Tuesday, June 28, 2016

8 Low Cost Ways to Make Your Home Look More Appealing This Summer And Make Your HOA Happy

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. It’s also a regulation in most homeowners associations that homeowners keep their properties up to community standards as set forth in their HOA Covenants and Restrictions. 

An important role of a homeowners association is to maintain and increase values by enforcing community covenants and maintain the common areas within the community. For this to happen the Association must have a strong Board of Directors and each person who sits on the Board must perform their job.

These low cost strategies to make your home more appealing. These tips are quick and easy.

1.  Mow the lawn, trim shrubs, pull weeds etc..
2.  Add a touch of color with flowers or chairs on your front porch.
3.  Power-wash your driveway, sidewalk, and the exterior siding of your home.
5.  Edge the grass around walks and trees plus add fresh mulch to your planting beds.                           6.  Make sure fences are painted or replaced when worn.                                                                       7.  Make sure trash cans are stored neatly                                                                                                                                                                       8. Try to eliminate any junk or misc items from being stored in your driveway.
A home is an investment. Homeowners associations usually support maintaining and upgrading appropriately as it helps to keep the value of the community high. Many homeowners feel the community regulations and standards are too high, but the association is trying to keep a uniformed and maintained look. Having policies in place and enforcing them will help your neighborhood look better and free from unsightly happenings.

Your homeowners association probably has a variety of complaints from residents from illegal parking violations, barking dogs, pet ordinance violations, noisy or a defiant neighbors– the list goes on. If every member of the HOA would work together for the betterment of the community as a whole residents would take a much more active role n the community and stand behind the HOA.

Can you think of ways you can help your community keep up to the standards of the HOA Board?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Community Watch Connects Neighbors to Safeguard Homes

While we all joke about good fences making good neighbors, the opposite is actually true. We prefer to live by the old Eastern European proverb that reminds us that good neighbors increase the value of our property.  Neighborliness is the crux of the Community Watch program. When residents unite to reduce crime, they improve the neighborhood, forge friendships, increase homeowner satisfaction, and, ultimately, enhance property values. With an average two police officers for every 1000 citizens, having an extra set of eyes in every home is a big bonus. The premise of Community Watch is simple: keep an eye on the neighborhood and dial 911 if you see anything suspicious. That’s it.  Community Watch capitalizes on the power of invested citizens–families in the neighborhood–to put criminals on notice: People are watching and you’re not welcome here.

5 Easy Steps to Creating a Community Watch Program in Your Association 

  1. Contact the Crime Prevention Office of your local law enforcement agency about setting up a program. (S)He’ll support you with invaluable information, materials and advice. 
  2. Schedule a meeting for your neighborhood in a home, church, community center, volunteer fire department or clubhouse. 
  3. Invite your local Crime Prevention Officer to speak at your meeting to outline the basics of the program.
  4. Invite all the residents of your neighborhood using email, fliers, phone calls and visits. 
  5. Hold your meeting and watch the ideas flow...and grow. 
The Officer will introduce your neighborhood to smart strategies including advice on securing the home; recommendations for marking, cataloguing and photographing valuables, tips for  identifying criminals such as drug dealers, and guidance on developing effective child safety programs.

According to Paul Mengert, President of Association Management Group (AMG), one of the Carolinas’ largest professional homeowner association managers with five offices in North and South Carolina, the bottom line is peace of mind. “Criminals stay where the pickings are easy, and avoid neighborhoods where they’re likely to be caught,” he said. “A Community Watch program is an effective and easy way to prevent criminals from feeling at home in your community. It connects residents for a common cause: to preserve a happy and healthy environment where people feel safe. It’s all about being a good neighbor, and it works.”

For AMG’s Guide to a Safer Home, email jpaz@amgworld.com.

