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The Responsibility of an HOA Management Company

The Responsibility of an HOA Management Company

Sometimes, the roles of an HOA and an HOA management company can get confusing. Questions about what we do are common, and the answer varies depending on each association and their needs. Some associations need help in certain areas, while others need full-service management. Here’s a quick look into our two service packages:

Financial-Only Services

  • Assessment collections
  • Budget preparation
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Reserve transfers and management
  • Tax prep assistance
  • Resale disclosures
  • Coupon book management
  • Free banking

Full Service Plan

  • If your HOA needs a full-service plan, the above services are offered, in addition to:
  • Meeting coordination
  • Maintenance requests (mostly light work)
  • Vendor negotiations
  • Enforcing rules and regulations
  • Insurance reviews
  • Newsletter creation
  • Builder transitions
  • Communication services (board e-mail)
  • Spring inspections
  • Contractor bidding
  • A dedicated community manager

For a full list of financial-only vs full-service packages, check out the chart on our website.

Sharper Management handles the details so that you can enjoy living in your home. Give us a call today to discuss our services!

Budget Season: Prepping for Spring

Budget Season: Prepping for Spring

Many outdoor maintenance services are slowing down or stopping due to cold temperatures and winter being right around the corner, so now is the time to start budgeting for spring maintenance and repairs. If your board performed a property walk-through this summer, you’ll know what will need attention once the snow melts.

If your roads, parking lots, or pathways weren’t in the best condition before fall came, they’ll only be worse when it warms up again. Due to the freeze-thaw effect, any cracks or potholes in the pavement will expand, causing further damage to the asphalt. Many paving companies honor 2021 pricing if your association signs now, but the work can’t be done until 2022.

Proposals should also be requested for repairs to outdoor structures like fencing, decks, roofing, and siding. Winter storms may also damage structures that were in good shape before, so get in touch with a contractor immediately after to get it repaired in the spring.

Big repairs aren’t the only type of maintenance that should be budgeted for—regular maintenance, such as lawn care, also requires your attention. Are you sticking with your current lawn mower contractor? Do you have a company doing landscaping and tree care, or is that also something you need for the spring? Anything that requires regular maintenance should be discussed.

If budget is truly an issue for your HOA, prepare contracts for the most pressing repairs first. Review last year’s financial reports—are there other areas you can cut back in to allow for more money to go toward maintenance?

When you’re budgeting this winter, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sharper Management for vendor referrals or any other questions!

Winter Prep: Snow Removal Contractors

Winter Prep: Snow Removal Contractors

Minnesota winters can be pretty unpredictable, but your snow removal rules shouldn’t be. Don’t wait until the first snowfall to have your snow removal contracts set in place—the specifics need to be created ahead of time so that you aren’t flooded with questions and concerns about policies. If you don’t have a snow removal contract in place yet, now is the time to do so. But, what does the contract include?

 

  1. The services performed. Your contract should include what services the contractor will be doing for the community, as well as what the homeowners themselves should be doing. The snow removal company will be responsible for cleaning roads, pathways, and parking lots, but it’s up to the board to decide if residents should shovel their own sidewalks and driveways.
  2. Timing. When will the company come to remove snow? Many companies require at least two inches of snow in order to come remove it, but discuss this with your contractor, as they may have different requirements.
  3. Cost. Some companies charge a fixed amount for each time they come to remove snow, while others charge per hour. It’s difficult to predict what our upcoming winter will be like, but if it’s anything like the past few winters, a fixed price may be the better way to go.
  4. Liability information. If the contractor falls on ice and hurts themselves, you need to know who is legally responsible. The company themselves should have proper insurance for instances like these.
  5. Pre-treatment services. We recommend that you choose a company that offers pre-treatment services, like salting the roads before an upcoming storm. This is typically done a day or two before the storm hits and can reduce the chances of accidents.
  6. Contact information. When the weather is unpredictable, you need to be able to reach the company 24/7. In addition to their regular office number, make sure you have a number for emergency services.

 

We certainly hope for a mild winter, but if we’re in for a rough season, make sure to hire a snow removal company that you can count on

Board Meetings: Virtual or In-Person?

Board Meetings: Virtual or In-Person?

After a year and a half of virtual meetings, many HOA boards are going back to in-person now that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. In October, many meetings will involve homeowners as well, as the fall is a common time for board elections. If you’re on the fence about whether your meetings should be held virtually or in-person, here are a few things to consider that will help inform your decision.

