Monthly Archives: September 2011

HOA Cash Management Programs

Cash management programs for Community Associations

Council members have a fiduciary responsibility not only to track revenue and expenses of the association, but also to use procedures that provide security for the assessments collected from homeowners and cost control. If your community association or management company has not recently revised its payment processing and cash management systems, you may not be aware of the innovations that can make your Board more efficient, save money and help increase your investment earnings.

Lockbox services designed for Community Partnerships
Does your staff still handles accounting manual assessment payments? If your association or management company is the opening of envelopes, posting payment information, preparing deposit slips and bring them to the bank, these activities consume a significant amount of management time and also increase the risk of theft and error . There is a solution: an automated treatment.
Automated processing services include a lockbox. A “lockbox” is a cash management tool that is a cost effective way to outsource most of the obligations associated with payment processing, saving time and money partnership.
Lockboxes have been available since the 1930s. They were designed to expedite the processing of payments by mail. Payments were sent to a PO box, closed and a delivery service could collect payments and transport it to their customers. The delivery of the contents of the box directly to the association eliminated the time lost by the post office to sort and deliver the payments. Computer imaging technology improved the process dramatically in the 1990s, making possible the creation of electronic payment files.
Today, the assessment payments are mailed directly to the lockbox, not the office of the association or management company. The controls are read by electronic scanners that reduces read errors, and payments are processed faster than it would be manually. Payments are credited to the account faster for the homeowner as well. The department of the association or management company accounting can upload files directly on your payment of accounts receivable system, eliminating manual entry of payments. The payment information is available to you online immediately.
Using a lockbox, associations often find they are able to reduce the time spent in processing payments and may be able to use staff to work on other tasks necessary to meet the daily needs of the association . How to find a lockbox service that meets the needs of your association?

1. Get recommendations from other professional associations or management companies what works for them and why.

2. Ask detailed questions about the technology used by the lockbox. The answer “using the latest technology” is not enough. Your questions should focus on specific services offered by the lockbox:
• Do you see a diagram and picture coupon?
• Are your electronic files compatible with your accounting system?
• Is the lockbox in use of their own software or licensed by third party? The costs are usually higher if the lockbox does not use its own software, because they must pay licensing and maintenance fees.
• What is the cost, if any? Most banks do not charge for the service in exchange for maintaining certain balances in checking and / or savings accounts.

3. Ask specific questions about what is working with the vendor to ensure that lockbox services fits your needs. Lockbox is held within the company or outsourced? How to handle errors? What kind of reports do you offer? How do you handle payments with on-line services to pay bills?

Cash Management Services Associations
It is important for all associations to ensure that financial institutions use to understand their needs. If they do, you may not be receiving advice and guidance you need to maximize the profitability of the funds of the association. In reviewing the cash management process, which should ask the following questions:

Are my reserve accounts performing as well as they could be?
I’m making the maximum rate of return on my money market accounts?
Do I have FDIC coverage on my CDs?
Do I have an investment manager we can trust to recommend investments that meet the regulations of my association and the investment policy?
Are all financial institutions that hold money for my association ensuring the highest level of protection of the funds?

If you are unsure, look for a financial services company specializing in industry owners’ association and work closely with them to implement an effective program management for an effective and efficient partnership.


License to Manage

Governance – Property and Community Management Manager Licensing The rapid growth in community associations in the last decade has  equally shown dramatic increases in the number of people entering the field of management. Some are of greater qualification than others. … Continue reading

How To Increase Attendance or Participation in Home Owners Committees

  1.     Make sure you understand and committee chairs can convey the role of the commission members, and that the president and members are up to date job descriptions.
  2.     Ensure proper orientation describing the organization and its unique services, and how the committee contributes to this mission.
  3.     Remember that your organization and its committees deserve support and participation. Do not fall into the view that “we are lucky to get just anybody.” Establish a standard for the best.
  4.     They have rules that support the participation and assistance. Review the basic rules that each meeting and post them on the bottom of the agenda.
  5.     Leave the “dead wood.” They often help to reduce the number of committee members rather than increasing them.
  6.     Consider using subcommittees to increase individual responsibility and focus on goals.
  7.     Annual assessments of the committee, which includes a clear evaluation process and where each committee member evaluates the other members, and each member receives a written report on their strengths and how they can improve their contributions.
  8.     Attempt to provide individual assignments to committee members.
  9.     Have at least one staff member to participate in each committee to help with administrative support and provision of information.
  10.     Monitor the quorum requirements for the entire plate (as set usually in the bylaws), or the minimum number of board members must be present for the Board to officially adopt business. This quorum, if not met, will serve as a clear indicator or signal that the card is in trouble.
  11.     Develop an attendance policy committee that specifies the number of times a member may be absent in consecutive meetings in total meeting time.
  12.     Generate minutes for each committee meeting to reach a conclusion on the issues and help members to understand the progress made by the committee.
  13.     In the Committee‘s meeting report, including signals that is present and absent.
  14.     Consider the possibility of low attendance members involved in some other form of service to the organization, for example, “friends of the organization,” or something, attending special events rather than ongoing activities.
  15.     They have a “summit meeting” with members of the committee to discuss the problem of low attendance, and the use of a panel method so that each person should speak with their opinions.
  16.     Turn to new members each year.

