Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Home Owner's Associations and Management Companies

The relationship between Home Owner's Associations and the Management Companies that they work with is a strong partnership. The Management Company assists the HOA in collecting dues, caring for the common areas and scheduling maintenance. The Maintenance Company may also take care of violations to the CC&Rs and assist the HOA in arbitration matters.

The responsibilities of the Management Company vary but ultimately the responsibility that they have is to add structure, continuity and support to the volunteers that make up the HOA board. Since residents come and go, and not all can participate at that level, or all the time, the management company is able to be the backbone and manage the sometimes less desirable tasks such as informing residents that they have violated an regulation and that they will be fined. It also allows the neighbors to continue to be "neighborly" when an HOA dispute comes up.

At Kuester we believe that it is our job as the HOA Management Company to follow the lead of the HOA but also to give guidance and support when needed. It is our responsibility to assist the homeowners and provide them with the best that their neighborhood has to offer. We manage HOAs all over the Carolinas, big and small and we look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

Kuester Property Management

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

HOA Rules

Home Owners Association rules are created for the best interest of the community and vary from HOA to HOA. Failure to follow these rules can result in serious fines or legal action, so it is not to be taken lightly.

Before you plan to purchase a house in an HOA community, be sure to read through the rules and guidelines (CC&R) thoroughly. If you have an opportunity, have a chat with the neighbors regarding their experience living in the development abiding by these rules. Although some of the rules are pretty standard, different HOAs will have their own set of unique guidelines pertaining to their community and their specific common areas and "personality."

If you have never lived in an HOA community before, you might find that some of the policies are rather restricting, or even bizarre, (I remember reading through mine the first time and seeing that the HOA specifically restricted swine from residing in the homes... which made me think that at some point, someone HAD to have had a pig in the neighborhood that had caused a bit of a ruckus!)

The usual HOA guidelines include what kind of maintenance to the common will be done including the landscapes, swimming pools and play areas, and the courts or courses if they apply.

Garbage removal may be included in the HOA fees, or may not, but there will likely be a policy about keeping your trash cans out for a limited amount of time, and where they can be stored. (Garbage tends to be a big deal with neighbors). You may also be restricted to where you can park and for how long, and how late an loudly you can party outside the house.

Most of the common place regulations involve general discipline in the daily activities like throwing out garbage, mowing the lawn, keeping the premises clean, and maintaining low noise level so that one will not get the feel of living in a college apartment. This is for the general happiness and well-being of all, despite the occasional inconvenience to the individual.

Attendance at the regular HOA meetings, will give you a feel for not only why the rules are in place, but also for how to change rules too. HOAs will welcome participation from the residents and on the committees and if there is a policy you are not happy with, as a member of the community, you have the opportunity to try to get it changed!

If you have any questions about the HOAs in the Charlotte area, please give us a call at 888.600.5044.

Kuester Property Management
HOA Community Management

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Live in an HOA Community?

I have heard it before... "Why would I want to live in an HOA Community?"

Well, here is the truth... it is not for everyone! Some people like the freedom of not having to abide by a set of rules governed by a neighborhood board -- and there is nothing wrong with that. But for others, an HOA offers security, value, organization, and support that they do want and need.

Ultimately, the purpose of a Homeowners Association is to protect the value of homes and neighborhoods within a development. This is done by maintaining common areas and holding the residents accountable for following the rules of the Association. The Association has the right to enforce maintenance and design standards like the color houses are painted and where vehicles can be parked. The point of these rules is to keep people from doing things like park cars on blocks in their front yards, or paint their front doors in polka-dots... or keep a pen of pigs in the side yard... or decide to put in a moat! Some people find this restricting, and others feel secure that a set of policies are always followed the same way by everyone!

If you are considering a home in an HOA community, you should read through the policies and ask your questions upfront so there won't be any surprises later on. But most people do find that a community with an HOA will offer more amenities and structure -- and that can be a very good thing!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pros and Cons of an HOA

There is a lot a debate about the pros and cons of an HOA and a lot of it just comes down to a personal choice. Here are some "Pros and Cons" -- however, as with everything, a "pro" for you could be a "con" for someone else!

