Jessica Shipman Of Southern Community Services Named Park West Community General Manager

Jessica Shipman of Southern Community Services Named Park West Community General Manager

November 9, 2016 (Columbia, S.C.) – Jessica Shipman of South Community Services (SCS), the Carolinas’ leading homeowner association management firm, has been named General Manager of Park West, a community managed by SCS in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. with 29 distinctive neighborhoods. Shipman is an accredited Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) as well as Association Management Specialist (AMS) through Community Associations Institute (CAI).

Shipman joined the SCS team earlier this year as Charleston portfolio manager. She is a graduate of George Mason University and has more than 12 years of large-scale community association management experience. Prior to SCS, Shipman served as executive director of Sun City Carolina Lakes, a Del Webb community.

As the general manager, Shipman looks forward to getting to know the Park West residents and developing new processes both internally and externally for the office to continue delivering efficient customer service.

Park West has provided a diverse living environment for residents for nearly 20 years.  “What I like are the sub neighborhoods and associations,” notes Shipman. “The neighborhoods vary in structure and architecture. Each neighborhood has its own character – it’s not all the same home. I appreciate the diversity, as well as the green spaces that have been left in the community.”

Reporting to Shipman in the Park West office is Victoria McDonald, Neighborhood Association Manager; Keri Howell, ARB Coordinator; and Mary Fraser, Customer Service Administrator.

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.

Questions And Answers About Parking

Questions and Answers about Parking

Q: Why don’t we have enough parking?
A: Developers want to build as many homes possible to make the most money, so they often allot the fewest parking spaces required by law. Unfortunately, that leaves your homeowners association to deal with the shortage.

Q: Why can’t we park on the street?
A: The HOA’s roads are subject to local regulations that specify the space needed for access by emergency vehicles. When cars are parked on the street, there isn’t enough clearance for fire trucks to maneuver.

Q: Why do we have to park our SUVs and trucks out of sight?
A: Our governing documents were created by people who were unable to anticipate today’s lifestyles. Who knew 30 years ago that SUVs would replace station wagons as the standard family vehicle and trucks would become passenger oriented and even luxurious? Until our documents are amended, we’re obligated to abide by this requirement.

Q: Why do I have to register my car with the HOA?
A: The association’s registration system allows the community association manager to match vehicles with residents. In the case of an emergency, we can contact you. It also allows the HOA to identify nonresidents who are parking in community spaces. Be sure your parking pass is clearly visible at all times.

Q: It seems the parking lot loses another space to handicapped parking every day. Why so many?
A: It may look like a disproportionate number of spaces are reserved for handicapped parking, but for each space there is a resident in need. The Fair Housing Amendments Act makes it unlawful to “discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap of that person.” The ‘provision of services or facilities’ includes providing reserved parking. When a resident requests a handicapped parking space, the association makes every effort to reserve one. Not only does federal and state law require it, but it’s also the right thing to do.

Q: What gives the HOA the right to tell me where and how to park?
A: When you purchased your home, you entered into a contractual agreement with the HOA to abide by its covenants. Those covenants include bylaws that empower the board to adopt and enforce rules they believe are necessary for everyone’s good. The parking policy explains the parking rules and specifies procedures for enforcing them; not only is the board allowed to develop the policy, it’s legally obligated to do so.

Q: Why don’t we just assign reserved parking?
A:  Parking spaces are a type of property called common elements. That means all spaces are owned commonly by everyone, and everyone has the right to use them. Another type of property is called limited common elements. Like parking spaces, limited common elements are owned by everyone, but not everyone can use them. They are limited to one owner. Patios and balconies are examples of limited common elements. Assigning reserved parking would effectively change the property status from common element to limited common element, which goes against the governing documents and the property rights. Before assigning reserved parking, the governing documents would have to be amended. This process is complex, expensive, lengthy and it requires approval by all members.

Q: Why can’t I use my parking pass for an inoperable vehicle?
A:  Parking rules disallow inoperable vehicles for the simple purpose of keeping the community looking nice. Even covered vehicles give the appearance of neglect.

Q:  Why was I cited for a vehicle that complies with all the association’s parking rules?
A:  Sometimes the association tickets vehicles considered a nuisance. These are vehicles that consistently leak oil on the common areas, emit excessive exhaust or gas fumes, are excessively noisy or are otherwise inconsiderate of others. These situations result when your vehicle is in poor repair.

Q: Why is the visitor parking area always full? It’s frustrating for my guests.
A: The guest parking area serves as overflow parking for the residents. The association regrets the inconvenience for your guests, but this arrangement guarantees that you always have a parking space for yourself.

News: Community Associations Remain Popular With American Homebuyers

News: Community associations remain popular with American homebuyers

Reprinted with permission from Community Associations Institute (CAI). ©2016 Community Associations Institute. Further reproduction and distribution is prohibited without written consent. For reprints, go to www.caionline.org/reprints.

To view the full article on Community Association Institute Online, please visit www.caionline.com.

