Posted on March 24, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The HOA board oversees projects in the homeowners association ranging from the community website to areas of the community that need attention or repair. Repairs throughout the community require different skill levels so choosing which contractor to use is often the deciding factor whether the project is accurately completed. Does the HOA board of your homeowners association ask relevant questions about the project or just presume the contractor is capable of performing the work?
Know Your Contractor
From state to state, requirements may differ but the HOA board should always validate that the work is performed by a company which is licensed and bonded. This is a form of insurance to protect the board in the event the contractor neglects to fulfill their work as promised. Also, ask the contractor for certificates of insurance to see what coverage they have and verify the company has a physical address.
Before the work starts, establish which way you prefer to communicate about the project and request more than one phone number to contact them. Next, question the scope of the work as it needs to be clear in regard to costs, materials, and expected timeline when the project will be completed. Some projects are more in-depth than others and require verification of the materials and processes to be used. Effectively, the HOA board is able to oversee the work so that it meets their expectations!
Ask Questions & Research
Hiring a licensed contractor at a competitive rate involves asking questions that pertain to the job and researching them in as many ways as possible. Research them by going online and look for any reviews about their company or see if their work is posted on another community website. Additionally, the board should see what kind of rating they have with the Better Business Bureau before hiring any contractor to work in the community. Ask relevant questions to ensure a project is free of issues and be pleased with the contractor you choose.
Posted on March 17, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Small repairs for residents in the homeowners association can often seem overwhelming at first without any prior experience. Fortunately, HOA residents that visit the homeowners association website get the direction and confidence they need so small fixes are completed before they evolve into a problem. With advice from the homeowners association, you have an advantage to perform an effective repair without getting discouraged or confused.
Can You Do-It-Yourself?
Begin the project by using the latest tools for completing the task as that lowers your risk of encountering issues. Often, homeowners that attempt a repair for the first time use tools that are outdated which only adds to the level of frustration when performing the fix. Occasionally, various items in a home tend to show signs of wear when they no longer work as smoothly as they did before.
When that happens, observe what is causing the change as it could be something as small as a loose screw. Immediately correct it by tightening the screw as that can cause other screws to become loose over time and eventually strip the hole. If the hole becomes stripped, correct it by inserting toothpicks or matches (with the tips cut off) into the hole until it is filled and re-insert the screw.
Other items in your home may take longer before they need repaired or replaced. Anytime you notice hardware that is rusty such as nuts and bolts, brush the threads with a wire brush and apply penetrating oil to the threads before attempting to remove the nuts or bolts. Allowing this oil to “soak” into the threads greatly reduces the effort required to remove the hardware.
The Significance Of Effective Fixes
After completing a do-it-yourself project, you have the poise to accomplish other projects in the home without second guessing yourself. While these effective fixes are for smaller projects, it can have a tremendous impact on how you maintain your home and value the homeowners association website!
Posted on March 10, 2016 10:30 AM by HOA Sites
Meetings in a homeowners association are generally thought of as board meetings but there are other types of meetings that transpire within the association. Aside from board meetings, annual meetings and emergency meetings provide a means of making decisions in the homeowners association.
Each meeting serves a specific purpose as tasks are assigned and important matters are handled accordingly. Does the neighborhood website include guidelines for each meeting or do you have confusion about the objective of each meeting?
Erase Your Doubt
Meetings of the association should be carried out in a way that follows parliamentary procedure where members are given time to speak. Held monthly or quarterly, board meetings are usually the most common meeting as board members review how the association is operating. Matters that are handled include resolving disputes, planning for the future, and setting forth policy.
Board meetings require a notice of a few days in advance that outlines the topics up for discussion. Most of the time, the effectiveness of these meetings are symbolic of the togetherness in the community. Once a year, an annual meeting is held where main topics are addressed for the association such as the latest budget, committee reports, and elect a board.
The governing documents of a homeowners association specifically mention when and how an annual meeting should be conducted. Typically, members are given a longer notice with an annual meeting as they cover more significant topics that members want to be included on. Members are encouraged to attend a board or annual meeting, but there are times when members can’t attend.
Every now and then, urgent circumstances make it impossible to notify members within the necessary time frame with regard to a notice for a meeting. When that happens, an emergency meeting may be necessary for the board to take action or make a decision. Emergency meetings can be held in person or by phone and require no posting on a neighborhood website since immediate action is imperative!
Posted on March 2, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
With the popularity of drones on the rise, residents may use these in the future to capture amazing views or have packages delivered to their home. In most homeowners associations, the governing documents fail to mention drones as board members were not likely to predict that technology would be this innovative or affordable today.
New technology usually requires that the HOA website and the governing documents be updated so the association ensures the safety of residents. When no guidelines are in place regarding drones, situations could surface that result in homeowners having a controversy. What is essential for residents to accept them in the community?
Respect A Homeowners Privacy
Many homeowners might be inclined to support the ban of drones in the homeowners association solely because they feel it invades their privacy. Aside from that, homeowners might be concerned their safety is at risk due to the experience of the one operating the drone. When flying a drone, you should never fly it above or near another person and always keep it in sight!
