Sharper Management


Tips for Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning supplies next to window

Spring is here, the sun is shining, and it’s time to open the windows—that also means it’s time to get out the cleaning supplies! April is a great time to do your spring cleaning, especially after a Minnesota winter where salt and snow have been tracked into the home for months. Because deep cleaning tends to be done seasonally, many allergens get trapped inside during the year, which is tough for those with allergies. A big list of chores can be daunting, so we’ve put together some tips to help you with your cleaning this season. De-clutter and organize. Before grabbing the cleaning supplies, go through your clothes, knick-knacks, and other items that have been sitting in the bottom of a drawer or collecting dust. Organize your jam-packed closet by putting out of season clothes and accessories in bins to help keep it tidy. Create two piles for your unwanted items: trash and donate/give away. Clean room by room. Cleaning tasks can be forgotten if you clean your home at random—instead, tackle your chores room by room. While some people get their cleaning done in a weekend, you may need to spread your cleaning out over a week or two, so make a schedule of what room you’re cleaning on which day. This can lessen a lot of the stress that can come with deep cleaning. Think about air quality. It’s important to replace HVAC filters every couple of months so that you and your family are breathing clean air. Many people open the windows during spring, which lets pollen and other allergens in, so dust frequently to get rid of these extra particles. If anyone in your family suffers from spring allergies, consider adding an air purifier to their bedroom to alleviate those symptoms. Don’t forget about trouble areas. While you may keep a clean and tidy home throughout the year, there are certain tasks that homeowners tend to forget about when handling routine chores. In the kitchen, make sure to wipe down cabinets and shelves, and throw away any old items. It’s also a good idea to clean out the refrigerator and wipe down the exterior and interior. In the bathroom, clean or replace the fan if it’s dusty or performing poorly. If you haven’t recently, change out the interior shower curtain, as this gathers mildew and mold over time. You should also clean those hard-to-reach areas, like behind the toilet. Spring cleaning should feel like a refresh and a breath of fresh air, so don’t stress too much about it. Split up your chores between family members, turn on some music, and get cleaning!

Got Cabin Fever? Fun Things to Do in Winter

Sometimes, winter feels like it’s never going to end. Days with minimal sunlight and freezing temperatures make it hard to get outdoors, and many Minnesotans end up dealing with cabin fever. Being stuck indoors can really dampen your mood and lower your motivation, but there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to help you beat those winter blues! Activities around the Twin Cities Ice Skating: There are various ice rinks around the Cities, including Lake Nokomis, Lake of the Isles, and Rice Park. Theatres & Museums: Spend the day seeing a show at the Guthrie or visit the Walker Art Center to admire some art! Mall of America: Shop till you drop! Enjoy rides, mini golf, or even see a movie while you’re there. MOA can truly be a whole-day outing! Indoor Home Activities Try something new. The days can get monotonous when you’re doing the same thing all the time, so pick up a new hobby to switch things up. Make themed dinners. Finding and cooking new recipes can be fun, so make an evening out of it! Make a charcuterie board or try your hand at some homemade versions of your favorite restaurant meals. Set a goal for yourself. Want to read more? Set a goal to read a book a week, for example. This makes you more likely to do the activity when there’s an end goal in mind! Have a movie marathon. If you’re stuck inside, might as well be entertained! Make some popcorn and turn out the lights to get that movie theater feeling. Outdoor Activities Go sledding. On one of the slightly warmer days, grab a sled and hit the local sledding hill! Shovel for someone in need. Have an elderly or injured neighbor? Shoveling snow off their sidewalk or walkway is a good workout and a way to give back to your community. Take a walk. If there’s minimal snow and ice, take a walk around the block to get some fresh air. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained throughout this long winter season. Setting aside time for intentional, planned activities can really brighten up those gloomy winter days!

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!

Summer Noise, Courtesy, and Your HOA’s Rules

Summer is filled with friends, family, fun, and, unfortunately, noise. People are outside later at night in the season of graduation and block parties, and the noise only escalates surrounding the 4th of July with sounds of fireworks. It’s important to be courteous to your neighbors; as the old saying goes, treat others the way you want to be treated. You have every right to have fun this summer, but be aware of your noise level during parties or late nights. Your HOA likely already has rules in place about noise, as issues like barking dogs aren’t unique to any one season. These rules should extend to seasonal noise, like fireworks. In Minnesota, firecrackers and any other sky explosives are illegal. However, even small, legal fireworks make sound, and that noise is accompanied by the sounds of family and friend get togethers. Depending on your HOA, some noise rules may be harder to enforce than others. Talk to your neighbors if any issues arise, and if necessary, bring your concerns to the board. If enough issues arise, the board will take your input into account when revising your HOA’s rules. Always be courteous and respectful, but keep tabs on your noise to make sure you aren’t irritating other residents this summer

