Posted on February 4, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
The threat of someone stealing your identity is a risk all homeowners should take serious as identity thieves develop more sophisticated ways of getting your personal information.  According to statistics, an estimated 1 in 14 Americans will be a victim each year with the majority of crimes related to credit cards and bank accounts.
With the neighborhood website, residents have the option to be informed of the latest methods these criminals are using today.  Often, those households with higher annual income are more likely to be a target than those households with lower annual income.  Fortunately, there are several ways that a homeowner can protect themselves and avoid out-of-pocket losses.
The Fastest Growing Crime In America
In 2014, an estimated 17 million Americans experienced identity theft which means an average of 46,500 per day.  With the advancements in digital technology, most HOA residents are completely unaware how the offender was able to access their personal data.
The first step towards protecting yourself is to remain aware of all the areas you can be targeted and remain diligent at keeping your information safe.  For instance, promptly remove any mail from your mailbox and use a secure post office box for outgoing mail that contains personal information.
If you receive a credit card offer, shred it or tear the envelope in half a couple of times before disposing of it.  A good habit to adopt is to shred all documents.  One alternative for residents to think about is to opt out of credit card offers to ensure their identity is never jeopardized.
Tips To Follow
When accessing online accounts, passwords should always use capitalization, numbers, and at least one special character.  As well, use different passwords for different accounts so in the event one account is compromised, the others will be protected!
Frequently check the monthly statements of your accounts for any transactions that were not authorized by you and review the neighborhood website.  The protection of your identity can make all the difference in a criminal being denied your personal data.
Posted on January 28, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Tax season is often a time where homeowners may be searching to include every deduction that is allowed when filing a federal tax return.  As expected, there are many expenses you pay throughout the year related to your home, but which ones are tax deductible?
Naturally, there will be a limited amount of information on the HOA website in reference to what homeowners should include on their federal tax returns.  As a homeowner, you can deduct the mortgage interest paid and the real estate taxes paid but not the homeowners association fees if the home is your personal residence.
Are HOA Fees Tax Deductible?
The process of filing a tax return is stressful for some homeowners as they may be new to living in a homeowners association and doubtful what they can include in their deductions.  The last thing you want to do is not include an expense that is allowed as a deduction and miss out on getting your full return.  In a few instances, homeowners association fees can be counted as a tax deduction.
For example, if you own a home that is a rental property then you can deduct the HOA fees as a rental expense on your taxes.  Another example would be for residents that work from an office within their home for business reasons.  A portion of the fees associated solely with the office are considered as tax deductible.  If the office consumes 10 percent of your home, then 10 percent of the homeowners association fees can be claimed as tax deductible!
What Counts As Rental Use?
More often than not, homeowners consider a property for rental use only when it is being rented by someone.  Actually, the Internal Revenue Service considers the time your house is vacant but available for rent as a rental period.
The IRS allows a variety of deductions that residents may not be fully aware of without visiting the HOA website or consulting with a tax professional.  Avoid making a costly mistake by getting informed of the deductions that are available to you!
Posted on January 22, 2016 7:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
A great budget for the homeowners association requires more than listing expenses and establishing sources of income.  The goal of a budget in the homeowners association is not only to provide a financial plan but to also prevent a downtrend in cash flow.
A well calculated budget takes into account many aspects that may not always show up on paper or the homeowner association website.  Often, the best budget for the association is obtained by estimating a higher cost for items that are prone to fluctuating.  The alternative could place an additional responsibility on residents in the form of a special assessment and homeowners tend to frown upon that.
What Items Are Critical In The Budget Process?
Obviously, there are items in the budget that consistently carry a fixed price but the challenge is predicting what can influence a change in those items.  For some associations, an experienced manager is the key to accurately calculate a budget that coincides with actual expenses throughout the year. 
Inconsistencies can be eliminated by having written agreements with vendors on the price of their goods or services instead of assuming the price will remain the same as last year.  Especially for larger expenses, there could be changes that result in a significant increase so those expenses should be confirmed first and foremost. 
Last But Not Least
Once the expenses are locked in, improvements can be made to the budget by conducting a reserve study to ensure common areas are well-kept.  The reserve study is a great budgeting tool that measures the current state of deterioration in the community while predicting the funds essential to resolve those declining areas.
In any homeowners association budget, it is crucial to save a portion of the money to fund repairs of common areas.  As well as frequently updating the homeowner association website to attract residents and promote a quality community!
Posted on January 14, 2016 8:30 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Maintenance in the homeowners association is one element that homeowners often look at when choosing one association over another.  The contrast in the community website and hearsay about the HOA can be unpleasant if you fail to familiarize yourself with the CC&R’s.  When routine maintenance is neglected, it can eventually cause friction or a dispute in the homeowners association.
Homeowners in an association usually expect maintenance responsibilities to be held to a higher standard as part of living in an area with HOA fees.  After all, that is one of the advantages of living in a homeowners association but what happens when those responsibilities are disregarded?
Distinguish What Is Your Responsibility!
