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Sharper Gives Back – Hearts & Hammers

Sharper Gives Back – Hearts & Hammers

As is becoming a tradition in the annual Sharper Scramble Golf Tournament, each year Sharper selects an organization to support by raising money and awareness. This year Sharper generated enough of a donation to sponsor the rehabilitation of a house through the Hearts & Hammers program. The mission of Hearts & Hammers is to “provide exterior home improvement assistance for senior citizens, disabled adults and veterans of the United States Armed Forces, or their surviving spouse, so that they may continue living independently.” On September 22nd, over a dozen Sharper staff and owners came together to do yard and landscaping jobs, painting, carpentry work and other various repair needs to begin restoring a home in Shakopee.

“A core value of Sharper is to ‘be your Minnesota neighbor,'” said Matt Froehlich, owner and head of operations. “This was a wonderful opportunity for the Sharper family to come together for a greater good. While we hope our time, energy and labor provided a valuable service to a homeowner in need and to a wonderful organization like Hearts & Hammers, it was equally special for us to share this experience together as a company.”

You can read more about Hearts & Hammers at www.heartsandhammers.org.
Fiduciary Duty

Fiduciary Duty

As many Associations enter budget season, it’s a good time to reflect on a phrase that is thrown around, but seldom understood and all too often not taken seriously enough  –  Fiduciary Duty.  Be it the approval of a budget, the granting of a homeowner request or the selection of a contractor, as an elected Board member and representative of your community association, it is your legal obligation.  So, what does it mean?

According to Webster Dictionary, Fiduciary Duty is “the legal duty of a fiduciary to act in the best interest of the beneficiary.”  Yeah, OK. That’s well enough. In the context of your role as a Board member, however, we can dig a little deeper.

As a governing body, the Board of Directors has three primary functions:

  1. A policy making body (creating Rules)
  2. An approval body (approving a budget, managing architectural controls or contracting services)
  3. An oversight body (reviewing financials or evaluating vendor services)
According to our industry resource, Community Association Institute, as an individual Board member you work to fulfill these functions and meet your all-important fiduciary obligations under two doctrines.
  • Duty of Care – making reasonable and informed decisions; regularly attending and participating in Board meetings; exercising independent judgement; relying on experts, but still exercising good business judgement; and acting in the best interest of the Association as a whole.
  • Duty of Loyalty – putting aside all personal interests; eliminating conflicts of interests; and exercising power in good faith to benefit the best interests of the community.
In summary, to ensure you are fulfilling your Fiduciary Duty – remember your primary functions as a collective Board and individual Board member, and ensure you are guided by the principles outlined in Duty of Care and Duty of Loyalty. To be even more succinct – work smart and don’t be selfish!

 

Association Funds – Operating vs Reserve

Association Funds – Operating vs Reserve

Since most association’s are on a calendar fiscal year, the Board of Directors and Management will soon begin, or have begun already, working on the 2019 Operating Budget. This budget, essentially, sets the “dues” – so we thought it would be a timely opportunity to explain the difference between the “operating budget” funds, vs the “replacement reserve” schedule and funds.

Operating Budget – Each association varies, of course, but an overwhelming majority treat “operating” and “reserve” (or “capital”) funds differently. And they should.  Associations work within an operating budget to pay for necessities and recognized amenities. These items are set by the Governing Documents. Common examples include lawn care, landscaping, snow removal, insurance, management services, repairs and maintenance, utilities, amenity costs for pools or other recreation, etc.  These are the costs to run the association on a day-to-day basis. This budget makes up what becomes the homeowner’s assessment – commonly called “dues.”

Little known fact – for most associations, did you know that the monthly “dues” payment is technically called an annual assessment?  The common practice is to break it up into 12 equal monthly installments and call them “dues.”  But, for most associations, the adopted operating budget and your share of those expenses (be it by ownership percentage in a condo or your equally divided share of the planned community) is legally recognized as yearly assessment.

Reserve Fund – The association’s “reserve” or “capital” fund is essentially the savings account to pay for large replacement projects such as re-roofing, re-siding, concrete and asphalt replacement, etc. Most associations work off of a professionally developed “Reserve Study” that lays out the plan for which components should be replaced which year, and a funding plan to pay for those replacements.

Now that you know the difference between the two funds – how do they work together?  The reserve fund is “contributed” to via an expense listed in the operating budget.  If the Reserve Study says in 2019 the association should contribute $120,000 to the Reserve Fund, typically each month the association will take $10,000 generated from the dues revenue and deposit into the Reserve Fund account. This is a set line item in the operating budget.

It’s a lot like a savings and checking account.  You deposit your paycheck into your checking account which you use to pay your regular bills. It’s your “operating account.” You might also plan an amount each month you send to your savings or retirement account to pay for those big expenses down the road. It’s your “reserve account.”

Hopefully this helps to explain two very different funds your association is working with.

Fountainwoods II Condo Association and Sharper Join Forces

Fountainwoods II Condo Association and Sharper Join Forces

Eden Prairie, Minn – (August 17, 2018) – Effective August 1st, Sharper Management is pleased to welcome Fountain Woods II Condominium Association to the stable of clients managed in the Edina area. Originally constructed in the early 70s and incorporated as Condominiums a decade later, Fountain Woods is a beautiful community made up of four condominium complexes tucked in a quiet area of Edina off of highway 169 and 62. There is a shared tennis court, shared pool and in each building there are multiple amenities such as party rooms and expansive common areas. The Fountain Woods II phase is made up of twin four-story buildings that house 154 units.  