Below are five ways that an HOA is seen as a positive:

1) The HOA is beneficial to the community and maintains and pays for the upkeep of common areas, including ponds, swimming pools, tennis courts, play grounds, golf courses and club houses. It could be said that without an HOA you may not be able to have these amenities in your neighborhood.

2) Some HOAs provide services such as driveway snow removal or lawn maintenance for each residence. Perfect for busy families or retirees -- and it ensures a uniform and well-kept look throughout the neighborhood.

3) An HOA will have a mechanism to mediates disputes and quickly resolve grievances between residents.

4) An HOA will help property values to stay high by regulating the things that help keep a neighborhood looking good, (keeping garage doors closed, no cars left in driveways over night or on the street, no signs in yards, holiday decorations only left up for a month, etc.)

5) An HOA may plan annual parties, family nights, pool parties, neighborhood clean-up days, etc.

Below are five ways that an HOA may be seen as a negative:

1) Some people don't like being restricted by neighborhood rules, such as how high your grass can get before it is mowed or how many pets you can have.

2) HOAs will often have regulations about renting out the property, and may need to approve the renters.

3) Neighborhood Association dues that help maintain the common area and which go to the special events add an additional expense to home ownership.

4) If you do not pay your dues on time, an HOA can put a lien on your home or force a foreclosure on your property.

5) Some HOAs are poorly managed and a lot of times the board has a lot of turn-over. This is in part because board members tend to be volunteers with a paying day jobs and busy families. (This is why many HOAs turn to a professional HOA management company to help set and guide the rules).

In the end, your decision to move into an HOA community is one that you need to carefully consider - and each HOA is different! Be sure to read the covenants of any HOA you are considering and if you do choose an HOA community, you will always be happier with the results if you stay involved. HOAs are about and for the residents!

Kuester Property Management
Charlotte, North Carolina

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Making Money in Commercial Real Estate

Have you ever thought about owning commercial income property? One of the most consistent and reliable ways that investors have been making money, for hundreds, maybe a thousand years, has been in the buying and renting and selling of property.

That said, plenty of money has been lost in the same. So what is the difference between the investors that make it, and the ones that don't?

First, savvy investors do not over extend themselves. The smart investor will make sure that they spend what they can afford--even if there is a market downturn, or a natural disaster, or a major expense. Too many people who buy property buy more than they can afford, and then run into problems. In fact that is the simple explanation for our current economic woes!

Next, savvy investors choose the right property or properties. "Location, location, location!" and don't forget it. A high end boutique will not thrive on the back of a country road next to the chicken farm. An ice-cream shop will not survive if it is the only shop on a busy highway. You have to decide what kind of investment property will best suit you and your area, and what area will best suit the kind of investment property you want. Do not skimp on the research here! Take your time, be observant and make smart choices.

Finally management of the property will make or break your investment. Choosing the right property manager who can successfully market your property, and who can screen tenants, handle upkeep, etc. is give you the best chance at a positive ROI. Property managers and property management companies have different areas of expertise and specialty, and you should look for one that has worked with similar types of businesses in your area and has a positive track record.

If you would like more information on property management or investment properties in the Carolinas, please check out our website at

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Is Now A Good Time To Buy Residential Income Property?

Buying residential income property (from duplexes to apartment buildings and large complexes) has traditionally been a good idea for investment purposes. Many savvy investors have chosen this route to invest their money and it has paid off.

Despite the fact that the real estate industry as a whole is also feeling the strain of the mortgage crisis, now may be the right time for you to consider your entree into investment property, or even expanding your current portfolio. Just like home values, apartment buildings and complexes have also dropped in price, and that means there are some great deals to be had for the right investor.

