Source: By Hannah Fons, Manning Krull, Article Options www.NewEnglandCondo.com
So how do managers and boards of trustees work together for the benefit of their building communities? As with most such relationships, it depends on the manager, the building and the expectations each has for the other. By clearly communicating roles, concerns and expectations, the management /trustee relationship can be a rewarding, functional partnership.
Every building community is different—and while certain aspects of running them are similar, there are bound to be points at which buildings differ. A good manager will adapt his or her approach to each building in his or her portfolio and find out exactly how that community wants to do things.
“Some boards like to be told every little thing,” says Mark Weisman, president of Boston’s Brownstone Real Estate, “and some don’t. Sometimes, a board will say, ‘Don’t call us unless the bill is over $500.’ Some don’t want to do anything themselves. They may not even want to take their trash out—they want us to pay the bills and keep the place clean and just send them a bill every month.”
Whatever your building’s preferences and expectations, it’s impossible for anybody to carry them out if they don’t know what those preferences and expectations are in the first place. To ensure that everybody’s on the same page, it’s wise to articulate expectations clearly and then commit them to print. In other words, put it in writing.
For example, if your trustees feel that the manager should be on-site at least one day a week to deal with building business, meet with residents and staff, and inspect the property, while the manager feels that one day every other week is adequate, clearly there will be friction unless a compromise is met. By clearly stating your expectations to your manager, then allowing them to explain their own obligations and concerns to you, working through to a mutually agreeable solution and then putting that solution in writing, the potential for misunderstanding is greatly reduced.
It’s also important to have things in writing for the benefit of non-trustee residents. If a tear sheet or informational memo is available outlining exactly when management will be on-site, whom to contact in case of an emergency and the schedules for things like trash collection and snow removal, residents will more likely adhere to house rules and regulations. Better still, they may be less likely to complain about lack of communication from trustees/management.
Another benefit of spelling out roles and expectations is that your trustees will have a ready-made checklist against which to compare your management company’s performance. Should your building ever opt to change companies, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel with the new managers. You can simply present them with a copy, so everyone understands what’s expected and there are no surprises for either party.
Reaching a joint agreement about what your building wants in a manager—and what your property manager can reasonably provide—is one of the most important elements of the trustee/manager relationship. With clearly defined expectations, both sides of the relationship can know where they stand and have a good idea of whether or not the relationship itself is working.
It’s sometimes easy for a group of trustees to forget that their building’s manager is really their employee—and that they, the board, are the ones charged with making the final decisions about how to run the building. Given that most trustees are volunteers, and not professionals in the real estate industry, informed input from the management is vital—but it’s just that: input. The trustees have the final word in the decisions that affect the building community.
To that end, boards and managers must both commit to an agenda for meetings—and an action plan for afterwards—and to do their part to carry out that action plan once the meeting adjourns. That means establishing deadlines for specific tasks, delegating responsibilities fairly and practically and following up to make sure everything that needs doing has been done.
When it comes to handling problems and complaints within the building, trustees and managers must determine who will receive complaints and how they will then be acted upon. Whether it’s a complaint committee, a phone hotline, or simply a designated go-to person for managing hot-button issues, the important thing is to establish a system and adhere to it consistently.
“I like to get an e-mail list going,” says Weisman, “so I can get in touch with everybody all at once. I know who the owners are, the tenants, the mortgagees.”
“You need to be on top of everything,” agrees Ed Lyon, owner of Preservation Properties in Newton. “As a manager, you need to set the pace for the agenda. You need to be one or two steps ahead of the trustees, the tenants and the boards.”
A good manager with years of experience can be invaluable when it comes to this part of building administration by divvying up assignments and helping individual trustees take on only as much as they can reasonably accomplish in the given span of time. It’s also up to the manager to check in periodically with committee members and other trustees to make sure the projects and initiatives decided upon at the meeting are coming along on schedule. While managers are working for their boards and buildings, it’s their experience and cumulative wisdom that enables even the greenest trustees to hit the ground running and conduct their community business smoothly.