Virtual: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • More people can attend. Virtual meetings allow people to log on just a few minutes before the meeting starts, rather than having to worry about getting to the in-person meeting on time if they have a busy schedule.
  • Immunocompromised individuals or those who don’t feel comfortable attending in-person can still be part of the meeting.
  • Information can be shared easily with screen-sharing, and attendees can take screenshots of important points.

 

Cons:

  • There’s chances of technical difficulties, like internet connection.
  • It can be harder to keep the attendees’ attention. Without that in-person interaction and physical presence, attention span drops.
  • Talking over each other can become an issue. Even with an organized agenda, slight lags in video can cause attendees to talk over each other without realizing.

 

In-Person: Pros and Cons

 

Pros:

  • Better connections can be formed. Residents want to get to know their board members, and this is easier to do when meetings are face-to-face.
  • It’s more organized. Communication is better, agendas are clear, and the meeting can still run even if there’s a technical difficulty along the way.
  • Attention is improved. Since the chance to do work or shop online is eliminated with an in-person meeting, you have the full attention of attendees.

 

Cons:

  • It’s not as inclusive. Those who are not comfortable attending in-person get left out of the conversation if virtual isn’t an option.
  • It takes more time. In-person meetings tend to take longer—some think that in order for the meeting to be worthwhile for in-person attendees, it has to be long. This isn’t true, however, but it can be hard to shake that mindset.
  • Attendance may not be as high. Some people don’t have the time to get to a meeting after work or other commitments, whereas attending virtually can be done up to the last minute and not cause any disruptions.

 

So, how do you make the decision? If possible, give attendees the option. Meetings can be held in-person while still allowing people to attend virtually. This is typically done on a large screen so that in-person attendees can still see and hear those online.

If you do make the call to go in-person, be safe. Practice social distancing and provide masks and hand sanitizer to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Lead by a team of industry experts, Sharper Management is proud of both the caliber of clients that we serve and the Minnesota marketplace that we call home.

Prepping for the Holidays: Inviting Guests

Prepping for the Holidays: Inviting Guests

While we’re not quite to the holiday season, it’s a good time to start planning for having guests over. Each association’s rules vary, so check in with your board about the rules surrounding guests.

If your townhome or condo has reserved parking spots, let your visitor know where the unreserved spots are. If your building does not have any reserved areas, an overcrowded parking lot can quickly become a problem, especially if visitors are staying for more than one day. Ask your board about parking procedures far in advance so that a solution can be worked out.

Community areas can be great spaces to host events, but you’ll need to reserve it in advance. Also, be respectful of your neighbors. Having friends and family over can be fun, but it can often times get a little too loud. Be conscious of your noise level, and quiet down if your neighbors ask you to.

Sharper Management hopes you have fun this upcoming holiday season! We’re dedicated to making your HOA an enjoyable place to live.

Your Fall Cleaning Checklist

Your Fall Cleaning Checklist

As we transition into fall, you and your family will start to spend more time inside. Your home may be well-maintained throughout the year as you do tasks like mopping and dusting, but it’s good to do a deep clean before it gets too chilly to be outside all day. We’ve come up with a cleaning checklist to get your home ready for the autumn season!

Kitchen: Clean the inside of the oven, the inside of your dishwasher, under your refrigerator, the grout, countertops, and cabinets. It’s also a good idea to disinfect the garbage and recycling cans! And of course, continue the normal sweeping and mopping.

Living Areas: Vacuum rugs and the underside of furniture cushions. If you have artificial plants, wash or dust them. Wipe down any technology screens, and clean the TV remote. We all tend to watch a bit more television when we’re stuck inside, so keep that remote clean!

Bedroom: Clean the parts of your bed that aren’t washed regularly, like the comforter. Dust all dressers, nightstands, etc.

Bathroom: Clean the inside of the shower and the drains, the sink, the floor, and the toilet. These moist areas are likely to grow mold, so clean them regularly.

General: Wash windows and windowsills in each room. Cleaning the wall trim around your home may seem time-consuming, but it accumulates quite a bit of dust if not cleaned every so often. Clean the tops of doors, doorknobs, and light switches. You can spot clean the carpets or get them cleaned by a professional. Many home improvement stores also have affordable carpet cleaners available for rent!

Follow these cleaning tips and you and your family will be set for all the fun indoor activities that fall brings.

Storm Damage Restoration & Contractors

Storm Damage Restoration & Contractors

While summer is coming to an end and fall is approaching, storms aren’t over. The best time to form a plan to repair storm damage is before the storm hits. Having a relationship with a roofing contractor prior to any damage will actually speed up the process and ensure that your damages are repaired, even those that aren’t visible from the ground.

Research roofing companies in the area to make sure you’re hiring a company who has experience, preferably with HOAs. Ask to see their licensing, prior work, and referrals from past clients.

