Sharper Management


Communication is Key: Forging Stronger Communities through Effective HOA Communication

The Foundation of Community Harmony Effective communication lies at the heart of a thriving Homeowners Association (HOA). In this blog post, we will delve into the critical role of clear and transparent communication within an HOA, exploring why it is the foundation for building stronger, more harmonious communities. The Significance of Clear Communication in HOAs Clear communication is the lifeblood of any community, and HOAs are no exception. Your community wants to feel heard, and they also want to feel valued, which does not happen without communication. If you are implementing changes, those changes need to be effectively communicated to establish trust along with cooperation. When people feel left in the dark when it comes to changes, negativity and anger can arise, which is never good. It is important to show through your communication efforts a sense of unity among residents to create a healthy community environment. The Impact on Community Engagement When communication is conducted effectively, community engagement improves along with transparency. Residents will feel more inclined to join community events, participate in discussions and create a sense of belonging. This can even open the door to new initiatives created when people feel like they are in a positive environment to want to make positive changes themselves. Tips for Successful Communication Strategies in HOAs 1. Regular Newsletters and Updates: Explore the power of regular newsletters or community updates distributed through various channels. Sharing consistent information keeps residents informed about upcoming events, policy changes, and other crucial updates. 2. Digital Platforms for Community Interaction: Communication through social media and online forums is another great communication strategy. These channels provide a space for residents to voice concerns, share ideas, and connect with their neighbors. 3. Town Hall Meetings and Open Forums: Town hall meetings and open forums create a platform for direct communication between the HOA board and residents. By creating regularly scheduled meetings can improve transparency and address concerns in real-time. 4. Utilizing Email and Text Notifications: Email and text notifications for urgent updates or time-sensitive information is a great way to keep your community informed. These channels ensure that residents receive critical information promptly. Handling Conflict Through Effective Communication Conflict is inevitable, but effective communication can be a powerful tool for resolution. By effectively communicating the rules set for your community, you leave less room for confusion or interpretation and more room for transparency and guidelines. There can come times when conflicts arise internally between other community members and by having clearly defined rules prevents these conflicts from escalating. Building a Culture of Transparency As mentioned earlier, transparency is crucial to maintaining a healthy community and should be considered a cultural cornerstone within an HOA. Setting a culture of transparency, openness and honesty builds trust among residents. In turn, by being as transparent with residents as possible promotes a positive community atmosphere. Elevating Community Living Through Clear Communication Having successful communication tactics lead to running a healthy HOA. By being transparent with your community through various forms of communication, you keep your residents happy and informed. It is not just a necessity but a catalyst for building vibrant communities. Take advantage of multiple communication strategies from newsletters to open forums. Continual communication efforts are required to maintain a healthy community. Ready to elevate your HOA management? Contact us today to learn more about Sharper Management’s HOA property management services. Sharper Management is a locally-owned, mid-sized property management company offering a full-suite of premiere services to the Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county area.

Sharper Management – Why Choose Sharper Video

  The video for HOA Members   Are you an HOA board member looking for a new property manager, or in an association that needs just a little bit better care? If so, perfect! I’m here to help. I’m Grant Peterson, the Director of Client Care here at Sharper Management, and I’m here to tell you why you should choose Sharper as your property manager. At Sharper, we’re large enough to handle any problem in a specialized fashion, but small enough to have great customer service. Our support structure is a large reason that we’re the best at what we do. When you call with an issue, you’ll talk directly to one of our client care specialists, not a robotic answering machine. Depending on the issue, our client care specialist will coordinate with different Sharper staff members to get it resolved. If the issue is related to something breaking down, then maintenance will be called to take care of it. Additionally, accounting will take care of any questions or issues involving billing. Similarly, resale is on hand to answer questions about selling your property within your HOA. Beyond that, we have a partnership with some of the highest quality vendors in the industry. Speaking of quality service, we are very proud of our best Industry member portals. They are set up as an easy, online, one -stop shop for all your needs. If you’d like more information, reach out to Sharper Management at 952 -224 -4777 today. Want more information about sharper? Visit the Why Choose Us Page here: https://sharpermanagement.com/why-choose-us/  

Dues Increases – No Resident Wants It, But Every Association Needs It

Homeowner Association Dues and Budgeting

Most Associations have a traditional calendar fiscal year (January-December), which means soon we will be entering budget season for 2023. Back to basics, your operating budget is what sets the “dues” amount that people will pay each month/quarter/year. Each Association is different in what they are responsible for funding, but operating budgets should account for all contracted services (lawn/snow, landscaping, pools, elevators, garbage, management, etc.), utility services (electricity, water/sewer, gas), maintenance issues (exterior or interior repairs), discretionary items (administrative costs, community parties, etc.), insurance, and contributing to the Reserve Fund. Looking back on 2022, there’s no doubt that there were a number of budget busters. Material costs have risen sharply due to raw material shortages over the past two years. For example, paint costs alone have gone up 30% since 2021. Your “touch up” paint job just got more expensive. Labor shortages in many of the trades has caused increased pricing for many service areas. For example, lawn/snow providers have had a hard time staffing and have begun cutting non-profitable clients or making significant adjustments to cover their increased costs in fuel, wage increases to get people to work, increased fertilizer costs, etc. And speaking of fuel costs, check your garbage hauler invoices, you may have been getting surcharges for fuel prices being over $4 per gallon. The insurance market for the multi-family/associations continues to be volatile as Minnesota remains in the top 3 in the nation for claims paid out over the past few years. Experts continue to predict a 15-30% increases for your renewals. The economy and inflation have been all over the news this summer. It’s no surprise to anyone that everything has increased in price. So, keep this in consideration when budgeting for 2023. An even more careful look at your Budget vs Actuals report is imperative as you project your 2022 year-end numbers. A detailed look at your General Ledger should help as you begin realistically budgeting for your 2023 needs to reflect the current economic realities. No one likes to hear it, but the truth is every year dues should go up. Inflation is real. Things don’t get cheaper. To stay fiscally healthy, dues should, at a minimum, go up to reflect inflation. Looking into 2023, you may want to be even more aggressive, considering our current economic climate.

