?


It is imperative that smoke detectors be changed once every 10 years as properly working smoke alarms are one of the biggest lifesaving tools in our homes today. However, ensuring these alarms are checked monthly tend to escape many people’s minds. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month by pressing the test button on the alarm and, again, should be changed every ten years. Keeping our families safe is one of the most important priorities in everyone’s life and by following these simple steps, we can help ensure their safety.

Facts about fires and smoke alarms: 

If a fire is spreading, keeping doors closed may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

Smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside every bedroom, on every level of the home and near every heat source.

All smoke alarms within the home should be interconnected meaning when one sounds, they all sound.

When a smoke alarm sounds, quickly get outside and stay outside until the fire department arrives.

In response to a recent, tragic house fire that killed five children in Greensboro, WFMY News 2 released an article stating that, according to Consumer Reports, a dual sensor smoke detector is highly recommended for homes. The Photoelectric sensor is designed to detect smoky and slow burning fires while the Ionization sensor is designed to detect fast, flaming fires. Together, dual senor detectors can better save lives as they are typically interconnected.

According to a 2015 NFPA report, between 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than 53% of reported home fires. Three out of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or non-working alarms (21%).

By ensuring smoke detectors are working properly, checked at least monthly and replaced every ten years, we can not only help reduce the number of home fire deaths but can help ensure the safety of our loved ones.




According to a survey by the Census Bureau, an American may move 11.4 times (on average) during his or her lifetime. This can be an inter-city, inter-county or inter-state relocation. There are also some people who choose to move outside the country.

American home owners sell and move, on average, every five to seven years. Why do home owners move?  There are many different reasons for moving from one place to another.

Here are a few major reasons people move.

1.    Going from renting to homeownership - Moving in with a partner or getting married can result in renters making the decision to purchase. Singles who are currently renting often find they would rather invest their rental dollars into the purchase of a home to gain equity.

2.    Career location – Whether across the state or across the country spending time commuting is a negative experience for people.  Relocation makes it necessary for many to pull up roots and move. If the commuting distance exceeds an hour, most people would prefer not to spend two hours in traffic every day. In many cases homeowners are forced to pack up and leave for a job transfer leaving their home behind to sell while they search for a new home in another state.

3.    To be closer to family members - Some people want to be closer to their family as they age and will move to be near relatives. Parents want to be near children and grand children. Adults with aging parents may decide to move closer to parents as they age so that they can care for them.

4.    Financial reasons upsizing or downsizing - Home is too small. First-time home buyers often outgrow their first home. As they start having children, increased family size is the main reason home owners say they need a larger home. Empty nesters or retirees who purchased a larger home now find they no longer need the additional space and costs that come with maintaining a large family home. As people earn more and their financial situation becomes better, they may decide to upsize. They want a bigger, more expensive and grander home. It's the American dream.

5.    Family illness or unforeseen life changing situation – Divorce, death of a spouse or family members, aging seniors, break-ups and a list of other personal life circumstances will force owners to sell. If a divorce happens one party may need to buy out the other. If one party retains the home, it may not be affordable to sustain on one person's income. 

April 26, 2018 — The U.S. Census Bureau announced the following residential vacancies and homeownership statistics for the first quarter 2018:

Approximately 87.5 percent of the housing units in the United States in the first quarter 2018 were occupied and 12.5 percent were vacant. Owner-occupied housing units made up 56.1 percent of total housing units, while renter-occupied units made up 31.4 percent of the inventory in the first quarter 2018.

Moving can cause emotional stress. The emotional impact of moving is in the top 5 most stressful situations we experience across a lifespan. It is a huge task for any family, especially when it involves uprooting children, packing years of family belongings, leaving behind a history and moving on to uncharted territory.

Everyone agrees that moving is stressful. Even if you and your family have moved too many times to count. Moving is also emotionally stressful when you add the extra burdens of a major life change, such as a divorce, death or a lost job.

In closing here are a few tips to help make your move easier.

1.    Plan ahead - Make all arrangements necessary to eliminate last minute surprises and chaos.

2.    Minimize and de-clutter – As you move forward minimizing is always a good practice.

3.    Look ahead for entertainment and places to meet people before the move. Check out your new community.

4.    Organize your packing so the transition is easier when you arrive in your new home. Have the movers or helpers in place and organize their efforts to make it less stressful on everyone.

5.    Save a little cash for the new place. Extra cash is great for purchasing things you may need in the new home or for enjoyment as you get situated. Moving into a new home strapped and broke can cause more stress.

Good luck with your move.

Happy National Moving Month.


Census Bureau