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Committees, Committees, Committees – Part II

Committees, Committees, Committees – Part II

Welcome to Part II of Committees, Committees, Committees.

As a Board member, the responsibilities and tasks to keep the association running smooth can add up quickly. And as a leader, the art of delegation is incredibly important. Committees can be a great resource to, and outlet for, the Board of Directors. The goal of this article is to understand the roles and responsibilities of committees, define the types of committees, and to provide some keys to successful utilization of them.

Role of a Committee
The primary function of a committee is to assist the Board in meeting their many responsibilities. Committees can do this by performing specific tasks (such as the things mentioned above) and performing research. The end goal of the work of a committee is to prepare and make recommendations to the Board. It is imperative to remember that committees (unless governing documents give it with a mandatory committee) are advisory and have no authoritative power. Power in decision making and action remains with the Board.  Other benefits include broadening community input and contributions to the Association.

Tips for Successful Committees

  • Reminder – committees serve at pleasure of the Board – & are advisory groups
    • Any committee that does have independent authority, should have detailed processes & an appeal process to the Board.  Ex: architectural control committee
  • Appoint a Board Liaison
  • Detailed job descriptions which outline roles & responsibilities
  • Keep Minutes
  • Submit official recommendations to Board in writing
  • Motivate & Empower – but Manage Authority
  • Give meaningful tasks
  • Give recommendations serious consideration
  • Give public recognition for performance

Committee meetings should be open to members

Committees, Committees, Committees! Part I

Committees, Committees, Committees! Part I

As a Board member, the responsibilities and tasks to keep the association running smooth can add up quickly. And as a leader, the art of delegation is incredibly important. Committees can be a great resource to, and outlet for, the Board of Directors. The goal of this article is to understand the roles and responsibilities of committees, define the types of committees, and to provide some keys to successful utilization of them.

Types of Committees

  • Mandatory
    • Boards should check their governing documents to find out if they are actually required to have committees. Typically, this can be found in the ByLaws. It is not uncommon for an association to be surprised that they are, indeed, required to have some type(s) of committee(s). Some fairly common mandatory committees include Elections, Nominations, and Architectural.
  • Standing
    • A Standing committee is one appointed by the Board to handle categorical type of initiatives and responsibilities of the Board. These committees are often established by the Board and should be noted in meeting minutes. Some example committees might include Budget, Finance, Grounds, Social, Welcome, and Rules.
  • Ad Hoc
    • Exploratory committee on a singular issue. These committees should have a very specific goal/ purpose and include an end date. Examples of this type of committee include a traffic safety study, neighborhood awareness, new governing documents or amendments, reserve study, or decorating projects.

Stop by our blog next week for Part II of Committees.

Bill Gottsch Joins the Sharper Management Team

Bill Gottsch Joins the Sharper Management Team

Sharper Management is pleased to welcome Bill Gottsch to the team of Assistant Community Managers. Gottsch has a unique background that will help him to be an asset to the Community Managers he will be working with. Before coming to Sharper, he was an Assistant Golf Professional. Additionally, he has experience in banking, law enforcement and helping to run a non-profit that focuses on career education.

“Bill’s golf background is intriguing and we are excited to see how that experience can be infused into his work here with us,” said Matt Froehlich, owner and head of operations. “As a golf professional, he clearly has the ability to build relationships, provide customer service and has extreme attention to detail. We are excited for him to apply those skills while learning and developing in the association management field.”

Founded in 2010, Sharper Management is a locally-owned, mid-sized property management company offering a full suite of premiere services to homeowner’s associations of all sizes. Sharper Management currently provides services to the Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county area.

For more information on Sharper Management services and employment opportunities, call 952-224-4777 or email to info@sharpermanagement.com.

 

Resale Disclosure Documents

Resale Disclosure Documents

A resale package is a packet of vital information provided to those purchasing a condominium or a home in an association. The package includes a complete set of recorded documents that govern your association. Typically, the documents included are: Annual Financials, Articles of Incorporation, Budget, Bylaws, CC&Rs, Insurance Declaration Page, Regular Meeting Minutes, Resale Certificate/Demand, Reserve Report, Rules and Regulations.

If you’re in the process of selling your townhome or condo, you may find resale disclosure documents via the Sharper Management website. Visit us at sharpermanagement.com. Look for the Resale Disclosures link in the menu bar. Or, click here.

