Increasing HOA Income Without Raising Dues

Some Homeowner Associations resign themselves to the idea that the only way to increase income is to raise homeowner dues. This is not always the case. There are other avenues you can explore.

 Ways to raise income for hoa without raising dues.

Ways to Increase HOA Income Without Raising Dues


  • Unique Programs such as Cable Access Agreements and Water Sub-Meter Programs. Wondering if your community is a candidate for these type of programs? Contact us to find out.

  • Review your Governing Documents. A few of the easiest and best amendments that give your neighborhood extra money are initiation fees and foreclosure fees. Read below for more details about both.


What are initiation fees?

Initiation fees are collected from the buyer when a home is being purchased in a community. Initiation fees are determined by the association’s governing documents and adding an initiation fee requires an amendment. The amendment is typically not difficult to get the appropriate votes as it is not charged to the current owners in the community and it does assist in funding the budget, reserves, or capital improvements. 

Adding an initiation fees can assist associations greatly in their financial state, allowing the associations to build reserves for future projects that would have negatively impacted their budget prior to the initiation fees.


A good rule of thumb for determining a community initiation fee is to calculate two months of dues for Condominiums or Townhomes, or one year’s worth of dues for an HOA. This will allow for the initiation fee to change as the assessments change each year. If the association prefer to set a flat dollar amount it could be written in the amendment that the amount can be changed at the discretion of the Board.


 Ways to raise hoa income without raising dues.

What are foreclosure admin fees?

For properties that face foreclosures, a Foreclosure Admin Fee amendment is an option that many associations look into. When a home falls into foreclosure, the foreclosing entity is required to pay all the assessments from the date of foreclosure forward until the home is resold. However, any unpaid assessments owed by the prior owner, prior to the foreclosing entity taking ownership of the property are not collectable from them in Georgia. So, this results in a loss for the association as, there will be a deficit for the period of time the prior owner did not pay their assessments and fees associated with the association.

In an effort to make the association as whole as possible, a fee can often be required of the foreclosing entity upon taking ownership, in addition to any assessments due from the date of foreclosure. 


Like the initiation fee, if the language for the foreclosure admin fee is not present in the covenants then an amendment must be passed in the manner expressed in the covenants. However, also like the initiation fee, most associations see little resistance as it will assist in maintaining the integrity of the annual budget and lessen the burden on current homeowners to maintain the property.


Those are just a few ways to increase your HOA income without raising homeowner dues. There are more ways to consider.

If you want to discuss your community’s specific options for increasing income drop us a line.

How Property Managers Can Help Handle Resident Complaints

If you own a home that is governed by a Home Owners Association (HOA), a professional property management company can work with your HOA to help manage resident complaints and disputes. The task can feel quite daunting for volunteer HOA members trying to handle things on their own. And when you have enough home owners in one community, there are bound to be circumstances where a homeowner disagrees with a rule or doesn’t follow the bylaws and the Association's Governing Documents.

But how can a good property management company help an HOA handle resident complaints?

 How HOAs can handle neighbor disputes.

1. Property management companies can provide the support and connect the board to legal professionals to enable HOA board members effectively and property govern the community and enforce the rules, regulations and covenants.

Some say it’s the best form of government and that it is closest to a pure democracy in terms of responsiveness and representation. The HOA in your community is there to ensure the good of the community as a whole and help when a home owner needs resolution to an issue. Either their own, or a dispute with a neighbor.

2. Property management companies have a process for disputes to ensure fairness from one complaint to the next.

The typical process used by a property management company to resolve a dispute is a written submission of the complaint to the management company who will then communicate the issue to the appropriate HOA board members.

Homeowners needing to submit a complaint should always do so in writing and send it to their community property manager.


Every homeowner complaint letter should include the following :

  • The name of the homeowner filing the complaint.

  • The homeowner’s address and name of the community.

  • The date or date range the issue took place.

  • A full description of the issue.

 How to write a letter to the hoa.

3. Once the letter is received by the board via the property manager a specified period of time will be given during the next board meeting to discuss the issue. The property management company can help guide the board members on how to best handle the situation.

This is sometimes held monthly or quarterly and depends on the severity of the issue. If a meeting is not imminent, some boards will discuss the issue immediately with their property manager for guidance on how to handle the issue in the most fair and appropriate manner based on their specific community regulations.