For questions, quotes, information about Condominium Property Management in Connecticut, feel free to call
Alan Barberino Real Estate, LLC at 203-265-7534 or visit our web site at www.BarberinoRealEstate.com
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On May 16th, 2012, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; the Annual All American BBQ Business After Hours & Fundraiser will be held at Alan Barberino Real Estate, LLC; 194 North Plains Industrial Road, Wallingford Connecticut – in association with The Greater Meriden Chamber of Commerce & Friends of Holiday for Giving (Wallingford) and the Spirit of Giving (Meriden).
You are invited to attend. Please RSVP to Alan Barberino at 203-269-0284 x 110 by May 15th, 2012, email email@example.com and/or RSVP to The Chamber office by phone: 203-235-7901 fax: 203-686-0172; email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; visit www.meridenchamber.com .
$20.00 per person at door with exact cash or make checks payable to Holiday for Giving or Spirit of Giving. Net proceeds to benefit “Holiday for Giving & Spirit of Giving”.
Enjoy the gathering of people, businesses with plenty of food and beverages. There will be a raffle too!
Location: 194 North Plains Industrial Road, Wallingford Connecticut – Alan Barberino Real Estate, LLC in association with The Greater Meriden Chamber of Commerce & Friends of Holiday for Giving (Wallingford) and the Spirit of Giving (Meriden).
Come out and support the cause “Holiday for Giving” & Spirit of Giving”
Looking forward to seeing you here tonight!
When you consider all the different exterior components that a condo association has to deal with, decks are sort of like the Rodney Dangerfield of the list—they rarely get any respect.
“Decks are definitely something that people don’t pay enough attention to,” says Robert J. Burns, president of Burns Associates-Engineers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which provides reserve studies and consulting engineering services to the condominiums of New England. “They need to be cleaned, stained and they can be potential hazards if not monitored closely.”
Many of New England’s condominium decks were built 10 to 20 years ago, and are now nearing the end of their useful life—especially if they haven’t been maintained properly over the years. This is especially true in New England coastal towns, where salty sea air can wreak havoc on wood.
Attractive, well-maintained deck surfaces—whether attached to individual units or part of your condo’s common areas—add to the visual and practical appeal of your building or HOA community. Keeping those surfaces functional and safe is just as important as any other exterior concern. There are a number of simple things your board can do to extend the life of your association’s decks, and new materials and methods that can help.
“It’s vital that you have a proper preventative maintenance program for any deck,” says Ed Lenzi, owner of Lenzi Construction & Remodeling, LLC, which does business in New Hampshire. “Upkeep is necessary and a smart condo association will make sure that it’s not something they only look at when there is a problem.”
These days, most condos aren’t thinking about making changes to their decks, especially if nothing is visibly wrong with them.
“In this economy, it’s rare to see an upgrade in decks unless there is no other option,” Burns says. “Most condo documents imply ‘replace in kind, treating all unit owners equally’—so upgrading some decks and not others would probably invite unhappiness of those who were not upgraded. Plus, associations are having enough trouble paying for what they have without upgrading.”
Even with a steady maintenance program, the best cared for decks eventually grow old and may need to be replaced. Luckily, a host of new technologies are available to make deck construction and future maintenance a bit easier.
Composite products such as Trex, which are made of pressure-treated softwoods or low-end woods with preservatives on them, are heavily in demand.
Unlike traditional woods, composite decks are constructed with screw-type sink fasteners or with blind fasteners, which are hidden pieces into which the composite boards are attached with clips. These decks are finished off with railings that can be coated in nearly any color, and imprinted with textures that closely resemble the appearance of wood.
“They are variations of wood fiber recycled material combined with ground-up wood,” Burns says. “When boards select a replacement, they usually go with Trex. While most of the raw materials used in making Trex are recycled, these materials are carefully processed to ensure the highest level of quality and performance.”
Pressure-treated lumber needs to be allowed to dry for several months before sealing or staining. In most cases the maintenance depends on the weather.
