The Responsibility Of The HOA Board

The Responsibility of the HOA Board

Community associations are more than just a neighborhood. In many ways, it’s a lot like a business. Collectively, regular annual assessments amount to tens of thousands of dollars that need to be budgeted carefully and spent wisely. And neighbors who have volunteered and been elected to serve on the association’s board are responsible for making critical decisions—on the homeowner’s behalf—about managing the community and money.

An HOA board also develops long-range plans—like when the parking lot will need to be repaved and when the elevators will need to be replaced—about the parts of the community that are shared property. The board must set aside funds so that these kinds of projects can be accomplished on schedule or even ahead of schedule in the event there’s an unexpected breakdown.

The board also sends out requests for bids and contracts with vendors to do the work necessary to maintain our shared amenities. Board members decide who will do the best job of replacing the roof at the best price or who will be the most reliable company to hire to mow the grass and remove dead tree limbs.

The board’s decisions can have a significant impact on the community’s appearance and, consequently, on our property values. Regardless of our professional manager, the board ultimately is responsible for overseeing community association operations. Be sure to communicate with the board regularly, observe board meetings, and attend annual meetings to elect responsible board members and to participate in the conversations about significant community issues.

Southern Community Services Acquires Four New Homeowner Association Management Clients In Charleston, S.C., Area

Southern Community Services Acquires Four New Homeowner Association Management Clients in Charleston, S.C., Area

Feb. 27, 2017 (Charleston, S.C.) – Southern Community Services, one of only six AAMC-accredited community association management firms in S.C., has added four new Charleston area communities to its growing client list. Southern Community Services (SCS) serves the HOA boards of nearly 170 communities across the Carolinas, from multi-tiered master-planned communities to small, single family neighborhoods. Details on the firm as well as secure, 24-7 online payment and document portals for homeowners can be found at www.TrustSCS.com.

Royal Palms, a luxury-level development with easy access to shopping, award-winning schools and beautiful beaches, recently retained SCS for its community management services. Located in Mount Pleasant, the community offers 72 townhomes ranging from 1,785 square feet to 2,449 square feet, as well as more than 2 acres’ worth of amenities.
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Parkers Landing is part of the Rivertowne Country Club and also is located in Mount Pleasant. Close to downtown Charleston, the community provides homeowners with an 18-hole golf course and an amenity center with pool and tennis activities.

“I manage a wide variety of communities in the Charleston area and am excited about these additions to our portfolio,” says SCS community manager Emily Simpson, who has been with SCS for nearly two years. “Royal Palms is a tight-knit community, and I cannot wait to get to know the homeowners and board members.”

The Village at Park West is located in the successful, master planned Park West community. The homes are modeled after historic Charleston architecture and feature double porches and grand entrances. The properties can range up to 3,000 square feet and include the full array of Park West amenities.

Eagle Landing is located in North Charleston right across from SCS’ Lowcountry office on Rivers Avenue. The community has approximately 278 homes; SCS’ accredited professionals are excited about the opportunity to manage and improve the homeowners association.

“Our company is committed to growing responsibly, and part of doing that is our insistence that our community managers be accredited by the Community Associations Institute,” notes Ken Tamsin, CEO of SCS. “We look forward to serving these new communities with the high level of professionalism and skill that our clients have come to expect.”

About Southern Community Services

Founded in 2000, Southern Community Services (SCS) specializes in the management of homeowner associations across the Carolinas, with a longstanding reputation as the leader in its industry. Staffed with accredited professionals who work diligently to accommodate the unique needs of each community, SCS provides turnkey solutions, state-of-the-art technology and decades of association management experience to boards, with senior-level involvement in every aspect of the business. Learn more about SCS at www.TrustSCS.com.

Peter Oh Joins Southern Community Services’ HOA Management Team As Staff Accountant

Peter Oh Joins Southern Community Services’ HOA Management Team as Staff Accountant

Feb. 8, 2017 (Columbia, S.C.) – Seung Jae “Peter” Oh joined the Southern Community Services team as a staff accountant in the company’s corporate office in downtown Columbia, S.C. Southern Community Services (SCS), one of only six AAMC-accredited community management firms in S.C., serves nearly 190 communities across the Carolinas, from multi-tiered master-planned communities to small, single family neighborhoods.

