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The Role of the HOA Management Company

The Role of the HOA Management Company

We are often asked about what homeowners perceive to be the responsibility of the home management company. The truth is that contracts vary from one HOA to another, so there is no blanket answer.
The duties will be outlined in the Management Agreement and often involve both site and administrative management, but not always. Depening on the needs of your association, you may have a financial only contract with your management company.
Financial-Only Duties:
  • Management of the reserve fund (savings account)
  • Accounts payable
  • Budget prep
  • Tax prep
  • Dues and collections management
  • Resale disclosures
Full-service duties:
  • Property inspections (frequency determined by contractor)
  • Contractor bidding and supervision
  • Policy/rule enforcement
  • Correspondence
  • Dedicated community manager (on- or off-site as per HOA needs and contract)
  • Meetings
  • Handyman services
  • 24/7 emergency services
  • All financial services (as listen in financial-only duties)
Each HOA is different and has different needs. If you want to know which type of management company your HOA chose, don’t feel afraid to ask.
Getting Ready to Sell in an HOA

Getting Ready to Sell in an HOA

Looking to sell your home? During our current global pandemic selling a home come with a few additional considerations. Your realtor will be a wonderful source for guidance, but we’ve compiled a short list of things to consider.
COVID Considerations
By appointment only. Open houses have been a wonderful selling tool for homes for a very long time. There is nothing like seeing a home with your own eyes. However, the COVID pandemic is making is harder to hold an open house. Many sellers are doing by-appointment-only viewings. Additionally, video showings have become popular. Facebook Live and Zoom are resources for agents to consider.
Providing hand sanitizer and/or wipes is a good idea for those who are visiting in-person.

 

Clean and reorganize your space. Ensure your space is clean and organized in case of any last-minute showings, especially when you are actively holding showings. Also try to reorganize your furniture so the living areas appear bigger. This can be as simple as moving a couch from point A to point B, or as intensive as moving bigger furniture pieces into your new home to really show the potential buyers how much space they would be getting.
Depersonalize your space so your potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. When you sell your house, you will not be leaving photos of your favorite pet or family gatherings. It is also unlikely that your potential buyers want to keep your family heirlooms, so ensure they are already out of the space before you start showing. While it may seem minor, having an abstract picture will help your space seem like more of a blank slate than a collage from your most recent vacation.
Little updates go a long way. Do you have a squeaky door or old hardware? While it might seem like no big deal, making these small changes can have a huge impact on whether people are interested in your home or not. To potential buyers, those are just one more thing they will have to invest in when they buy, so spending an extra $10 for a new hinge or hardware will help your home sell faster.
Focus on your kitchen and bathroom, as they are both big sellers. No one wants to walk into the bathroom and see water stains inside the tub or coffee stains on the kitchen counter. Ensure your big-ticket rooms are as clean as they were when your home finished construction. While they may seem like minor issues, just like the updates mentioned earlier, they can make or break a sale.
Be flexible with your showings. Ensure you are being responsive and kind when dealing with potential buyers and try to be as flexible as you can. While there are commitments you can’t get out of, like a wedding or family emergency, don’t say no to a showing just because you want to binge-watch your favorite TV series. The more flexible you are will your showings, the faster your home will sell.
Choose the right realtor who knows how to market an HOA property. Make sure to ask them the questions you had when moving into an HOA, such as what are some of the rules and fees? Also ensure that they are listing your home on websites such as realtor.com and see if they will bring in professionals to stage and photograph your home.
As the seller, you will need to provide resale documents to your potential buyer. You can find this information on our website. Visit sharpermanagement.com and look for the Resale Disclosures link in the menu bar, or Click here.
Summer Storms – Staying Safe

Summer Storms – Staying Safe

As we enter storm season, we want to give you a few useful tips to keep in mind.
General Storm Tips:
 
Avoid wires and water. If your building is struck by lightning, avoid touching water and wires as they can conduct the voltage. Even touching a plugged-in lamp or getting tap water can result in getting zapped. If your building has been struck, use only wireless devices, and do not use the tap for anything until you know that it is safe to do so.
Lighting and trees are not a good combination. Trees are generally taller than their surroundings, which makes them nature’s lightening rods. If you are by a tree, try to get away as trees can conduct the electricity into the ground and can even explode due to the heat. Along with strong winds, this could be dangerous if you are too close.
Have sudden tingly hair? That is a sign that lighting will be striking soon. If this happens, crouch low to the ground with your feet and shoes touching the ground, with your head and ears tucked and covered. Experts say that this position provides some protection from a direct lighting strike. When this sensation passes, quickly move to a building or car for better protection
Find shelter as soon as you can. If you are outdoors and near a building, get inside as quick as you can. If you are in a car or there are no buildings nearby, there are a few things you should do. In the case of a tornado, find a ditch or lowest ground possible, lay down, and cover your head and neck with your arms. While this area is more prone to flooding, it is the safest place to be. If there is a storm but no tornado, then stay in your car. The car’s body will help direct the electricity away from you and into the ground; however, if your car is struck be sure not to touch door handles or other metal components (like a radio dial) in case it still has a current.
General Tornado Tips:
 