This article, published by Association Management Group, is designed to help discourage crime. For more information, consult your local police department. Association Management Group has taken care in the preparation of this article, but the information should not be solely relied on to make safety and security decisions. Please consult a qualified expert or professional for advice about your particular situation.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

10 Ways To Keep Your Home Safe This Summer

It’s said, a vacation is having nothing to do all day...and all day to do it! That may be true for the vacationer but not for burglars. Your vacation is when burglars go to work. This season, hand criminals their pink slips!  These tips on safeguarding your home while you’re away ensure your vacation–and return–are stress-free. The key? Make it as hard as possible for criminals to victimize you. 

1. Make It Look Like You’re Home
Leave some lights and a radio on–whether you’re gone for the day or the week.  Use timers to switch lights off and on throughout the day and night.

2. Lock Your Doors and Windows
You’d be surprised how many people don’t lock their doors and windows. If you’re leaving the house, lock the doors–including the garage door. And, add a solid deadbolt lock: It’s an excellent deterrent to thieves.

3. Never Hide a Key Outside
Burglars know all the secret hiding places. Leave it with a trusted family member or neighbor instead.  

4. Drill and Pin Your Windows
Window locks can be jimmied; pins can’t. Again, don’t issue an open invitation: Close and lock your windows when you leave the house.  

5. Brace Your Sliding Glass Doors
Insert a sturdy brace into your slider track to prevent the door from being lifted out of its frame.*   
6. Install Good Lighting Outside
Expose those dark corners where thieves may lurk using motion sensor lighting and porch lights.*

7. Trim Your Bushes and Hedges 
Don’t play hide and seek with law-breakers; keep shrubs and trees near windows and doors pruned.* 

8. Stop Your Mail and Newspaper Deliveries
A driveway full of newspapers is a green light to burglars. When you go on vacation, stop all deliveries or ask a neighbor to collect them for you.

9. Add a Dog to the Family.
Man’s best friend–even a small one–can make a criminal think twice about entering your home.*
10. Invest in an Alarm System.
Burglars will often avoid a house with a direct line to law enforcement, such as an alarm system.

Ready for a carefree and  relaxing getaway? According to Paul Mengert, President of Association Management Group (AMG), one of the Carolinas’ largest professional homeowner association managers with five offices in North and South Carolina, the best way to keep your home safe while you’re away is simple: Be a good neighbor. “Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting crime in your neighborhood,” he said. “Get to know your neighbors and your association and its volunteers and leaders so you can keep an eye on things for each other. And get to know your local law enforcement. Schedule a free home safety inspection. Call and ask them to do free drive-bys when you go on vacation.  Encourage your association to organize a Community Watch program. Criminals won’t stay where they aren’t welcome. Neighbors who are connected to each other are the best deterrent to crime.”

For AMG’s Guide to a Safer Home, email jpaz@amgworld.com.

*Check with your association bylaws about their policies on this. 

This article, published by Association Management Group, is designed to help discourage crime. For more information, consult your local police department. Association Management Group has taken care in the preparation of this article, but the information should not be solely relied on to make safety and security decisions. Please consult a qualified expert or professional for advice about your particular situation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Home Decluttering

Spring and summer are a time to declutter and organize the home.  One way to eliminate unnecessary items in your home that have been accumulated over the years, and are rarely used, is to donate them.  Donating unused items will help declutter your home as your give clothing and household items to those in need.

When you donate goods to a charity, you can often get a tax donation receipt which can often be used as a tax deduction at the end of the year.  In some cases if you have large items, your local charity and thrift shop will come and pick them up.

Donating used items is a great option as long as you do a little homework to find out which local organizations and donation centers are most appropriate for the items you’d like to give away. You may want to begin with your local Goodwill, which is nationwide, or your local Salvation Army. There are also local veterans charities to help our veterans. 

Use the following tips as a guideline for determining what goes where and how to get it there:

·         Many items are eligible for donation. You might be surprised to learn exactly what items you can donate. In addition to clothing and furniture, cars, cell phones and other electronics, fitness equipment, home appliances—even art supplies and old towels—are widely accepted by specialized organizations. If you’re looking to donate a unique item, or several of the same items in bulk, do some further research about local organizations and donation centers in need of specific things.

