SFMC welcomes 11 new communities
May 15, 2016
Contributing writer: Theresa Coates, Team SFMC —
D. R. Horton communities in Virginia and Maryland have been added to the professional portfolio of Team SFMC.
George Ellis, SFMC Principal Owner, said, “SFMC is excited to begin working with D.R. Horton, America’s largest builder, and help the communities to continue to grow.”
A big welcome to the following communities:
Since D.R. Horton was founded in 1978, they have delivered more than 535,000 homes to homebuyers. D.R. Horton, Inc. is a publicly traded company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker DHI.
December 28, 2015
Contributing Writer: Team SFMC | Image: rvanews.com
The rise of urbanization in Fairfax County has increased the need for more parks. The plan to build more parks was amended into the County’s Comprehensive Plan back in May 2013. The county hopes that these parks will bring community members together.
There are five different urban parks: pocket parks, common green, civic plaza, recreation focused parks, and linear parks. These parks satisfy different needs. For example, pocket parks are small open spaces intended for small social interactions. Pocket parks can either be hardscape or lawn. It can also include visual attractions such as art work. Common green parks are larger parks where people can host several activities at once. Civic plazas are hardscape open areas located near roads or intersections. Its open landscape can allows open markets, festivals, and other events to be hosted there. Recreation focused parks will have amenities such as fields, playgrounds, and dog parks. The last type of park is the linear park. This type of park is long and narrow and can be found in high interest parts of the County.
December 21, 2015
Contributing Writer: Team SFMC —
This month, Fairfax County officials, partners, affiliates and neighbors were invited to the ground breaking at the former Lorton Prison for the upcoming Liberty Crest Project. SFMC is a consultant for the project. The Liberty Crest Project was approved on July 29, 2015. Elm Street Development and Alexander Company intends to redevelop the area for residential, business, and community use.
The comprehensive project will use former prison buildings for 165 apartments, and 50,000 square feet for business or residential use. Van Metre will be a builder in the community. Some of the new construction includes building 107 new homes and constructing a 60,000 square foot area for business use.
SFMC Community Map bursts with color
October 10, 2015
SFMC Inc. is a premier community association management company in Maryland/Virginia/DC. We continue to grow with top managers, administration, accounting and leadership to serve our clients.
Look! Our managed communities are everywhere!
How does your neighborhood rate — in a Walk Score?
September 11, 2015
These two demographic groups comprise almost half of the U.S. population — the Census Bureau estimates there are 75.4 million Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and 83.1 million Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000).
Despite the age difference between Millennials and Boomers, they share similar preferences regarding where and how they want to live. Walkable neighborhoods with amenities such as coffee shops, restaurants, arts venues and shopping are at the top of the list. The less people need to get into a car to enjoy those amenities, the happier they are. This is why more people are relocating to small cities and towns with defined downtown districts.
The City of Manassas is a perfect example of what people are seeking in a vibrant downtown. Residents in and around the historic district have a short walk to the growing array of downtown restaurants and shops, festivals and events, markets, galleries , and more. In fact, Historic Downtown Manassas has a Walkscore of 85, which is considered “Very Walkable.”
Responding to these lifestyle trends, real estate developers have become increasingly willing to diverge from typical suburban development to smaller and denser urban renewal projects. Conceived during the economic downturn, several new (but different) housing developments in the Downtown Historic District cater to both demographics.
Prescott Court, a 33–unit garage–style townhome development offers homes priced around $300,000 and is still under development. Old Towne Square, a 58–unit townhome development featuring two– and three–bedroom units with Georgian–style architecture was priced slightly higher. Old Towne Square began construction in 2013 and the last unit was sold in August.
“The neat thing about this community is that it encompasses an entire city block in the heart of the historic district. We were excited about the location because it is walkable to so much in downtown Manassas,” says Candy McCracken of Van Metre. “We worked in partnership with the City to come up with the right product on this site. Everybody is happy with it and homeowners love it.”
Millennials are more transient now than ever before and find apartment living appealing. The City of Manassas offers downtown apartments to meet their needs.
The Courts at Historic Manassas offers 139 luxury rental units priced from $1,400-$2,000 per month. These units are close to all of the amenities that Downtown offers while also being conveniently located to major employers and the VRE.
Renting allows residents to become acclimated to a new area before buying, provides housing without the financial and maintenance burdens of home ownership, and grants flexibility for relocation without worrying about selling a home. Interestingly, the flexibility afforded by apartment living also appeals to Boomers who like to travel extensively.
