All posts by dev

Top 5 General HOA Rules

In an HOA-managed community, there are certain rules that need to be followed, and usually, these are strictly implemented, which means you could either get sanctioned or fined/penalized, or worse, kicked out.

HOA Rules

What are some HOA rules? Here are the most common or what are generally included in the Homeowners Association Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs):

1. Fees

This is one of the first things that will catch your eye when going over your contract to buy or rent a property within an HOA-managed community. Fees are collected from every homeowner on a predetermined schedule (monthly, quarterly, annually or other specific schedule). The fees may cover basic maintenance and repair, emergency funds, and other expenses. It’s important to check exactly what the fees are for and if there are other fee obligations that homeowners may be required to pay on a given situation or circumstance.2. Property maintenance

HOAs are quite specific about property

maintenance, both the exterior and interior of the property. There are certain restrictions regarding what you can put or plant on your front yard, what shades of paint you can use on exterior walls, garage gates, and every other detail that the HOA may feel necessary to control and oversee.

3. Animals

If you’re a pet owner, it’s important to check restrictions regarding pet ownership. There are some HOAs that rule against owning large dogs, certain types of animals, and such. There may also be specific spots in common spaces where pets aren’t allowed so check these as well. Fees may also be collected for your pet’s “share” on property maintenance expenses.

4. Household size

Another important item to check on the CC&R is household size or the number of occupants allowed per home. Some only allow a family of four plus one pet, others more, and others even less. Sometimes, there are also restrictions on the number of overnight guests (yes, surprisingly). Usually though, household size is determined by property size so basically, a bigger house may be allowed to have more occupants compared to a smaller-size house.

5. Cars and parking

HOAs have rules about car ownership, too, and in general, it has something to do with parking and garage. Basically, if your property only has a one-car garage, then one car is all you’re ever going to be allowed to own or at least park in your garage because curbside parking isn’t allowed.

There are just five of the HOA rules that are generally included in CC&Rs. There are more that you may need to thoroughly check and review.

7 Frequently Asked Questions About HOAs

In the United States, more and more homes are becoming members of homeowner associations (HOAs). HOAs ensure the maintenance of shared spaces in neighborhoods, as well as provide amenities such as health clubs, parks, swimming pools, child playrooms, and more.

As not everyone understands what an HOA is, however, we’ll be answering 7 of the most frequently asked questions about HOAs in today’s article.

1. What is an HOA?

In real estate development, the property developer sets up a non-profit organization known as an HOA for marketing and selling homes in a residential area, as well as developing and managing the community. The homeowners vote in the HOA’s board of directors, which makes sure the association abides by the non-profit or corporation laws of its state.

2. How much will be being part of an HOA cost?

On average, HOAs charge a monthly fee of around $125. However, dues vary depending on your community’s location and what niceties your HOA provides. HOAs of townhomes or condominiums may charge more as fees will likely incorporate insurance and the maintenance of the building’s communal spaces.

3. Is it necessary to pay HOA fees?

Yes; even if you don’t avail of the community’s shared amenities, you are obliged to pay fees from the moment you occupy a home belonging to an HOA.

4. What kind of rules must I follow in a community belonging to an HOA?

HOAs create rules designed to encourage homeowners to take good care of their homes and communal spaces. Others help maintain the consistency of the neighborhood’s appearance and ambience. Examples of rules include prohibitions against littering, excess noise, unkempt lawns, and the keeping of dangerous animals.

5. What if I break the rules or fail to pay HOA fees?

Late payments or other infractions are often handled quietly, usually via courteous notices that are issued by mail or in person to the homeowner. Continued violations will incur additional warnings before the HOA decides to take more drastic measures.

6. How are rules enforced by HOA boards?

The association will work with you to settle any contentious issue but may be forced to pursue legal action in extreme cases. Until issues are amicably sorted out, an HOA may put a lien on your home.

