Posted on November 22, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Breaking and entering has become fairly common in some communities.  Even though an HOA is expected to guarantee the security of its members, there is a limit to what they can do.  If people in the community are anxious, every little sound might fill them with fear so encourage them to take precautions that will increase the likelihood that burglars stay away.

This is one area in which your homeowners association website can shine.  Use it to distribute a few essential tips that the community may share so homeowners protect their homes and keep burglars out.
Invest In Security

Many HOA’s hire some type of security and install surveillance systems, however, homeowners should still take tangible steps to safeguard their home against an intrusion.  Obviously, deadlocks should be installed on the doors and it’s a good idea to strengthen door frames with reinforced strike plates.
Naturally, you must remember to close and lock the windows at all times, but that isn’t enough to keep determined burglars from entering.  Consider installing additional mechanisms such as lock pins on sliding doors to improve the overall security of your home.
Prepare For The Worst

While there are people who still hide a key to their home outside, every homeowners association website needs to discourage this habit.  When you are away for long periods, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your place.  Of course, they can’t observe your property all the time.

In the event a burglar attacks in the middle of the night and gets away with some items, make sure you mark all of your belongings beforehand.  This simplifies the process of identifying and retrieving your things.  You can’t make your home completely burglar-proof but these tips will make it much more difficult for the average criminal to gain access to your home.
Posted on November 13, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Budgets are extremely vital to associations as financial health often determines whether or not the HOA thrives.  In turn, this allows the HOA to create a better quality of life for the people who live in the community.  The average neighborhood website struggles to attract more participation from their members when it comes to budgetary matters.

In many cases, most people are too busy or not interested in dealing with numbers but all homeowners associations require a proper budget to stay healthy.  If your HOA is having financial issues, consider reviewing your budget.
Finding Help

Of course, looking at your budget won’t help much if numbers are not your strong suit.  As a result, many associations choose to hire HOA managers just to avoid the hassle.  A suitable manager will audit your HOA by talking to vendors to understand their work and then determine the cost of the association’s activities.
If you don’t want the assistance of a manager, you can carry out the audit yourself.  Use the neighborhood website to identify members of your HOA and ask them if they have any concerns.  Though, it usually requires some technical skills to understand the financial side of an association.
Stay Patient

As you might expect, you shouldn’t anticipate results overnight.  Even if you hire an HOA manager, it might take them a year or longer to gain a full understanding of your association’s budget.  Once they do, they can begin making some revisions that will deliver noticeable results.  Regardless of how long it takes them, your association doesn’t have to endure this burden alone.

Despite what many people say, budgets are supposed to be fun.  They can strengthen your relationships with vendors and improve the services your association offers to the community.  However, that only happens when HOA members know how to manage the operating and reserve budgets.
Posted on October 28, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
The average HOA website is quick to celebrate an achievement of their community but most aren’t quite as interested in evaluating the operations of the HOA to verify everything is functioning at a high level.  Occasionally, an HOA must assess their performance.  They need to gather members and perform an evaluation to ensure that the association is still in decent shape.  If they let certain failures and weaknesses continue to worsen, the association might collapse in the long run.
Investigating The Health Of An HOA

How can you determine the health of your association?  All you need to do is check how the association is performing in some key areas.  For instance, check whether the board has adhered to the rules and regulations of the community, as well as the state, with regard to managing all aspects.

Find out if proper elections have been staged and whether or not there has been volunteer appointments for key roles.  Are meetings carried out in a timely manner?  Also, are they conducted with proper agendas and do they meet the quorum when conducting business?  Aside from that, look at the financial reports to see if the budget is within reason.

Look at the insurance coverage and maintenance programs, then study every single aspect of your community from top to bottom.  Use the HOA website to involve other members in this survey.  Score each category on a scale of 1 to 10 and the data you acquire will determine the health of your association.
How To Fix A Poorly Ran Association

If the results of your study conclude that your association isn’t healthy, it may be time to hire an HOA manager.  They know how to identify where the association has weaknesses and then provide effective solutions.  A manager will also interpret your financial reports, perform a reserve study if needed, and ensure the HOA is compliant with all the relevant rules and regulations!
Posted on October 17, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Almost every homeowner association website will stress that a community can only thrive when the HOA board and members collaborate on projects.  Yet, a divide seems to exist between these two entities in many communities.  Often, this separation prevents them from working for the common good of everyone.  Though there are a variety of causes for this, identifying and resolving them is usually the only way to make progress.

Typically, this is the starting point.  HOA board members and homeowners rarely work together in some communities because neither side makes much of an effort to reach out.  Obviously, HOA board members have a duty to put channels of communication in place.
But homeowners also have a responsibility to use these channels once they have been implemented.  Otherwise, the HOA board and homeowners will struggle to see any real progress beyond using the homeowner association website.

