Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tips For Bringing Your Neighbors Together On NATIONAL GOOD NEIGHBOR DAY September 28th

At AMG we like to foster neighborhood togetherness. National Good Neighbor Day is observed annually on September 28. This day was created to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of a good neighbor. It is great to have a good neighbor but it is even a greater thing to BE a good neighbor.

What can you do to bring your neighbors together on NATIONAL GOOD NEIGHBOR DAY? 

AMG would like to provide you with some ideas for your neighborhood to have fun, easy, and inspiring activities for your National Neighborhood Day gathering.

Here are a few activities that you can plan.

  • Block pot luck dinner or cookout
  • Dessert party/ice cream social
  • Spaghetti supper
  • Pancake breakfast
  • Picnic
  • Welcome Tea for new neighbors
  • Book exchange
  • Art show
  • Youth performance or Battle of the Bands
  • Karaoke party
  • Outdoor movie in a community park
  • Arts and crafts festival
  • Neighborhood site seeing or nature tour/walk
  • Bake sale for charity
  • Plant a community garden
  • Neighborhood beautification clean up

Every community is different. Call a committee meeting and discuss what works best for your neighbors. 

The most important thing is that whatever activity you choose, those activities should focus on building relationships and connections among neighbors throughout the year. Your neighborhood leader may want to reach out and get the involvement and support of  community service agencies. Invite neighborhood firefighters and/or police officers to your gathering. Kids love it when the fire truck and police car show up on the scene.

From the staff at AMG we wish you a safe and happy NATIONAL GOOD NEIGHBOR DAY!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The importance of reading your HOA Documents before you close on a home

So you just bought a new home or condo in a great neighborhood and you're super excited about it. You got your set of keys, garage door opener, mail box key, and huge stack of paperwork. You know that the stack or paperwork is probably important, but of course like most new owners, you are so excited about your purchase that the documentation gets thrown into a drawer somewhere during the moving process.

Six months go by and you finally got your home looking the way you want it. All your boxes are unpacked, all your pictures and photos are finally hung straight, and you've even had a chance to use your fireplace once or twice. Then all of a sudden, you get a letter mail saying that you can't park your jet ski in your own driveway. What gives? Then you immediately think to yourself “I wonder if this has anything to do with that stack of paperwork that I got after closing?"

That big stack of paperwork should have contained your HOA governing documents that you ignored reading through. These documents contain the "Laws of the land" as we like to call it. They are made up of several sections of information that pertain to your specific community. We wanted to break down the basic elements of these governing documents to help all owners understand what exactly they are looking at.

Declaration - This is what we refer to as the "meat and potatoes" of the documents. The Declaration is called many various names such as "master deed" or "CC&R's" which is the short for covenants, conditions, and restrictions for the association. This document explains an owner's obligations to the association. These responsibilities can include payment of dues and assessments, minimum maintenance and improvement upkeep, as well as the association's expectations and requirements to the owners. This also contains a majority of the major "do's and do not's" for the community. This is typically the longest portion of the entire document package. It is common viewed as somewhat of a 'constitution' of the association. The declarant is the person or group of people who either signs the original declaration governing the development and association or acquires the original developer's rights to the association.

Bylaws - These are basically guidelines for how the association should operate. This section should clearly lay out information like a board member's term length, voting percentages needed to approve or disapprove new community amendments, and other governing guidelines for the association. Bylaws generally set forth definitions of offices and committees involved with the Board of Directors. Even if you aren't currently on your HOA board of directors or on a community committee, it is still important to know and understand the positions and under what authority they are operating under.

Amendments - These of course are any formal changes that have been made to either the Bylaws or the Declaration. Communities over time discover real life situations which my call for changes to the governing documents. Rules regarding how to go about creating an amendment to your bylaws or declaration vary within each community. Some of these changes can be very difficult because of the required number of community votes it requires to execute the proposed changes. It 's not easy achieving a 66% vote of an HOA community of 500. Organization and education is the key to successfully making any significant changes to the community governing documents.

Community Rules and Policies - Many associations have additional written rules and policies that are separate of the Declaration and Bylaws. These can be specific rules regarding landscaping, parking, pool, and other areas. Many times these rules are necessary because the community's declaration wasn't specific enough regarding a certain subject. It is also advised that HOA and condo associations have specific collection, fine, and enforcement policies written and recorded as well. These policies help inform all residents about specific topics regarding HOA assessment payments, fines for maintenance upkeep or other declaration infractions.

Budget / Financial Information - If your new home is in a condominium association, reviewing and understanding the association's financial health might be the most important part of the documentation. Although they tend to be much smaller than HOA subdivisions, condo associations are usually responsible for much more exterior and ground maintenance. Before purchasing a unit within a condominium community, you'll want to review the current financial situation of the association. Associations that are weak financially add additional risk and potential future costs to any owners in the condominium community. Be sure you fully understand the financials for your association.

Association governing documents don't have to be a confusing pile of paperwork. Once you read and understand the elements that make up your HOA documents. It is important to read through and understand your HOA or Condo association's governing documents. Understanding these documents will certainly help prevent any misunderstanding amongst neighbors, board members, and association management company.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Termite Damage, Home Inspections And Real Estate

Checking for termite damage is a part of every real estate transaction. The listing agent or seller schedules the inspection, and has to have all the termite inspection reports to the buyer within seven days after acceptance of offer. If the buyer is getting a mortgage the lender will require a clear termite report.

Most real estate purchase contracts include a clause covering wood-destroying pests and organisms. A wood-destroying pest report is loosely referred to as a "termite report" in the residential real estate industry. The specifics will vary from one contract to the next. A standard clause will usually indicate who -- buyer or seller -- will order and pay for a wood-destroying pest report and who will pay for needed repairs.

Termite damage, no matter how small it may be, is never good for a home.  During a real estate inspection, if any termite damage is found, it will affect the outcome of the home.  If you are the homeowner you will have to contact the exterminator to take measures to get rid of them. If you are selling your home, in most cases the buyer is told that the seller will fix the problem.  This is why a termite inspection is required at closing.  This problem may delay the closing or stop the closing completely.

It is important to check the damage to the structure as a result of the termite infestation.  In the more severe cases, damage to the structure can by very costly. If you are purchasing a home the last thing you want is to move into a home that you know has been treated for termites, only to find the structure to be in very bad shape. Even if the termite report comes back negative there may have been prior incidents that resulted in structural damage. Any visible sign of wood decay or damage will need to be repaired.

While some damage may be visible, there are other types of damage that may seem invisible to the naked eye.  To find out just how bad the damage is, carpets and rugs will need to be lifted, furniture and appliances moved, walls and ceilings will need to be opened, and even some types of excavation may be needed.  This is the only way to tell the extent of the damages, especially in cases of termites.  If you don’t inspect every area of the home, you could be moving into a home that has severe structural damage - which can cost you thousands to repair.

Destructive and invasive testing can cost you an arm and a leg, although you’ll need to have it done if you suspect termites or know for a fact that the home was treated for them.  To protect yourself, you should always get a treatment and repair history before you purchase the home.