If you are at home during a tornado, go to a windowless interior room on the lowest level of your house, like a basement or storm cellar. If you don’t have either, go to an inner hallway or small room without windows, such as a pantry, bathroom, or closet. Make sure to stay away from windows as well as corners, as they tend to attract more debris. If possible, get under a sturdy piece of furniture, like a desk or table, and hold onto it. Make sure to use your arms to protect your neck and head in case of falling debris, and if you live in a mobile home, leave and find shelter somewhere else.
If you are not at home during a tornado, get to the closest building you can and find a room/hallway on the lowest level without a window. Make sure you do not go to a room with a wide-span roof like an auditorium, shopping mall, or cafeteria. Just like at home, hide and hold onto a sturdy piece of furniture and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
If you are outdoors during a tornado, seek shelter immediately. If you are not close to shelter, get out of your vehicle and stay away from trees. Find the lowest area of land and lay there with your arms over your head and neck. If you feel the need to drive away from the tornado, ensure you are not going faster than the tornado as it can change directly quickly. DO NOT get out of your vehicle to climb an embankment or bridge as being higher will increase your risk.
We wish you all have a safe and fun-filled summer!
Lawn Maintenance Contracts

Lawn Maintenance Contracts

As we enter spring, the outside maintenance will switch from plowing/icing to lawn maintenance. If the board has been looking to hire a different landscaping company or revisit their bid, here are some tips to remember through this process:

Value quality.

A high-quality landscaping company will make your community look well-kept and welcoming, so you won’t have as much turnover from residents and will more easily attract new ones. Cutting corners could result in a less appealing community, and complaints from residents. Remember: maintenance work is an investment, but you should also look for a fair price.

Talk expectations.

Make it clear to the landscaping company what your expectations are for the agreement. They should take a walk through to get a proper look at the grounds, which will make sure the price is more accurate. Bids should include all of your association’s specifications so you aren’t left paying extra for services you don’t need. Review needs like: mowing, trimming, edging, fertilizer, pest control, bed weed maintenance, pruning, spring/fall cleanups, irrigation maintenance, etc. Essentially, the HOA’s needs, the size of the property, and the service frequency should be properly laid out before they give you a bid.

Check their qualifications.

Ensure the company is involved in professional associations and has the necessary licensing. Check that they have workers’ compensation insurance, general liability insurance, state licensing, and appropriate loss prevention in place. Also, when an issue comes up, you want a dedicated contact from the company that you can call to discuss issues.

We hope these tips helps your search.

Reminders on Storm Restoration Insurance Claims

Reminders on Storm Restoration Insurance Claims

Now that you’ve checked your governing documents to see what the board is responsible for when a storm hits and leaves damage, what’s the next step?

One of the board members should go around the grounds for an initial inspection to see what you might need repairs on, and they should document all of it with a photo. Is there roof damage visible from the ground? Are pieces of the roofing on the ground? Did a tree fall over? Was your landscaping damaged? Is there damage on the siding? Were outdoor amenities like a swimming pool damaged?

Look for exterior issues, which the HOA is most likely in charge of getting fixed, and then contact a professional that can perform an expert inspection. Let them know what you’ve seen so far, and then they can check for anything else that may need to be included in the claim. Ask for an estimate of costs so you can report it to the insurance and also discuss it with the board. If you contact a reputable, trusted company, they will most likely be able to help you with filling out the insurance claims.

Depending on if your documents outline the necessary process for filing insurance claims, the board may require an insurance adjuster to come out to your property. The insurance adjuster will most likely hire their own trusted independent contractor to create a report/estimate. The restoration experts will take pictures of the damages, create a report for adjuster, and then the adjuster will review the independent contractor’s report. In some cases, because of that timeline, this option takes longer if you don’t have your own photos to contribute, which were hopefully taken soon after the storm event.

Once you’ve got the estimates and claim submitted, the board should stay on top of communication with the insurance. Depending on the damage and if it also affects the interior of a unit, the claim could be disputed. Be prepared with your community’s specifics bylaws on what is considered the board’s responsibility vs. the resident’s responsibility. Hopefully, it will all be a smooth process so you can get back to normal in no time.

Storm Safety and Your Association

Storm Safety and Your Association

As we get closer to storm season and the threat of damaging weather, it’s important to review your policies on exterior damage caused by natural events. Typically, the governing documents will dictate protocol for those situations and the role of the board vs. members. Most instances will require the board to be responsible for any storm damage on the exterior of the property (following the studs out rule) while the member’s own homeowner’s policy will cover any other damage on the interior (studs in). However, this can differ somewhat depending on how the units are constructed and the association laws-for example, an association with no shared walls or roof lines could outline a much different process that requires more resident responsibility. All board members should be aware of that policy anyone because you will most likely have residents asking about it as well.