“We are so excited to be a part of the Fountain Woods community,”  said Dan Cunningham, Owner of Sharper Management. “We have had the great fortune of managing a number of condo buildings in Edina. This is certainly a special one.  We look forward to the opportunity to work with the Board to help keep, and enhance, property values in this expansive and complex community.”

 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.

Sharper Management Welcomes New Assistant Community Manager

Sharper Management Welcomes New Assistant Community Manager

Eden Prairie, MN, (September 20, 2018) – Sharper Management is pleased to welcome Grant Peterson to its team as the newest Assistant Community Manager.

Peterson brings a strong background in real estate through his experience as an agent selling in the condo, co-op, townhome and other multi-family property markets. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors in the condominium association where he resides. “Being a homeowner in an association, I get to learn what works well and what is missing from the management side of things. I get to incorporate that into my management style,” said Peterson. “I am excited for the opportunity to be a ‘professional problem solver’ and work with Boards to help increase property values, benefiting all homeowners.”

“Grant brings a unique perspective and solid skills set to our team of managers,” said owner and chief operating officer, Matt Froehlich. “We are excited to see how he can make an impact on the team of Community Managers he works with day-in and day-out – and to one day grow into a strong portfolio manager himself. We are excited to have him aboard.”

Peterson is assigned to support a group of Community Managers, all of whom are overseen by Candy Lee and Josh Reams as the directors of community management.

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.

Sharper Management Adds Manchester Village Owner’s Association

Sharper Management Adds Manchester Village Owner’s Association

Eden Prairie, Minn – (August 17, 2018) – Effective September 1st, Sharper Management will add Manchester Village Owner’s Association to the full-service management client list. Manchester is a single-family home community located in Minnetonka and consists of 51 homes built in the late 80s. 

“Manchester is a unique community association,”  said Dan Cunningham, Owner of Sharper Management. “It is a single family development; however, the lots are maintained by the association. We look forward to the task of working to keep the grounds and architectural continuity equal to the beauty of the homes through the community.”

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.

Cimarron Home Owner’s Association Joins Sharper

Cimarron Home Owner’s Association Joins Sharper

Eden Prairie, Minn – (August 17, 2018) – Effective August 1st, Sharper Management is pleased to have taken over full management services for the Cimarron Home Owners Association in Chanhassen. The Cimmaron development is a large 156-unit quad home community built in the late 70s-early 80s..

“We are very please to have the opportunity to step in to the Cimarron development,”  said Matt Froehlich, Owner and Chief Operating Officer of Sharper Management. “It is a large association on a large lot of land. As a 40-year old community, they have reached that critical age where maintenance and revitalization is their key focus. We look forward to working with the Board to help them continue to make Cimarron a wonderful community association.”

 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.

Smoking Hot Real Estate Market. Are You Thinking of Selling?

Smoking Hot Real Estate Market. Are You Thinking of Selling?

2018 has been a hot year in the real estate market. As we enter Fall, you may be considering selling your home. If that is the case, 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. https://www.condocerts.com/.
Annual Board Meeting Season

Annual Board Meeting Season

October is just around the corner and for some Associations, they may have their Annual Meeting to close out the year. By state statute, association meetings are open to members year-round, however if you’re only going to attend one meeting each year, the Annual Meeting is the one to choose.

The annual meeting is a requirement of an association’s governing documents and the Minnesota Non-Profit Corporations Act (317A). As Associations are considered and registered as a non-profit corporation with the state of Minnesota, they must then have a “meeting of the members” (owners of record) on an annual basis. Members are to be mailed an official “notice” of said meeting within a certain period of time (usually 20-60 days in advance), and the notice should include an official Agenda listing items to be addressed by the Board and requiring membership approval.

The main primary, and often time sole, purpose of the Annual Meeting is to elect members to serve on the Board of Directors. Often times a statement of the financial condition of the association is provided by the Treasurer, a “President’s Report” is given on activities and projects, and sometimes committee reports are provided. But generally, the purpose of the Annual Meeting is to elect Board members. By state statute, no other business can be conducted unless is was “properly notified” in the Agenda and/or official Notice of the meeting. Often times members view the Annual Meeting is the forum to raise concerns and bring forward motions to take action on this or that. Board meetings are really the place for such requests, as, again, the association cannot take action on an item that was not presented on the agenda and/or notice.

The Annual Meeting is a great place to participate in your association by hearing about what is going on – and voting in the members you want to represent you on the Board. Be sure to watch for notifications about your Annual Meeting and make plans to attend.

Contractor Chat: Weathering Expectations

Contractor Chat: Weathering Expectations

One of the great construction debates is to sealcoat or not to sealcoat asphalt pavement. Let’s review the primary purpose of sealcoating and then the common complaint. Sealcoating asphalt (usually driveways or streets) provides a thin layer of fine aggregate, oil and minerals to help protect and “seal” the aggregate asphalt materials that make up the pavement. It protects it from environmental factors that breakdown asphalt such as water/moisture, UV rays, and temperature change.  Sealcoating is similar to painting. It protects the surface, while at the same time giving it an aesthetically pleasing and uniform appearance.

Which brings us to the primary criticism of sealcoating. Everybody loves a freshly sealcoated driveway. It looks all shiny and new! But after one plow season, you’re left with blade marks and tire tread patterns. After a year or so, light spots start appearing from areas that hold water or are exposed to heavy traffic. What a waste of money that sealcoating was!  After a couple of years the asphalt blends back to that uniform gray look.  Did it really matter or make a difference spending the money to sealcoat?

Yes, it did! Unprotected asphalt will undoubtedly break down sooner than asphalt that has been sealed. This is a similar process to what happens with exterior wood surface. If left unprotected by paint or stain, fibers will break down and rot away. The secret to sealcoating is having realistic expectations on how long that shiny new looking driveway will last.