7. Will HOA charges influence how much money a bank will lend me?

Yes, lenders take into account considerations such as insurance, taxes, and HOA fees, which will determine the amount of money a bank will loan you.

If you have any questions about HOAs or HOA regulations, please feel free to contact So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc. through its corporate website, or give us a call at (888) 828-9444. We’d be glad to hear from you!

4 Ways HOA Management Is Evolving

In real estate development, the property developer establishes a corporation known as a homeowner association (HOA) for managing, marketing, and selling lots and homes. To fulfill their many duties in an efficient manner, associations often enlist the services of HOA managers.

Over the years, HOA management has grown into an expansive industry that constantly finds itself adopting new techniques to meet new challenges as they crop up. For this reason, the industry has steadily evolved with the times. In today’s article, we’ll be examining the 4 major ways HOA management is evolving.

1. Flexible and creative problem-solving

HOAs often must contend with complex, time-consuming bureaucratic processes. Property management enterprises can ease this burden by being flexible, creative, and proactive problem-solvers.

Effective HOA management companies are constantly looking for ways to respond to every individual association’s unique needs. They examine concerns from various angles and determine methods of solving problems that don’t interfere with current operations. This way, managers can help associations become more efficient at making decisions and taking action.

2. Focus on people and relationships

Because dealing with homes is an extremely personal issue, HOA management is essentially an industry revolving around people and the relationships built with them. It’s therefore of utmost importance that managers can understand how human emotions and motivations factor into people’s needs and decisions.

Today, property management companies assess managers for their certifications, experience, personality, and ability to preserve smooth relationships with others, then match them with the appropriate associations for the best results.

3. Providing exemplary services

To succeed, HOA managers must do more than just offer basic services such as giving business advice and administrative support; they must also provide guidance and insight to help associations develop more robust communities. For example, today’s most distinguished managers can come up with innovative ideas designed to enhance community engagement and help homeowners get the most out of their homes. Such managers can be expected to do far more for HOAs than low-tier companies will.

4. Focus on long-term relationships

The best management companies often seek to build long-term relationships with HOAs. This is because reputable property managers aim to assist associations with their multiple obligations and make great efforts to keep up with and evolve with the HOAs they’re working with. Such companies perform a range of services, from the obvious to the less noticeable, and ensure every facet of your business is given the attention it deserves.

If you have any questions about HOAs, please feel free to contact So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc. through its corporate website, or give us a call at (888) 828-9444. We’d be glad to hear from you!

Property Management Services: What You Need to Know

Property management is the process of managing real estate available for lease and involves overseeing routine operations such as collecting rental payment and looking for potential occupants for a space. The property manager often manages another entity or party’s property.

It’ll take more than one article to discuss everything property management entails, but today, we’ll be discussing the major types of services property managers provide.

1. Property assessment

Property managers examine properties inside and out and prepare necessary documentation about their findings. This allows them to determine what repairs or improvements the property may need to enhance the monthly rent while ensuring good ROI. They also do extensive research to figure out a fair yet desirable rental rate for the property.

2. Marketing

Managers are responsible for creating marketing and advertising campaigns designed to inform people about available properties and encourage them to rent them. They also cooperate with realtors, communicate with potential tenants, ensure properties are as alluring as possible, and more.

3. Tenant selection

To determine if a potential tenant is the ideal candidate to lease a property to, the manager investigates their background to confirm their identity, credit history, income, and other pertinent details.

4. Dealing with tenants

Managers help tenants move into and out of properties, collect rental fees, and evict those guilty of infractions. These processes require a lot of paperwork, communication with the tenants, and in the case of evictions, coordination with law enforcement and the court.

5. Inspections

Properties require regular inspections to ensure they’re in good condition and free of possible hazards. Managers also look out for lease and code violations.

6. Maintenance

In case properties need repairs or remodeling, managers provide and supervise various maintenance crews. They establish policies designed to prevent repairs and determine when repairs are required. They build a network of trusted contractors and assign tasks to the right people. They’re also responsible for clearing outdoor areas of trash, debris, leaves, or snow.