Homeowners associations will have different guidelines regarding what they are responsible for and what is the homeowners responsibility.  Every homeowner needs to be familiar with the areas that are their responsibility and understand that the association is responsible for common areas.
The homeowner is obligated to resolve matters on their own property.  Those matters might include a disagreement with another neighbor about property boundaries.  Depending on your homeowners association, they may not assist in resolving the issue and advise you to seek legal help.
Another example is restricting the posting of signs in yards or on fences.  Unless the sign is for real estate purposes, the homeowners association may prohibit residents to have signs since the neighborhood will appear disorganized.  The significance is for residents to realize how signs reflect a negative image of the community.
Is Community Maintenance For You?
Residents who want to make a difference in regard to improving the maintenance of their neighborhood are appreciated.  Often, homeowners use the community website as a way to initially get informed then develop ways towards improving maintenance issues by getting involved.  If no responsibility is indicated in the CC&R’s, the homeowner will be the one to accept responsibility of the situation under most circumstances.
Posted on January 8, 2016 8:30 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
As a board member, it is imperative to know some basic accounting concepts to keep the homeowners association operating without any financial surprises.  From year to year, expenses can change so always know the components that your association is responsible for and calculate those changes into the budget for the following year.
Like the homeowners association website, areas of the community need to be updated periodically to maintain property values.  What accounting concepts will prove to be valuable in the future for HOA board members?
The Homeowners Association Budget
A great way to assess the homeowners association budget for the future is to look at the expenses in previous years.  Expenses for the upcoming year can be more accurately estimated in the accounting process by gathering what was actually spent in the past years.  As well as accounting for future changes such as trends that could cause an unexpected increase in spending.
Once the expenses are calculated, the amount that will be charged to residents in homeowners association fees can be determined.  If ever the HOA fees are insufficient, the result could lead to the board using reserve funds or a special assessment to cover the shortage due to under budgeting.  Are your board members aware of the impact their choices have on you?
Reserve Funds & Your Accounting Process
For board members that want lower fees, remember that reserve funds should always be a part of the accounting process that provides for the future.  Additionally, they provide a safety net towards ensuring the association has the necessary funds to afford repairs and maintenance expenses.
If maintenance would be deferred, homeowners may lack pride and refrain from getting involved in the community.  Board members can stay on track by systematically reviewing the accounting process and advise residents of any changes through the homeowners association website.
Posted on January 4, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
The homeowners association functions each year with many goals in mind to achieve a higher quality of living for current and future residents.  During the year, homeowners are unaware of the challenges that board members are faced with to keep the association and the neighborhood website operating in a timely manner.  While improvements are usually thought of as enhancements to the property or surroundings, the neighborhood can be improved in a multitude of ways.
What Areas Need Improvement?
In the homeowners association, various tasks need to be maintained by the HOA board and action from members can make all the difference.  Tasks become much easier to recognize and complete with involvement from members.  Prior to getting involved, all members are expected to understand the rules of the homeowners association.
Often, recommendations or concerns from members can shed some light on areas of the association that have been forgotten about.  The more members involved, the greater the chance that the community will see improvements in multiple areas.  As a result of members working together, a feeling of community blossoms and each year can be looked at as a point to improve upon.
Positive Members For The New Year
The upcoming year brings about a time to evaluate all that has happened in the past year.  It can also be the perfect time to reflect on all of the members that had a positive impact on the community and make that a focus going into next year.
The majority of homeowners may want to be active in the association, but struggle to find the time.  How will you know if a member is experiencing this without a neighborhood website that encourages involvement from members?  To see yearly improvements, the homeowners association should provide timely communications through the neighborhood website and engage with residents in a variety of ways.
Posted on December 26, 2015 4:32 PM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
One constant amongst residents in almost any homeowners association is their drive to increase the value of their home.  The HOA website is there for homeowners to stay up-to-date and continue to be informed of ways to add value to their home.  Even though there are times when you might disagree with the rules, it’s important to understand they have been put in place to keep property values from falling.  Regardless if you are new to the area or a long-time resident, you can increase the value of your home by implementing some changes.
Does Your Home Have The Right Appeal?
Whether you are on a budget or not, the most cost-effective way of increasing the value of your home is to paint the interior walls.  Ideal colors are highly influential towards the room feeling smaller or larger and new paint will give the room a fresh appeal.  Today, there is a lot of information available on home interior projects you can use as a guide if you prefer to do it yourself.
The second way to add value to your home is by updating or remodeling the kitchen and bathroom.  In order to make the house more appealing, carefully choose tiles, faucets, and cabinets that have a classy look and won’t look out of place in five or ten years.  Generally, residents will decide to use décor that is popular during a certain time frame instead of focusing on color combinations of appliances, tiles, and cabinets.
Lastly, integrate a more modern way of lighting to rooms or areas that feel limited on space or have a natural tendency to be dark.  Occasionally, residents benefit by using various types of lighting and fixtures to highlight certain rooms or areas.