Oh holds a B.S. in Computer Science and M.S. in Accountancy from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He also has several years of staff accountancy with companies including Dong K. Noh Inc. – DBA Dong K. Noh CPA and A. Dowl Knight & Company, PC in Columbia, S.C. Oh’s professional experience and enthusiasm for the position make him well-equipped for the position.

“Peter is a very good addition to the accounting team in our operations group at Rice Creek,” says Ken Tamsin, CEO of SCS. “He comes to the table with the solid experience that our HOA boards have come to expect from our firm. We are thrilled with Peter’s decision to join the SCS family.”

SCS is entering its 17th year of providing professional business, governance, and community management services to homeowner association boards in communities of all sizes. Find out more at www.trustscs.com.

About Southern Community Services
Founded in 2000, Southern Community Services (SCS) specializes in the management of homeowner associations across the Carolinas, with a longstanding reputation as the leader in its industry. Staffed with accredited professionals who work diligently to accommodate the unique needs of each community, SCS provides turnkey solutions, state-of-the-art technology and decades of association management experience to boards, with senior-level involvement in every aspect of the business. Learn more about SCS at www.trustscs.com.

 

Winter Storm Watch In Effect

Winter Storm Watch in Effect

Dear residents,

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect from late Friday night until Saturday afternoon.  Temperatures are expected to dip into the upper teens at night over the weekend.  Please be sure to take the necessary precautions in regards to freezing temperatures.

Home tips
Frozen pipes can lead to a big mess. Here are a few tips for guidance on avoiding weather-related disasters at home:

  • Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight, preferably through a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets so warmer air can circulate below the sinks.
  • Know the locations of your shut-off valves, in case a pipe bursts.
  • Shut off any outdoor spigots and bring in hoses

Plants
If you haven’t already taken steps to protect your plants, here a few ways to care for them during the cold weather:

  • Bring your smaller container plants, especially succulents, indoors. Mulch or cover outdoor plants with straw, blankets or cardboard.
  • Be sure to turn off automatic sprinklers, detach hoses from faucets and wrap the faucets to protect outdoor pipes.
  • Don’t worry if plant leaves wilt; they protect themselves against cold by dehydrating themselves. Given time, most will perk back up

Pets
Pet owners should take special precautions with their animals during freezing temperatures. It’s best to keep all pets indoors.

Cats will curl up against almost anything to stay warm, including car engines. Before you turn your engine on, check beneath the car or make plenty of noise by honking the horn.

Thanks for your attention and stay warm!

Thoughts Entering The New Year

Thoughts Entering the New Year

As we begin another year, the community association board wants to offer some thoughts about how we can improve our community in the upcoming year and beyond.

Responsibility. We all take responsibility for adhering to rules and meeting our financial obligations to the community so we can avoid the costly and unpleasant task of pursuing legal actions.

Sharing. We want everyone to share ideas, perspectives and concerns so we can work together to build an even better hometown.

Fellowship. We actively participate in the recreational, social and cultural activities of the community.

Involvement. Consider attending association meetings and taking the time to review important information about our community.

Inclusiveness. We actively welcome new residents, making all owners and renters feel part of the community.

Pride. We are proud to live in this homeowners association community and recommend it to others who are looking for a good place to call home in the Southeast.

We will certainly strive to do our part as members of the elected board. It’s our goal to serve as neighborhood facilitators and regard our authority as a temporary stewardship, even as we plan for a future well beyond our tenure on the board.

We wish you a happy and healthy new year!