7. Assistance with legal issues

In case of litigations or legal disputes, managers provide owners advice and refer them to qualified attorneys.

8. Assistance with financial matters

Managers provide accounting services, document expenditures, make annual financial reports, and more.

Of course, property managers provide such a wide range of services that the above list is by no means a complete list of their responsibilities and duties. If you’re eager to know more information about property management, please feel free to contact So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc. through its corporate website, or give us a call at (888) 828-9444. We’d be glad to hear from you!

So Cal Enterprises Answers Three Most Common FAQs About HOAs

So you’re thinking of moving into a smaller house, or you’re looking into buying your first-ever home, and it happens to be in a developed community. Naturally, one of the major “stumbling blocks” to making the move is the HOA fee that you’ll be paying monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, depending on the HOA’s fees collection schedule. You have to make sure that you can afford the HOA dues on top of your monthly expenses. This is but one of the many other concerns regarding homeowners associations that home buyers look into to help them with the decision-making process.

And if you’re a home buyer with similar concerns, these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about HOAs might be able to help you:

1. Can I check the HOA’s CC&Rs before buying a property?

Yes, you may and should check the HOA’s CC&Rs before buying or even renting a property. CC&Rs are the homeowners association’s covenant, conditions, and restrictions that every homeowner must adhere to, and these include everything that “dictates” each homeowner’s stay in their property, from dues to be collected to standards for maintaining the front lawn and the exterior of the house, and such.

For transparency purposes, the HOA’s CC&Rs must be fully disclosed to the buyer/renter BEFORE closing the deal. If these aren’t made available to you before closing the sale/deal, this is a red flag you shouldn’t ignore.

2. What factors should I check regarding HOA fees?

There are three general things that you should check regarding HOA fees, and again, it’s better to perform this routine check before buying/renting the property to avoid future issues. The three things you should check are: fees too low, fees too high, and homeowners’ rate of compliance.

Briefly, an HOA fee that’s too low might mean that the HOA isn’t collecting for emergency repairs and maintenance, or other improvements, which means that when these needs arise, you may be asked to pay an additional fee. On the other hand, if the fee is too high, you might not be able to afford it for the long term, which could mean an accumulation of unpaid dues that could result in a dispute, or worse, foreclosure.

And finally, the homeowners’ rate of compliance on payment of HOA dues can immediately tell you whether or not the HOA’s finances are in dire straits. If 15% or more of the homeowners aren’t paying, it could mean that the HOA’s financial standing is in the red.

3. Should I still pay HOA dues even if I have no plans of using the pool and other common areas?

Yes; fees are implemented on every homeowner regardless of whether or not common areas and facilities will be used. As a homeowner, you are expected to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of these common areas.

3 Key Differences Between an HOA and a Property Manager

If you’ve confused homeowners associations (HOA) with property managers or vice-versa, you are not alone. A lot of people think that HOAs and property managers are the same, or at least, their functions are which is why having an HOA and a property manager at the same time is sometimes frowned upon, thinking it’s a waste of time and resources. But there are key differences between the two, and really, what a property manager does is to enable the HOA to properly function and fully serve its community.

To help you better understand the differences between an HOA and a property manager, take a look at each one’s specific functions:

1. The HOA governs the community

In general, an HOA hires the services of a property manager or a property management company. Their function is to assist the HOA in its day-to-day obligations as well as in emergencies. The scope of the work or responsibility that the property manager will handle depends on what both parties have agreed upon. In other words, being the employer, the HOA has full power over the community and its rules of governance as well as the rules and regulations that every member of the HOA must adhere to are all under the jurisdiction of the HOA.

2. The property manager works behind the scenes

A homeowners association is responsible for several things, most notably, maintaining the common areas, ensuring that all members are following rules, collecting dues and taking care of the HOA’s finances, insurance coverage, emergency response, hiring contractors, and vetting tenants where applicable.