Once you’ve selected your contractor, schedule a storm inspection to form that relationship and to be aware of the current state of your property. Many contractors offer a monitoring service so that when a storm affects the area, they’ll come out to assess the buildings or homes for damage. This also means that repairs will get done quicker than if you were to contact a company after damages have occurred.

Timely repairs can also save you money from further issues like water damage. If water enters homes and buildings and isn’t repaired before the next time it rains, you’ll be needing further services like mold inspections and remediation.

Not sure who to hire? Check out our preferred vendor Atlas Restoration & Construction: https://atlasmn.com/

Property Walk-Throughs

Property Walk-Throughs

Summer is a great time to do a walk-through of your properties—the weather is nice, and the green landscape allows you to clearly see what needs work or improvement.

When doing a walk-through, pay attention to the following parts of the landscape:

  • Shrubs—do they need trimming? Are they uniform?
  • Grass—is there an irrigation system in place to keep it green?
  • Plants—are they looking healthy or are they dying? Is there too much of them?
  • Flowers—are there various bright colors around the property, or do you need more?
  • Bed spaces—are there empty pockets around the property that can be filled?

We suggest including your contractor on these property walks so they can create a plan to service your property and work with you on your budget.

Property walk-throughs are also good for noting what is working well and what needs work. You may have a great system in place that just needs a bit of updating since your property is always going through changes.

If you’re unsure of where to start, your landscaping contractor will have plenty of suggestions on how to get your property looking great. They’ll also know what species of plants can survive and bloom in the spring after a harsh Minnesota winter. Don’t put in the time and money for flowers and plants that won’t make it through the snowy season!

Now is the time to schedule a walk-through with board members and your landscaping contractor before the cooler months come.

What Makes a Great HOA Board Member?

What Makes a Great HOA Board Member?

HOA board members take on a lot of responsibility, and it’s important for your board to be made up of qualified individuals. Whether you’re voting for new members or want to serve as one, here are some traits that make a great HOA board member.

Enjoy Volunteering

First of all, board members need to enjoy the volunteer work they’re doing. Being on the board involves time and patience, so members need to serve the community without expecting something in return.

Take the Role Seriously

The decisions that the board makes impact the community, so the role needs to be taken seriously. You’re protecting the investment of homeowners, and they’re counting on you to make the right decisions.

Be Consistent

Part of your responsibility as a board member is enforcing the rules. Being selective about which rules are enforced makes the entire board look unprofessional and can upset homeowners.

Be Empathetic

Sometimes you have to make tough decisions that won’t make everyone happy. It’s important to stay positive and understand where residents are coming from with their frustrations. They will appreciate having someone to truly listens to their concerns.

Cooperate & Collaborate

Even if you vote against a motion and it passes, stand united with the board and support the decision. You’re here to serve the community, not yourself. In addition, it’s important to understand that you are always working as a unit, and in order to do so, you’ll need to work well with others.

Be Detail-Oriented

A strong board member will understand the governing documents in order to have efficient meetings and make the right decisions. Attention to detail and ability to look at the small picture will ensure nothing gets missed and rules are being followed.

 

Sharper Management’s mission is to provide common interest communities the highest quality management services through a culture of communication, teamwork, and growth.

Summer Vacation: Tips for Being Away from Home

Summer Vacation: Tips for Being Away from Home

We’ve all been there— you’re finally on the road and hours into your trip when you think, did I lock the front door? Burglaries are common while families are on vacation, so we’ve put together a list to ensure that your home and belongings are protected.

  • Lock doors and windows. Have someone else double-check in case you missed any.
  • Put your mail on hold, or have a neighbor check your mail and take any packages.
  • Leave a light on. At night, if there’s some sort of light in the house, burglars will typically assume that someone is home.
  • Leave a car in the driveway or in your parking spot. If you can’t, ask a neighbor to do so. Burglars will be deterred from breaking in if they think someone’s in the house.
  • Have a security system in place. Make security camera obvious to potential intruders.
  • Consider having someone housesit, or at least check in every day.
  • Don’t publicly announce that you’ll be away on vacation. With social media, we all love to post photos while on our trip, but wait to upload those pictures until you’re back home.
  • Keep curtains and blinds in their normal positions. If you always have them half-open, for example, having them closed for a week gives off the impression that you’re away.

If you make it look like someone is home, burglars likely won’t spend any time trying to see if it’s true. Entrust a neighbor with keeping tabs on your home.

When you’re on a trip, you deserve to relax. By utilizing this checklist, you won’t have to worry about what’s going on at home!