Hiring a property management company? Be wary of these three red flags…

Property owners can earn a good income from their property provided they have the right property manager looking out for their best interest. One of the biggest and most common mistakes that property owners make is hiring a property management company in haste. In their desire to earn from their investment as soon as possible, they fail to realize that entrusting their investment to the wrong property management company can turn their asset into a liability in a matter of months.

Protect your investment; choose your property management company wisely. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

1. The company has a real estate “side business”

The company’s primary business may be property management but they have a side business: selling real estate. Why is this a red flag? First off, property owners think that a property management company that also sells real estate is the perfect entity to oversee their property because they have a deeper understanding of the business, both from the perspective of the owner and the seller. Unfortunately, it’s not as black and white as it appears.

Usually, property management companies like this offer to manage your property so they can have first dibs on it if you decide to put it on the market. So really, their interest is more on getting their hands on your property solely to earn from it, both as the property manager and broker. It’s a win-win for them, not so much for you.

2. They don’t have a *good* network of vendors and suppliers

When your property gets damaged by the renters or it needs emergency repairs, who do they turn to? If they only know one or two vendors, suppliers, and contractors to do maintenance jobs, you could be looking at long delays caused by emergency repairs. Also, you have to wonder why they don’t have a good network of contractors ready and willing to take on jobs at a drop of a hat. Could it be a lack in business ethics? Or perhaps they also try to get a commission for every commissioned job? There could be a number of reasons but one thing’s for sure: your property could end up more damaged than managed if you hire this type of property management company.

3. Frequency of tenant eviction

This red flag isn’t something that property owners even consider asking about, but not doing so could mean having long periods of vacancy on your property, which means potential income lost. In a word, a property management company that seems to be in the habit of evicting tenants mean only one thing: they do not screen applicants thoroughly.

Take your time choosing your property management company. A little bit of effort could save you future stresses and headaches.

5 Things You Should Know About Homeowners Associations

Before you purchase or move into a new home, you should check first if your house is part of a community that belongs to a homeowners association (HOA) because this will spare you from surprise dues or fees that you’ll be asked to pay monthly (or at regular intervals), and you’ll also know things that you’re allowed to do and what you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid trouble.

To help you get started, here are five things you should know about homeowners associations, with a particular focus on the one thing that could affect your lifestyle: fees.

1. Fees vary from HOA to HOA

HOA fees or dues largely depend on two things: location and services. As with real estate, the location of the HOA greatly affects how much each HOA member will be charged for their regular dues. Suffice it to say that the more expensive the location, the higher the fee.

Additionally, the amenities and services that the HOA provides dictate the amount of HOA dues. Fees could be anywhere “between $100 and $700 per month.”

2. Special assessment fees may be required from time to time

Depending on the HOA’s financial structure, homeowners may be charged an additional assessment fee from time to time. Essentially, these charges may be due to major repairs that need to be done on the community’s common areas or facilities and the HOA doesn’t have enough funds to cover the expenses. Check your HOA’s financials for such emergency expenses to see if these are already covered in the monthly dues.

3. Mortgage lenders consider HOA fees

Believe it or not, mortgage lenders (banks, generally) will look into the HOA and your fees before approving your mortgage application. Mortgage lenders consider how the HOA dues could affect your finances overall, seeing these as critical factors that could affect your ability to pay your mortgage dues. In general, the higher the HOA dues, the lower your mortgage loan (so you’ll have a lower monthly mortgage due).

4. Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions

One of the most crucial factors about HOAs that homeowners neglect to check before moving in is the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) document. The CC&Rs basically dictate what you can and can’t do on your property, and the community. Some HOAs have exaggerated restrictions like dictating the accepted paint on your home’s exterior walls. Be sure to check every condition and restriction to avoid being penalized or worse, kicked out of the community.

5. Conflict resolution

In relation to the above, check to see how the HOA resolves disputes or conflicts between neighbors, as well as the fines or penalties given for violations of the rules. As mentioned above, homeowners may be charged a fine or, in extreme scenarios, kicked out. Some HOAs even attach a lien on, or foreclose, the property.

Feel free to send your questions online or call (888) 828-9444 for questions or inquiries.

10 Fascinating Facts About HOA Communities

Homeowners associations (HOAs) have become increasingly popular over the recent decades. With well-maintained amenities and shared areas, rules that benefit property owners, a safe, welcoming neighborhood that’s perfect for raising a family, and more, there’s a lot to love about living in an HOA community.

There’s more to HOA communities than meets the eye, however. Below, we list down 10 little-known yet fascinating facts about HOA communities.

1. Of 92 percent of HOA community residents, 70 percent consider living in such communities a positive experience.

2. 90 percent of HOA community residents have a good relationship with their association’s board of directors. 88 percent are of the opinion said board endeavors to serve the community’s best interests.