Loss Assessments

In the Midwest, we’re all too familiar with summer storms and the damage they can cause to houses and buildings. HOA reserve funds are available for unexpected damages or emergencies, but using them could cause the association to be short on funds for future projects and non-insurance related repairs. Understanding how your insurance policies work can make claims and repairs a much smoother process. With heavier storms, sometimes the master policy isn’t enough to cover damages. Unit owners may need to help pay for repairs for damages to shared buildings, such as shingles being torn off a condo roof. The master policy can only pay up to coverage limits, so it’s up to the homeowners to pay the rest. The amount owed is assessed by the association, and as an owner, it is your responsibility to pay your share. However, needing to pay for community damages doesn’t mean you’re paying out of pocket. It’s a good idea as a homeowner to get Loss Assessment Insurance under your HO6 policy, if not already required. In addition to property damage, this coverage helps to pay for injuries on the premises, liabilities, and deductibles under the master policy. Homeowners who have appropriate coverage under their HO6 policy can submit a claim to their insurer. As a member of the HOA board, consider making it a requirement for owners to have loss assessment coverage to avoid any collection problems, as these assessment costs can often exceed $10,000 per unit. Boards should also work with their HOA management company to make sure that they are navigating these issues correctly. Insurance claims and loss assessments can seem confusing, but Sharper Management is here to help guide you through those difficult times.

Winter Outdoor Fun

Did you know, studies have shown that going outside and being active for even 20 minutes per day helps increase endorphins and reduce blood pressure. While there aren’t as many activities this year due to COVID-19, there is still plenty to do in Minnesota – even in January! We’ve compiled a quick list to help you get out and get moving. Snowshoeing. Head over to Lebanon Hills over in Eagan and, for only $7/hour, you can explore the trails above the snow using snowshoes! This is great for those that like to hike and go on walks but don’t like getting their socks wet from snow. Ice sports. The Minneapolis Parks Department is still hosting skating, hockey, pond hockey, and broomball on their ice rinks. While the numbers of lakes this year are reduced and there is a limit on how many people can be in a warming room at once, you can still lace up your skates and get your blood pumping. Hiking to frozen waterfalls. While Minnehaha Falls is pretty in the summer, it is are absolutely stunning in the winter. Hiking to the frozen falls and then following the trails by the water is a great weekend activity.

Long-term Ideas for Productivity When Working from Home

According to Stanford University, 42% of the American workforce is currently working from home. If this applies to you, we have few ideas that may help. Have a designated workspace. While the kitchen counter may seem like a welcoming home office, it is recommended to carve out a space that is specifically for work. Having a specific workspace will help maintain the mental separation of work and home, and will also make it easier to stay organized. Set ground rules with loved ones. It’s easy for your family to think you’re “home” when really at “work”. Setting a few ground rules like, “If my door is shut, don’t disturb me” can help keep you stay focused. Maintain your regular work hours. Dedicated work hours are a great way to keep family time and work time separate. Resist the urge to pop into your home office to do a “couple of quick things”. Often times those quick things turn into a few hours instead.

Thinking About Selling Your Home?

With interest rates and housing inventory at historic lows, this is a very good time to sell your home. If you’re considering putting your HOA property on the market soon, there are a few things to remember about selling 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.

Maintaining Community Ties During COVID-19

With everyone spending time more time at home and distanced from others, has your HOA been affected? As we navigate our way through COVID-19, it’s important to foster connectivity in your association. Holding events over Zoom is a great way to connect with people and do different activities. For example, you can play bingo, have virtual club meetings, and have HOA meetings. Zoom is a free software that anyone can use; all you need is the email address of those wanting to attend. Companies have been coming out with online extensions so people can play games at home, too. Netflix has a Chrome extension that allows multiple devices to watch the same show at the same time, so you can have an at-home movie theater night and show movies to residents via Chrome. Another way to have a movie night is to have families reserve spots, then set up an outdoor projector and mark off seating areas 6 feet apart. Households can sit together, bring their own snacks, and enjoy time outdoors while staying safe. If your homeowners love the game “categories”, use the free website scategoriesonline.net. Simply go to the link, hit “play game”, choose the categories you want, and then select the option to send players a link for a private game. This way people will be able to have fun, interact, and stay safe.

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.