Supporting the Efforts of all Volunteers of Community Associations

Doing good may be its own reward, but most volunteers across the Carolinas would probably agree that it’s nice to be recognized for the time, effort and commitment they’ve put into serving others—particularly in what can sometimes seem to be thankless roles.

Members of our communities devote their energy and enthusiasm to making communities in the Carolinas the very best they can be. Most of the time they do this by serving in important board positions and committees, and on neighborhood projects. Volunteers also help keep assessments down—every hour of volunteer work is an hour of labor that the Southern Community Service Home Owners Association does not have to pay a service provider.

Below are some easy ways to show your neighbors how much you appreciate their hard work.

  • Keep an eye out for those featured in our newsletter’s Volunteer Spotlight. When you see them, introduce yourself and say “Thanks!”
  • Join us for our annual volunteer appreciation celebration. Help us honor those who have donated their time throughout the year, and have some fun.
  • Send an e-mail to a volunteer explaining that he or she is valued for stepping up.

As volunteers, your neighbors invest their time in projects that benefit you and the Carolinas. No association can thrive without them; so let them know you appreciate their efforts.

Have an idea for recognizing volunteers? Contact a board member and share!

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 Three New Homeowner Association Management Clients in Columbia, S.C. Area

March 13, 2017 (Columbia, S.C.) – Southern Community Services, one of only six AAMC-accredited community association management firms in S.C., has added three new Columbia area communities to its growing client list. Southern Community Services (SCS) serves the HOA boards of nearly 180 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 http://www.TrustSCS.com.

Canal Place, located in Downtown Columbia, offers 110 single-family, detached homes. Right off of Park Street in Historic Earlewood, the community is minutes from the Vista and consists primarily of two-story homes ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet. Each home will have a craftsman-style charm and amenities like a community pool and cabana.

Timberland Place is a well-established community in Lexington with a pool and a playground. The Lexington County School District One school choices and neighborhood charm create the foundation for family-friendly homes that range from 1,500 to 2,800 square feet. The community is conveniently located right by I-20 and I-26, which is just a short drive to get to other shopping, dining and recreational attractions.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the growth with SCS. My two newest clients are perfect examples of the diversity within our communities, and one of the reasons I enjoy being a community association manager with the company,” says SCS team member Victoria Robinson. “SCS specializes in accommodating the varying needs of our customers by remaining a forward-thinking organization with a very hands-on approach. Each community is unique and should be treated as such.”

Right by Columbiana Mall in Harbison, Bower Parkway has both residential and commercial condos. Offering up to 26 spaces total, these locations are perfect for upscale retail and living opportunities.

“It is a pleasure to watch SCS expand in the Carolinas,” notes SCS Vice President Mary Helen Settle. “Our home office is in Columbia, S.C., and we are thrilled for the opportunity to work with more neighborhoods, their owners and boards of directors to maximize the benefits of community association living.”

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.

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.

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

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

With the Winter season comes seasonal storms, which can vary from icy roads to freezing temperatures. It is important that as a home resident you know the correct precautions to take against harsh Winter weather. 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.

Stay warm!

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

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?

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

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, our homeowners association 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:

  • Each 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. 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.