Highlighting these trends, two more apartment projects in the Historic Downtown are in preliminary development. Messenger Place will replace the vacant News & Messenger Building at 9009 Church Street and will bring 94 apartments to downtown — 75 two-bedroom units and 19 one-bedroom units. It will be a five-story building that will feature 3,500 square feet of retail on the ground level. Residents will enjoy a 24-7 gym facility, lounge, and office area. Rents will range from $1,500 to $2,000. The developer, Coleman Enterprises LLC, anticipates construction to start before the end of the year and for units to become available in July 2016.
Finally, 105 apartments will be coming to Prince William Street, replacing the ABC Building. Manassas Station will anchor this edge of downtown with a three-story building by Christopher Land LLC. It will offer a combination of one- and two-bedroom units featuring granite countertops, walk-in closets, and balconies. Manassas Station will offer residents a fitness center; a community room with a TV and wet bar; and a “cyber café” for working remotely. Rents are anticipated to be comparable with the other two developments and the project is anticipated to be completed in late 2016.
Vendor Spotlight: Capital Painting Co.
April 16, 2015
Contributing writer: Carmen Thorpe
Capital Painting Co. is a Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area-based Class A painting contractor specializing in commercial and residential painting, shopping centers, office buildings, condominium associations, schools, churches, hospitals, and hotels. Their services include painting, decorating, carpentry, caulking, power washing, sealing, and architectural special coatings.
Capital Painting Co. is a family owned and operated business with a staff of over 25 employees. 80% of their employees have been with the company for over 20 years and are continuously trained to stay current with industry technologies and standards of safety.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT – GEORGE TSENTAS
“….We’d like to thank all of our commercial customers in the Washington Metropolitan area for their support and commitment over the last 30 years for trusting us for all their painting and repairing needs….”
Reviews on their services:
“Capital Painting Company LLC was very professional. The written estimate was the most detailed one I have ever received. It specified what services would be performed, the type and quantities of materials, and colors selected so there was no mistake as to what services were to be performed. **** was very enthusiastic about painting!! The company showed up on time to perform the estimate, they did a great job with the paint job, they were very clean, and they completed the job in the time frame discussed. I would use this company again.” –Anonymous
“…Capital Painting Co. is a professional painting company that surpasses our expectations, will definitely use them again and again!!”- George
Connect with Capital Painting Co. by clicking here or you can reach them at this number: (703) 313-0013.
It’s tax time! Top 5 missed tax deductions for homeowners
April 8, 2015
Contributing writer: Carmen Thorpe–– As the crunch time for taxes approaches us –April 15th– make note of some of the great tax breaks out there, just for being a homeowner! We’ve all seen the ads on TV that talk about “getting billions back …” , so what are some of the opportunities to maximize your tax return. For starters check your receipts and count your charitable donations, student loan interest and major medical expenses. Here are the top 5 overlooked tax deductions for homeowners– according to the IRS:
- Home mortgage interest
- Sales tax paid on your home
- Deductible real estate taxes
- Mortgage insurance premiums
- Some energy–efficient mprovements
Click on the IRS link above to read more about each section listed in-depth. You can also click here to see what else you may have missed on your taxes according to huffingtonpost and here is another site –MSN.com– that offers some great insight too! And always consult with a professional tax return preparer to answer your tax questions.
Vendor Spotlight: The King’s Mason
March 30, 2015
Contributing writer: Carmen Thorpe––
This week’s vendor spotlight is on :
The King’s Masons
Since 1980, The King’s Masons, Inc. has established it’s unique reputation – specializing exclusively in hard-scape design and construction in the Virginia, Maryland, D.C. area. Most landscape design begins with the need for elements such as: patios, walks, driveways, porches, steps, walls, posts, columns, pools, fountains etc. Through many centuries of construction, high quality masonry materials have proved to be aesthetically pleasing and the most durable. Masonry construction can be an artistic investment in your home and environment!
Some of the services offered by King’s Mason are:
Here are some of the Before & Afters of their work:
Reviews for King’s Mason:
” Our courtyard is beautiful, and the envy of the neighborhood! Richard hand-placed each rock around our pond and now… it looks so natural I enjoy sitting outside and staring at the elegance! The crew was great… very professional, clean, tidy, and efficient.” –Anonymous
— ANGIE’S LIST 2013, 2012, & 2011 SUPER SERVICE AWARD….reflecting exemplary service in the MASONRY category.Super Service Award winners meet strict eligibility requirements, including: an “A” rating, the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check, and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.