It’s official! For more than 10 years, community associations have consistently remained preferred places to call home.

The 2016 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey, national research conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR), supports similar findings from past surveys in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2014.

The 68 million Americans living in more than 338,000 community associations have spoken—and they’re overwhelmingly satisfied in their communities. Looking past the neighbor disputes, parking issues, and pet problems, the majority of residents say their community association experience is positive.

Whether it’s because associations offer clean, attractive, and safe neighborhoods—in large part due to effective rules that preserve property values—or the fact that associations seek leadership from governing boards and community managers who regularly go above and beyond to serve their communities, one thing’s for sure: Americans love their HOAs.

View the press release.

 

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Are You Ready For Cold Weather?

Are You Ready for Cold Weather?

Fall is the time to prepare for winter—cold and wet conditions not only make you miserable, but they can damage your home and property. Some winterizing can wait, while some can’t. Make a list of what needs to be done, and tackle the time-sensitive tasks first. Here’s a simple checklist suggested from your homeowners association to help you get a jump-start on winter this year.

Indoor Winterizing:

  • Examine doors and replace weather-stripping as needed.
  • Clean chimneys and flues.
  • Examine window caulking and reseal where needed.
  • Remove items near heat vents.
  • Examine and repair vents where needed.
  • Place nonskid runners or door mats outside to help keep water, sand and salt out of the house.

Outdoor Winterizing:

  • Cut back tree branches and shrubs that hide signs or block light.
  • Close hose bibs.
  • Examine outdoor handrails and tighten if needed.
  • Turn off electrical breakers for outdoor equipment.
  • Spray outdoor locks and hinges with lubricant.
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts.
  • Clear yard drains.
  • Stake driveway and walkway edges that may be difficult to find under deep snow.

Assemble, stockpile or refresh winter supplies:

  • Batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • Snow shovels
  • Ice melt and deicer
  • Generator fuel
  • Sand
  • Antifreeze
Have A Safe Halloween

Have a Safe Halloween

Halloween is every kid’s delight. It’s a blast to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties and, most of all, eat candy.

Although Halloween is a favorite holiday for children, it can be scary for parents. Costumes can be dangerous, too much candy can be sickening and walking around at night can be risky.

Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (in anagram form) to make sure the little ghouls and goblins in your community have a safe Halloween:

S: Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.

A: Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Children should walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

F: Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see trick-or-treaters.

E: Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before they’re eaten.

 

H: Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help see and help others see you.

A: Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it when done to avoid skin irritation.

L: Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.

L: Lower the risk for serious eye injury by avoiding decorative contact lenses.

O: Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

W: Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.

E: Eat only factory-wrapped candy. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook.

E: Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.

N: Never walk near lit candles or other open flames. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

If you’re hosting a party or expecting trick-or-treaters:

  • Provide healthy treats, such as individual packs of raisins, trail mix or pretzels. Offer fruits, vegetables and cheeses to party guests.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treating as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause falls.
  • Keep candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and other open flames away from doorsteps, walkways, landings and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of reach of pets and small children and never leave them unattended.
  • Drive safely and watch out for trick-or-treaters.
How Much Noise Do You Make?

How Much Noise Do You Make?

Noise is an inevitable reality in condominium communities. Condominium dwellers live in such close proximity that it’s essential we consider the effect noise will have on our neighbors when deciding on floor coverings, where to mount the flat-screen television or when to knock out a wall.

We—you and your neighbors—all have a right to enjoy our homes in peace and to furnish them as we like. But remember, the way you furnish your unit may create a headache for your neighbors in theirs.

Hard flooring—wood, ceramic, stone—is fashionable and collects far fewer allergens than carpet, making it very popular. But it can be a problem for the people downstairs, even if you make an effort to tread lightly or wear soft shoes. Southern Community Services advises all residents who are considering installing hard flooring to first install a sound barrier – like cork – to reduce noise. And encourage the people above you to do the same.

Flat-screen televisions are becoming more affordable every year, and many of our residents have them. It is a good idea to mount your screen on an interior wall—not a wall you share with a neighbor. Echoes from wall-mounted televisions are often an annoyance for those on the other side.

How much noise does it take to be a nuisance to your neighbors? One definition says nuisance is a level of disturbance beyond what a reasonable person would find tolerable. But, sometimes the question isn’t how much noise we make, but when we make it. You or your neighbor might find the boisterous party next door entirely tolerable—until about 10 or 11 p.m. Likewise, a noisy renovation downstairs might be intolerable if it’s a religious or ethnic holiday for you. Whatever you’re planning, give some thought to the day as well as the time of day for your activity.

If you have noisy neighbors, it is important to talk to them before reporting it to the homeowners association. They may not know that they’re disturbing you. Maybe you work nights and their teenager—whose room backs up to yours—blasts the audio system after school each day.

The Golden Rule applies here: Treat your neighbors the way you want them to treat you.