With so many people falling victim to homes foreclosures, there has been--and will soon be more of an influx of people who need a place to rent, and still have a decent income. These people will need to be carefully screened, and their credit may be hurt, but they may make very good tenants still. Be sure to vet these people fairly, taking into account that they many have filed bankruptcy, (wiping out most of their unpaid debt), which would give them the ability to pay rent and start over rebuilding their credit. These people may be not your typical renters and a good tenant screening process will pay off here!

As you know - there are risks with any investment, and buying rental properties is no different. However, there are still good reasons to take that risk. With a well managed property purchased conservatively, rental income will help pay the monthly mortgage on the property, and temporary short-falls due to maintenance or occupancy, can be make up with good management. Property investment is not for the weak of heart, but it can, and has produced positive results time and time again.

A word of caution: It is important that you do not get caught in the same situation that caused the real estate crisis we are in. Too many people purchased properties that had over-inflated values. Be sure to carefully research any property you consider including the property value, the location, and the comps, and make a significant downpayment so that you can guard against a month or two of lower income from your unit(s) should this happen. Remember to insure against the risks.

So, now really is a great time to buy -- but you have to make sure you get the best property for you. Do not over-extend yourself, make a significant downpayment, and choose a property that will pay off, (does not need major repairs, is in a desirable location, etc.)

If you need assistance finding a great residential investment property in the Carolinas, or have any questions of property investment of property management, please go to our website at

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Now a Good Time to Buy Commercial Property?

Did you know that RIGHT NOW is one of the best times to purchase Commercial Real Estate in decades!

"But the economy..." you say. Well, yes, EXACTLY! Because of the bad economic conditions and the very unfortunate real estate situation, it is a "buyers market" for both residential and commercial property. Now is the time to pick up a great deal if you are willing and able. But this means that you have to have really good credit and probably cash on hand.

There are a many things to consider if a commercial real estate purchase is in your future, including the best type of property, the location and how to finance it. The option for a" Financing Purchase Transaction" should be looked at especially. Financing purchase transactions for owner occupant (meaning for your business) type loan requests may be a possibility for you, and may be a better option than other types of commercial mortgages since they are hard to qualify for currently. You may want to consider this option over other commercial mortgage programs, such a conventional and investor.

Need more convincing? We are currently at historic lows with property values, having dropped 30 -40% in the last 3 years. Historically, after a down cycle, property values came back up rapidly after the banking industry stabilizes and we are almost at that point. Do not miss out on a great opportunity.

Many business owners will be remiss in a few years that they did not take advantage of one this moment in time -- one of the best to purchase commercial real estate since the Great Depression.

If you are interested in purchasing commercial investment property in the Carolinas, check out our website at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What kind of training does a property manager need?

If you are considering a career in property management, you should know that your career can go in a couple of different directions, depending on where and what kind of properties you manage. Property management is an exciting and challenging industry and you will do well if you can be organized, stay on top of current laws and regulations, and maintain a strong network in your community.

If you are interested in becoming a property manager, you should first look for training in property management that suits the specific field in which you are interested in working. For example, most apartment communities utilize a property manager to interview prospective tenants, collect rent and oversee maintenance needs. You should focus your education on business, negotiation skills, communication and finance.

Commercial property managers, while performing many of the same duties as apartment property managers, may also be involved in negotiating contracts and handling leasing arrangements. A strong understanding of contract laws and the specific regulations that govern your town and state will be required.

You can receive certification from The National Property Management Association, and take certificate training programs that can provide you with a professional designation, and credibility as you look for open positions in property management. A certificate shows employers that you've received training in asset management, tenant communication and contracts.

If you would like to take your education further, you can receive a bachelor's or master's degree in residential property management. The curriculum includes courses in interior design, marketing and leasing, management, accounting and real estate law. During the course of study, you will take the certified apartment manager certification exam.

It is important that you consider membership in associations in your community. In addition to networking opportunities that have the potential to advance your career, you can find a number of continuing training opportunities. Look for groups such as the American Apartment Owners Association and the Property Management Association.

Property management careers can be exciting and rewarding for people who like to work with a variety of people, solve problems and be a valuable resource. If you are interested in careers in property management in the Carolinas, please check out the Kuester Contact page.