Tips For Saving On Home Owners And Renters Insurance

Tips for Saving on Home Owners and Renters Insurance

Whether you own or rent your home in our community, insurance is essential to protect your property and household goods. Comparison shopping for the best rates will certainly save you some money, but you also can save by following these tips:

  • Choose a higher deductible—increasing your deductible by just a few hundred dollars can make a big difference in your insurance premium.
  • Don’t forget to ask your insurance agent about discounts. Dead bolts, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security systems, storm shutters and fire-retardant roofing material are just some of the home safety features that can often lower your rate. You also may be eligible for a lower premium if you are a long-term customer or if you bundle other coverage, such as auto insurance, with your provider. Some companies also offer senior discounts for customers who are older than 55 years.
  • Be sure not to include the value of the land when you are deciding how much coverage to buy. If you insure your house, but not the land under it, you can avoid paying more than you should. Even after a disaster, the land will still be there.
  • If you’re a renter, don’t assume your landlord carries insurance on your personal belongings. She or he most likely doesn’t. Purchase a separate renters’ policy to be sure your property—like furniture, electronics, clothing and other personal items—is covered.

Don’t wait until you have a loss to find out whether you have the right type and amount of insurance. For example, many policies require you to pay extra for coverage for high-ticket items like computers, cameras, jewelry, art, antiques, musical instruments and stamp and coin collections.

Furthermore, not all coverage will replace fully what is insured. An “actual-cash-value” policy will save you money on premiums, but it only pays what your property is worth at the time of loss (your cost minus depreciation for age and wear). “Replacement” coverage gives you the money to rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

Finally, a standard homeowners’ association policy does not cover flood and earthquake damage. The cost of a separate earthquake policy depends on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area – so Southeastern residents do not have to be as concerned as other HOA residents. Homeowners who live in flood-prone areas should take advantage of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Why Do We Need Reserves?

Why Do We Need Reserves?

Equipment and major components (like the roofs) must be replaced from time to time, regardless of whether we plan for the expense. Living in the Carolinas you could experience weather damages, which can be pretty expensive, if you haven’t set the money aside ahead of time. We prefer to plan and set the funds aside now. Reserve funds aren’t an extra expense—they just spread out expenses more evenly. There are other important reasons we put association monies into reserves every month:

  1. Reserve funds meet legal, fiduciary and professional requirements. A replacement fund may be required by:
  •  Any secondary mortgage market in which the association participates (e.g., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA).
  •  State statutes, regulations, or court decisions.
  •  The community’s governs documents.
  1. Reserve funds provide for major repairs and replacements that we know will be necessary at some point in time. Although a roof may be replaced when it is 25 years old, every owner who lives under or around it should share its replacement costs.
  1. Reserve funds minimize the need for special assessments or borrowing. For most association members, this is the most important reason.
  1. Reserve funds enhance resale values. Lenders and real estate agents are aware of the ramifications for new buyers if the reserves are inadequate. Many states require associations to disclose the amounts in their reserve funds to prospective purchasers.
  1. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) requires the community association to disclose its reserve funds in its financial statements.

 

Cold Weather Advice

Cold Weather Advice

Snow can make children squeal with delight, but it can also make adults snort with dread and frustration. Although we don’t get much wintery weather in the Southeast, the homeowners association does try to remove any snow and ice quickly and safely from roads and walkways, while still allowing the kids to have some fun. In the meantime, please keep these cold-weather tips in mind:

  • The homeowners association has shovels and salt available for good-Samaritan residents who wish to help out with the sidewalks. Shoveling can be good exercise, but pace yourself and drink plenty of water.
  • Please ask your kids to use the designated sledding areas. They’re safer for your children and easier on our landscaping. Make sure sledders have a buddy and only sled during daylight hours. We want to make sure everyone stays safe and has fun!
  • If possible, for everyone’s safety, clear the snow away from fire hydrants near your home.
  • When you warm up your car, wait a few minutes before turning on the heat to give the windshield time to adjust. Drastic changes in temperature can cause your windshield to crack. That includes pouring warm water on cold glass outside or immediately blasting your defroster inside the car. If you just can’t wait, consider using de-icer sprays instead, which are quick and effective. Rain-X defroster wiper fluid, or similar products, prevent ice from bonding to your windshield making your scraping job much easier.
  • Keep a supply of drinking water and food on hand. And remember to keep blankets, flashlights and warm clothes handy. If you lose power, it’s up to you to call the utility company before you call us.
  • Don’t expect to see the snow plows until at least multiple inches of snow have accumulated—that’s what we’re contracted for. Please keep this in mind before calling us with your reminders and questions. In cold weather, don’t go out if you don’t have to. Be smart and stay warm.
Rules For The Holidays

