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For the seventh time in 13 years, Americans living in HOAs and condominiums say they’re satisfied in their communities

Community associations, commonly referred to as homeowners associations (HOAs), condominiums, and housing cooperatives, remain preferred places to call home for millions of Americans, according to the 2018 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR). The majority (90%) of survey respondents say their association’s rules protect and enhance their property values (62%) or have a neutral effect (28%). Eighty-four percent of those surveyed expressed that neighbors elected to the governing board “absolutely” or “for the most part” serve the best interests of their communities.

Nationwide, 63 percent of surveyed homeowners and condominium association members live in single family homes, followed by 17 percent who live in condominiums and 14 percent who live in townhomes. Zogby, the independent polling and research firm, used random sampling to identify association residents and asked them to rate their homeowners association experience on a scale of one to five, with one being very bad and five being very good. Sixty-three percent say they are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied, with 22 percent reporting a neutral response.

Community association residents in the data sample commented on other association benefits:

  • Nearly 73 percent of residents said their community managers provide value and support to residents and their associations.
  • Most common monthly assessments are in the $100–$300 range, with condominium assessments slightly higher than homeowners association fees (17 percent are more than $500 per month).
  • In addition, more than half of respondents nationwide (54%) feel they are paying just the right amount in assessments.
  • Two-thirds of surveyed homeowners and condominium association owners have, at some point, attended their community association board meetings—with the majority attending four board meetings per year.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents believe that associations should insist that all homeowners pay their assessments, and attorneys should be involved, if necessary, when homeowners are delinquent in paying their assessments.

“Community associations remain an essential component of the U.S. housing market, andonce againa large majority of Americans who live in community associations report that they are happy and satisfied in their communities,” says CAI Chief Executive Officer Thomas Skiba, CAE. “The most recent survey validates that the majority of homeowners believe their boards are serving their community, that their fees fall within a reasonable range, and that being a part of their community association enhances and protects their property values.”

Today, 69 million Americans live in 342,000 common-interest communities, according to the 2016 National and State Statistical Review for Community Association Data. From city-sized, master-planned communities and multi-building condominium complexes to urban cooperatives and small homeowners associations built into small tracks of open suburban spaces, the new survey findings also show that homeowners want to see less—or at least not more—government oversight and control of community associations.

The Foundation for Community Association Research conducted similar surveys in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Results can be accessed at http://cairf.org/research/survey_homeowner_past.aspx.

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About Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR)
The Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) was founded in 1975. FCAR is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports and conducts research and makes that information available to those involved in association development, governance, and management. FCAR provides authoritative research and analysis on community association trends, issues, and operations. Our mission is to inspire successful and sustainable communities. We sponsor needs-driven research that informs and enlightens all community association stakeholders—community association residents, homeowner volunteer leaders, community managers, and other professional service providers, legislators, regulators, and the media. Our work is made possible by your tax-deductible contributions. Your support is essential to our research. For more information, visit www.cairf.org.

About Community Associations Institute 
Since 1973, Community Associations Institute (CAI) has been the leading provider of resources and information for homeowners, volunteer board leaders, professional managers, and business professionals in 342,000 homeowners associations, condominiums, and co-ops in the United States and millions of communities worldwide. With nearly 40,000 members, CAI works in partnership with 36 legislative action committees and 63 affiliated chapters within the U.S., Canada, United Arab Emirates, and South Africa, as well as with housing leaders in several other countries including Australia, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. A global nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization, CAI is the foremost authority in community association management, governance, education, and advocacy. Our mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership, and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in community associations that are preferre​d places to call home. Visit us at www.caionline.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @caisocial. ​

Reprinted with permission from Community Associations Institute (CAI). © Community Associations Institute. Further reproduction and distribution is prohibited without written consent. For reprints, go to www.caionline.org/reprints.

Snipers & Terrorists

Out of the blue, an irate homeowner launches a smear campaign aimed directly at the board. It’s relentless and focused. The motivation may be some personal grievance, hatred of a board policy, disagreement on how the board does business in general or loathing for the whole HOA concept. Rather than seeking redress in an orderly and open way, however, often it takes the form of poison pen letters, back alley rumor mills or a terrorist-like assault at a board meeting.