Open lines of communication aren’t necessarily required to bring board members and residents together.  If HOA board members and homeowners are divided, it might be because the residents don’t participate when it comes to making decisions in their community.  An effective HOA board must listen to the issues that members of the community raise and try to act upon them.
Visibility & Dictatorship

The idea of open communication channels and friendly dialog between HOA board members and homeowners assumes that the board members are active in the community.  In some HOA’s, board members only do what’s required of them.  They take no interest in challenging matters of the community and other issues that homeowners raise.

Overbearing board members can be extremely difficult to deal with because they pay no attention to the voices of homeowners.  This sort of approach doesn’t just separate HOA board members and homeowners, it creates feelings of hostility.  The relationship between board members and homeowners is delicate and it requires a lot of work.  Otherwise, any progress may be lost and the community will suffer.
Posted on September 26, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Almost every volunteer that makes up the board of any homeowners association will tell you their job is a difficult one.  Often, people fail to understand the role these individuals are supposed to play.  The messages that residents leave on the community website prove as much.  There’s a negative perception about HOA boards that probably stems from all the time they spend enforcing rules.

A majority of homeowners don’t like being told what to do or where they can’t go.  But, the HOA board plays a far greater role than most residents realize and your community would deteriorate rapidly without their direct involvement.
Money From The Community

The HOA board is responsible for managing the assets in your community.  They must replace worn out items and initiate repairs when the need arises.  Such undertakings require money and this is where the board enters the picture.  Board members are responsible for keeping the HOA solvent by collecting necessary funds from the community.  An HOA board is also expected to manage the association’s finances to ensure that contributions made by residents don’t get wasted.

As a resident, no one expects you to keep the community pool clean or to fix the road in front of your house.  The HOA is responsible for maintaining the quality of life in your community.  However, they don’t do this by merely collecting HOA fees from residents but by managing every asset of the community.
Each time you reach out to the board on the community website to fix an area of the association or to settle a dispute, the board takes action by hiring attorneys and locating contractors to resolve the challenges.  You can trust board members to do this work to the best of their ability because they are also members of the community.  As a result, any steps they take to improve the lives of residents will benefit them as well.
Posted on September 17, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
If you lose your copy of the bylaws or any other HOA documents, you have no reason to worry.  Most of the documents that you might want to review can be found on the homeowners association website, including the minutes from previous meetings.  Essentially, it’s just a matter of gaining access to them so you are informed.  Of course, you should know that the process of accessing and reviewing HOA documents is usually governed by certain procedures.
Requesting Access

An attempt to review HOA documents begins with a request to the manager or a board member.  Tell them what you want to review and do this early on, well in advance to when you will actually need the documents.  While many documents can be accessed easily on the homeowners association website, others must be searched for and that may take some time.

In some cases, it could take up to five business days before your request is fulfilled.  Make sure you simplify matters by producing a clear, concise request.  You should specify the documents you want and your reasons as there’s no place for vagueness when it comes to HOA documents.
Reviewing The Documents

Once your request is approved, the relevant parties typically reach out to you to set up an appointment.  You won’t be permitted to access confidential information regardless of the arguments in your request, unless it relates directly to you.  They also won’t permit you to make alterations to the documents.  You won’t be charged for viewing original documents, but you must pay to have certain pages copied.

Despite the scenario, you are encouraged to treat all documents you view with respect, especially older documents.  Keep them in the same order as you received them as they should be kept neatly for others who might want to review them.  These are just a few procedures for homeowners to remember when reviewing any HOA documents!
Posted on September 3, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Some people think that homeowners associations can be a financial burden and they have probably voiced their thoughts on the neighborhood website, especially when the reserve funds are used.  Reserve studies are usually not complicated but there may be times when residents question how they are used.

Though, they can cause confusion, particularly when it comes to determining the number of years they should cover.  Your neighborhood website won’t provide an answer to that issue because HOA communities vary and what works for one HOA could lead to problems for another.
How Do Reserve Studies Work?

A reserve fund is money set aside to meet the costs of maintaining, repairing, and replacing various items in a community.  The capital assets of any given community have a limited shelf life, such as pools and roads.  An HOA can take preventative steps to reduce the rate of wear on these assets.  This is called proactive maintenance and it’s covered by the operating budget.

In other words, when an asset stops functioning, you may use the reserve funds to cover the expenses associated with the replacement, repair, and maintenance.  A reserve study is done by an analyst who tries to determine the projected costs of major maintenance in a community over a given period of time.  Reserve studies prioritize capital assets as these are owned by the HOA.
How Many Years Should The Reserve Study Cover?