Rules for the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner, and for many people in the Carolinas, that means lots of festivities with friends and loved ones. With all of the merriment that’s sure to ensue, it’s important that residents who are hosting celebrations are not only considerate of their neighbors, but also take note of the HOA rules. A complete listing of your homeowners association rules and regulations can be found in your Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), but here are a few key items to look up that are particularly pertinent during the holiday season:

Outdoor Decorations: Decking the halls with seasonal ornaments is a great way to bring the holiday spirit home. Many homeowners love to spread the joy by decorating the outside of their homes and front yards as well, but before you scurry up that ladder to hang the decorative lights along the side of your roof, take a quick peek at the CC&Rs to find out the guidelines for outdoor decorations, as well as the guidelines for flags and signs. This will help make sure your outdoor winter wonderland isn’t an association violation.

Parties: If you plan on hosting a large get-together or party, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, keep the revelry and noise to a minimum, and wind the party down at a reasonable time—you don’t want your celebrating to interfere with your neighbors’ attempts to get visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Check your CC&Rs to find out what the association deems acceptable noise levels and what the quiet hours are, as well as guidelines for hosting parties.

Parking: The holidays bring many people together, and that means extra cars will need to be parked. To make sure your guests are covered, look at the CC&Rs to find out the rules on visitor parking in the association, including where they can park and what kind of parking passes they may need.

Overnight Guests: It wouldn’t be the holidays without relatives and guests spending the night after an eventful evening. Of course, depending on how long your overnight guests are staying, you may need to let the HOA association know. The CC&Rs will give you a breakdown on the rules for both short-term and long-term guests, so take a look at them before you break out the extra cot.

Following the association’s rules and regulations helps ensure that all residents can enjoy this special time of year, so please help the community by doing your part. Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season.

Saving For The Holidays

Saving for the Holidays

In these tough economic times, many homeowners are trying to stretch their dollars and keep their debt as low as possible. The following tips from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), offer easy ways to save:

  • ŸCut $5 a day out of your incidental spending. Mindless spending and impulse shopping take a bigger chunk out of your spending than you might care to admit.
  • Ÿ Empty the change in your pocket into a jar each night. Pocket change can add up to between $30 and $50 a month.
  • Ÿ Resolve to carve $10 a month from each of five discretionary spending categories. For example:
    • Shopping: stay out of malls, and shop only when an item is needed.
    • Medical: sign up for one of the discount plans on prescriptions currently being offered by many national drug chains.
    • Utilities: lower the thermostat at home.
    • Food: plan meals in advance and never grocery shop on the run.
    • Eating out: order water to drink when dining at a restaurant.
  • Eliminate bank fees. Bank with an institution that has ATMs near where you live and work, eliminating any fees assessed by using a machine outside of your network. Don’t pay for your checking account when many banks offer free checking with few strings attached. Never overdraw your account.
  • ŸKick your bad habits. Buying a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket each day can add up quickly.
  • ŸStop charging and pay with cash. Studies show that people who pay for their purchases with cash typically save about 20 percent. Therefore, if you put $1,000 onto a charge card each month, you stand to save big bucks.
  • ŸDon’t have too much of a good thing. Examine your cell phone package. Are the minutes right for your calling patterns? Look at your cable plan. Are you paying for channels you never watch? Switching to a plan that is right for you yields big savings.
  • ŸGet insurance check-ups. You don’t want to be over-insured or underinsured, but if you can handle raising your deductible, it will save you money each month.

For professional help finding hidden money in your budget, call a National Foundation for Credit Counseling member agency. To locate the counselor closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or go online to www.DebtAdvice.org. To find a Spanish-speaking counselor, call (800) 682-9832