Professionals Hired To Conduct Reserve Study

Professionals Hired to Conduct Reserve Study

Our association has hired a professional reserve study provider to conduct a reserve study for our association.

A reserve study is a complex document that projects when numerous major components—like the roof, parking lot or tennis court—will need to be replaced, what they will cost and how much we need to set aside each year to pay for the various components at the necessary time. Preparing it requires a unique combination of specialized engineering knowledge, a keen understanding of financial projecting and savvy investing skills.

Professional reserve study providers are extensively trained before they are considered qualified to perform competent reserve studies tailored for each community. These professionals have met stringent requirements and are held to high standards. They have a thorough knowledge of common interest developments, HOAs, and community associations, and can provide the board with sound guidance.

We prepared a request for proposal that specified the reserve study must conform to the National Reserve Study Standards of the Community Associations Institute and our state law.

The board takes its fiduciary responsibility very seriously—we want to be good stewards of your money. By hiring these professionals we’re confident we’ve done the right thing.

 

 

Resources To Avoid Foreclosure

Resources to Avoid Foreclosure

The continuing home foreclosure crisis continues to reverberate throughout the housing market and other sectors of the economy. But the real tragedy is what foreclosure—or even the threat of default—does to families and individuals who face this kind of financial upheaval. And, it’s happening everywhere. While foreclosure rates are highest in “rustbelt” states like Michigan and Ohio, no state or region is immune.

High foreclosure rates are largely the result of lenders offering mortgage loans below the prime-lending rate. These “sub-prime” loans are most often provided to those with poor credit or buyers who need adjustable-rate loans to purchase homes. Mortgage defaults also can be the unfortunate result of a lost job or even a serious injury or long-term sickness that prevents breadwinners from working.

Foreclosures can also be initiated by the associations, but this is rare and most often the result of an owner refusing to pay association assessments or HOA fees over a period of time.

We hope none of our neighbors ever face a financial crisis leading to foreclosure, but that is wishful thinking. It can and does happen. If you or someone you know faces this kind of personal crisis, advice and information are available.

For information on foreclosure and mortgage lending, check out these websites:

ACORN Housing: www.acorn.org

Americans for Fairness in Lending: www.affil.org

 Center for Responsible Lending: www.responsiblelending.org

Consumer Federation of America:  www.consumerfed.org

 Neighbor Works America’s Center for foreclosure Solutions: www.nw.org/network/neighborworksProgs/foreclosuresolutions/default.asp

 FTC Fact Sheet, “Mortgage Payments Sending You Reeling? Here’s What to Do”: www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea04.shtm

 

 

 

Mortgage Loans—Do You Qualify?

Mortgage Loans—Do You Qualify?

If you’re thinking of moving up, but you’re unsure whether you can qualify for the mortgage loan you need, the Federal Reserve Bank website can help. Using its Partners Online software, you can calculate just how much you can afford with either a conventional or FHA loan. It also allows you to compute your principal and mortgage interest (PMI). As an added bonus, if you come up short, the website will suggest options that may help you qualify for a loan. Go to: http://www.frbatlanta.org/partnerssoftwareonline/dsp_main.cfm

 

Who Lives In Our Community?

Who Lives in Our Community?

Understanding and appreciating the generational values of your neighbors contributes to a strong community and leads to a strong community association. Consider a few broad groups:

Matures: The Matures were born between 1920 and 1945. They’re the last of the veterans of the World and Korean Wars, and are also called the “Silent Generation.” They’re about sacrifice. They survived the Great Depression, and they still reuse aluminum foil and paper bags. Their heroes were military figures. They believe that a rule is a rule. They feel that change is good, as long as it’s the type of change they’ve envisioned. The Matures defined the world in which we live for many years, but they now have to give way to the Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers: Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1964. Approximately 77 million in number, they’re workaholics who believe in teamwork, democracy, and loyalty. They don’t necessarily see the need to follow rules. Baby Boomers value the concept of “built to last.” They invented the idea of “meaningful work,” and the workplace continues to be a part of their self-identity. Baby Boomers will occupy the White House until approximately 2030.

Generation X: Generation X’ers were born between 1965 and 1977. Numbering about 44 million, this group was raised in an environment in which both parents worked. They question their parents’ values, and they believe that jobs and housing are disposable. They place greater value on family and personal life than the Baby Boomers do, and they feel that a balanced life is more important than professional accomplishments.

Generation Y: Generation Y’s were born between 1977 and 2000. They comprise approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population, and projections suggest that by the year 2010, those age 33 and younger will number 137 million, or 46 percent of the U.S. population. People in this group have always known the Internet, laptops, and cell phones. It would never occur to them to physically touch a television to change the channel. People born in the U.S. after 1983 have always had a President from the Southern states. South Africa’s official policy of apartheid has not existed in their lifetime, cars have always had CD players and air bags, weather reports have always been available 24 hours a day, and genetic testing and DNA screening have always been available. This generation focuses on its individual choices, goals, and the future.

[Optional: Source: Community Associations Institute.]