Homeowners may also choose to request a face-to-face meeting to discuss their issue in person with representatives from both the HOA board and property management company.

The end goal of any homeowner complaint is to handle each issue fairly, within the bounds of the community guidelines, rules and regulations and have a peaceful, successful outcome for both parties.

While this is not always possible, a professional property management company can help reduce complication, take unnecessary emotion out of the decisions and look at the issues from an outside, legal perspective reducing the stress and complexity of the issues for the individual board members.


Looking for professional help managing your community needs?

Contact us today!

Early Voting in Georgia Midterm Elections

Did you know that early voting has become more popular than voting day turnout? No doubt convenience has played a factor in that statistic, but also reduced wait times is a huge consideration.

So what are you waiting for? The Georgia Midterm early voting polls are now open as of Monday, October 15th.

Where Can You Vote Early in Georgia?


 Early voting locations for Georgia midterm election 2018.

Here are the details for early voting locations in and around the Atlanta area.

Early Voting in Fulton County

Early Voting in Cobb County

Early Voting in DeKalb County

Early Voting in Gwinnett County



More Details About the Midterm Elections


To read more about the midterm elections, what (and who) is up for vote visit this great article over at the AJC.com.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”

- An African proverb.

Why Do HOAs Need Professional Property Management Companies?

There’s a lot more to managing an HOA effectively than you may realize. It’s much more than property management; it’s also about governance—enforcing rules, conducting elections and more. Your home and your ownership interest in the common elements represent a huge asset—and for many people, their largest asset. Doesn’t it make sense to have a knowledgeable, trained, professional community association manager watching out for your interests?

 why do hoas need property managers?

Why Do HOAs Need Property Management Companies?


  • Property Managers must be aware of many laws and regulations—real estate, corporate and labor laws; federal laws and state statutes and government regulations.

  •  Property Managers must have a working knowledge of finances, accounting, budget preparation, taxes and insurance.

  • Property Managers must work and communicate effectively with residents, resolve disputes and facilitate communications.

  • Property Managers must have a keen understanding of property maintenance—landscaping, repairs and replacements, facilities upkeep and mechanical maintenance.

  • Property Managers coach and mentor the board members who govern the association. They help conduct meetings, supervise elections and ensure compliance with governing documents. Governance is just one key area where property management and community management differ.

Having a professional property management company to oversee and enforce your HOA’s governing documents and day to day community needs is not only a smart move from a liability perspective, but it also shields the often times volunteer board members from misdirected anger or misunderstandings from community members who require reminders of the rules and regulations they may have violated.

Property management companies allow boards to stay focused on their main tasks. Running a community of any size can be an overwhelming task which often times requires the help of professionals. That’s why we exist!


Don’t take our word for it. Hear what some of our clients have to say about working with us!

(Click images to enlarge.)

4 Best Pumpkin Patches in Atlanta

If you are anything like us, the mere mention of PSL (pumpkin spice latte) has you brimming with anticipation for the cooler autumn months. With PSLs in hand, check out some of the top pumpkin patches around the Atlanta area for 2018.

 best pumpkin patches in atlanta 2018

Best Pumpkin Patches Around Atlanta 2018


 best pumpkin patches in atlanta 2018
  1. Kinsey Family Farm

    7170 Jot-em Down Road Gainesville, GA 30506

    If your focus is on quality and variety of pumpkins then Kinsey Family Farm is one of the best pumpkin patches in Atlanta. During our fall season they offer a really wide range of traditional, unusual and unique pumpkin varieties. Some are for decorations while others are great for cooking. Bring the whole family because the hayrides and animal feedings are a highlight for the kids.

  2. Stone Mountain Park Annual Pumpkin Festival

    1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain
    Open on specific dates from Sept. 22-Oct. 28


    Enjoy all the regular park attractions in addition to pumpkin-themed activities like a dance-a-long party parade with Spookley the Square Pumpkin, meet him at the pumpkin patch or take part in a pie-eating contest. This year, a Glow by Night experience is also added, with thousands of jack-o-lanterns lighting up the night. Huge pumpkin displays and flashlight tours will also extend the nighttime fun. (source: AJC)

  3. Uncle Bob’s Pumpkin Patch

    3781 E. Happy Valley Circle, Newnan, GA 30263
    Sept. 24 - Nov. 5, Friday & Sunday, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

    Not the cheapest pumpkin patch in town ($18!) but Uncle Bob’s is worth dishing out the money. From hayrides to a petting zoo, corn maze and nature trails, you’ll get hours worth of entertainment for the whole family.