The HOA Website & Your Plans
Before making any major plans, be diligent towards finding out if you need any permits and follow the guidelines of your homeowners association.  Most of this can be found on the HOA website, but follow-up with your homeowners association to ensure your project goes along without any setbacks.
Posted on December 18, 2015 10:54 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
It can be a real challenge for any homeowner to look into the future and assess which areas of living in a homeowners association will have the most significance towards their happiness.  A great homeowner association website captures the attention of the homeowner and addresses those areas that have been a problem for residents in the past.  Typically, parking isn’t a major concern, but each association is different when it comes to their rules so here are some common questions to contemplate.
Are You Allowed To Park There?
The covenants and bylaws of the homeowners association are there to preserve the value of your place but also to restrict or limit what you and your neighbors do.  One of those restrictions could be that several vehicles are prohibited from being parked in the driveway.
For homeowners with multiple vehicles, this presents a problem so fully understand the parking guidelines or restrictions in advance.  The governing documents may have not been amended since the homeowners association was created and you will be legally bound to comply.  Also check that your homeowners association doesn’t restrict the parking of a sport utility vehicle or pickup truck outside.
Where Should Visitors Park?
There may be a limited number of spaces for your guests to park depending on the time of year and if other neighbors have invited guests.  On holidays or special occasions, it can be frustrating when you invite friends or family over and they are asked to move their vehicle because they parked in a restricted spot.  Are your guests allowed to park on the street?
The homeowners association you live in may allow it but the recommended amount of space should be reserved for emergency vehicles.  As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to notify your visitors of the best locations to park as well as the locations that should be avoided.  Often, the parking policy can be found on the homeowner association website for residents and visitors to be informed.  In the future, network with your guests so any frustration related to parking can be eliminated and a more joyful visit can take place.
Posted on December 11, 2015 6:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
A majority of the discussions on the community website pertain to topics regarding the outside of your home or what happens outside your home.  Equally important, the inside should be a focus so your home maintains the highest market value.
As much as you try to prevent them, eventually there will be spills or accidents that can lead to a stain on your floor or carpet.  For some residents, this can be overwhelming but removal of the stain is much easier when the proper approach is implemented for removing the stain.
Stay Calm & Act Swiftly!
The initial reaction that most homeowners have when a spill happens is to wipe aggressively and firmly to clean up the liquid as fast as possible.  As a result, the stain becomes more prominent as the liquid has a greater chance of being absorbed in the fabric of the carpet.  Instead, gently dab the area in a swift manner with a paper towel or white cloth so the spill is absorbed in the cloth, not the carpet. 
Additionally, use multiple paper towels or white cloths if the spill covers a large area and work from the outside edge of the spill towards the center.  This technique will effectively contain the spill, keep it from spreading, and ease the task of removing the stain. 
An Effective Solution That Works
Once the spill is mostly absorbed, use a soapy water mixture or a stain remover and spray the stain.  Allow it to soak for one to two minutes and lightly brush the stain with a soft bristle brush using a crosshatch pattern.  Monitor your progress by periodically cleaning with water or a wet towel.
For more stubborn stains, repeat this process until the carpet no longer shows any signs of the stain or blemish.  After the stain is removed, blot the area with a dry towel to remove as much of the residue as possible.  More effective solutions such as this can be found on the community website to keep your house looking great.
Posted on December 4, 2015 9:30 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
The reserve funds are an important part of being prepared for maintaining the components within the homeowners association.  Some homeowners association members misinterpret the intended use of reserve funds and make the mistake of using those funds when the operating account gets low.  Periodically, the homeowners association website needs updated and the same applies to areas of the community.
Eventually, the time will come when certain areas that the homeowners association is responsible for need to be addressed to keep the neighborhood as a premier location.  The reserve fund is there to ensure the neighborhood receives the proper upkeep in a timely manner.  Without a sufficient reserve fund, what does this mean for homeowners in the community?
Expenses Of The Homeowners Association
Expenses are dependent on a range of variables and circumstances that are beyond the control of the board.  Those expenses are driven by the marketplace and items such as building materials tend to increase which significantly influences the funds that are required for future expenditures.
Often, the misguided intentions of some board members to keep the HOA fees low will make it troublesome on securing sufficient funds for the reserve account.  While residents would enjoy a decrease in homeowners association fees, the savings would likely be a short-term gain as you could incur unexpected expenses in the future.  Lower HOA fees can lead to a cut in the reserve funds as well as disregarding other amenities.  Why should this concern you?
Board Members Have A Duty To Fulfill
Board members have a fiduciary obligation to secure an adequate amount of reserve funds for the homeowners association.  When the board lacks sufficient funds for the reserve account, homeowners will be asked to pay in the form of a special assessment or accept unpleasant conditions.  Try communicating with other residents through the homeowners association website to ensure the next board member fulfills their duty to secure the reserve funds needed for your community to prosper!
9761 Crosspoint Blvd
 Suite 400
 Indianapolis, IN 46256
Phone: 317.608.6533