Monday, December 28, 2015

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

For any homeowner who has waited patiently for the real estate market to improve before putting a home up for sale, now is a great time to do so. After several sluggish years, home sales are experiencing a very healthy recovery. According to a 2013 article in The Washington Post, sales are up as much as 10 percent in some parts of the country.
But before you put the “for sale” sign in your front yard, take some time—and the following steps—to get your home ready to be viewed by real estate agents and potential homebuyers.
·         De-clutter and de-personalize the interior by removing family photos, personal mementos and knickknacks from shelves and table tops.
·         Pay special attention to the kitchen: Remove small appliances, like toaster ovens and coffee makers, from counters. Take everything out of the cabinets and pantry and wash off shelves—or even repaint them—and only put a few items back. Arrange canned goods by size and height and spices alphabetically. Stack dishes, glasses and cups neatly.
·         Clean out and rearrange closets and other storage areas so they look more spacious and not cramped. Hang clothing items by type, for instance, with shirts buttoned and facing in the same direction and shoes lined up in rows. If necessary, rent a storage unit for any overflow items.
·         Make minor repairs, like caulking tubs and showers, patching walls and replacing cracked tiles and grout. Wash windows inside and out, and repaint any uniquely painted inside walls so they are now a neutral color. Replace worn-out bedspreads, throw pillows, curtains or other fabrications. And air out the interior to eliminate any food or pet odors.
·         Make sure the lawn is mowed and bushes are trimmed, and place potted flowers on the porch and near the entry.
And don’t forget to check with the manager or board for rules about real estate signs.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Get Involved

All residents—long-time homeowners, new residents and even renters—can contribute to making our community a great place to live by volunteering a few hours a month on any one of several association projects.

The next time you’re looking for an activity or a way to meet your neighbors, consider participating on an association committee or task force or volunteering to plan a casual neighborhood social gathering. Your ideas, time and effort will be a valuable contribution to making a neighborhood event successful.

Your neighbors aren’t the only ones who’ll benefit from your volunteer endeavors. According to, volunteering can reveal untapped talents, teach new skills, introduce you to new activities and increase your self-confidence. Participating in a community activity also can provide networking opportunities that can benefit your career and your social life.

Contact an association board member soon to ask how you can get involved in our community. Who knows? There may even be a vacancy on the association board that should be filled by someone just like you.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Safety Tips for Winter Road Trips

Preparedness is paramount when it comes to road trips year-round, and hitting the road for a long drive during winter months is no exception. With an increased risk of potential driving hazards like sleet, snow, strong winds and frigid temperatures, it’s a good idea to think about ways to ensure you’ll travel safely.

Consider the following tips when preparing for your winter road trip:   

·         Invest in an emergency kit for your vehicle. Available at most major retailers, these kits are relatively inexpensive and contain items like flares, booster cables, flashlights, ponchos and first aid supplies for minor injuries.
·         Develop a contingency plan. Create a strategy for dealing with a flat tire, vehicle accident, dead battery or other potential travel delays. Keep a hard-copy list of people or businesses to contact for help should you need it.
·         Stay in touch. Check in with a designated contact during your journey with updates on your location, delays encountered or unexpected situations that require longer travel time. When driving, remember always to pull off the road before using your cell phone.
·         Check the local weather report before heading out. Winter weather can be tricky and forecasts aren’t always accurate. You can double check your destination’s weather history on a variety of websites to determine typical conditions to expect in that area during your travels.
·         Store warm clothes and blankets in your vehicle. Be prepared to stay warm if you’re stuck for extended periods by keeping a blanket or two in your car. Also, pack a small travel case with snow boots, socks, gloves, a scarf, hat and heavy sweater in case you need to leave your vehicle.
·         Review your travel route without GPS. Read through detailed driving directions, including alternate routes, so you know your options. Also consider keeping a map handy in case your navigation system is compromised during your trip.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Everything We Need to Know About Our Business...We Learned from 30 Years of Marriage By: Paul and May Gayle Mengert

1985 was a pivotal year in history...

*In 1985, the hit song We Are the World was recorded by US pop artists to promote famine relief Africa.

*Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term as President of the US.

*The first artificial heart patient left the hospital.

*The FDA approved a blood test for AIDS, still in use for all blood donations.

*Amadeus won an Academy Award for Best Movie of the Year.

*The hole in the ozone was discovered.

*US Route 66 was officially decommissioned.

*Super Mario Brothers was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System

*The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes debuted in 35 US newspapers.