Find the Best Atlanta Property Management Company

Ten Tips for Finding the Best Atlanta Property Management Company For Your HOA.
HOA management companies in Atlanta range from the mega, big-box companies to the Mom and Pop companies run by families.  Regardless of the size of your association, you should understand the key differences in management companies and how to choose the best management for your HOA or condo association.

Here are ten things you should look for in an Atlanta HOA Management Company:

1.  Find a Locally Owned Company. Working with a locally owned and operated management company means that all management decisions originate in Atlanta and not 800 miles away.  Locally owned management companies are focused on the Atlanta market and their key vendor and banking relationships are right here in Georgia.  Best of all, if you ever have a question or concern, you can personally visit and meet with the company and its highest executive officers and inspect any and all management records.

2.  Make Sure Your Management Company Banks with a Georgia Bank. Banking locally means fewer errors in banking transactions and more efficient depositing of HOA checks without delays caused by interstate bank transactions or delayed mail processing times.  It also means that if you ever have any concerns or a need to withdraw or move funds, you can do without any delay.  If your property management company works with an out-of-state bank, you will have a longer turnaround and less access to records and money when you need it.

3. Find a Company That Delivers Financial Statements at the Beginning of Every Month. If you entrusting your company’s affairs to a management company, you have the right to receive timely and accurate financial statements every month.  If your management company is giving you full and complete financials by the 10th of every month, something is wrong.  Either they are too big and inefficient, understaffed or lack the organization they should have to effectively manage your community.   And make sure the financial statements include a Balance Sheet, Income and Expense Statement, Cash Receipts Journal, General Ledger and Check Register as well as copies of the actual bank statements.  If the management company can’t provide you with all of these basic financial documents (and many cannot), there is something wrong and you need to find another company.

4.  Insist on Complete Transparency. There is nothing magical about what management companies do and nothing should be secret from the Board.  The Board should be able to request records and get them without a runaround.  And the Board should be able to review every property inspection the company performs.  Too many companies claim they do property inspections when in reality they whistle through the neighborhood on the way to Starbucks.

5.  Make Sure You Get to Choose All Vendors. Management companies often have “sweetheart deals” with vendors that enhance their bottom line and cost the HOA more money.  So when it comes to selecting vendors and soliciting bids, make sure you are able to direct what companies you want to receive bids from and that you make the decision of who to hire.   If any management company tells you that they select all of the vendors, pack up your bags and run!

6.  Be Realistic. Management companies deal on a very low profit margin.  Think about what services you want and what you are willing to pay for.  If you want weekly property inspections, you are going to pay a lot more than a neighborhood that wants monthly property inspections.  But are weekly inspections necessary or reasonable?  Most Covenants require that associations provide homeowners a minimum of thirty days to correct a violation.  Weekly inspections would be an unnecessary waste of resources and would only increase the management costs.

7.  Look at the Company’s Insurance Before Doing Business With Them. Is your HOA property management company insured to cover your association in the event of a loss?  Do they have liability insurance in case they hit the front entrance sign on the way into the neighborhood?  Do they have an umbrella insurance policy just in case?  Do they also have fidelity coverage in case one of their employees steals from the association coffers?  Do they have workers compensation coverage in case one of their employees is hurt on the job?  If not, you probably need to find another management company.