Selling Your CIC Property

Selling Your CIC Property

When preparing a CIC property for sale, you can follow a lot of the same steps that homeowners go through. In general, the most important changes involve transforming your property into an open, well-lit, and de-personalized space. Follow these steps to help turn your property into a hot commodity:

  • Update the little things-in-style fixtures and a fresh coat of paint can go a long way.
  • Leave storage areas like closets, pantries, and kitchen cabinets half-empty and organize what’s left to create the illusion of more space.
  • Remove any personal items like family photos, pet supplies, religious items, and anything else that will distract the buyer from picturing their family in the home.
  • Give each room a purpose. If you have a room for storage, then make it into an office.
  • Try to be flexible with visits. It shows that you’re pleasant to work with if they choose to go through the buying/closing process.
  • Focus on cleaning and staging your kitchen especially-it’s almost always the big seller.
  • Buyers will most likely start searching online first, so make sure you’re on all of the big listing websites. Include lots of photos and take them during the day so your space is well-lit.
  • And, of course, do your best to properly clean and declutter your property. When arranging furniture, less is more.

The market is hot right now for home sales, so you can take advantage of that. Play up the association’s role in taking care of the outside property and that benefit when winter storms hit. For pricing, don’t try to over-price-that only discourages buyers from looking at your property. Set your price in the true or lower range, and it will attract lots of buyers who will most likely bid up for a better chance at closing it.

Find resale disclosure documents via the Sharper Management web site at sharpermanagement.com. Look for the Resale Disclosures link in the menu bar. Or, click here.

HO6 Policy Overview

HO6 Policy Overview

After making the decision to join a homeowners association, your next step should be to protect all of your home assets. Overall, there are two main insurance policies necessary to cover a property loss: a master policy through the association and personal homeowner policy (called an “HO6”). The master policy is provided by your association and can vary in coverage. Generally, it always covers the exterior shell of the building/home and common areas. The interior of the unit/home, however, varies. It is very important that you understand the scope of coverage required by the association’s governing documents and therefore covered by the master policy.  “Walls In,” “Studs Out,” “All In,” “All In, Less Betterments and Improvements” are common terms that mean very different things.

Often times the structural coverage of the HO6 policy is called “Coverage A” or “Real Property Coverage.” This would cover damage to the unit that is either A.) not covered by the master policy or B.) from a loss that may not reach the association’s deductible. The amount of “Coverage A” that you should carry will vary, so you and your personal insurance agent should look to the master policy to identify possible coverage gaps and recommended amounts.

Another part of your HO6 policy should usually include Liability; in many cases, this type of coverage is an umbrella policy. Should someone hurt themselves on your property, your insurance would cover the medical expenses. Liability claims can lead to expensive lawsuits that involve you and the association, so an HO6 protects you from the financial strain that follows those type of events. If your unit is left empty for long stretches of time, there could also be a tailored coverage for that situation. Finally, you should look to add “Loss Assessment” coverage to your HO6 policy and check your association’s governing documents, as it may be a requirement. Loss Assessment would cover you in the event the association assesses you for a deductible or for damages caused to Association property.

Association insurance can be complicated, so you should utilize your agent to help navigate coverage needs. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to tell your agent to work with the association’s agent to ensure all possible coverage gaps are closed.

McKnight Townhomes and Condos Joins Sharper Management Family

McKnight Townhomes and Condos Joins Sharper Management Family

Eden Prairie, Minn – (June 6, 2018) – Effective April 1st, Sharper Management is pleased to have taken over full management services for the McKnight Townhomes Condominium Association in Maplewood. Originally constructed in 1972 as a rental townhome community, it was converted to a cooperative in 1983, and then to a condominium association in 1993. McKnight is an expansive 32-building community with a total of 190 three-story homes

“The sheer size and scope of McKnight is a lot to take in,”  said Matt Froehlich, Owner and Chief Operating Officer of Sharper Management. “However, we have the tools and the talent to work with a very knowledgeable and dedicated Board to further enhance the resident experience and property value of the community.  We are grateful for the opportunity to work with McKnight.”

Founded in 2010, Sharper Management is a locally-owned, mid-sized property management company offering a full suite of premiere services to homeowner and commercial associations of all sizes. Sharper Management currently provides services to the Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county area.

Weathering Expectations

Weathering Expectations

One of the most challenging components to property management is managing expectations as it relates to contractors and service providers. As community managers, we certainly have our opinions, but at the end of the day it’s a simple fall back on the parameters of the contract. Did they meet it or not?

As a Board, you clearly have expectations based on recommendations to bring in a particular contractor and views of past experiences with various vendors. And homeowners – oh, the homeowners. They will make their expectations, feedback and opinions known.

It seems like a regular exercise that we reflectively look back on the previous season and say, “that was a weird winter/summer/spring/fall, wasn’t it?” Well, this past winter certainly was. And from it was a reminder on some important lessons regarding expectations.

