Monthly Archives: March 2012

Budgeting and Reserves for Condominiums


Most covenants for condominiums require that the association include as part of the annual budget, an allocation for  reserves.  Reserves should be set aside for roof replacement, pavement resurfacing, building painting, and any other item of association responsibility with a replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of $10,000.00 or more.

Traditionally, the reserve schedule accompanying the proposed budget has used the “straight line” method of calculating required reserves. For example, assume that the roof on a condominium building has a twenty year useful life, is ten years old, and will cost $100,000.00 to replace. Further assume that the current amount of money in the roof reserve is $50,000.00. The association will need to collect $5,000.00 per year, over the next ten years, to accumulate another $50,000.00 so as to “fully fund” the roof reserve. This is traditional, “straight line” funding of reserves.

Similar calculations are then made for all other required reserve items (building repainting, pavement resurfacing, and other items with a replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense in excess of $10,000.00), and the annual contribution required to “fully fund” the reserve account is thus arrived at.

When reserves are funded on the straight line method, whether fully funded or partially funded, they should only be used for their intended purposes. For example, money should not be taken out of the roof reserve account to pay for painting the building. However, the association can use reserve funds for non-scheduled purposes if approved in advance by a majority vote of the unit owners.

The concept of “cash flow” or “pooled” reserve funding differs from “straight line” reserve funding.  Under pooled reserves, it is still necessary for the reserve schedule which accompanies the annual budget to set forth required reserve items (roofs, painting, paving, and other items with the replacement cost/deferred maintenance expense of more than $10,000.00). Further, the “cash flow” reserve schedule must still disclose estimated remaining useful life and replacement costs for each reserve component. The main difference in the cash flow presentation of reserves is that instead of each reserve line item having its own fund balance, there is a “pool” of money in the reserve fund, which is available for costs affiliated with any item in the reserve pool. For example, the painting and roof reserve monies are “pooled” into one fund, so a vote of unit owners is not required for expenditures from the fund, as would be the case in a straight-line reserve scenario where monies from one reserve account would be used for another reserve purpose.  As with “straight line” reserve funding, with pooled reserves, a vote of the unit owners is should be required to use reserve funds for operating purposes, or for any expenditure involving items that are not part of the “pool”.

The pooling method of reserve funding attempts to predict when a particular item will require replacement or deferred maintenance, and reserves are scheduled and funded so as to insure that a necessary amount of funds are on hand when the work needs to be done. Theoretically, monthly or quarterly reserve contributions can be lowered, while still avoiding special assessments.

Of course, what works in theory does not always work when placed in human hands. In addition to needing a crystal ball to predict exactly when a reserve expenditure will need to be made, reserve contributions may be substantially higher in certain years, such as when the fund is depleted for the replacement of a required item, and there is a short useful life for the next asset that needs to be replaced.

A condominium reserve fund helps associations pay for maintenance and upgrade costs as they become due.   As a property owner, you will be well aware of the benefits which accrue from setting aside sufficient reserve funds.   The  association will better maintained over time and you will lessen the need for special assessments to make up future budget deficits.

A list of Do’s and Dont’s for Community Management:


Community Associations

  • Customer service. Answer your calls and emails within 24 hours of receipt. Even if you don’t have an answer, let your client/homeowner know that you are working on it.
  • Know your community. Set your goals to be proactive, not reactive.
  • Be respectful. Treat that nasty, arrogant man or woman with respect; they may be your next Board President.
  • Maintain your cool. If a homeowner is calling you names and yelling, don’t take it personally. Nine times out of ten, they are just having a bad day and you have been chosen to take it out on. Surprisingly, after they have vented, they will often call you back to apologize.
  • Support staff. Acknowledge and appreciate those that are there to support you. It only takes a second to add a line to your email after they have gathered information for you to say, Hey, I appreciate all you do for me.
  • Never, ever lie. If you have forgotten or not completed a task given you by the Board, tell them I am sorry. I overlooked that directive but I will follow up immediately. The Board will understand that sometimes unforeseen things happen. If you are straight forward and provided you don’t make a habit of overlooking your assignments, they will understand.
  • Rumblings of dissatisfaction. Working for a management company means client retention. If you feel, hear or suspect any dissatisfaction, then you need to address this issue with your supervisors. What begins as a tempest in a teakettle ultimately could lead to a hurricane. Less clients for your company can mean cuts backs in the work force.
  • Ask questions. No one has all the answers all of the time. Ignorance is not bliss if you have read the documents wrong or given your Board misinformation. Better to say, I don’t have an answer at this time, but I will research the issue and report back promptly.
  • Stay focused. On the days that every call you get is from a cranky homeowner, every email seems full of hate, you feel sure that your supervisor appears to be looking at you with thoughts of terminating your employment, and you are ready to just give up. . . you might be surprised that the next call is from a homeowner or Board member telling you how much they appreciate you, the next email is one giving you a glowing reference on a job well done, or you are paged to come to the reception desk and find a floral delivery from a grateful Board/Homeowner, and you see your supervisor in the hallway and well, three out of four ain’t bad.