8.  Beware of the Big Boys. Bigger management companies often have longer response times and more “red tape” to deal with.  If an Atlanta property management company has to refer your question to someone else in the company or can’t get a bill paid within five days of receiving it, you are going to be frustrated dealing with the company and the delay in response time is ultimately going to cost you time and money.  Also, lack of service and delayed responses put your Atlanta HOA, High Rise or Condo association in situations of extreme liability. If problems concerning the health and well being of the public, lets say a tripping hazard or leaking roof in a community center, aren’t addressed immediately the cost and liability associated with the problems rise exponentially.

9.  Meet the Company Representatives. You will never get a true sense of what a management company does and how companies differ from one another until you meet with representatives.  If all you are doing is collecting bids and comparing prices, you are missing the boat.  If the management company representatives aren’t “liable,” when you meet them, they sure aren’t going to get any better when they talk to homeowners.   And make sure they are willing to return all phones, not just calls from Board members, from all homeowners within 24 hours.  Many companies will give “A+” service to Board members and “D-” service to the homeowners.

10.  Visit the Company Offices Before You Decide. Worried about who you are doing business with?  There is no better way to get a sense of how your management company operates than by a personal on site visit.  Is the office clean, neat, professional and organized?  It should be if that is how they conduct business.  If the office is a disorganized mess with boxes piled everywhere and papers scattered in a heap, you may want to choose another management company.

What You Should Know About Homeowners Associations

Questions to ask the HOA before buying.

Buying a condo or townhome is more than four walls and interior air space, it also means buying the homeowner association. Smart shoppers examine all the homeowner association documents, including its latest financial statements to determine whether one is buying a money pit or a gold mine. Here are the most important questions a buyer should ask:

How financially sound is the HOA?

To determine this, ask for and read (yes, they are long, at least 50 pages or more) copies of the following documents:

Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC & Rs)
Statutes and Regulations
Minutes of the meetings for the last year
Homeowners Association Financial Statements

These documents will tell you:

If special contributions are expected to address deferred maintenance
Planned capital improvements
Amount of cash reserves
If the association is or has been sued
The history and the likelihood of increased fees

What services are covered by your monthly payments? Does it include the payment of:

Cable television
Ground maintenance / gardeners
Garbage Collection
Management fees
Pool, spa or fitness centers
Streets and sidewalks
Assigned parking / metro (and if so, how many spaces?)

How do you compare the rates of assessments from other condominiums in the area? I sold an apartment in an older complex, where the monthly fees are $120. Renovated apartments around the corner had a maintenance fee of $ 190. The main difference between the two complexes had been remodeled units, stainless steel appliances and granite counter-tops in the kitchen. That’s why buyers ask, “Is it worth $ 70 a month to own stainless steel appliances?” For some buyers, the answer is “yes.”

Who manages the complex?

Larger complexes require professional management. That could cost more than hiring a professional company, but in the long run tend to save money. Exercise bargaining power in negotiating professional management services such as offers for gardeners or general maintenance, as they represent a greater number of complexes.

How many units are rented?

Nobody likes tenants. Not that renters are bad people, but there is some truth that the tenants do not take care of the goods in the same way that an owner occupier would take care of it. In addition, some lenders will not lend money to a buyer if more than 25% of the units in the complex are rented. Some homeowner associations refuse to let the owners rent their unit for more than 30 to 60 days, if at all.

How quiet are the units?

Ask neighbors to give potential buyers an idea of ​​the noise factor. But driving in the area late on Saturday night will also let you know. It is best to purchase a unit in the corner because there is less common (side) walls means less noise. However, the soundproofing does not help much if your next door neighbor enjoys blasting Pink Floyd, every Sunday at 2 PM.

A customer who bought a condo on the ground floor near the stairs leading to the second floor was worried about the sound of footsteps on the stairs, so I suggested he talk to the occupant above. It turns out that the resident was the president of the Homeowners Association and a stickler for keeping things quiet.

What are the recreational areas, parking and Pet Restrictions?

Find out the hours of use for pools, spas and recreation areas such as tennis or  game room and check that the working time schedule.
How do you manage parking for guests, and the number of parking spaces are deeded to each unit? Is it possible to rent an additional parking space if needed?
How much will be charged to replace a lost key to the security gate or club?
How many pets can I have? Are there size restrictions? Are you allowed to bring pets through the lobby on a leash?

Finally, talk to the people who live there. Drive through the parking lot or garage in the evening when the owners are coming home from work. If they hate the homeowners association, they will undoubtedly tell you what is wrong with it.  Discover the reasons behind it before before you buy. HOAs have the power to regulate and sanction violations that affect owners financially as never before, so make sure you fully understand what you are getting into before signing on the bottom line.

