How to Find an Expert to Serve as a Court Appointed Trustee

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 2, 2017
As an asset or portfolio manager, there are times that you need to take action against a delinquent borrower, who is an apartment owner. You decide the next step is to file for foreclosure. You need to act quickly. How do you go about finding a local expert that can
serve as a trustee or property manager? Better yet, how do you find an expert that can serve in both capacities?
1. Internet or References.
You may be able to locate an expert who serves as a trustee and/or property manager from searching the Internet or asking your local attorney for referrals.
2. Trustee’s Credentials
It is helpful if the trustee is an attorney by background. Attorneys understand the legal issues involved concerning the appointment. They have the composure and experience to handle any type of situation that may develop. Attorneys can assist the lender or owner’s attorney in preparation of their case. They know what reports and schedules the court expects, and how to ensure their accuracy.
3. Trustee’s Experience
Property managers recognize the practical financial condition of the asset. They will need to immediately assume management of the property, transition current management staff, obtain adequate insurance coverage, set up deposits for utilities, etc. They should
quickly develop a 60-90 days cash needs report. This report should include immediate working capital needs as well as future cash needs.
4. Risk Management Issues
An experienced property manager will be able to identify any immediate risk management issues at takeover. Examples of items potentially needing immediate attention include asphalt or concrete deterioration, lighting, water penetration, door locks, and other safety issues as assessed.
5. Management Plan
An experienced property manager should provide a business and management plan within 90 days of appointment. The plan should include current paying residents, rental revenue, projections detailing monthly occupancy absorption, and a marketing and
leasing plan to increase occupancy. The plan should include projected income, expenses, and future capitol needs.
6. Web Based Financial and Operations Reporting
Property managers must have state of the art accounting and operations technology. Asset or portfolio managers must be able to access this information 24/7 in real time. Rent payment solutions must be available for renters and should include electronic e-check, ACH, and credit or debit cards.
7. Communication
Finally, property managers should provide weekly operations and financial information.

Winter Pet Safety

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 15, 2016

We love our pets, so keeping them safe in the wintertime should be a top priority. See below for some friendly reminders detailing how you can ensure your pet stays warm, happy and out of harm’s way even on the dreariest of winter days.

Beware of sidewalk salt and de-icer. Pets’ paws are extremely sensitive, so prolonged exposure to sidewalk salt can be problematic. If you walk your dog regularly in areas where sidewalk salt is used during inclement weather, wipe the underside of paws with warm water and a clean towel when you go back inside. Doing so also eliminates risk of ingestion if your pup licks its paws often. Keep an eye on your pet’s toe pads for severe dryness, cracking or bleeding.

Bring pets indoors. Just as in summer months when temperatures reach extreme highs, pets should be brought inside during extreme wintertime lows. This applies for daytime and nighttime temperatures, so check your local weather daily and limit your pup’s outside time if the forecast is looking chilly. And remember—if you’re uncomfortable with the outside air temperature, chances are your pet is too.

Bundle them up! When pets do go outside during the cold winter months, those with thinner fur coats may need extra warmth. Your local pet store should have an assortment of extra layers for your dog—even winter boots for pups who need extra paw protection from the cold and ice. Only add layers if your pet can truly benefit. If you’re unsure, ask your veterinarian.

Keep your pet active and out of trouble. During inclement weather when you can’t make it outside with your pup, set aside some extra time during the day to make sure they have some exercise—even 15 minutes of playtime helps. Paying attention to your pup keeps them engaged and happy, and ensures no bad behavior caused by boredom.

Easy Maintenance to Increase Your Home’s Value

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 2, 2016

A house is one of the biggest purchases a person will ever make, and most want to keep their homes looking beautiful not only for themselves, but also to entice future buyers. From time to time, it’s a good idea to invest in some home remodeling to add to its appeal. Of course, before making any major changes to your home, you’ll want to be sure you go through the proper channels—such as the association architectural committee for approval and the city for the necessary permits—to make sure that you don’t run into any legal issues.