The insurance should ideally cover the type of damage that could occur during a severe storm such as hail damage, wind damage, loss of roofing, and trees falling on your property. The board should take care of the exterior damage, but if it does reach inside the unit, such as a hole in the roof causing water to get in, then the resident would be responsible for the water damage.

Additionally, when going over the insurance policy, the timeline should also be checked. Most claims on storm damage have a deadline of 2 years, starting after the date of the event. If a severe storm does pass through or a resident mentions they can see damage from the ground, then an approved storm restoration expert should be brought in for an inspection.

For the benefit of the residents, a reminder of good storm safety practices might be an ideal message to send out. Remind them of how your insurance policy covers storm damage, what that means for them, the recommended procedure to follow during a tornado event, and who they should contact if their unit does suffer storm damage.

If the need for restoration of roofing or siding does occur, which requires time and construction, it’s important to keep the residents updated on the project schedule. Sometimes an early morning start is necessary to ensure timely completion, so a heads up will benefit the community. Explain that a little inconvenience, such as that early start or workers working around the property, is worth it in the long run to restore their exterior as quickly as possible.

Pets and Living in an HOA

Pets and Living in an HOA

Sunshine and getting outside for a walk are things we are all doing more of these days and that includes our pets.

Just a few friendly reminders to be sure to pick up after your pets during this season. As more people are out walking due to the closure of many local gyms, it’s more important than ever to be diligent about picking up pet waste. The rainy weather in April also make pet waste more of a hazard for all.

We encourage you to also keep your pet on a leash to ensure the safety of all in our communities.

If this spring is the time to adopt a new pet once the local shelters are up and running again, then make sure you review your association’s governing documents for restrictions on the types of pets, breed, or size you can have in your home. There might also be a limit on how many pets are allowed.

The Benefits of Spring Cleaning

The Benefits of Spring Cleaning

With all of us being at home for the time-being, this might be your year to do a deep-down spring clean.

There are a lot of surprise benefits to spring cleaning!

  • It helps alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms. Cleaning up pollutants like dust, pet dander, dirt, mildew, mold, and more will improve your air quality and help out any residents who have allergies. Dust all of your hard surfaces, vacuum your carpet (especially under the furniture), sanitize your hard surfaces (bathroom/kitchen especially),and air out rugs/cushions since soft surfaces attract dust.
  • It curbs stress and improves productivity. A cluttered home, especially if you work out of a home office, can negatively affect your focus because of the overstimulation. Buy some organizers if you have a lot of objects without a place to store and get to work on decluttering.
  • Try turning on some music while cleaning to help boost your endorphin levels. Music and the result of a clean space has been proven to make people happier.
  • Make a pile for the things you no longer need, but are in good condition. The items will all set to move out to a donation center when they open again.
  • A deep clean of your entire home might also alert you to any damages or things that need to be maintained. It’s always better to stay on top of those issues so that they don’t get any worse.

Get a “fresh” start on 2020 by improving your mental and physical health with a good clean. If tackling the whole space at once seems too daunting, then take it one room at a time. Your home is your oasis, and it’s important to take care of it.

Things to Do During the Stay at Home Order in Minnesota

Things to Do During the Stay at Home Order in Minnesota

If you’re watched enough TV and gone on all the walks you care to for the day, you’re probably looking for other ways to pass the time.

We’ve pulled together a list of a few ideas to keep your entertained during this unprecedented time.

Facebook Live Concerts

Musicians around the country are moving their “gig” online using resources like Facebook Live. Download the MySet app, choose the music styles you enjoy and you’ll find an assortment of Live music most nights. You can request songs and tip the band using the app.

Virtually Visit a National Park

https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/national-parks/virtual-national-parks-tours

Take A Virtual Field Trip

This is a large list of places to visit.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTbUBsKt4U5tR-eXC8b2bogrvjrVlEBl8OJIesNPw6b7BRScYRuyXIaSAVIcl_q52BI4SqrK4_HVQCw/pub

We have this list helps fill a few hours for you during the next few weeks.

Sharper News – Christopher Gosse Promoted to Senior Community Manager

Sharper News – Christopher Gosse Promoted to Senior Community Manager

Sharper Management is pleased to announce Community Manager Christopher Gosse has been promoted to Senior Community Manager at Sharper Management. Gosse will continue to manager properties for Sharper, but will also become a mentor to new Community Mangers joining the Sharper Management team.

Gosse, a member of the Sharper Management family since January 2016, is a highly experienced community manager in virtually all areas of property management. “His vast knowledge in community management and his ability to put his personal touch on each situation is hugely beneficial. We looking forward to sharing Gosse’s expertise throughout our team of community managers,” states Matt Froehlich, Partner and Head of Operations at Sharper Management

Gosse is a two-time CAI-MN Vision Award winner taking home back-to-back wins in 2016 (Rookie of the Year) and in 2017 (Financial Impact).