Riverside Property Management in Kennesaw works with homeowner and condo associations providing a variety of management, code enforcement, consulting and educational services, reserve studies, budgeting assistance and maintenance planning expertise.

Sample Meeting Minutes Template for Your HOA or Condo | Riverside of Atlanta Homeowner Association Management


MINUTES of [Organization name]
Meeting date: ________

Call to order: A ______________ [kind of meeting] meeting of the _________________ [organization name], was held in ____________ [place, city, state] on __________ [date], 20__. The meeting convened at ______ [time], President __________________ [name] presiding, and ______________________ [name], secretary.
[Some small organizations choose to list attendees. This works well for boards of directors.]
Members in attendance: [optional item]
Members not in attendance: [optional item]
Approval of minutes: Motion was made by [name], and seconded to approve the minutes of the ______________ [date] meeting. Motion carried.
Officers’ reports:
President
Vice president
Secretary
Treasurer
Board and committee reports:
Unfinished business:
[Subject title]
Motion: Moved by [name] that [state motion].
Motion carried. Motion failed. [leave only one of these]
New business:
[Subject title]
Motion: Moved by [name] that [state motion].
Motion carried. Motion failed. [leave only one of these]
Announcements:
Adjournment:The meeting was adjourned at ______________[time].________________________________ ___________________
Secretary Date of approval
[Organization Name]

From: http://ping.fm/JJx60

Sample Meeting Minutes Template for Your HOA or Condo


MINUTES of [Organization name]
Meeting date: ________

Call to order: A ______________ [kind of meeting] meeting of the _________________ [organization name], was held in ____________ [place, city, state] on __________ [date], 20__. The meeting convened at ______ [time], President __________________ [name] presiding, and ______________________ [name], secretary.
[Some small organizations choose to list attendees. This works well for boards of directors.]
Members in attendance: [optional item]
Members not in attendance: [optional item]
Approval of minutes: Motion was made by [name], and seconded to approve the minutes of the ______________ [date] meeting. Motion carried.
Officers’ reports:
President
Vice president
Secretary
Treasurer
Board and committee reports:
Unfinished business:
[Subject title]
Motion: Moved by [name] that [state motion].
Motion carried. Motion failed. [leave only one of these]
New business:
[Subject title]
Motion: Moved by [name] that [state motion].
Motion carried. Motion failed. [leave only one of these]
Announcements:
Adjournment:The meeting was adjourned at ______________[time].________________________________     ___________________
Secretary                                                      Date of approval
[Organization Name]

Association Boards, Things You Should Have Learned From the News


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Here are examples of a few lessons that should have been learned by reading the newspapers:

  • There is no substitute for good financial management and a solid reserve program.

The combination of foreclosures, budget deficits, embezzlement and the inability to continue with the maintenance was felt in Community Associations across the country. Those Associations which had to cut corners, or assessments, are often found in deeper problems, and in some extreme cases, in the street. This is the time to be smart.

  • Disasters happen – do not bet the HOA that you will be spared.

The last two years have seen not only a financial disaster hit the U.S., but also a string of natural disasters that have severely affected a large number of Homeowner and Condominium Associations. Many did not have flood insurance, or increased deductible or lower limits of their insurance coverage. Many canceled special policies that covered hurricane, earthquake, wind or other things that they hoped would miss them. Too often, it was the wrong bet. As a result, some organizations simply disappeared, owners forced to leave, the units condemned, without any hope of recovery. Some had to sell the buildings damaged at a great loss and move on. Others had to live for months outside the homes in hotels with only some or none of the costs covered, while the Board has wrestled with insurance companies, contractors and the courts. Insurance is one of the most important things that boards have to deal with.  Do not bet on the future of the Association, Mother nature may try to ignore you.

  • Find a way to deal with “going green“, without confusion, expense and visibility.

In nature (and often the CC & R), Associations,  are resistant to change. But this is not going away, and the Association is almost always going to come through to look bad when they resist any change. Clothes lines, solar panels, false grass, landscaping and other items are only the beginning. Start with an owners vote on how they feel about various issues and real information (not just rumors) about how they will help and what are the options. It can be a single owner that poses a problem, but you can expect many more to follow.

  • Flags cause problems – no flags allowed at all causes even more problems.