*Kids met Elmo for the 1st time on Sesame Street.

*Coca-Cola changed its formula and released New Coke (the resounding boos heralded a return to the original fave within 3 months).

*Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and de facto leader of the Soviet Union.

*Microsoft released the 1st version of Windows: Windows 1.0.

*And, we got married. For us, 1985 was a very good year!

You can’t be married happily for 30 years and not learn a lot, so, here’s what we’ve learned about true love that can be applied to our community management business.

# 1 Follow your instincts: Do the right thing.
Paul: Luckily, I married one of the world’s best mothers. I remember when our kids were little, I had no idea how to be a parent.

May Gayle: But, Paul always came through. When one of the kids had a bad bike wreck, Paul scooped our little boy up, wrapped his injuries with a towel, rushed him to the ER, handed him to the doctor...and promptly fainted. Parenting is all about strength, instincts, having a solid foundation of good values and understanding the difference between right and wrong. Bottom line, it’s about protecting the best interests of your family.

That’s just what we do at AMG: we’re in the business of protecting the best interests of our associations and helping create attractive, successful, harmonious communities. A good manager, like a good parent, not only applauds when things go right but also guides and counsels people not to make bad decisions.

# 2 Spend wisely.
We had to laugh: today, many people spend more on a wedding planner than we spent on our entire wedding. It’s true. For years we’d been kidding our sons that we served sub sandwiches at our wedding reception. Today, we actually found a picture that proves the story true. Do we love subs? Sure, but, more importantly, we had little money and it was what we could afford. (By the way, it was also perfect.) So, we know the importance of choosing how we spend.

We apply that same principle in our business at AMG. We manage communities up and down the financial spectrum, from homes valued in the tens of thousands of dollars to homes valued in the millions and, no matter where our customers fall in that range, we stand by our philosophy to provide superior performance at a competitive price.

# 3 Life is about continuous learning. Never stop learning.
We both really care about our children’s education. We’re proud that May Gayle served as a PTA officer and we both accompanied the kids on many trips through the years. Happily, both our children are Tar Heels and call UNC-Chapel Hill their educational home. Our son Paul Jr. also attended the London School of Economics and Elon School of Law.

We apply that same commitment to lifelong learning at AMG. Most of our staff have undergone rigorous professional manager certifications (PCAM, CMCA, AMS) through CAI, Community Associations Institute. We are an Accredited Association Management Company® (AAMC®). This accreditation demonstrates our commitment to provide your community high quality services by ensuring our staff have the advanced training and skills, experience and integrity to help you succeed. We teach association management classes for CAI as well as for attorneys and realtors. AMG also has a lively internal training program, conferences and brainstorming sessions.

# 4 Always and in all ways, give back to your community.
In high school, our son Matthew lead a successful effort to build an orphanage in Ethiopia. Inspired by a school friend from that country, he and his friends raised $30,000 to start this home for kids. And the NC Secretary of State still lists our son Paul, Jr as a contact for study abroad in Moldova for a project he headed 10 years ago. We’re not a bit surprised our boys love to serve because that’s our family culture. We volunteer in our community including serving the Givat Haviva Educational Foundation (a peace education institution), flying medical patients to treatment via Angel Flight Soars, welcoming guests through the Guilford College Board of Visitors, delivering supplies to a Haitian orphanage and working with Rebuild Globally to empower vulnerable people around the world using social businesses.

AMG as a company believes in service. Nearly 100% of our team volunteers in the community, from participating in the PTI 5K 10K Run on the Runway to participating in the Beach Music Blast benefitting the Children’s Home Society. We believe an organization and its people have to model their beliefs: if you show up in your community, for your community, others will follow suit. If we do good in the world, those around us will do good in the world. If we do bad in the world, those around us will do bad in the world. We choose to do good.

# 5 Have fun!
The last 30 years together have been sometimes hard, sometimes challenging, and, always, fun. In business and in our personal life, we believe fun is important, breathing life and creativity and energy into everything we do. We’re not just talking about approaching situations believing the glass is half-full, but also from the perspective of making every experience, every step along the way enjoyable.

We know that’s what our clients truly want–great service that’s also a great experience. We’re in an industry that, unfortunately, many find difficult because it involves dealing with so many people. Long ago we decided that attitude wasn't for us. So, while you may find us playing our music a little too loudly and laughing at the silly stuff, that doesn't mean we don't take our work seriously. We work the long hours and we get the job done...we just choose to smile along the way.