There is no doubt that at many Board meetings this spring there will be some in-depth discussion on the performance of snow removal vendors. We have had consecutive years of less than average snow totals. It has, perhaps, set an unrealistic expectation of snow removal services. But this was a winter of two-halves. Consider that during the first half of the winter, metro Minnesota had 30 snowfalls of less than 1″ in accumulation. By most contracts, there was no plow service since it was under the trigger depth. Roads got messy; and then even messier when we had long cold snaps in January-March that never allowed for that unplowed snowpack to melt. The second half of the winter was a dozy. We had four snow falls that were greater than 6,” ten that were greater than 4″ – and of course the snownami of April 13 that, depending on location, dropped somewhere between 14-22″ over a 48-hour period. It was the icing on the cake to our seemingly never-ending, will spring ever come, winter. Yes. “Weird winter,” indeed. More poignantly for snow operators; it was a difficult winter.

What homeowners don’t see or understand is the contractual and logistical challenges that came with this winter. They pay dues for snow services, but in order to keep dues under control, a plow trigger is in place. Typically, 1-2″. If it doesn’t snow that much in a particular snowfall, there is no removal service. Sure, you can adjust contracts; but lowering the plow trigger has a significant impact on price and dues. The long duration/significant snowfalls are another challenge to snow removal services. This season April 13 became the extreme example. Municipalities shut down operations. How would the association’s vendor even get there with their plow? Plow drivers went on 24-36 hour work stretches. Company owners had to send them home to rest for safety purposes. Many companies faced the challenge of shovelers walking off jobs. It was an extremely difficult snow event to end an already difficult season.

As you review your snow contractor’s 2017-18 performance, hopefully this helps give some perspective. The intent is not to make excuses. Surely, there were some vendors that failed miserably. The conversation from this winter should not only be of criticism, but rather a review of your community’s needs and a shared understanding of expectations. The lesson learned, or perhaps harshly reminded, is that the key to mutual understanding of expectations is effective communication between all parties. Vendors to managers. Managers to the Board. Managers to the community.

The Three “P’s” of Decision Making

The Three “P’s” of Decision Making

When it comes to the decision-making process, Board members should check the three P’s. Policy. Practice. Precedence. No matter how large the decision or how small the conversation, Board members should be methodical and intentional throughout their discourse.

Policy – this is the easy one. When making decisions, responding to homeowner requests and issues, applying, and enforcing rules, or creating new policies, the Board should check the governing documents to see what policies, ordinances, laws, etc. that may apply. The governing documents are the playbook to how the association is governed and managed.

Practice – where policy may not exist, the Board should be aware of past practices. A good example of this would be how Limited Common Elements are handled. Does the association take on the expense of replacing the patio slab and then bill it back to that benefiting homeowner?  Does the association treat it as a common expense and absorb it?  Does the association make a list each spring of the patio slabs to be replaced and then replace them at the same time?  Limited Common Elements and how they are handled can be a good example of something that the association may not have a written policy for (the governing documents typically give the association options), which makes it all the more important that the Board’s past practice is consistently followed.

Another example might be how homeowners are incorporated into a Board meeting. Does the association have an “open forum” part of the meeting? Do homeowners need to email the Board or Management prior to the meeting to be put on the agenda? It is also wise for a Board to review their common practices and consider incorporating it into policy for continuity sake. Adding Board meeting conduct and procedures to the Rules & Regulations being an example.  Past practice is what can get Boards into trouble. Often times it is wise to make practice in to policy.

Precedent – at the end of the day, policy, and practice all goes to set what the Board should keep in the back of their mind. Whatever you do or decide today will set an all-important precedent. The best litmus test a Board can do for themselves is to ask – if we allow this homeowner request, change this service, engage this contract, etc. – will we and all Boards to follow do it every time?

The three P’s all come full circle. Policy leads to Practice. Practice is your Precedence. Or…. Practice should lead to Policy, which sets Precedence. Whatever order it might take, when going through the decision-making process, check the three P’s.

Metro Lofts Joins the Sharper Management Family

Metro Lofts Joins the Sharper Management Family

Eden Prairie, Minn – (May 22, 2018) – Effective March 1st, Sharper Management is pleased to have taken over full management services for the Metro Lofts Condominium Association – a mixed use building off of the light rail line on University Avenue in St. Paul. Incorporated in 2006, Metro Lofts is a unique five-story, 67 unit condo building with commercial space on the lower level. Snap Fitness and Dunn Bros. Coffee make up the north section lower level of the building.

“Metro Lofts is a beautiful building in a wonderfully re-developed area of the Twin Cities,” said Dan Cunningham, Owner and President of Sharper Management. “The Board of Directors have worked hard to navigate some unique circumstances – and we are honored they have entrusted us to help move the association forward. We look forward to a long relationship.”

Founded in 2010, Sharper Management is a locally-owned, mid-sized property management company offering a full suite of premiere services to homeowner and commercial associations of all sizes. Sharper Management currently provides services to the Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county area.