The HOA, as a governing entity, does not physically handle all these things especially since its Board of Directors comprises volunteer homeowners who also have demanding day jobs. So who functions behind these functions? The property manager.

3. The property manager may be the HOA’s “first responder” in certain situations

There are certain situations that could be easily handled by the property manager, but again, this depends on what has been agreed upon by both parties. It could be a homeowner’s concern about a job that the contractor the HOA provided, a tenant that has been remiss in payments, etc. In these kinds of situations, the property manager may function as the “face of the HOA,” in that they are first in line for contacting the HOA for concerns. In other words, the “first responder” in certain situations.

For bigger or more serious concerns, the HOA will be notified, and a meeting between the Board of the Directors and the concerned parties may ensue.

In a nutshell, the HOA has the final say in all matters concerning the community it governs.

Top 3 Qualifications of an HOA Board Member

Whether you’re considering becoming a member of your HOA’s board of directors or you’re simply wondering about eligibility for a seat on the board, it would help to know the qualifications of an HOA Board member. Specific qualifications may vary from one homeowners association to the next, but in general, these are some of the most common basic qualifications:

1. Educational background

Some homeowners associations require board members to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and there are others that require at an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. It all depends on the HOA’s bylaws and the state’s requirements (if applicable).

Board members and officers are also required to take continuing education courses related or relevant to HOAs. These courses are generally free. There might be online courses available as well, so HOA board members can comply with the requirement despite their busy schedule.

2. Knowledge in accounting and finance

HOAs collect fees from homeowners, create a budget, and basically ensure that the collected fees are being used according to HOA regulations. As such, it’s important that each member of the board has at least a basic knowledge of accounting and finance to ensure that the HOA’s financial obligations are well-taken care of and that the money is not being squandered.

3. Good communication skills

As a member or officer of the board, it is your responsibility to ensure that your homeowners are aware of everything that goes on within the HOA and the community and that they know they can always turn to you for issues regarding the community. To make you effective in both, you need excellent communication skills. Your communication skills will also serve the HOA well as you effectively negotiate with contractors and suppliers, vet tenants, address complaints or even mediate between neighbors in disagreement over an issue.

Apart from these three, basic knowledge of computers and office applications is also required. You need computer skills to help you with documents and written communications, bookkeeping and accounting, and virtual communication applications. You also need to know how to manage the HOA’s website.

If you wish to learn more about homeowners’ associations or for professional HOA management services, we invite you to give us a call at (888) 828-9444 for questions or inquiries. If you would like to request for an HOA management proposal, please click here. We look forward to helping your HOA achieve its goals.

Three Key Things to Know About Your HOA Board

If you’ve recently moved into an HOA-managed community and you’ve never had the experience of living in such a community before this, you probably have a lot of questions regarding the HOA and its board of directors. To help you stay informed, here are a few things you need to know about your HOA board:

1. Members of the board of directors are elected by the homeowners

When a seat becomes vacant, any member of the HOA may express their desire to fill the vacancy, and if they qualify, the homeowners will decide who gets the seat by popular vote. There may also be times when a board member taps a homeowner for the vacancy. But an election is still required, even if the Board recruited them.

2. Members of the board can be removed

If a board member can be removed if he or she is suspected of neglecting their fiduciary duties or have been abusing power (or found ‘guilty’ of anomalous/deceitful activities), but it will be a tedious process. First off, you need to know your HOA’s bylaws regarding the removal of board officers. Secondly, you will need enough evidence to support your request for automatic removal.

Usually, the actions taken by the board and homeowners regarding problematic officers is to let them finish their term and elect someone else for the vacancy. Sometimes, the board might elect to remove the officer from their position (president, treasurer, etc.) but not of the board. This significantly reduces their authority over HOA matters.