How to remove a member of the HOA Board _ Atlanta Homeowner Association Management

Every homeowners association is to maintain the welfare of their community by maintaining an acceptable standard protocol in all relevant areas of importance to the community itself. This means putting the needs of the community as the first priority in the objectives of each and every member of the Home Owners Board of Directors. However, in some cases, individual board members can not or will not properly handle the responsibility given to them. When this happens, the council as a whole should consider removing the board member in particular. MORE…


How to remove a member of the HOA Board

Every homeowners association is to maintain the welfare of their community by maintaining an acceptable  standard protocol in all relevant areas of importance to the community itself. This means putting the needs of the community as the first priority in the objectives of each and every member of the  Home Owners Board of Directors. However, in some cases, individual board members can not or will not properly handle the responsibility given to them. When this happens, the council as a whole should consider removing the board member in particular.

But before getting into the best ways to remove a board member, consult first with the statutes of the association. These vary from association to association, and state laws relating to association management should also be checked as there are limitations – for example – Florida laws do not apply in Georgia.

If one or more members of the board shows an irresponsible behavior,   legitimate removal is necessary for the good of the community. However, before starting a potentially very complicated and long process, the board as a whole must put everything in perspective.  Make sure that the removal is based solely on the basis of verified facts and documentation. If a resident plans to file a complaint, he or she – and the HOA went to officials to solve the problem – there is a need to investigate whether the board member is really the culprit.

If it is determined that the board member in effect, be removed, there is a specific process to be followed. Once all the evidence gathered, a formal request to resign must be made to a member of the Board. If the request to opt-out does not work, a more formal meeting between members of the Board is held to discuss the situation. If after this conversation has determined to be in the best interest of the community that this board member is removed, the board has to consult the manual for the board to plan the next steps.

The first step usually involves giving proper notice, either on a scheduled annual meeting – or if more urgent, in a special meeting. A special meeting may be called if the necessary signatures are obtained from members of the community. This ranges from 5 to 50 percent of the members of the community, according to the Covenants and Bylaws of the community themselves. Once enough signatures are acquired for the Board to approve the meeting, a quorum must be established (a minimum number of voters). All homeowners in the community and investors are invited to attend.

At the same meeting, the member of the Board subject to removal must be given an opportunity to defend themselves. Supporters, opponents and Board members should be given enough time to make their case. After the debate is over, the President should appoint independent inspectors to count the votes present. If the board member is removed, the next step is to hold another election to fill the position now vacant.

A board member may be unfair and should be eliminated for the good of the community. However, prevention is always the best tactic. At day’s end, HOA board members should be chosen based on the positive attitude and the good sense to avoid such situations arising in the first place.

Inspiration From Chaos

10 years later, Maine’s flag ladies still waving


The Associated Press

FREEPORT, Maine — Three days after 9/11, Elaine Greene held an American flag above her on a busy street corner in this small Maine town. Since then, she and two other women have waved the flag on the same corner for an hour every Tuesday in honor of America’s service personnel and to show that the American spirit is alive and kicking.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, photo, the Freeport Flag Ladies, wave to cars in Freeport, Maine. The women, who have waved the American flag every Tuesday morning since 9/11, have dedicated their lives to encouraging the American spirit and supporting of U.S. troops in the war against terrorism. (AP Robert F. Bukaty)

Changed forever by the 2001 terror attacks, Greene, JoAnn Miller and Carmen Footer have devoted their lives to inspiring others through the flag. Dressed in stars-and-stripes shirts, they are a familiar sight, proudly holding their 3-foot-by-5-foot flags on poles as motorists honk their horns and shout words of encouragement.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the Freeport Flag Ladies, as they are known, have organized three days of vigils, concerts, a laser light show, a parade and other events. For two hours Sunday morning, they will be in their usual place, holding flags while flanked by Maine’s two U.S. senators, a U.S. representative, the governor and the head of the Maine National Guard.

Before 9/11, the three weren’t particularly patriotic. But they’ve come to see the good that can come from even a seemingly small gesture like proudly holding the U.S. flag.

Greene wasn’t even sure if picking up a flag was the right thing to do on Sept. 14, 2001, when President George W. Bush asked Americans to hold candlelight vigils. But when she did, she saw the strain on people’s faces melt away as they drove by, beeped their horns and yelled out “God Bless America.”