Drones in the homeowners association stand a greater chance of being accepted if there are rules in place that respect the privacy and safety of residents. Specifically, they are useful for real estate photography or inspecting areas of your home such as the roof or higher level windows. What are your options if you oppose residents using drones around your home?
HOA residents can voice their concerns to the board about implementing some regulations before a potential problem exists. Obviously, mechanical failure is a possibility so residents should be warned ahead of time about liability issues due to damages resulting from a crash landing.
Accordingly, moderate regulations on drones regarding the times they are used and landing locations should be included in the restrictions. As well, the governing documents and the HOA website should make it known that the homeowners association assumes no liability to the people or property.
Posted on February 26, 2016 7:00 AM by HOA Sites
Whether you follow political news or not, you can almost always recognize when an election is coming up from noticing yard signs throughout the community. Some residents prefer to keep their political views to themselves while others want to show their support for a candidate.
If you choose to show your support, the homeowner association website should be one of the first places you visit to validate that you are allowed to post political signs in your yard. This is a topic for all homeowners to think about as there could be a candidate that comes along and you may want to show your support for them. How will you feel if yard signs are restricted?
The Benefit Of A Reasonable Restriction
Homeowner associations have restrictions in place to preserve the value of your place as homeowners have certain rules to follow. Typically, those restrictions serve a purpose towards keeping the community looking nice so everyone in your area benefits from living in a well-kept neighborhood.
Homeowners associations may not restrict political yard signs completely but have certain limitations in regard to the quantity, size, and length of time. Imagine arriving home to find out your next door neighbor has decorated their yard with 20 yard signs and they keep them on display for several months.
After a while, that would become an unpleasant sight to look at on a daily basis so it makes sense to have limits. On the other hand, what can you do if yard signs are prohibited in your HOA?
One Variable To Consider
In some states, an alternative exists for homeowners who prefer to support a candidate with yard signs when the HOA forbids it. Various states have laws that restrict the homeowners association from prohibiting the use of political signs.
Basically, residents in these associations are allowed to use political yard signs in accordance to what the HOA considers reasonable. Eliminate this from becoming a hassle by thoroughly reviewing the homeowner association website and know your state laws regarding political yard signs!
Posted on February 17, 2016 8:30 AM by HOA Sites
Residents of all ages should be protected in the homeowners association and that includes those who are retired or nearing retirement. Through the community website, homeowners have the opportunity to connect with one another. Often, most of us look forward to the future without considering the complications associated with the aging process.
Each year, more than 5 million Americans suffer from dementia where brain cells are damaged, commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Usually, symptoms start with a decline in memory and progress to complications that interfere with day to day functions. Can you counteract this from happening to you?
What You Can Do Now
Unfortunately, one of the risk factors for dementia is genetics and that is unchangeable but there are some lifestyle choices you can make that work to your benefit. Obviously, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol but exercise your brain as well as your body, especially if there’s a family history of the illness. You are more at risk when a relative has the disease.
Staying active is one way towards prevention as the disease is caused when brain cells are damaged. Regular exercise can lower the risk of dementia as exercise increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Studies actually show a link between the risk of Alzheimer’s developing and conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
In a homeowners association, it is important that other neighbors be informed about a fellow resident having dementia. If they see the person walking around disoriented or confused, they can contact a family member or enact an emergency plan to keep the resident safe. Watch for symptoms such as agitation, anger, anxiety, and wandering as many with dementia tend to wander around. If you notice this, use the community website to get in contact with a board member and apprise them of the situation.
Posted on February 11, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Homeowners may be moving into their first home that is located in a community with a homeowners association while others have lived in multiple homeowners associations. Either way, there are many questions you should ask to confirm that the home you have chosen is in the right community.
The homeowners association website enables new residents to get an idea of what it is like to live in an HOA. Typically, residents will have questions depending on the amount of experience they have had living in a homeowners association.
Know In Advance!
If this is your first home in a homeowners association, there are some important questions to get answers to so you make an overall wise decision when you buy your new home. The last scenario you want to see become a reality is living in a location that you regret moving to. Do you know the rules of the HOA where you plan to live?
Occasionally, a homeowner becomes exuberant when purchasing their new home and fails to thoroughly read the governing documents of the homeowners association. Eliminate that from happening by requesting a copy of the CC&R’s and consult with your realtor about any questionable areas.
Often, a realtor will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the association when you ask about the restrictions, fees, special assessments, and the frequency of increases. What restrictions are listed on the homeowners association website?
A Homeowners Association With Consistency!
Just like you are different from your neighbors, so are homeowners associations in the restrictions they have in place and the amenities they offer. Some residents may not agree with the restrictions of a homeowners association while others agree as they know those restrictions protect property values. Can you accept the restrictions in your community?
As well, look at the history of increases in HOA fees and frequency of special assessments. Naturally, these lead to frustration for residents so decrease the odds of this happening to you by asking the appropriate questions before making the move.
Posted on February 4, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
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
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
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!
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- Can The HOA Board Use The Reserves For Items Not Listed On The Reserve Study?
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- Measures To Implement When Board Members Fail To Make Decisions
- The Proper Way To Handle Conflicts With HOA Residents
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