3. 76 percent of such residents believe the rules and regulations of their HOA enhance and protect the value of their property. This is because HOAs usually don’t allow homeowners to make extreme aesthetic or structural modifications to their homes.

4. 22 to 24 percent of United States citizens live in HOA communities.

5. Every year sees the establishment of over 8,000 new HOA communities across the United States. In fact, there are now an estimated 344,500 communities governed by HOAs. This is an enormous rise in the number of such communities in the country, especially considering there were only around 10,000 of them in the 1970s.

6. Homes in HOA communities are often higher in value than homes in non-HOA communities. As of 2017, HOA community homes have a value of $5.88 trillion.

7. There are currently between 7,000 and 8,000 HOA management companies in the United States. They provide employment to between 95,000 and 100,000 people.

8. HOA communities boast a multitude of amenities, including parks, basketball courts, tennis courts, football fields, swimming pools, barbecue pits, walking trails, clubhouses, playgrounds, playrooms, gardens, cafes, business centers, and more. You can also expect recycling bins, cooking classes, art workshops, pet-grooming services, and the like.

9. Today, many HOA communities encourage eco-friendly solutions to common issues, such as solar panels and the use of energy-efficient appliances. They also prioritize the development of green systems, such as water irrigation that prevents the wasting of water and drastically lowers your water bill.

10. HOAs host community activities, gatherings, and festivals to give residents opportunities to form friendships with their neighbors. This strengthens the sense of community within the neighborhood.

If you’d like to know more interesting facts about HOA communities, please don’t hesitate to contact So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc. through its corporate website or give us a call at (888) 828-9444. We’d be happy to hear from you!

What Does an HOA Management Company Do?

When a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) is unable to effectively juggle managing a corporation and ensuring a community’s needs are met, it turns to an HOA management company for assistance.

An HOA is generally responsible for the maintenance of the community’s amenities and other shared spaces. It also enforces rules, collects fees, covers continuing expenditures, and amasses the funding for larger expenses. These functions are overseen by the HOA’s board of directors, which is comprised of volunteers from the community. As you can see, the board has a multitude of obligations to attend to.

Thankfully, HOA management companies are licensed to provide much-needed aid to HOAs. Read on to know the responsibilities of such companies, and why they can be of great benefit to HOAs.

Neighborhood management

The failure of homeowners to observe the HOA’s rules can lead to poorly maintained facilities, unkempt parks, and more—all of which can cause a reduction in the community’s value.

Thankfully, HOA managers help the association enforce their rules in an effective manner. Their responsibilities include conducting investigations regarding issues related to maintenance and rule violations; ensuring service providers adhere to contractual specifications when caring for pools, lawns, and other amenities and common areas; and coordinating tasks authorized by the board of directors.

Administration

HOA management companies also provide expert administrative services. Through adept communication and organization, managers excel at supervising operations designed to maintain and improve the state of the community.

In addition to assisting the board in their preparation of the yearly financial plan, HOA managers can provide regular management reports; schedule and participate in board meetings; communicate with homeowners regarding their specific concerns; and help enforce the community’s rules as mentioned above.

Accounting

Most HOAs know the handling of association and community finances can be a complex affair. HOA management companies can help simplify matters by managing the community’s bank accounts; providing accurate estimates of expenditures related to community maintenance; generating financial statements on time; reviewing monthly fees; offering direction when it comes to preparing the board and community’s long-term financial plan.Of course, not all HOA management companies are the same. While the above list discusses their basic services, you can expect different companies to have other ways of contributing to the maintenance and betterment of the community.

If you’d like to know more about the responsibilities of HOA management companies, 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!

Top 4 Questions to Ask an HOA Property Management Company

One of the best things that an HOA’s Board of Directors can do for the association and its members is to hire the services of a property management company as they have the experience and expertise to handle not only the daily responsibilities of the homeowners association but more importantly, to expertly handle challenges as they come; which could include crises and disasters.

With that said, it’s important to be careful about the property management company you hire as their professionalism could either make or break your HOA. Remember that they are there to help you handle the responsibilities of an HOA. And on that note, here are the top four questions you should ask during the selection process:

1. What is the scope of your services?

First off, know that not all property management companies provide the same services, or if they do, the scope of each specific service may be limited compared to others. It’s important to know all the specifics of the services they offer, so make sure to write down the particulars you’d like to focus on and discuss each one with the property management company as thoroughly as possible.

2. How long have you been serving HOAs?

Often, longevity in any business and industry translates to good service. A business wouldn’t have survived for as long as it did if consumers/customers do not trust them and do not find their services/products reliable. This doesn’t mean however that a new player does not deserve to be considered. It’s always best to keep your options open, hence; the thorough vetting process.