 

So when it comes time to give your house a facelift, consider these touch-ups and renovations that will not only make your home look better than ever but also help increase its value:

 

Re-paint Your Rooms: One of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to dramatically change the entire look of a room is to add a fresh coat of paint. Not only will it immediately make your walls look crisp and clean, but also, because wall color can greatly dictate the feel of a room, it’s a simple way to change the ambiance of your home. Since darker colors seem intense on walls and can make a room look smaller, it’s usually best to stick with lighter, warmer hues for your overall color to make your home feel open and welcoming. If you want to paint with darker colors, consider limiting them to an accent wall so that the color isn’t overwhelming and pops against the lighter colors.

 

If you’re doing the painting yourself, here are a few tips so your paint job looks professional:

 

Apply a coat of primer first so that walls won’t soak up as much paint. Use two coats of paint to ensure a rich, even coverage.

Use painters’ tape along the outside edge of the area you’re painting to get sharp, even lines.

 

Update Your Kitchen and Bathrooms: If your kitchen or bathrooms look like they belong in an era long since passed, it might be time to update them. That can be as simple as retiling the floor and replacing faucets and cabinet hardware or as complex as completely remodeling the rooms. When you remodel, consider avoiding too-trendy decor and instead stick with classic looks that will stand the test of time–this will keep you from redecorating again in five years and also make your home all the more appealing to potential buyers.

 

Add a Home Office: People’s work and home lives are drastically merging as more and more workers telecommute from home. Because of this, turning an empty basement, attic or bedroom into a dedicated home office can give you a peaceful place to work and also be a real selling point for potential buyers.

 

A good home office will have enough space to comfortably work in and have easy access to the Internet, electrical outlets and cable and phone jacks. Touches like built-in bookcases and desks can add that extra something that makes your home office a productive place to work.

 

Let There be Light: When a room doesn’t have enough light, it can feel very drab and enclosed. Bring in some much-needed brightness by adding new light fixtures to a dreary room. Don’t be afraid to use different types of fixtures to get the best results—for example, in a kitchen you could use a hanging pendant to spotlight a specific area (like the kitchen’s island), recessed light fixtures to spread the light  over the entire room and track lighting under the cabinet to make the kitchen feel open and bright. If you’re not sure which types of lighting fixtures will work best for you, consult a residential lighting designer to find out how to light your room just right.

 

Finish Your Basement or Attic: Utilize every inch of your home by turning your unfinished basement or attic into extra living space. These areas are untapped gems that can be used as game rooms or extra bedrooms, or, with enough space and the right design, a home all on its own complete with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Basements and attics have special characteristics that need to be addressed. For example, basements are prone to water infiltration and attics often have slanted ceilings. It’s a good idea to bring in the professionals to guide you through these obstacles and make sure all major components like pluming, electric, walls and floors are done correctly.

 

Curb Appeal

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 2, 2016

Cleaning out and sprucing up your yard are good low-cost alternatives to major home improvement. Whether you hire a professional or have the skills and tools to do it yourself, here are some tips to improve your lawn and landscape:

 

Weeding, edging, planting beds and mulching go a long way toward improving a yard’s look.

 

Planting colorful annuals in beds or pots around the house and patio, in hanging plant holders or in flower boxes makes a house look cared for and cozy.

 

To solve problems or add interest, plant new trees and shrubs to create focus areas, or to camouflage foundations and old fencing, or block unsightly views.

 

Have your trees and shrubs professionally pruned, fix brown spots in the lawn and remove and replace diseased plants.

Homeowners who want help with their yard should seek an evaluation by a professional lawn or landscape firm. A professional can assess the health of the lawn, plants, trees and shrubs and offer recommendations for improvements.

Your Commitment as a Homeowner

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 11, 2016

Read and comply with the community’s governing documents. You should have received a package of documents well before you closed on your home. If you didn’t, check the association’s website or ask the manager or a member of the board for copies. Make sure you understand what’s included in them, particularly the rules about pets, parking, your home’s exterior maintenance, architectural guidelines and when you must pay association assessments.