  4. Sleepy Hollow Farm

    628 Sleepy Hollow Road, Powder Springs

    Open Sept. 22-Nov. 3, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Nighttime activities on select dates from 7-10 p.m.

    After you've picked out your perfect pumpkin, Sleepy Hollow has activities during the day as well as at night. Daytime fun includes a corn maze, kids' games, tractor rides and farm animals you can visit. At night, check out the "Stranger Things" filming location tours and a nighttime corn maze on select nights. (source: AJC)


Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know on Facebook!

What are HOA Governing Documents?

A common question in the property management business is, 'What are the documents an HOA needs?'. HOA governing documents are a set of documents that are used to guide the day-to-day operations and rules within a community.

Quite often the governing documents will include articles of incorporation, bylaws, covenants, and rules and regulations but these documents can vary from one HOA to the next and are also partially determined by state laws.

 What are HOA governing documents and which ones are needed in Georgia?

HOA Governing Documents in Detail

 

 

State Laws 

Almost every state has statutes governing condominiums and homeowner associations. In addition most associations are subject to the state corporations’ code. If you are on a board or establishing a new community, make sure you check your state laws to determine which documents are required.

 What documents should an HOA have?

Association governing documents are almost always trumped by state law. But, when association documents conflict among themselves, the declaration or proprietary lease carries the greatest weight, followed by the bylaws and then the rules and regulations.

Declaration, Master Deed, or Proprietary Lease and Their Covenants and Restrictions

Planned communities are created by declarations (also known as master deeds). Cooperatives are created with proprietary leases (also called occupancy agreement). These contain the restrictions that regulate residents’ behavior, they define owner’s rights and obligations, and establish the association’s responsibilities.

Articles of Incorporation

Most associations, and all cooperatives, incorporate and have articles of incorporation which is a document that establishes the existence of a corporation. They are generally filed with the Secretary of State.

 What are governing documents?

Bylaws

Bylaws address association operations such as procedures for meetings and elections and specifying the general duties of the board. They may also specify such things as the number of directors and their terms of office.

Resolutions—Rules and Regulations

Board members adopt rules and regulations, and sometimes members have to approve them. Rules and regulations are recorded as board resolutions. Resolutions must be consistent with the declaration or proprietary lease, the bylaws and state law.


Do you have more questions about your HOA Governing Documents?

Contact us!

Labor Day 2018 Events Across Atlanta

With the heat index so high lately, it's hard to believe Labor Day is just around the corner. Fortunately, Atlanta has an abundance of Labor Day weekend events this year to occupy every personality type. Whether you are active, adventurous or just looking to relax, we've rounded up a list of the very best Atlanta area Labor Day weekend events.

 

 

Soul Rise 5k : Mercedes Benz Stadium
September 1, 2018

 Labor Day 2018 Events in Atlanta

Feeling energetic? The annual Soul Rise 5k might be just the thing to kick start your Labor Day weekend. The race begins just across from the Mercedes Benz stadium and runs through historic downtown Atlanta. Not only is this event good for your heart, it's good for the soul. Proceeds from race registrations will help support early childhood development at the YMCA and local community non-profit organizations.

For more details and registration visit the Soul Rise 5k website.


Decatur Book Festival : Decatur Square
August 31 - September 2, 2018

 Labor Day 2018 Events in Atlanta

Calling all bibliophiles. The annual AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the 5 largest book festivals in the world! The event takes place in Decatur Square where visitors can mingle with their favorite authors, collect autographs, listen to author readings and children can enjoy an interactive play area, live music and much more.

This year's keynote speaker at the Book Festival will be Kenny Leon, 'internationally acclaimed director and actor of stage, film, and television."

Read more about the event at the AJC Decatur Book Festival website.


Hot Air Balloon Festival : Callaway Gardens
August 31 - September 2, 2018

The Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens is quite possibly the most beautiful way to see the summer out. On Friday night hot air balloons will light up the dark sky and through the weekend you'll be able to enjoy the balloons, live music, and a kids zone. If you're looking for a quiet retreat you can head off to the many miles of hiking and biking trails surrounding the area.