Board meeting terrorism is designed to hold the board hostage to relentless rants and demands. This form of HOA terrorism is designed to directly challenge board authority and to disrupt the orderly process. As with any terrorist attack, the board’s initial reaction is usually disbelief. But, the cold reality of the assault soon becomes clear and the need to act urgent.

How should the board deal with this kind of attack? When presented a list of demands, should the items be discussed point by point? Should they be recorded in the minutes? What should be done?

Rule #1: Never negotiate with terrorists. The board is not obligated to discuss anything off the agenda. And it’s unreasonable to expect informed answers to firing line questions. The response should be, “Thanks for making your points. We’ll review them and give you a response in writing or consider them at the next board meeting.”

Rule #2: Don’t record a list of demands.

Minutes are intended to discuss in broad terms the business accomplished by the board. Specific motions should have enough detail to describe them and the outcome of the vote. It is not a forum for soap boxing, editorializing or where items are entered into “evidence”. It’s enough

for the minutes to state, “Mr. Sniper asked that the board consider issues relating to (general description).”

Rule #3: Control the Owner Forum. To encourage owner input, an Owner Forum before the meeting should give each speaker owner up to, say, 5 minutes to speak, so the board can get on with its business. Letting someone hold the board hostage should never be allowed and it’s up to the president to control such actions. An abusive person should not be allowed to continue for any length of time.

Rule #4: When attacked, respond quickly and firmly. When the attack becomes apparent, it’s the president’s job to interrupt and, if necessary, ask the attacker to leave the meeting. If the attacker refuses to comply, the president should adjourn the meeting and advise that such conduct will not be allowed at future meetings.

HOA terrorist attacks are designed to fan the flames of emotion and to promote rash response. The board needs to walk the high road and refuse to “dance”. While this isn’t easy when the attack is intense, the directors outnumber the attacker and with a unified response, should be able to defeat the challenge and even help point the terrorist toward a better way.

Used with permission from Richard Thompson of www.Regenesis.net. From Regenesis Aug. 2017 newsletter.

Kids at Play

Summer is in full swing here in the Carolinas, and for many of your youngest residents that means they have the freedom to play outside to their hearts content (or at least until mom or dad call them back inside). While we encourage kids to enjoy summer to the fullest, we also want everyone to stay safe. Here are a few guidelines from your homeowners association to make sure these school-free months go smoothly:

  • Make sure your children are proactive about their safety. Whether they’re playing at a park, swimming at a pool or riding their bikes around your HOA community, it’s important that kids understand what types of injuries could occur during these activities and how they can best avoid them. If an injury does occur, your kids need to know what actions to take—such as alerting a trusted adult or, in the case of a true emergency, calling 911.
  • Supervise your kids at the pool. While it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your kids, it’s particularly important to make sure your children have adult supervision while they’re in the water. It only takes a second for even good swimmers to find themselves in a dangerous situation, so it’s vital that kids are supervised by someone who knows the signs of a distressed swimmer. To learn about how you can keep your family safe at the pool, visit www.poolsafety.gov.
  • Slow down while driving through the neighborhood. All residents should take note of this rule. With children out and about in full-force during the summer, you’re more likely than ever to see a distracted kid chasing after a run-away baseball or skateboarding on the streets. So slow down, be extra aware of what’s going on around you, and be prepared to stop suddenly if a child runs out into the middle of the road. Parents should also remind kids that they have a responsibility to be aware of oncoming cars as well, and to be extra careful when they are on the street.
  • Remind older kids to check in with you when they’re playing without adult supervision. When kids are out on their own, it’s easy for them to forget to let their parents know they’re okay. So establish a set of rules, such as checking in every few hours or whenever they change locations, and be firm when enforcing them. If your child has a hard time remembering to give you a call every so often, it might be helpful to have them set an alarm on their cell phone or watch so they don’t forget. It’s a great way for kids to build a sense of independence and for you to know they’re safe even when they’re not within sight.

While the summer can present many hazards, there’s no reason your kids can’t come out of it unscathed (notwithstanding a few minor scrapes, bruises and bug bites, of course). To learn more about how you can keep your kids from getting hurt this summer, visit www.cdc.gov/features/KidsSafety/ for a list of great articles. Stay safe and enjoy this wonderful season.