Resale Disclosures: What They Are & Why They’re Needed

red for sale sign outside of house

If you are selling your townhome, condo, or single-family home that is legally platted within a registered Association, you are required by Minnesota state law to provide a “Resale Disclosure Package” to the potential buyer. This “package” consists of a number of items, including: Copies of the Governing Documents (Articles of Incorporation, Declarations, Bylaws, Rules, recorded Amendments, etc.) Financial Statements Resale Disclosure Certificate Perhaps the most important component is the Resale Disclosure Certificate. This document must be dated not more than 90 days prior to the date of the purchase agreement. To name a few things, it includes information such as the Association’s Reserve Fund and Operating Fund balances; if there are any outstanding assessments (“dues”) or special assessments against the home; if the Association knows of any pending or imminent special assessments; if there are any lawsuits against the Association; and a statement of insurance coverages. By state statute, “the Association, within ten days after a request by a unit owner, or the unit owner’s authorized representative, shall furnish the certificate required….” Additionally, there is usually a fee associated with producing these legal documents. “The Association may charge a reasonable fee for furnishing the certificate and any Association documents related thereto.” See the full statute at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=515B.4-107 In short, this Disclosure allows the potential buyer to have complete transparency into what they are buying. Most Associations utilize their Management Company to facilitate this requirement on behalf of selling homeowners. We at Sharper Management facilitate all Resale Disclosure requests for our clients. If you are planning to sell your unit, or if you have any questions about Resale Disclosure requirements, please contact us.

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

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!

Selling in your HOA

Thinking of selling your home? Now is the time! Real estate is hot, hot, hot. The current shortage of homes for sale stems back to Spring of 2020, as COVID-19 hit just before selling season. There is still very limited inventory, but there are plenty of buyers. Because the demand is so high and the supply is low, the value of your home goes up. Mortgage and interest rates are historically cheap, but listing prices remain high. When selling in an HOA, there are certain steps and processes to take. Begin by reviewing your Governing Documents for your Association. Potential buyers will want to see documents pertaining to: Monthly Association fees Master insurance policy Bylaws, rules, & regulations Recent Association financial statements Current special assessments It’s a good idea to hire a realtor who has experience selling properties in HOA’s. They will be able to assist you in gathering all the necessary documents. We also recommend cleaning and staging furniture and décor to really show off the space. This will help them to envision their own items in the 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

Board Tip: Tabling vs. Postponing Agenda Items

While each HOA may conduct business differently, a standard procedure for board meetings is essential to optimize efficiency and productivity, commonly known as Parliamentary Procedure. Some boards use Robert’s Rules of Order to create the meeting format, agendas, motions, and floor discussion, while others create their own procedures. But, even with a solid structure to a meeting, certain topics will have heavier debate than others. Whether members don’t have enough information on the topic, or it’s too sensitive, the board will either “table” or “postpone” that item. Postpone If the board decides that the item is taking up too much time, or the members’ time would better be spent on something else, they can decide to postpone the matter. With this structure, the board intends to take the matter back up at a later time, whether in the same meeting or a future one. These items can be postponed to a definite time. The motion to postpone can be debated by members. There are, however, indefinite postponements, where the board has no particular intention of taking the matter back up. If an item is postponed indefinitely, the matter cannot be brought up in the same meeting. Table Following Robert’s Rules of Order, a motion to lay an item “on the table” takes precedence over all other motions at the time that it is made. This motion cannot be debated and needs a majority and a second to carry the motion. However, with laying an item on the table, that matter doesn’t automatically come up in the next meeting. There has to be a motion to take that topic off the table. And, the motion to take the matter off the table can only be done during certain classes of business, such as “unfinished business” or “general orders.” This motion also needs a second and a majority. As your Minnesota neighbors, Sharper Management works to keep your HOA board of directors informed to ensure efficient leadership.

HOA Insurance Policies

For residents and HOA board members, there seems to be a lot of lingo when it comes to insurance. How do you know which policies cover which property? How do you know what insurance requirements to make when managing an association? We’ve explained the “walls out” and “walls in” policies to help you understand what each one covers. Master Policy This policy is also known as the HOA insurance policy and covers liabilities or damages in common areas or on the exterior of your home. The term “walls out” can also be used to describe what the master policy will cover. However, this doesn’t mean that absolutely everything on the exterior will be covered; if a storm results in extensive damage, residents will have to help pay the association’s deductible. This is what’s known as loss assessment, and it’s a good idea to add this to your HO6 policy so you’re not paying out of pocket. In addition to exterior damages, the master policy also covers liabilities in common areas. If someone were to slip by the pool and decided to sue the HOA, the liability portion of the policy would protect residents from having to pay special assessments for lawsuit fees. HO-6 Insurance Your HOA’s master policy isn’t going to cover your personal property, or anything “walls in.” If you live in a condo or any other shared space, you’re going to need HO-6 insurance. Besides insuring your personal belongings, your association’s master policy won’t likely cover anything inside the bare walls of your unit. You would be responsible for getting coverage for unit structural items such as: Carpeting, ceramic tiles, hardwood floors Plumbing fixtures Light fixtures Built-in appliances Kitchen cabinets Wall coverings And, as mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to add loss assessment coverage to your HO-6, if not already required by your association.