— WASHINGTONIAN MAGAZINE – March 2011 – The Kings Masons is included in the Top 200 List of Home Improvement Experts. “Since 1980, this firm has done masterful masonry, including patios, driveways, walkways, and fireplaces. Clients have included senators and CEOs.”
— 9/14 CLIENT COMMENT – Our courtyard is beautiful, and the envy of the neighborhood! Richard hand-placed each rock around our pond and now… it looks so natural I enjoy sitting outside and staring at the elegance! The crew was great… very professional, clean, tidy, and efficient.
With such wonderful work and great reviews, it is clear to see why people choose to work with King’s Mason.
The King’s Masons
8195-C Euclid Court
Manassas Park, VA 20111
Scholarships and the WMCCAI Expo
March 3, 2015
Contributing writer: Carmen Thorpe––
Are you looking for student scholarships?
Scholarships are sometimes hard to find, but if you are currently living in a community within the Washington metro area, you may just be in luck. The WMCCAI, Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute, has a wonderful scholarship program for high-school students who live in the Washington metro area. Here are some of the requirements for the potential candidate.
In addition to this amazing scholarship, that is getting the high-school students excited, WMCCAI is also getting the adults excited for the 2015 Expo that will be happening this Saturday, Mar. 7, at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. SFMC Inc. will, of course, be there and at booth #205, so come check us out and see why we are a premier community management company.
Profile of a good property manager
February 26, 2015
Contributing writer: Carmen Thorpe––
Do you know what it takes to be a good property/community manager?
With the information gathered on CAI‘s site, we at SFMC Inc. do. CAI defines a community association manager as “ someone who will have the knowledge, ethics, professionalism and skills with verifiable experience in financial, administrative, and facilities management in at least one community association, either commercial or residential.”
In addition to the information above, we’ve compiled a list of attributes that will make you stand out.
Here are our top 5 essential qualifications to be an excellent Property/Community Manager:
- Being an effective communicator with the ability to actively manage change
- Good Ethics and professionalism
- Skilled in financial management –verifiable experience– with excellent computer skills
- Great at establishing effective priorities among competitive markets
- Strong ability to coordinate operations and details, anticipating resident’s needs, and dealing with the unexpected
You can visit: CAI in order to find out more on what you can do to better equip yourself with the skills and certifications needed to become a well rounded and excellent property/community manager. You can also check out this article in The Cooperator on this topic.
With all this knowledge, nothing can stand in your way of success!
What Gives the Association the Right to Tell Me What to Do?
January 6, 2015
In a nutshell: the association declaration and state law gives the association the authority to regulate some of what you can do in our community.
Community associations have a governmental component. Like a city or county government, a community association has a charter—called the declaration. The declaration encompasses bylaws, covenants and other documents that give community associations their legal foundation.
These governing documents obligate the association to preserve and protect the assets of the community. To enable the board to meet this obligation, association governing documents also empower the board to make rules and define the process for adopting and enforcing them—within limits. Governing documents also establish parameters for the nature and type of rules the board can make.
State law gives associations the authority to make rules. These are called common interest community statutes, and they apply to condominiums, cooperatives, and property owners associations.
Remember, however, that the board can’t make or enforce any rule that is contrary to the governing documents, local ordinances, state law or federal regulations. Remember also that the board makes rules on your behalf—to protect your investment, your home.
Setting the Tone
October 30, 2014
The phone rings in the average community management company. For the person answering the phone, there’s a 50/50 chance that the person on the other end is waiting to unleash their fury and rage over a lawn mowing or trash can issue. The first few words to the caller can dictate the course of the entire conversation. Let’s ask: Which would you prefer?
“Happy Management Company. How can I direct your call?”
“Good morning, thank you for calling Happy Management Company. How may I help you?”
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that first impression typically falls on the shoulders of our receptionist or customer service center. That impression should always be friendly, courteous, and project an active desire to help the caller. While management companies spend a lot of time and focus on their managers keeping Boards of Directors satisfied, they often overlook the importance of providing that initial positive customer service experience.