·         Consider what shape your items are in to determine where you donate. If you’re planning to donate a broken refrigerator, make sure the organization is aware the item is in need of repair. Some donation centers accept broken items for parts; however, most organizations and donation centers prefer to accept gently used items in working condition. Be sure to communicate the item’s condition prior to arranging a donation.

·         After choosing where to donate, decide how you’ll get the items to the organization. Oftentimes large organizations and donation centers are able to arrange a day and time to pick up your unwanted items directly from your home or business. Smaller organizations in need might instead have certain days and times available for you to arrange a drop off at a specified location.

·         Make sure to get a donation receipt for tax purposes. Before donating, make a detailed list of the items you’ll be giving away along with the estimated values. Keep in mind that, since the items are used, price points might be lower than expected. When your items are picked up or dropped off, request a receipt from the organization or donation center to keep track of what to count as a tax deduction. Speaking with a tax professional for advice also is a good idea.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Top 10 Tips To Meet Your Neighbors

Moving to a new home usually means getting to know new neighbors, and while many of us would like to know the people next door, there isn't always time to meet especially after a move. While meeting new neighbors may not be high on your priority list after a move, it'll definitely help you feel more settled both into your new home and neighborhood.  To help, use these time-saving guides to help you get to know your new community.

Plan a neighborhood gathering

Get involved with neighborhood watch programs

Get involved with the community association

Borrow a cup of sugar

Jog or walk your dog in the morning

Lend a helping hand like carrying groceries

Help with yard work especially for an elderly neighbor

Volunteer to watch your neighbors house when they are gone

Bring some cookies or any goodies to your neighbor

Last - Simply say hello

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tips for Safe Nighttime Driving Through Your Community

Driving at night can be tricky—especially through neighborhoods or dimly lit landscapes—so it’s important to keep in mind a few basic guidelines to make sure you and your vehicle both are well-prepared for the trip. Consider the following suggestions to help get you to your destination safely.

Ensure headlights are aimed properly. If you think your headlights are casting light too far above or below your line of vision on the road, you may need to adjust their aim. You can do this either by following instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual or seeking help from a vehicle maintenance professional.

Dim dashboard lights. Most vehicle makes and models come with a dimmer for the instrument panel. Make sure it’s set to the lowest brightness to limit distraction. Also remember to turn off overhead or visor lights while driving, which also can limit visibility at night.

Don’t wear tinted glasses. Yellow lenses sold to enhance nighttime driving could actually decrease visibility instead of amplify colors and objects. If you wear prescription lenses, opt for an anti-reflective coating, and clean them thoroughly and frequently to optimize effectiveness at night.

Learn how to spot animals and objects. While driving at night, be on the lookout for wildlife creatures’ eyes, which can easily be spotted as pairs of glowing retinas. Any animals’ eyes—like raccoons or deer—typically will reflect the light from your headlights long before their true shapes come into view.

Don’t focus on headlights in oncoming traffic. Keep your eyes on the road in front of you and avoid looking into the headlights of oncoming traffic—especially if you notice a car using the high-beam headlight setting. If the headlights on the car behind you cause a glare in your rearview mirror, adjust the mirror.

Clean your windshield. Use a clean microfiber cloth or newspaper to clean the windshield—inside and out. Make sure the windshield is streak- and smudge-free before driving at night, and try to avoid wiping window condensation with your hands. Fingerprints and oils from your skin can cause streaks that limit visibility in the dark.

Know when to use your fog lights. Many vehicles come equipped with fog lights, which typically are located underneath the front headlights and are aimed low, where fog usually appears on the road. Fog lights also can be useful on a particularly dark road to further illuminate your path.

Adjust your exterior mirrors. Pointing your side-view mirrors down slightly can help reduce glare from other drivers’ headlights and still allow you to see by tipping your head forward a few inches.

Have your eyes checked. Your eyes’ ability to keep moving and scan the landscape rather than solely focus on one spot is imperative for successful nighttime driving. Visit your eye doctor for regular checkups to determine whether prescription lenses could help you see better at night.