“If the deck is located in direct sunlight for extended periods of time or most of the day, then the deck will dry out and crack or take a toll on the stain and sealer,” Lenzi says. “In this case, if the deck has been stained, then you might have to re-stain it every year and at least every two. Sealer is easier and if it is wearing off, then you will not have chipping and flaking as you would with stain. Therefore, you can get away with not re-sealing as often and aesthetically, you will be okay.”
Most composites that have been installed over the past 10 years require maintenance only once or twice a year to remove accumulated oils, pollen, grease and mold.
“These composites require power washing and or scrubbing in the spring and fall, especially if there is not a lot of sun exposure to the deck,” Lenzi says. “In the past two years, composites have become much better. There are now ‘capped’ composites made by Fiberon Decking, Trex and others who are quickly jumping on board and are the best products to protect your decking from staining and fading.”
A smart way to maintain a deck is to create rules and regulations that all must follow.
“The association board needs to regulate what people do on the decks and what they put out there,” Burns says. “You can get in some hazardous situations with grills getting too close to the building.”
In the wake of several well-publicized tragedies involving deck collapses, building codes are getting tougher—and deck inspections are now something every condo administrator needs to have on their radar.
The North American Deck and Railing Association is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks.
“A professional inspection will examine every inch of your deck, provide information on your deck’s capacity limits, identify any dangerous problem areas and give you a map of what to keep your eye on in the future,” says Mike Beaudry, executive vice president for NADRA. “If your deck is older, this might include a regular deck inspection schedule.”
The inspection includes key areas such as ledger connections, posts and footings, post-to-beam connections, joists and joist connections, stairs, deck boards, handrail assemblies and guards.
“Ledgers are the number one mode of failure for decks due to inadequate fastening to building structures by face nailing vs. lag screws and bolting, and the connection is hidden from view,” Burns says. “Failure is sudden and typically catastrophic. Prevention is back-up lag screws or bolts and annual inspection for signs of water entry and rot.”
Some flaws to look out for include rot and structural issues. Especially in older buildings, layers of paint or stain on a deck may be hiding water damage or rot, making the problem worse over time. Without the right protection and sealants, moisture and salt can do a lot to lessen the life span of a wooden deck.
Other important things that need to be looked for include cracking, splitting, splintering, loose nails, loose railings, twisted posts and broken balusters.
The largest causes of deck failures are construction methods used on the deck frame. Lenzi says that many decks were constructed without using a proper post and beam system, lags into the sill or frame of house, joist hangers, proper cement footings and with staircases not being secured correctly.
“Our largest issue that we see that causes deck failures is (decks that are) not properly flashed against the house,” Lenzi says. “Years ago, everyone used aluminum flashing, as this was the code. We have learned that water is one of the most powerful and most dangerous things to our homes. Today we use ice and water shield (a rubber membrane that used to be solely used on roofs for ice dams) for decks and this has proven to be the best line of defense and almost impossible to penetrate through.”
When these failures take place, the water rots out the plywood and frame of the structure that the deck is attached to. The deck is now failing and becoming extremely dangerous with a great potential to fall off and cause injury or even death.
“It’s important to understand who is responsible for the maintenance of the deck or balcony,” says Jason Brudnick, chairman of Global Insurance Network in Needham, Massachusetts. “Once determined, make sure that either the unit owner or the condo association is keeping the deck well maintained in order to minimize the chance of collapse occurring.”
Deck collapses, although generally not as major as balcony collapses on mid- or high-rise buildings, can cause injury to people and possible damage to the building the deck is attached to.
“There is no special insurance to cover the collapse of a balcony or deck,” says Brudnick. “I can also assure you if there was a lawsuit as a result of a collapse, the plaintiff’s attorney would name the condo as well as the unit owner.”
There are two pieces to the insurance puzzle. First is the physical structure that collapsed. It would need to be replaced. That would be covered under the condominium’s property coverage. Second would be any injury or third-party property damage as a result of the collapse. That would be covered under the condominium’s general liability policy.