Stay Safe in the Water

Swimming is one of the many joys of summer, and hopefully you’re able to make good use of your homeowner association’s pool. While your HOA wants to make sure all their residents and guests have fun in and around the water, the top priority is safety. Please take note of the homeowners association’s pool rules, and follow them thoroughly to help keep everyone safe.

Pool rules promote safety, but safety is largely up to you: it’s important to take precautions at all times and be prepared for any emergencies.

  • Take note of the reach pole, emergency phone and life preservers in the pool area.
  • Make sure you, your family and your guests know how to swim properly. If you don’t, there are plenty of swimming classes for people of all ages.
  • Consider learning CPR if you haven’t already. This simple life-saving technique could save a life should an accident occur.
  • Always supervise children while they’re around the pool, no matter how well they can swim. It only takes one misstep for someone to get hurt.

There’s plenty of fun to be had at the pool, and knowing how to stay safe in the water will help make this an even better summer. For more safety tips, go to www.poolsafely.gov.

Ten Reasons to Volunteer for the Association

 

  1. Protect your self-interests. Protect your property values and maintain the quality of life in your HOA community.
  2. Correct a problem. Has your car been towed, or do you think maybe maintenance has been neglected?
  3. Give back. Repay a little of what’s been done for you.
  4. Be sociable. Meet your neighbors, make friends and exchange opinions.
  5. Advance your career. Build your personal resume by including your community association volunteer service.
  6. Express yourself. Help with creative projects like community beautification.
  7. Have some fun. Association work isn’t drudgery. It’s always fun accomplishing good things with your neighbors in your HOA community.
  8. Get educated. Learn how it’s done—they’ll train you.
  9. Earn recognition. If you would like a little attention or validation, then your contributions will be recognized and celebrated.
  10. Try some altruism. Improve society by helping others.
[Source: Community Associations Institute.]

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Choosing an HOA Management Firm

Choosing an HOA Management firm can be a risky proposition.  In an industry notable for its low barriers to entry, it is a fact that in many states you can become a community manager for the price of some letterhead and a few business cards. These companies are then entrusted with the maintenance and management responsibilities of a tremendous asset: your community.  How they perform their responsibilities can impact the long-term value of your most significant investment, your home.

 

At Southern Community Services, we offer trusted, quality services, competitive bidding and years of association management knowledge. We provide a full range of HOA services including homeowners association management, billing and collections, newsletter services, architectural review, financial reporting and accounting, CC&R enforcement, budget preparation, landscape and shared property maintenance, event planning and more.

“The SCS team has decades of property management experience, and we believe in the commitment of senior level involvement in every aspect of our business,” says president and co-principal Larry Ridlehoover, CMCA, AMS, PCAM.  “With our hands-on approach and dedication to senior level involvement, we can effectively manage communities and help them maintain their maximum values.”

We are committed to providing a standard of excellence to all of our communities and have been trusted with the care of tens of thousands of homes in the Southeast for over 15 years.

See how SCS can help manage your HOA by filling out our pressure-free inquiry form. 

HOA Terminology

The world of homeowner associations can be confusing for new board members. Below is a quick reference list of HOA Terminology in an easy-to-understand format. If SCS manages your community, training is provided to new board members to help them get up to speed on key terms and procedures.

For those of you who are new to homeowner associations, we’ve provided a list of homeowner association (HOA) terminology to get you oriented.

Duties of Board, Homeowner and Manager

Board of Directors Duties

It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to maintain the value of the property and a good quality of life for the residential community. In addition, their duties include governing smoothly, enforcing the community’s rules and establishing and maintaining the budget.

Homeowner Duties

It is the responsibility of the Homeowners to maintain their residences on a daily basis, rely on services from the Community Manager and vote on decisions from the Board that will provide a good quality of life.

Community Manager Duties

It is the responsibility of the Community Manager to work in balance with the Homeowners and the Board of Directors. Community Managers must be problem-solvers and multi-task oriented.