Major assets like vehicles and recreational centers that have a long life of being useful tend to result in reserve studies that extend forward for longer durations.  The opposite is true for smaller communities whose capital assets have short useful lives.  National standards encourage associations to project up to 20 years forward, which is the minimum.

Some HOA’s have a tendency to extend the useful life of their assets to keep their reserve funds lower.  But, that only creates potential financial issues in the future.  Instead, make honest projections and analyses to ensure you have a reserve fund that adequately serves the community.
Posted on August 19, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Board members that have the best interest of the association in mind do everything to ensure the well-being of the community.  From addressing homeowners’ problems on the HOA website to attending board meetings, they need to know how to solve issues in an efficient manner.  But, what about complying with any requirements of the law?  In that regard, do your board members understand the code that applies to annual disclosures?
What Does The Law State?

Most states have passed legislation that defines the way HOA boards manage their communities.  In one state, for instance, they have a portion of civil code that governs condominiums and development communities.  This Act contains the provisions for annual disclosures, breaking them down into three categories; the annual policy report, the annual budget report, and the miscellaneous report.  Below is an overview of the requirements.
The Annual Budget Report

Some of the disclosures that fall into this category include the full budget or a summary showing the projected revenues and expenses, an overview of the reserves, and data on outstanding loans.  The annual budget report needs to be issued one to three months prior to the start of the association’s fiscal year.
The Annual Policy Statement

Homeowners’ rights and policies on how rules are enforced fall into this category, such as what happens when a homeowner fails to pay an assessment.  Other items include the procedures used to resolve disputes and how they oversee physical changes to property, like landscaping.
Miscellaneous Report

Unlike others, this category doesn’t contain specific requirements.  It includes items such as changes in management, election results, notices regarding board meetings, and assessment increases.  Failure to comply with these requirements can result in the association losing its Certificate of Good Standing.  That can lead to issues like state-imposed penalties and an inability to file lawsuits.  Aside from making a disclosure, you could keep members in the know by posting relevant information on the HOA website.
Posted on August 5, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
Do you or any of your board members every dread going to the HOA board meeting?  Maybe your association meetings normally take longer than they should or important matters are forgotten about.  In many cases, nothing significant gets accomplished as most members tend to waste time arguing with each another.  If you’re encountering the same problem, have the HOA board try the following tactics so your meetings are more effective.
Be Prepared

One of the biggest reasons for ineffectiveness and boredom at board meetings is that members fail to be prepared.  When board members aren’t well informed of what’s to be discussed, they’re more likely to argue and jump from one topic to another without any order.

If you want to ensure everyone is prepared, confirm that each member has received the details of the meeting several days before it takes place.  You could also try placing relevant resources on the homeowner association website for members to prepare well in advance so they understand the topics.
Specific Time For Open Comments

Another time-wasting activity is when members are given a chance to talk about issues outside the agenda as the meeting continues.  An effective way of dealing with this is to create time for open comments, before or after the meeting.  During this time, members are allowed to give their thoughts but they must stop once the meeting starts if the subject isn’t part of the agenda.

One idea is to get a book that contains the guidelines for conducting meetings professionally and how to reach decisions as a group.  You could also upload a copy of the HOA rules to your homeowner association website so all members can easily review them.  These strategies may not transform your HOA meetings into a fun-filled activity but they’re highly likely to help you reach better decisions in less time!
Posted on July 29, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Categories: HOA Website
An HOA board is charged with handling all business matters regarding the association and how well they perform directly impacts the community.  Board members make some of the most important decisions that affect the future of the community in terms of landscaping, HOA fees, future projects, and more.  As a result, education is a vital aspect that ultimately determines the HOA’s success.  When directors are more educated, it usually increases the chance of success for the homeowners association.
Why Education?

Managing a homeowners association is similar in many ways to running a business.  Board members have to deal with the association’s financial accounts, deal with suppliers, and handle other processes that need some technical skills.  These days, many HOA’s have a community website and board members need to know how such a platform works if they want to connect well with homeowners online.
How To Get Relevant Education

Board members don’t need college degrees to run the association successfully.  After all, most of them are just volunteers who want to better their communities.  The best way to get relevant education is to bring a good HOA management company on board.  Then, the company should be able to explain to board members what they’ve been elected to do and give them advice that helps them along the way.

When new members are elected, they could go through a training seminar issued by management company representatives or board members.  Some of the issues that need to be discussed in these seminars include the association documents and laws, conflict resolution strategies, and how the community website works.

Of course, education doesn’t stop after the training seminars.  It’s good to have an HOA manager as a resident expert that provides board members with continuous education and shows them how to deal with issues as the arise.  Beyond that, an HOA manager also encourages board members to work together which helps the community run smoothly and become a better place to live.
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