“You knew then that you could do something,” Greene said this week in the house she shares with Miller and Footer. “You knew then that the American people realized within their own spirit that we’re going to be OK, we’re going to get through this and that the American spirit wasn’t dead. It just got injured a little bit.”

Since then, the women have showed up every Tuesday — the attacks took place on a Tuesday — at the corner of Main and School streets with flags in hand. They haven’t missed a day, braving hot summer sun, blizzards, nor’easters and thunderstorms with lightning.

Greene once checked herself out of a hospital following surgery against a doctor’s orders so she’d be there, even if it was in a wheelchair. The doctor wanted her stay at the hospital for six days, but she left after three.

“I didn’t have six days. Tuesday was coming up,” she said.

Over the years, they’ve also shown up at Bangor International Airport and New Hampshire’s Pease International in support of troops going to and from Afghanistan and Iraq.

For their efforts, service personnel have sent them flags flown on missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. One flag that flew on the bottom side of helicopter in Iraq has a bullet hole from enemy combatants who fired at it.

Sen. Susan Collins sent them flags flown in their honor over ground zero, over the Pentagon and over the field in Pennsylvania where one of the four planes crashed on 9/11. Sen. Olympia Snowe sent them flags flown over the Capitol in their honor.

Greene is 65, Miller is 74 and Footer is 69. Each is retired, but being part of the Freeport Flag Ladies keeps them busy.

Their website gets 250,000 to 1 million hits a month. They send out an email message with inspirational words every Tuesday that goes to 3,600 people.

In the corner of one room in their home stands an artificial Christmas tree, holding scores of patriotic ornaments sent to them from people around the country.

They have vowed to not take down the tree until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are over.

When that happens, they all agree it will be a good day.



Private pools deal with disabilities act, potential added cost �|

Private pools used for public swim meets might have to install or rent lifts for the disabled during events because of recent changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act, an action that could cost metro Atlanta homeowners associations thousands of dollars.
Enlarge photo
Neighborhood associations are determining whether their swimming pools are affected by an updated regulation in the Americans With Disabilities Act.
CHRIS RANK, Special Neighborhood associations are determining whether their swimming pools are affected by an updated regulation in the Americans With Disabilities Act.

An updated ADA regulation went into effect last spring to ensure that public pools were accessible to the handicapped. Pools have been given until March to determine if they are affected and in compliance with the federal guideline.

Private pools that host public meets — of which there are many in metro Atlanta — have been left to decide whether to discontinue swim teams, consider raising dues to meet requirements or fight the edict. MORE…


Sound the Alarm for the Homeowner?s Association Board _ PRLog

Sound the Alarm for the Homeowner’s Association Board
Posted on September 1, 2011

The board of a homeowners association has several different tasks. To understand what these tasks should be, it is essential that the Board understands that the HOA “thing” is. And it is often not what most think it is. Here are some of the myths.

Monthly fees are kept low.

The board is elected to the HOA to maintain assets properly. There is a difference between being a good administrator and a tightwad. Stingy boards skip routine maintenance services and tend to erode the value of homes. It takes money to make things right and the board should spend the money necessary to accomplish tasks.

Volunteer Councils are not subject to the same standards as professional property managers.

Volunteers they are, yet are saddled with the task of conducting business for the Owners Association in an informed and businesslike manner the same way a community manager would. This means that they should be taking care of things in a timely manner, planning to anticipate problems, receiving and acting on good advice.

The HOA is small and so are the needs.

The lower the HOA poulation, planning is more-so important because the cost increases for the smaller owner’s association.

We are too small to professional management.

In areas such as financial management and enforcement, all homeowner associations should have the professionals out front. Collecting money from neighbors and control of their antisocial behavior is bound to cause problems for a volunteer. It’s even worse when you live next to the abuser. There are professionals who perform these tasks management 24 / 7 and get paid for it.

The board is chosen to be the director.

The board is elected to hire and supervise competent service providers. When properly organized, the work of the general meeting should only take a couple of hours a month.

The board is responsible for most valuable asset most people own. The responsibilities of a HOA board are not unlike those of any Fortune 500 board. In both cases, physical and human assets are maintained by the board. Careful planning and effective communication to shareholders (owners) is needed.

Is your board is asleep? Does it understand the true scope of Board Member work?

So, heed this wake-up call, and call Riverside Property Management, TODAY! (678) 866-1436 or (404) 788-7353.