Basic Governing Documents

State Enabling Statute

The following are documents that regulate community life. Documents may vary depending on type of Association (condo, townhome, neighborhood, etc.) and are as follows:

  • State Law
  • Declaration of Covenants or Master Deed
  • Conditions and Restrictions
  • Bylaws
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Plats of Survey and Easement Agreements (may be separate, often included in the declaration)

Basic Condominium/Townhome Legal Documents

State Enabling Statute

Permits the creation of a condominium or townhome form of ownership and prescribes the basis of determining ownership interest, rights and obligations of the owners, duties and powers of the association, and the process of dissolution of the condominium.

Subdivision of Condominium/Townhome Plat

Describes the location and nature of the common elements and the units.

Condominium Declaration or Master Deed

Defines the units, common, and limited common elements and is the collection of covenants imposed on the property to provide for. Covenants imposed include the following:

  • The basis for allocation of percentage ownership interest
  • The obligation of each owner to share in funding the cost of association operations
  • The power, authority, and responsibility of the association in its operations and in making and enforcing rules

Individual Unit Deeds

Comprises the individual unit deed.

Articles of Incorporation

Creates the association as a corporation under state corporate statute and defines its membership and sets forth the process for creating the board of directors, voting procedures, etc.

Bylaws

Implement, in specific detail, the provisions of the Declaration and the Articles of Incorporation regarding the association operations including delineation of the meeting process, election procedures, powers and duties, board meetings, committees, insurance requirements, rule-making and enforcement process.

Rules and Regulations

Set forth the operational powers or provisions and the use restrictions adopted by the association.

Legal Docs for Homeowner Associations and the Hierarchy of such Documents

Subdivision Plat

Describes the location and nature of the common property and the individual lots.

Property Deeds

Comprise the individual lot deeds and the deeds to common property, which give a legal description of the property.

The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions

The declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R’s) is the collection of covenants imposed on all property within the development and provides:

  • For automatic association membership of all owners and the basis for voting rights
  • The obligation of each owner to share in funding the cost of association operations
  • Certain restrictions (architectural control and other rules) on the use of the property and the association’s enforcement powers
  • Sets forth the power and authority of the association to own and maintain the common property and to make and enforce rules

Articles of Incorporation

Creates the association as a legal entity under state corporate statute; defines the board powers and responsibilities of the association and its membership; and, sets forth the process for creating the board of directors and voting system.

Bylaws

Implements, in specific detail, the provisions of the CC&R’s and the Articles of Incorporation regarding the association operations, including: delineation of the meeting process, election procedures, powers and duties, board meetings, committees, insurance requirements, rule-making and enforcement process.

Rules and Regulations

Set forth the operational powers or provisions and the use restrictions adopted by the association.

Applicable Civil Rights Laws

• Prohibition against racial discrimination as stated by the Civil Rights Act of 1866
• Equal Credit Opportunity
• Fair Housing Amendments Acts, 1988, applies to sale of residence
• Does not prohibit discrimination by owners, if selling or renting as long as they own 3 or less homes
• Board is prohibited from discrimination in exercising its 1st right of refusal
• Association must abide by laws prohibiting discrimination against families with kids
• Persons with disabilities (at own expense) must be allowed to make accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act, 1993

Accounting Basics

Cash Method of Accounting

A method of accounting that only records income and expenses when cash physically changes hands. Financial reports only reflect cash transactions. Because all obligations are not recorded until cash changes hands, this method does not provide an accurate portrayal of the financial condition of the association at any given time.

Accrual Method of Accounting

A method that keeps track of all financial activities, including revenue as it is earned (as opposed to when it is received) and expenses as the obligation is incurred (as opposed to when it is paid). This makes for a more accurate determination of the financial condition of the association at any point in time. Also, this is a better method for multi-year tracking of capital reserves credits and deficiencies. The primary disadvantage is the greater complexity and technical knowledge that is needed to maintain the records and understand the reports.

Capital Reserves

The Board has the obligation to repair and replace major capital facilities, buildings, and equipment of the association. The ideal method of providing for these future expenses is the establishment of a capital reserves system and budget to assure that such funds are available when needed. With knowledge that the future holds predictable major expenditures for repair and replacement of facilities and equipment, the association could begin the gradual accumulation of funds through a reserve account to meet all or a portion of that expense when it comes due.

Should you have any further questions about HOA Community Management terminology, please give us a call at SCS and we’ll be happy to help you: (803) 865-5470