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