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Announcing the New Resident Center App

Announcing the New Resident Center App

Sharper Management is excited to announce the new Resident Center mobile app powered by our software system, Buildium! A new mobile app made specifically for you and your members. Resident Center is designed with simplicity in mind. Homeowners can make payments, submit maintenance requests, contact your property manager and more–with just a few taps. The features available vary based on the permissions granted, but some of the key features are:
  • One-time and recurring online dues payments
  • Maintenance requests with photo attachments
  • Announcements, texting, and other communication features
  • Ability to provide proof of insurance coverage (when required)
  • Access to governing documents
As the Board, you are also able to access the financial reports and other documents. Be sure to check it out!
October Board Training Was a Success

October Board Training Was a Success

Thank you to all those who attended our Fall Board Training on October 15. It was a great success. The topic was Insurance and Financial Basics. Eric Skarnes from Insurance Warehouse presented some great information on various insurance policies, coverages and market trends.
Did you know that Minnesota is now considered a “catastrophic state” when it comes to wind and hail storms? The June 2017 and August 2019 storms played a big role in this categorization. What does this mean for you as a Board and for the Association? It means that premiums are on the rise, deductibles are increasing and fewer carriers are staying in or entering the association insurance market. Eric mentioned we can expect increases of 3-5% per quarter in the near term! Deductibles are typically per building (and the per building values are increasing) or based on a percentage of the property value. Typical per building deductibles are $25,000 or more, and the most predominate percentage used is 2%.
Since October is Fire Prevention Month, let’s touch a bit on insurance claims due to fire. Luckily, fires are less prevalent and, therefore, not as large of a concern as far as the insurance companies are concerned. While we can expect insurance rates to rise due to cost of living increases, fire coverage is not seeing the same increases as wind and hail. Master policy deductibles for fire claims are typically $5,000 to $10,000 per occurrence, although larger associations occasionally choose higher deductibles.

Our next board training, “Board Basics: An Orientation for Board Members”, is Tuesday, January 14th at 6:00 PM.Topics covered will include:
* Defining Types of “Associations”
* Roles & Responsibilities of the Board
* Financial Fundamentals
* An Overview to Governing Documents & State Statutes
* How to Run Effective Board Meetings
* Insurance Basics
* Property Management Practices

If you are interested in reserving your spot, please email info@sharpermanagement.com
October is Fire Prevention Month

October is Fire Prevention Month

October is Fire Prevention Month. The goal is to raise awareness about fire safety and to help ensure preparation should an emergency occur. In a community association, a fire in one unit impacts more than just that unit. Often times there is smoke and/or water damage to adjacent units – especially in an apartment style condominium building. It’s also that time of year where furnaces are started up for the season and carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a concern. According to First Alert’s website:
  • 3 of every 5 home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms
  • Less than 50% of homeowners have an escape plan
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is the #1 cause of accidental death
  • 60% of consumers do not test their smoke and CO alarms monthly
  • Only 47% of people report having CO alarms in their home.
This month, consider reaching out to your members to discuss fire safety – including testing alarms, changing batteries, upgrading old alarms, and escape planning.
Need Help Renting and Managing a Townhome or Condo?

Need Help Renting and Managing a Townhome or Condo?

Think Advantage Home

A sister company to Sharper Management, Advantage Home helps homeowners and investors manage their single-family residences.

Since your Association is already affiliated with Sharper Management, renting your home through Advantage would have extra benefits you wouldn’t find in another property management company. Those benefits include:

  • A thorough understanding of Associations
  • Information sharing regarding governing documents, rules, and regulations is efficient between Sharper and Advantage Home – Advantage is literally right down the hall
  • The Sharper Management maintenance staff is already familiar with your Association’s property
  • Our emergency response team is fast and effective

If you or someone you know is interested in renting their townhome or condominium, have them contact jeff@advantagehomemn.com.

Learn more at advantagehomemn.com
Selling Your Property in an HOA

Selling Your Property in an HOA

Does the recent cut in mortgage rates have you thinking about selling your home? The lower interest rates make it a great time to be seller with potentially more buyers on the market.
While spring and summer are known as the peak times in the market, the housing market doesn’t hibernate when autumn hits. In these less frenzied months, motivated buyers and sellers tend to work toward straightforward, mutually beneficial transactions.
If you’re considering selling your home, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding selling in an HOA.
A review of the Governing Documents for your Association is a good idea to know what kind of questions may arise during the sales process. If you need an updated copy of your Governing Documents, they are typically available on your Association’s website through Sharper Management.
As the seller, you will be required to provide resale disclosure documents about your HOA. These documents contain a wealth of information for a buyer that include things like:
*    Pending litigation about the association
*    Up-to-date information about assessments
*    The Association’s financial status
*    Covenants and restrictions within the HOA
*    Any violations about the unit you are selling
*    Governing documents for the HOA
You may request resale disclosures through the Sharper Management website or visit this link directly to learn more go to https://sharpermanagement.condocerts.com/resale/
October Board Training Was a Success