3. Board of Directors salary

Homeowners associations are not-for-profit organizations, and as such, working for it as a member or officer of the board of directors is voluntary. This means the board of directors shouldn’t receive a salary. There are, however, some HOAs that give their board of directors an allowance or compensation for their “volunteer work,” which completely negates the “volunteer” part of the job. Check your HOA’s bylaws about salaries or compensation (or other ‘financial assistance’) credited to the board of directors regularly.

If you wish to learn more about homeowners’ associations or for professional HOA management services, we invite you to give us a call at (888) 828-9444 for questions or inquiries. If your HOA is in or around Southern California and you would like to request for an HOA management proposal, please click here. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Steps to Take to Resolve HOA Disputes

Talk to the complainant and the party in question separately; and remember to be neutral, setting aside your personal feelings or opinions. In other words, be as objective as possible. Your goal is to get to the bottom of the issue/s and not to blame one or the other.

3. Mediate

Schedule a meeting between the complainant and the other party, and make sure that only the concerned entities will be involved in the meeting. No family members, relatives or witnesses are necessary at this time. The point of mediation is to help both parties to resolve the dispute as amicably as possible, without involving others.

4. Discuss the issue with the HOA’s Board of Directors

If the mediation didn’t work, it’s best to take up the issue with the Board. In some disputes, the Board’s intervention or action is needed to prevent the issue/s from escalating or affecting the entire community. With this step, you may need to go over your HOA’s rules and regulations to see if any were violated. You can also check the stipulation on how disputes are resolved. The point of this is to act within the legal bounds of the HOA’s jurisdiction.

5. Take legal steps

If one or both parties start harassing each other, or harassing the HOA’s Board members and staff, don’t hesitate to seek the help of your HOA’s attorney. A restraining order from the court may be necessary to maintain peace within the community and prevent acts of violence.

In all these steps, a property manager or HOA management team can ensure that everything is taken cared of according to the stipulations of the HOA rules and regulations, as well as the state’s related laws.

To learn more about So Cal Property Enterprises HOA and property management services, please feel free to call (888) 828-9444 at your convenience.

California’s First Smart Community Westpark Maintenance District in Irvine

A Look at California’s First Smart Community

Are you out looking for a new home for your, shall way say, tech-savvy family? If so, California’s first smart community may interest you. Westpark Maintenance District in Irvine has the distinction of becoming California’s first smart community, using a new smart technology called COMMON SENSE™ that has been specifically developed for HOA use. San Marino Park in Irvine is the first smart community park in the state.

California’s First Smart Community

From smart homes to smart cities now come smart communities. In California alone there are more than 52,000 HOAs, and they may be the first to adopt the smart technology to create the first smart state in the country. Without getting ahead of where it can lead to, smart technology essentially opens more doors for improving homeowners’ living experiences in their communities, while improving service efficiencies among HOAs. For instance, smart technology can help community managers with the maintenance and support of common areas such as parks and swimming pools. With sensors and the system securely connected to the internet, many functions such as community lighting, irrigation, surveillance, and the like can now be monitored, automated, and controlled remotely. Aside from efficiency, the use of smart technology may also lead to greater improvements in terms of sustainability. It can result to better homes, better communities, and overall better environments for families.

For homeowners, they are also afforded convenience by the smart technology. In Westpark Maintenance District for example, residents can easily look up on their mobile phones the status of their community swimming pool, whether it’s currently occupied for swim team practice or not. They can also check the temperature of the swimming pool or report an issue to management. All this information is available on a dashboard which is updated in real-time. The San Marino Park swimming pool’s water quality is also tested every 15 minutes. The information is sent securely through the cloud and the smart system adjusts accordingly, helping it meet critical California Title 22 code regulations. The law requires commercial pools to be tested and for that information to be logged daily.

What’s Next for California’s First Smart Community?

Westpark Maintenance District is the pilot community for the smart technology and given its success, there’s no reason why other communities in California will not follow suit. As homeowners become more discerning about the modern amenities made available to them by the community and HOA, smart technology will play a bigger role in making life-enhancing living innovations a reality.