3. Who are the professionals behind your management team?

There are two things to determine here. First, the type of professional service, i.e. accountant, finance expert, an on-site contractor for auditing HOA maintenance, and so on. Next, the actual professionals assigned to various aspects of HOA management. This should entail meeting some of them face-to-face for some of your questions.

4. How many HOAs does each team handle?

For your HOA to receive optimal services from the property management team assigned to you, you need to make sure that the team, especially the lead property manager, does not have too many jobs on their plate. You will need a property management team that will be available to you 24/7. While you may not need them on-site all day, every day, there are times when you need to contact them at ungodly hours for emergencies. They should be accessible to the HOA anytime.

If you wish to learn more about the services of a property management company, please feel free to send your questions online or contact So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc. at (888) 828-9444.

Why should an HOA hire a property management company?

First, what is an HOA?

Briefly, a homeowners association or HOA is a non-profit organization established (usually by the developer and then passed on to the homeowners) to oversee the management of a particular residential community. An HOA covers condo units, single or multi-family homes, townhomes, and other residential property.

The HOA is primarily responsible for the following:

  • Ensure that the community/neighborhood maintains a certain standard to make it up to par with other premier communities in the state and across America
  • Reasonable fees are imposed on the homeowners, and dutifully collected on the agreed schedule
  • Maintain peace and order in the community
  • Ensure everyone’s safety and security within the community at all times

How does an HOA accomplish all these (and more)? Through bylaws and conditions, which are more formally known as Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). The stipulations covered in the CC&Rs may differ from one HOA to the next so homebuyers need to review these carefully before purchasing or leasing the property.

What does a property management company have to do with an HOA?

Most residential real estate today belong to an HOA, which means homebuyers and future homeowners will automatically become a member of the HOA once they decide to purchase or lease the property.

In a nutshell, a property management company will provide a professional team to oversee the day-to-day activities and responsibilities of an HOA. They help ensure that the HOA is fully serving its community according to conditions stipulated and itemized in the CC&Rs.

A property management team will especially be helpful in addressing complaints and concerns in a timely manner, which basically means as soon as they come. In doing so, they are preventing these issues from escalating and possibly turning into a costly legal dispute.

Here are other ways a property management company may be able to help an HOA:

  1. Provide appropriate training for the Board of Directors, especially on finance and accounting
  2. Review CC&Rs and suggest edits, updates, or removal of certain stipulations as deemed fit and necessary
  3. Contact contractors, suppliers, and vendors for the HOA and its members, whenever necessary
  4. Vet potential tenants for rental properties or potential buyers for houses for sale covered by the HOA
  5. Ensure that members of the Board are dutifully performing their particular tasks, and assisting them if and when necessary

If you wish to learn more about how a property management company can help an HOA, please feel free to send your questions online or contact So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc. at (888) 828-9444.

Top 4 Pros of Living in an HOA Community

In the United States, the rise in popularity of homeowner associations means an increasing number of Americans make their homes within such communities.

As an organization formed by a property developer, the homeowner association, or HOA, is extremely useful in that it helps said developer in the managing, marketing, and selling of homes. However, HOAs provide a number of benefits to homeowners, as well, so much so that many actively seek to purchase homes that are members of such organizations.

Below, we list the top 4 pros of living in an HOA community.

1. Amenities

An HOA will provide homeowners access to a variety of amenities, such as clubhouses, basketball courts, tennis courts, football fields, swimming pools, playgrounds, playrooms, gardens, parks, cafes, business centers, and more. You can also expect recycling bins, cooking classes, art workshops, pet-grooming services, and the like. Such features offer a cheaper and more convenient alternative to seeking similar facilities and niceties outside the community.

2. Good neighborhood

Every good HOA imposes regulations designed to improve safety and homeowner experience in the community. Anything that diminishes the quality of life—from littering to disruptive behavior—is prohibited and penalized. To ensure fairness and preserve the best interests of the entire community, the rules are applied to every homeowner. Homeowners are also given the chance to air their grievances and participate in the betterment of the neighborhood.

3. Resolution of issues

If any problems arise between homeowners, the HOA intervenes to resolve the dispute. For example, you can approach the HOA if your neighbor tends to play obnoxiously loud music at night. Depending on the situation, the HOA may enforce relevant rules, or help the aggrieved parties come to an amicable settlement by finding a solution that benefits all affected by the issue.

4. Property value protection

To ensure the value of the property doesn’t diminish, homeowners aren’t allowed to make aesthetic or structural modifications to their homes without the HOA’s approval. Guidelines also exist that advise homeowners on how keep their homes clean, safe, and visually appealing in a way that conforms with the community’s high standards.

In short, an HOA can vastly enhance your experience within a community. To make sure an HOA meets your specific needs, it’s a good idea to research on it before purchasing your new home.

If you’d like to know more about HOAs and 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!

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!