If you allow the U.S. flag to fly on holidays with a bracket attached to the unit / home, you can almost count on someone  pushing to do more. They want to fly the flag every day, on a pole 20 feet in front of your unit / home, or a service flag for the Navy or Marine, or the stars in the windows to show a family in danger, or flag college game day, etc, etc, etc. Someone will always push the envelope. Again, just survey the residents and see what is the general consensus, which the majority will support. This is not only an individual problem, the Board must decide and then publish.

  • If you’re not active on the internet, it is very likely you will be found “on” the internet.

The number of sites created by the owner of the individual to attack or publish less than favorable information about your Association has grown exponentially. You can get on the Internet for almost no cost and see what is published can  stay forever. Transparency of operations and multiple methods of communication must be a primary consideration of the board. Do not keep putting it off. Get connected now.

  • State legislatures will cost the HOA more money unless the owners SHOW UP.

Since there is very little actual data about Associations and owners available, state legislators often act due to the squeakiest wheel, usually one or two owners who have beaten their heads with the Board. Who is really to blame rarely counts.  It is what you can give a legislator in particular. The positive exposure usually results in bills that will cost money from the owners. Boards should be aware of how legislation will impact the potential of the Association and all owners and find a way to voice their position.

Riverside Property Management, Inc. is a leading provider of financial reporting, maintenance and governance, legal collection procedures and management consulting services for Homeowners Associations and Conominiums in the Atlanta Metro area..

Our clients include homeowners associations and developers of multi-family, owner-occupied housing throughout the Atlanta Metro area.

Our team includes certified Professional Community Managers (PCAM), Licensed Real Eastate Agents (RES) and a Board Certified Collection Attorney (ESQ), licensed in Georgia, who all specialize in maintaining property condition, collection of  assessments and enforcement of existing Covenants.  Individual consultations, management reviews and educational workshops for association boards, to help improve their community governance skills.

We also provide critical budget and financial planning tools that include reserve studies and budget projections for maintenance and repair costs of community owned assets.

Detailed reserve studies and maintenance plans prepared in conjunction with our consulting architect are one of the most valuable management tools available for any association. If you are interested in long range financial planning and supervised maintenance of community assets, our services will be of benefit to your association.

Developers will find our company invaluable when planning a new construction or conversion project. Reserve studies, maintenance plans and operating budgets required for all newly formed associations are available from our company.

For more information about Riverside Property Management and the services we offer please take the time to browse our website and feel free to call our offices to speak with a licensed representative of our company.

(678) 866-1436
info@riversidepropertymgt.com

Creating A Board for Your HOA, POA or Condominium Association


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WHO SHOULD BE ON THE BOARD?
The board should be composed of a diverse group of individuals who are interested in working toward the organization’s mission and have the particular skills that will help to contribute to a well-run organization. For instance, you may want to seek out people with financial, marketing, or legal backgrounds. You may want to consider bringing on someone with an entrepreneurial
background, or someone who is proficient with emerging technologies. You may
also want to recruit members who have influence in the community, work at similar types of organizations, or are representative of the community you are serving. Having this collective knowledge from the beginning will help you make informed decisions. You will also find that as your organization matures, your board composition needs may be very different from those of your founding board. The role of the board tends to change over time as the organization
develops and matures. Early in an organization’s life, the primary need for the board may be individuals who are prepared to give a great deal of time and energy. Later, you may find that as paid staff are brought on, the board focuses primarily on the governance functions of the organization and is less involved with the smaller details of bringing the organization up to speed.
HOW BIG SHOULD THE BOARD BE?
Boards can vary in size from three to more than 50 members.  Each state has regulations that determine the minimum size of the board, but the optimum number of people who sit on the board should be determined by the needs of the organization. Assess the list of tasks that the board needs to accomplish and plan your board around the jobs that need to be done. There should be enough meaningful tasks for the board to accomplish without leaving board
members feeling overburdened or uninvolved.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD THE BOARD MEET?
As with the size of your board, the number of board meetings each year should be determined by the work that needs to be accomplished. For logistical and practical reasons, larger boards often meet less frequently, leaving much of the work to the board’s committees.
Regular attendance at board meetings is one of the individual responsibilities of board members. Your organization’s bylaws should include an attendance policy that clearly states the number of meetings that can be missed by an individual board member before he or she is asked to leave the board. Develop an annual schedule of meetings determined a year in advance. Circulate clear and thorough information materials, including an agenda, to all members
two to three weeks before each meeting. Maintain complete and accurate minutes of all meetings, and keep meetings brief and well focused. An organization’s bylaws should also state the number of board members required to constitute a quorum. Without a quorum, the board is unable to conduct its official business.
WHAT KIND OF TERM LIMITS SHOULD BOARD MEMBERS SERVE?
There are no hard-and-fast rules for determining board members’ tenure. Many organizations
do, however, limit members to two consecutive terms and require a hiatus of one year before a
board member may be reappointed. Many organizations also stagger terms of service so that
one-half or one-third of board members are elected every one or two years for terms of two to
six years. Such policies encourage institutional renewal because a board can profit from the
experience of veteran board members while welcoming the fresh perspective that new members
offer. Board members on hiatus can remain active in committee service or serve in an
advisory capacity. Term limits are a painless mechanism for rotating inactive or ineffective
members off the board. These policies should be written into the organization’s bylaws.