“If the injury or property damage went beyond the limits of the general liability policy, there could be additional coverage under the umbrella policy,” Brudnick says. “In this scenario there is also the issue of whose responsibility it is to maintain the deck itself, whether it is the condo’s or the unit owner’s.”
Depending on the situation and how the condo outlines the responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the decks, the unit owners themselves could be held responsible.
A scheduled program of inspection, maintenance and repair can prevent damage to people, property, and the association’s finances. Those decks, do, after all, deserve some respect.
Keith Loria is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor to New England Condominium.
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Source: New Haven Register – William Keampffer www.nhregister.com
New Haven – Starting next month, drivers will have to “feed the meter” until 9 p.m. – instead of 7, but not until midnight – in what is being cast as a compromise.
The compromise was made to accommodate the complicated and, at times competing interests of consumers, workers, business and residents. The change will add two hours of enforced parking in the evening Monday through Saturday – but not the additional five the city proposed last year.
James Travers, director of the city’s Transportation, Parking and Traffic Department, said the city is adopting “a model that has some proven success” that will both increase revenue, but also take into account concerns expressed by downtown businesses.
Dynamic parking jargon aside, what does it all mean? Starting next month, motorist parking at meters, which mainly are downtown and in the adjacent areas, will be required to pay until 9 p.m. instead of 7. It will be free after that.
At the same time, as the downtown transitions from daytime consumers to nightlife consumers, all meters will be reprogrammed to eliminate time limits in the evenings. That means after 5 p.m., people parked in, say, a 30 or 60 minute spot won’t have to leave between appetizers and entrees or during an intermission at the Shubert Theater to drop in more quarters.
Starting at 5, any meter will take up to four hours worth of coins. Most downtown meters also take credit cards. Fees will remain at $1.50 per hour.
Win Davis, a deputy director of the Town Green Special Services District, which promotes all things downtown, described it as a reasonable compromise in the “balancing act” of accommodating a bustling downtown neighborhood and the needs of “numerous difference constituencies.”
Consider this: During the day, retailers clamor for readily available a space, which is achieved by time limits that promote turnover. But, in the evening, when the bar, restaurant and club nightlife takes over, the goal to stay longer.
At night, though, many of the spaces are snatched all night by employees of nightspots looking for cheap parking. The trick, Davis said, is to strike the right balance with on-street parking policies to serve the needs of both business models and the growing downtown apartment market.
In that regard, New Haven has a good, albeit frustrating, problem that meter parking remains at a premium. “It’s better that the alternative. It’s us trying to stay on that tight rope because the constant refrain is the suburbs have free parking,” Davis said. “Most downtowns are really fighting for people to use those spots.”
Last year, the proposal of a new policy to expand enforcement hours until midnight drew push back from businesses, consumers and lower-wage restaurant employees who said they depend on more affordable on-street parking as an alternative to the $10.00 flat fees, charged by many lots and garages. And that, from the city‘s perspective, was also part of the issue, that on-street parking was being filled all night by nightlife employees instead of people who fill the tills.
Travers met with many downtown businesses and ultimately decided to cut back the enforcement period until 9 p.m., but also expand it to all city meters and not just those downtown. The city plans to implement the changes in mid-May.
For Real Estate and Condominium Property Management Services:
On Tuesday, May 22, 2012 from 10:00AM to 5:00PM at the Seaport World Trade Center – Exhibit Hall 200 Seaport Blvd, Boston, MA.
With over 150 exhibitors, learn from educational seminars and take the opportunity to network on this day at one location. Discovering endless solutions imaginable for your condo, HOA or co-op complex, learning from the experts gives educational and networking opportunities.
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source: Commercial Record
The top ten Mortgage Companies listed for 2011 recently in the Commercial Record for Condo Mortgages are:
Bank # Purchased Money Loans
Wells Fargo Bank 213
Bank of America 118
Webster Bank 106
People’s United Bank 94
Libery Bank 63
Union Savings Bank 56
Savings Bank of Danbury 51
Farmington Bank 50
JPMorgan Chase Bank 43
First Niagra Bank 42