Don't miss the classic car show and dog frisbee demonstrations as well! You can see a full schedule of events at the Hot Air Balloon Festival website.


Dragon Con : Downtown Atlanta
August 30 - September 3, 2018

 Labor Day 2018 Events in Atlanta

Pop culture convention, multigenre party, or sci-fi mega party, whatever you call it, Dragon Con is sure to leave you amazed. Founded in 1987 this annual Atlanta event fixture is returning for its 32nd year and certainly won't disappoint fans with an extensive list of guests. Highlights include appearances by Evangeline Lilly, Jennifer Morrison and Mitch Pileggi of X-Files fame.

Come as you are or come in cosplay (ie. costume). Either way, it's going to a party to remember! For full details and tickets visit the official Dragon Con 2018 website.


TOSA Festival : 10 Northside Drive, Atlanta
August 30 - September 2, 2018

The sister music event to the Soul Rise 5k Run, the TOSA Music Festival is FREE and features an impressive lineup of talented musicians. You'll find a variety of items from food, music, art, and games all paying homage to classic soul. 

For more details visit the TOSA Festival website.


Stone Mountain Lasershow Spectacular : Stone Mountain
Varied times/dates

 Labor Day 2018 Events in Atlanta

If you've never been to the Lasershow at Stone Mountain you're missing out! Many families have made this spectacular fireworks and laser/music display part of their annual tradition. Labor Day weekend shows will also feature epic flame cannons to add even more wow factor. You know it's major when the FAA has to be consulted prior to show scheduling to avoid interfering with air traffic!

Visit the Stone Mountain website for more information about the Lasershow.


How ever you choose to spend your Labor Day please make it a safe one. Have fun and enjoy!
 

3 Last Minute Atlanta-Area Staycation Ideas

As the end of summer draws nearer and the school supplies start to line store shelves you may want to consider squeezing in one last little break before the latter half of the year begins. With only a few weeks left in the summer traveling too far afield may be out of the question. Why not consider an Atlanta staycation?

Here is a list of some great options in and around the Atlanta area for a fun-filled vacation-vibe day out.

Atlanta Area Staycation Destinations


1. For the Family
Ponce City Market: The Rooftop

 Image : Ponce City Market

You can easily make a full day out of visiting Ponce City Market. They recently opened Rooftop has old-fashioned carnival games, mini golf, rides and a beer garden with breathtaking views of the city. Not into beer? No problem at Ponce. Just take the elevator down to the food hall to explore a foodie's paradise with unique quick food options to satisfy the picky eaters all the way through to the most adventurous palates.

Ready to walk off that meal? Check out the one of a kind boutique shops with items from local Atlanta-area artisans (psst, they make wonderful gifts for family and friends).

 

2. For the Couples
Mandarin Oriental Buckhead

 Image : Mandarin Oriental

With an indoor pool, full-service spa and surrounded by the famous nightlife, shopping and dining of Buckhead, a night at the 5-star Mandarin Oriental will definitely make you feel like you've left town. 

The best part? You might just be able to justify the expensive room rate since you're only staying one night and you don't need to buy plane tickets or rent a car!

 

3. For the Nature Lovers
Serenbe

 Image : Serenbe

Take a day or overnight trip to Serenbe and you'll feel miles away from the busy city life. Hidden away in the farm fields of Chattahoochee Hills, about an hour south of the City, you'll find a surprisingly unique self-sustaining community, unlike anything you've ever seen.

Taking farm-fresh to a whole new level, Serenbe is becoming well known nationwide for it's leading example of new urbanism design. A peaceful town with a few shops, a lot of character and nature surroundings, it's just the thing if you're looking for a bit of downtime. Check out the fried chicken at The Inn, it's amazing!


What is a Reserve Fund and Why Your HOA Needs One

Ever wonder what a reserve fund is for and why your community needs one? Equipment, major components (like roofs in a condo community), and everything from private street repairs to pool maintenance must be undertaken from time to time, regardless of whether your community has planned for the expenses.


A reserve fund, which is similar to a savings account, is a financial fund that sets aside the difference between the income and expense of an hoa.

The Reserve funds should be used on expenses that will last longer than 3 years or cost greater than $10,000.