Location Change for October Board Training

October Session – New Location:
Tuesday, October 15th at 6 p.m. – “Financial Fundamentals and Simplifying Insurance”
Wells Fargo Plaza, 2nd Floor Training Room at 7900 Xerxes Avenue, Bloomington, MN 55431

The location for the October 15, 2019 Board training session will be held Wells Fargo Plaza, 2nd Floor Training Room at 7900 Xerxes Avenue, Bloomington, MN 55431. If you are a board member and planning to attend, please make note of this change!

All Board members from community associations managed by Sharper are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, October 15th at 6 p.m. – “Financial Fundamentals and Simplifying Insurance”
This focused session coincides with most association’s end-of-fiscal year and insurance renewal seasons. Insurance and financials are always large and complex topics.  Led by Sharper’s two directors of community management, Candy Lee, CMCA, AMS, PCAM and Michelle Stephans, in addition to trusted insurance vendor and expert, Eric Skarnes, of Insurance Warehouse, this session will cover topics such as:

* Defining Types of Insurance Policies & How they Interact
* Insurance Claims & How They are Handled
* Market Place Update
* Basic Financial Reporting
* Understanding Operating Cashflow & Reserve Savings
* Budgeting Process & Methods
* Replacement Reserve Studies & Requirements

January 2020 Session
If you are interested in attending a training session, but are not able to make the October session, we will be holding another Board Basics training in January.

Tuesday, January 14th at 6 p.m.  – “Board Basics: An Orientation for Board Members”
This general orientation session will be led by Sharper’s two directors of community management, Candy Lee, CMCA, AMS, PCAM and Michelle Stephans. Topics covered will include:

* Defining Types of “Associations”
* Roles & Responsibilities of the Board
* Financial Fundamentals
* An Overview to Governing Documents & State Statutes
* How to Run Effective Board Meetings
* Insurance Basics
* Property Management Practices

If you are interested in reserving your spot, please email info@sharpermanagement.com

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

It’s not uncommon for differences to arise between neighbors and townhome and condo living is no different.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you must speak up about a neighbor’s behavior or treatment of property, there are several ways to start the process and even resolve it without involving your Community Manager.
Some of the steps we recommend you start with include:

1. Talk to your neighbor. Sometimes people aren’t aware that they’re doing something to bother you. Starting a face-to-face conversation to express your concerns can many times clear it up before it goes any further. Your approach to the situation can “make or break” the outcome. Some tips we suggest include:

    • Assume the other person is unaware of the problem.
    • Use problem-solving phrases, such as “How do you suggest we approach this?” or “I think I have a solution.”
    • Don’t let the issue fester. If you bring your concern to the table, try to come to a resolution before your leave. Situations tend to get worse when one or both parties overthink it.
    • If possible, avoid discussing your issue with other HOA members. Getting too many people involved can make it harder to solve in the long run.
2. Check your HOA’s Bylaws
Be sure you know the bylaws of your HOA to ensure you have a valid complaint. This information can give you ground to take your issue further or put into perspective the validity of your complaint.
3. Mediation
Not all disputes between neighbors should involve your HOA board. Third-part mediators can provide a non-biased and safe table to for you and your neighbor to discuss the problems and find peaceful resolution.
4. Suspecting criminal activity. It is important to note, if your suspect criminal activity is occurring in your neighborhood, it should be reported to the local authorities. When involving the police, your written log of complaints and observations will be useful for the authorities.

5. Destruction of HOA common areas or property. If you witness a neighbor intentionally destroying HOA common property, bring it to the attention of your community manager or HOA board.

We hope you find this information helped. Our HOA communities are wonderful places to live and we strive to keep them that way!

Another Successful Sharper Golf Scramble

Another Successful Sharper Golf Scramble

On behalf of the leadership team and everyone at Sharper Management, thank you for making the third annual Sharper Scramble appreciation golf tournament another success. Despite the 110-degree heat index, nearly 130 Sharper staff members, Board members and trusted business partners came out for a fun day of golf, food and fellowship. The event was held July 19th at Boulder Pointe Golf Club in Elko.

“We put together this event as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the many important people that have helped shape Sharper Management to the company we are today,” said Dan Cunningham, principal and chief executive officer. “From valued Board members making up our robust client list, to trusted business partners who’s quality of work reflects on our company, to the many Sharper staff members that keep this train rolling down the tracks, this event is our way of bringing us all together to celebrate.”