Provide current contact information to association board members or the manager. Make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency, and ask them to notify you of association meetings and other important events. If you rent out your home, provide contact information for your tenants also for use in an emergency.

Maintain your property according to established standards. The community’s appearance can add value to all the homes within it—including yours—so it’s important to keep landscaping neatly groomed and your home’s exterior well-maintained.

Treat association leaders honestly and respectfully. Board members are homeowners—just like you—who have volunteered to give their time and energy freely to govern the community. While you should share your concerns about the community with them, do so in a way that’s constructive, informative and helpful.

Attend board meetings and vote in community elections. Board meetings are open to all who wish to sit in and keep up with issues under discussion.  The association is a democracy, and your voice and vote can affect important issues.

Pay association assessments and other obligations on time. Your regular assessments pay for common-area maintenance, amenities and other shared expenses. If you don’t pay on time, the burden for paying your portion of the association’s bills, like water, electricity and trash removal, falls on your neighbors. Contact a board member or the manager, if you’re having problems, to discuss alternative payment arrangements.

Ensure that tenants, visiting relatives and friends adhere to all rules and regulations. If you are leasing your home, you’re liable for maintaining the condition of the home and for the behavior of those who live in it. Make sure to screen tenants thoroughly, and familiarize them with the community’s rules.

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 5, 2016

Energy bills—like the temperature—always rise in the summer. But don’t fret: While there are big fixes* you can incorporate to make your home more energy-efficient, there are also many inexpensive energy solutions, as well as some simple and free steps that you can take to cut down on costs and save money.

Turn it up. Set your thermostat as high as possible. Start with 78 degrees when at home and 85 degrees when away. For each degree above 72 you set the thermostat, you save between 1-3 percent. Be sure to take into consideration your health and comfort, and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Circulate air. Use fans to create cool breezes and keep the air moving in your home. Ceiling fans, in particular, can create enough air movement to make it cooler by at least four degrees. This could translate into a significantly lower monthly electric bill, as ceiling fans only use about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb.

Shut the shades. Windows allow a lot of heat into your home. Keep drapes and shades closed during the day to keep the temperature down.

Open nights. At night, if it’s cooler outside than in, open your windows! Not only will this bring some fresh air into your home, it will give you a chance to turn off that AC. Also, be sure to close your windows in the morning to keep the cooler air in longer.

Wash and dry wisely. Run only full loads when using your dishwasher or washing machine. Whenever possible, run those appliances during off-peak hours or when your air conditioner is turned off or barely running, which typically is during the evening, to save energy. Use the clothes dryers’ moisture-sensing automatic drying setting if it has one, and clean your clothes dryers’ lint trap after each use.

Unplug. Electronics—such as TVs, DVDs, chargers, computers, printers and other devices—use electricity even when they are turned off. By unplugging these devices when you’re not using them, you only save a few watts, but they quickly add up to bigger savings over time. Use a power strip for multiple devices, and switch it off before you go to bed. Also, turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.

Plan pool time. If you have a pool, shorten the operating time if possible. Switch the pool filter and sweeper operations to off-peak hours and during nighttime if the pool has automatic cleaning settings.

Board Officer Roles: The Treasurer

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 31, 2016

All members of the board are responsible for the association’s overall financial health; but the treasurer has specific duties to protect the association’s assets. These duties—and the authority to exercise them—are found in the association’s governing documents and also in state laws. It’s a big responsibility, but fortunately the manager helps with many of the details.

Internal controls: Treasurers keep an eye on how the funds are being handled. For example, a treasurer would raise a red flag if a check made payable to Cash showed up in the association’s books.

Records: Treasurers maintain financial and accounting records—or see to it that they are securely and properly retained, perhaps by the manager.

Audits: Association financial and accounting records need to be audited periodically. It’s the treasurer’s job to ensure that a CPA undertakes this important activity at regular intervals.

Budgets: Treasurers are responsible for preparing the annual budget. That doesn’t mean they actually crunch numbers or develop spreadsheets, rather they work closely with the association manager or CPA to ensure the members’ values, preferences and needs are reflected in the budget.