 What is an HOA reserve fund?


Most HOAs prefer to plan ahead and set the funds aside now to avoid increasing dues or issuing special assessments when the money is needed later. Nobody likes surprise special assessments! Reserve funds are not an extra expense to your community—they just spread out expenses more evenly.

If a reserve study is obtained for an association, the planed expenditures will be listed out and explained how much should be going into reserves vs. how much should be going out and when.

There are other important reasons your HOA will put association monies into a reserve fund every month, read on for more details. 


Why HOAs Need a Reserve Fund

 Why HOAs need a reserve fund.
  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 governing documents.
       
  2. Reserve funds provide for major repairs and replacements that your HOA knows will be necessary at some point in time. Although a pool may need repairs every 5-10 years, every home owner who is able to use the pool should share its replacement costs.
     
  3. Reserve funds minimize the need for special assessments or borrowing. For most home owners in an HOA community, this is the most important reason. Surprise assessments and increases in dues are not a pleasant measure to take.
     
  4. 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.
     
  5. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) requires the community association to disclose its reserve funds in its financial statements.

 

How Do You Set Up a Reserve Fund for Your Community?

In our discussions with boards, Heritage Property Management, Inc. constantly emphasizes the need to build the appropriate level of reserve funds. One question that comes up frequently is how best to invest the reserve funds. The three main goals of investment for associations should be to:

  1. minimize risk
  2. make sure funds are liquid
  3. earn a decent rate of return 

Associations can minimize risk by taking the appropriate steps.

 How to set up an HOA reserve fund.

The community's board of directors is responsible for choosing its investments. A good property management company can help your HOA navigate the investment options available. Heritage, for example, provides a list of institutions we deal with frequently and their current rates, but the ultimate decision lies with the board.

Once the board makes a decision on investing money, this decision should be communicated in writing to your property management company. At Heritage, when our clients notify us that they want to invest money in a reserve fund, we attempt to do as much of the leg work in getting the account set up as possible. Once an account is set up, the statements should always be addressed to the property management company so that all transactions can be properly recorded in your community's financials.


Would you like to know if your HOA has sufficient reserves for your community's needs?

Drop us a line, we'd be happy to speak to your HOA board members about their current reserve situation.

Safe Pool Water Tips for Summer

Your backyard swimming pool or neighborhood pool may look refreshing, particularly on a sweltering hot day. But if it’s not properly monitored, the water can harbor bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) call recreational water illnesses. Instances of these ailments, which include ear and eye infections and respiratory, intestinal and skin diseases, are dramatically on the rise according to the CDC; reported cases have more than tripled in the past 20 years.

 Pool water safety tips for Atlanta residents of HOAs

If your home or community includes a swimming pool, hot tub or wading pool, take the following steps to minimize outbreaks of infections and angry homeowners:

  • Be diligent about hygiene. If you're part of the HOA, consider a sign near the pool to remind residents.
  • Change diapered children well away from the pool and its surrounding deck, and make sure all swimmers take frequent bathroom breaks. 
  • Remind swimmers not swallow pool water and to shower with soap each time they enter or leave the pool. 
  • Don’t allow pets in the water.
  • Don’t allow anyone who has an infection or illness to enter the pool area. 

Be Aware. Check the water pH and chlorine levels regularly—or have it monitored regularly by a professional pool service—particularly during times of heavy use.

If you're looking for a pool service company in the Atlanta area, check out our list of vetted pool vendors.
pool-safety-tips.jpg

Clean Pool Water = Happy Residents All Summer!

The CDC website says the following signs can indicate whether or not pool water is safe:

  • Water should be clear enough that you can see any painted stripes and the bottom of the pool.
  • The sides of the pool should be smooth and not sticky or slippery.
  • A well-chlorinated pool has little odor, while a strong chemical smell indicates a maintenance problem.
  • Make sure the pool pumps and filtration systems are in good repair and operating as they should.

Be Informed. The chemicals used to sanitize pool water are themselves toxic if used, stored or applied improperly, so make sure you know how to handle them or have a professional pool service do it for you on a prescribed schedule. 

Swimming pools are a great source of recreation, exercise and relaxation, and a little vigilance on your part can help ensure that you and your guests don’t get sick.

Visit the CDC website for more information about pool water safety. And have a fun summer!