In addition to providing a fun afternoon, the Sharper Scramble also has a charitable outreach component, important to the mission and core values of Sharper Management. This year the event helped raise $2,000 for Open Arms – a local nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses across the Twin Cities.

If you were unable to join us this year, we hope you will consider being a part of this great event next summer.

October Board Training Was a Success

Sharper Offers Board Training Opportunities

Sharper Management will present two free Board training opportunities in the coming months.  All Board members from community associations managed by Sharper are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, October 15th at 6 p.m. – “Financial Fundamentals and Simplifying Insurance”
Wells Fargo Plaza, 2nd Floor Training Room at 7900 Xerxes Avenue, Bloomington, MN 55431

This focused session coincides with most association’s end-of-fiscal year and insurance renewal seasons. Insurance and financials are always large and complex topics.  Led by Sharper’s two directors of community management, Candy Lee, CMCA, AMS, PCAM and Michelle Stephans, Director of Business Development, in addition to trusted insurance vendor and expert, Eric Skarnes, of Insurance Warehouse, this session will cover topics such as:

* Defining Types of Insurance Policies & How they Interact
* Insurance Claims & How They are Handled
* Market Place Update

* Basic Financial Reporting
* Understanding Operating Cashflow & Reserve Savings
* Budgeting Process & Methods
* Replacement Reserve Studies & Requirements

Tuesday, January 14th at 6 p.m.  – “Board Basics: An Orientation for Board Members”
Bell Plaza office building in Bloomington (3800 American Blvd W)

This general orientation session will be led by Sharper’s two directors of community management, Candy Lee, CMCA, AMS, PCAM and Josh Reams, CMCA, AMS, PCAM.  Topics covered will include:

* Defining Types of “Associations”
* Roles & Responsibilities of the Board
* Financial Fundamentals
* An Overview to Governing Documents & State Statutes
* How to Run Effective Board Meetings
* Insurance Basics
* Property Management Practices

If you are interested in reserving your spot, please email info@sharpermanagement.com

Creating Successful Annual Meetings

Creating Successful Annual Meetings

For some Board members, the annual meeting can be a source of anxiety. And for many community associations, the annual meeting has become the collective wasteland for complaints, critiques and requests from residents. The first step in creating constructive and beneficial annual meetings is understanding the definition and primary purpose of it.

Definition & Function – Minnesota Statute 317A, Nonprofit Corporations Act, mandates that all corporations with members (which all homeowner associations are) “shall hold at least an annual meeting of members with voting rights.” Minnesota Statute 515B, Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act, mirrors the language, “a meeting of the association shall be held at least one per year.”

Perhaps more importantly, though, is understanding the primary role of this meeting. Once again, both 317A and 515B provide context. The fundamental reasons for an annual meeting are as follows:
(i)    an election of successor directors for those directors whose terms have expired
(ii)    a report on the activities and financial condition of the association, and
(iii)    consideration of and action on any other matters included in the notice of meeting.

Put simply, the purpose of the meeting is to vote in board members, approve the minutes from the previous year, and give a brief financial and activities report of the past year. That’s it. Rarely are there other items requiring a membership vote. And never should that vote happen unless it is included in the notice of the meeting.

Pitfalls – where many associations might struggle with the annual meeting, it typically comes down to the same reason. The perception is that it is the annual meeting of the members, therefore owners should have a say and a vote on various matters. Many associations have years of precedence that’s been set where there is no control and other topics dominate the meeting.

Solutions – first, control and order must rule at an annual meeting. The meeting facilitator, typically the Board President, should open the meeting by stating the expectation that the purpose of today’s meeting is to vote in Board members. Other operational business should be brought more appropriately to an open Board meeting, where action can be taken.

It is so important to recognize section III. of the state statute cited above. “Consideration of and action on any other matters included in the notice of meeting.”  To reiterate, no other business can be conducted at the annual meeting if it was not included in the meeting notice. Any motion from the membership on this or that could be grounds for an illegal vote.  Think about it.  What if you choose not to go to the annual meeting because there was nothing listed on the agenda (which is typically the case for an annual meeting) and then you learned that at the meeting the membership voted to raise dues?  You probably would have gone had you know that was going to be voted on.

While it might seem counter-intuitive and cold to keep an annual meeting of members very brief and matter of fact, it is important that it be run as a business meeting. If an association wants to use the meeting as an opportunity to hear concerns and have dialog between the board, management, owners, etc., have an open forum session after the annual meeting is adjourned. No minutes. No votes to be taken. Just a forum for dialog.  And, once again, try to push those conversations and request to a Board meeting, where action can be taken.

Hopefully a more thorough understanding of the definition and function of the annual meeting, along with the pitfalls and solutions mentioned above, can help your association create more successful and constructive annual meetings going forward.