Protect HOA Operating and Reserve Accounts


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I know anyone that has any affiliation with an HOA or Homeowners Association has heard of someone stealing or trying to steal money from the Community. The scams are often as simple as writing a check to themselves, either as an administrator, treasurer or president. This is the one constant to which no one paid much attention. Now, with the vast majority of the Associations tax year ending, here’s your chance to make sure that does not, and is not going to happen. Whenever the economy takes a hit, and particulary when it both an extended and bad one, you need to pay special attention to the deep pockets, your association’s bank and reserve accounts.

First – GET AN AUDIT – not an opinion, not a compilation, but a real, honest-to-god audit. Only an audit of the CPA will unearth evidence which, in turn, could be fraud or embezzlement. Yes, an audit is more expensive, but considering the huge increase in financial crimes against associations, this is not the time to spare. Remember, every person trusted the people who were scamming from the Association funds. The fact that the treasurer is a good person, does not mean that they are not having personal financial problems.

Then make sure your insurance covers the Community Association if the money is lost. All too often association’s think that fidelity bonds that the management company has protects them – it doesn’t, it only protects the management company if an employee steals from them.  Whether its a bond or crime insurance, make sure the association is covered for ANY loss, no matter who is  lining their pockets.  This can be done with Directors & Officers Insurance or D & O.

Always make sure the bank or any financial institution that holds your money, sends a second statement, an original for someone other than the person who writes the checks or books. The crooks got away with their scams for long periods of time because they were the only one receiving the bank statement, and then delivering a retouched statement to the Board of Directors. Someone else must have an authentic, original – that can,  in fact be compared to the one presented in the financial report.

Periodically, hold a test of invoices. Ask one of your contractors to review their bills with you. A basic scam is a book of false invoices for work that was never completed, and then write a check for that amount to the scoundrel himself. Unless you’re reviewing canceled checks or verifying proof of the bill, it is quite easy for the thief get away with it. Each time you have a supplier or contractor that is going over budget or contract, this is likely to be the output.

Make sure nobody can get to the reserve accounts easily to withdraw or transfer funds. Talk to any institution that is holding the funds and ask them for the best way to ensure that nobody can reach them without going through a lot of checkpoints.

Basically, you should make sure you have all the necessary protections in place and they are, in fact, actually being followed. There are plenty of articles about how to do this, and that’s a good place to start. But remember, it is the entire process to be followed – not just a part will protect your Property Owners. For example, you can utilize the recommendation to require two signatures on checks, but in reality, banks no longer see or verify the signatures, so that alone will not protect you.

Why go through all this? I’m no lawyer, but if I were a Home Owner and someone was to abscond with a lot of money from my Association, I believe that the board would had failed in its fiduciary responsibilities and should be held accountable for that failure.

Membership Benefits for HOA and Condo Board Members in Georgia


Georgia Chapter of:

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Click Here for an APPLICATION and INFORMATION!

•Educational Seminars

These seminars provide association board members and homeowners that provide valuable information on issues affecting associations.

•The Community Association Volunteer Leadership (CAVL) Workshop

Designed for association board members and homeowners, this comprehensive training program provides a great overview of the different aspects of running a community association.

•Mini Expo Tradeshows and Educational Programs

Each year we are excited to offer Mini Expo tradeshows in conjunction with our homeowner programs, which offers an opportunity to network with other association leaders and professionals in the industry.

•The Georgia Commons

Our quarterly magazine provides up-to-date information on the operation of associations.

•The CAI Service Directory

Our membership directory features a complete list of service suppliers and professionals who work with associations. We have over 750 members and are growing every day!

•Educational Seminars

These seminars provide association board members and homeowners that provide valuable information on issues affecting associations.

•The Community Association Volunteer Leadership (CAVL) Workshop

Designed for association board members and homeowners, this comprehensive training program provides a great overview of the different aspects of running a community association.

•Mini Expo Tradeshows and Educational Programs

Each year we are excited to offer Mini Expo tradeshows in conjunction with our homeowner programs, which offers an opportunity to network with other association leaders and professionals in the industry.