Posted on December 16, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Anyone that has ever had to shop around for a house understands the frustration often involved with the process. They also know the overwhelming relief one normally experiences when they finally find their dream home. Yet, some people advise you to approach the decision of relocating to an HOA with some care. There are questions you need to ask beforehand to ensure the new community up for discussion is right for you.
What Are The Rules & Regulations?
An HOA administers the community, writing and enforcing the rules and regulations for which members are expected to follow. Before you relocate to an HOA, find out whether or not you can live within the restrictions that are imposed. In many cases, you can find an HOA’s bylaws on the homeowner association website.
What Are The Duties & Responsibilities?
Make sure you know what is expected of everyone before deciding to move. Are you responsible for your own landscaping or will the HOA take care of it? You should also know how they handle general repairs and garbage collection. Associations collect money from residents which they use to manage the community.
Some associations will cover certain costs while others aren’t quite as generous. Keep in mind that you live in a community and with that comes responsibilities. Get informed what they are and determine if you are willing to accept them.
What Does Life In The HOA Entail?
Obviously, most people wonder what life will be like in their new community and what sort of people will be their neighbors. What about the resale value of homes in the area? Spend some time thinking about the kind of life the HOA has to offer and if it’s compatible with your expectations.
A majority of the questions you want to ask about an HOA will be answered on the homeowner association website. Don’t be afraid to ask as nobody wants to purchase a home in a community that is too restrictive.
Posted on December 2, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Most HOA boards encourage homeowners to maintain or remodel their homes when necessary and they use the community website since it reaches all homeowners. The objective is to keep, or improve, the aesthetic value of the community. Remodeling projects also benefit homeowners who might want to sell their homes in the future.
After all, it isn’t that hard to increase the value of a home. The key is to perform alterations and renovations that make your home more modern or functionally appealing. Here are a few tips that residents should keep in mind going forward.
The idea of tearing down walls and replacing tiles for the sake of increasing a property’s value doesn’t appeal to some homeowners. In many cases, a new coat of paint is all you need. By adding brighter colors, your home will look cleaner, lighter, or larger to prospective buyers and it can be done much cheaper than most renovations.
Kitchen & Bathroom
Every community website raises this issue at some point. Worn out kitchens and bathrooms are going to severely lower the value of your home. This is why some people spend a significant amount of money on tiling, replacing pipes, and changing cabinets.
Most residential real estate transactions hinge upon the appearance and functionality of a kitchen and bathroom. Despite the costly renovations, you should keep in mind this is an investment that you will eventually recover when you sell your place.
If you have space for a basement or an attic, try to finish them as they not only add value to your home but they can become offices, extra bedrooms, or storage spaces. Often, they require a great deal of work because of their location in the home so make sure you get a professional to quote you on what it will take to complete the project. Even though location is a major factor, renovated homes are usually more comfortable and profitable!
Posted on November 22, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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