Insurance: Treasurers make sure the association has adequate insurance of all types—casualty, fidelity, worker’s compensation and other necessary protections.

Investments: Treasurers are watchdogs for the association’s investments. They make sure investments are sound and do not jeopardize principal. Boards generally have investment policies that guide their investment decisions, and it’s the treasurer’s job to see that the policy is followed.

Assessments: Collecting assessments and monitoring delinquent accounts is typically a service provided by the manager or management company. The treasurer, however, keeps a close eye on the delinquencies and alerts the board to problem areas.

Reserves: Treasurers ensure that the association periodically conducts a reserve study and that it’s adequately funded in the annual budget.

Taxes: The treasurer is the board’s liaison to the association’s auditor and CPA. The treasurer monitors the progress of the annual audit and makes sure the appropriate tax returns are filed on time.

In short, the association treasurer’s job is to maintain the integrity of the association’s finances.

What is a Special Meeting?

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 23, 2016

Special meetings are unscheduled meetings called from time to time by the board for a specific purpose. Special meetings usually address issues that need immediate attention or that need more time and discussion than can be handled in routine board or annual meetings.

There are a couple of things that make special meetings … well, special.

First, members must be notified of the exact purpose of the meeting, and the meeting must be limited specifically to achieving this purpose. This is important because people typically decide whether to attend a special meeting based on the issue and how it’s being addressed. Therefore, actions taken on issues not listed in the notice will be invalid. In fact, no action can be taken at all, if it was not included in the notice. For example, if the stated purpose of a meeting is “to discuss” a problem, the board cannot actually vote on a solution—at least not in this meeting.

Second, association members—not just the board—can call for a special meeting, if they get a minimum number of signatures on a petition that states exactly what issue or problem they want to address. Homeowners give the petition, with its stated purpose, to a board member who schedules the special meeting.

Like annual and board meetings, special meetings are open to all association members who wish to attend, and they require a quorum before any business can be conducted. Also, notifying all association members properly is essential; when and how the notice is delivered, what it says, and other requirements must be met.

Buying a Home in an HOA: The Realities You Cannot Escape

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 13, 2016

All community associations have three things in common.

Membership is mandatory. Buying a home in a community association automatically makes you an association member—by law.

Governing documents are binding. Association governing documents can be compared to contracts. They specify the owners’ obligations (following the rules, paying assessments) and the association’s obligations (maintaining common areas, preserving home values).

You could lose your home if you fail to pay assessments. Associations have a legal right to place a lien on your property if you don’t pay assessments.

But, take heart! Associations also have three realities they can’t escape. Associations have an obligation to provide three broad categories of service to residents.

Ÿ Community services. For example, these can include maintaining a community website, orienting new owners or organizing social activities.

Ÿ Governance services. For example, establishing and maintaining design review standards, enforcing rules and recruiting new volunteer leaders.

Ÿ Business services. For example, competitively bidding maintenance work, investing reserve funds responsibly, developing long-range plans and collecting assessments.

By delivering these services fairly and effectively, community associations not only protect and enhance the value of individual homes, but they provide owners an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their community and quality of life. And those are realities we can live with.

Bring it to the Board

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 5, 2016

You live in an HOA. You have a great idea. You’re not on the board, and elections are months away. What next?

Present it.

Presenting a good idea, whether to a board or to a boss or to anyone else in the position to approve it, isn’t about them. Or you. It’s about the idea.

A good idea needs a spokesperson. And if you’ve come up with the idea, that spokesperson is you. If you can imagine the concept and how it will benefit your community, paint that picture in your presentation. Or, if you can count the ways it will profit your community, tally it up and explain how the numbers will help.

And before you present your idea at the next board meeting (in the agenda as “Other” or “Discussion” or “Comments,”), contact the board secretary and ask if your idea can be featured as a main topic of the meeting.

On the day, you might be nervous. Understandably so. Who wouldn’t? That’s why advice about picturing audiences in their underwear exists. But better than that, picture your idea. In full regalia.

Give your idea wings and a voice, and it can fly.