The next time the phone rings in your office, ask yourself: What message are we sending? Is the caller a bother, or is the caller a valued client whom we wish to help? The difference is as simple as changing a few words in reception’s script: From “How can I direct your call?” to “How may I assist you today?” That seemingly minor change makes all the difference in the mindset of the caller, letting them know their concern is your concern. Remember, most people want only two things, 1) to be heard and 2) to have their issue resolved. Making the caller feel like you’re there to listen and help is real customer service and makes for happier clients.
“How may I help you?” A simple phrase that we too often take for granted in our daily interactions. It should be our goal as management to impress upon our clients that we are listening to them and we want to help.
Lulu Rodriguez-King is Director of Strategy and Operations at SFMC, Inc. in Manassas, VA and a member of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute.
South Riding’s wild weekend of festivities and fun!
June 9, 2014
By Theresa Coates / SFMCNews / Community Talk —
It started with a roar and ended with a KABOOM! Celebrate South Riding’s annual festival was action-packed fun. Friday and Saturday was a smashing success for neighbors and friends!
Team SFMC volunteered and were in awe of the spectacular festivity display. The blinking neon amusement rides soared in the sky. Classics like the merry-go-round, ferris wheel and swings were the favorites. Children were thrilled to climb trees and rock walls to tower above the field loaded with excitement.
South Riding Dance and Union Tae Kwon Do put on great shows as part of the featured attractions. The live animals were a hit with the crowd. The garden butterflies fluttered, the farm animals raced laps, the camels stole carrots and the tigers and lion checked out the spectators. Even though the bull was only a ride, it was the biggest challenge. Staying on the saddle for more than 30 seconds was a difficult feat.
Yummy food was plentiful from the massive snow cones to the deep-fried Reese’s peanut butter cup. The sun-drenched crowd chugged chilled old-fashioned soda pop in the food court and ice-cold brew on tap in the beer tent.
Music echoed in the South Riding community as folks danced the night away to the C. Barnes Project, a 10-piece R&B band. But the highlight of the night was the blaze of fireworks that lit the sky during the blackout of the festival.
It was a grand finale to a great day of volunteers and community members coming together to celebrate South Riding!
There’s something about Mary… at the CAI Annual Conference in Orlando!
May 21, 2014
Orlando is a magical city surrounding by lush resorts, theme parks and attractions galore — the perfect place for events and vacations. It was no surprise that the good times seemed endless at the CAI Annual Conference and Exposition from May 14 to May 17.
SFMC’s team member Mary Lockhart earned her PCAM®—Professional Community Association Manager® designation. A PCAM designee has completed the coursework necessary to be considered an expert in community association management — a cause for celebration!
And celebrate we did! Loews Royal Pacific Resort hosted the CAI event with hula dancers, fire twirls and tropical fare scattered throughout the paradise setting. Mary was all smiles as she was presented with her Hawaiian lei during the island-themed dinner show.
SFMC members and family enjoyed Universal Studios, the Magic Kingdom and the Kennedy Space Station. Face painting, shows, rides, Disney characters and rockets — what else could you ask for in attending the most important event of the year for community managers and management executives.
Our Mickey Mouse hats off to Mary who is now a PCAM, one of the world’s most respected credential in association management.
Fly down to the Manassas Airshow!
May 3, 2014
The Manassas Regional Airport is one happening place. Last Saturday, April 27, George Ellis, SFMC logged in another 10K at the Manassas Runway 10k/5k presented by the Bull Run and Manassas Rotary Clubs. The chilly morning had a great turnout as participants taxied to the runway to race by airplanes lined up on the sidelines. The straight, flat course was a simple, challenging route for runners.
Today the Manassas Airshow opens free to the public — with donations accepted — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A collection of airplanes including vintage aircrafts are on display with exciting high-flying acts zooming in the sky through out the day. The performer’s aerobatics will take your breath away. Wear sunglasses and a hat so you don’t miss a trick.
The Freedom Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is on site with a walk-through history timeline paying tribute to those who have served our country. Donations are still being considered to add to the collection.
The Manassas Airshow’s entertainment, exhibits and history will provide aviation inspiration for the whole family. It is a must-see showcase and it’s free!
Welcome Selma Estates!
April 26, 2014
SFMC is proud to welcome their new client: Selma Estates — Stanley Martin Homes Homeowners Association. Located in Loudon County, the new luxury homes are available on lots ranging from .5 acre lots to 10+ acre lots.
Selma Estates offers private, beautiful views of the Virginia foothills with the convenient location to schools and the Historic Downtown Leesburg.
Fully furnished model home address:
42109 Saxon Shore Drive
Leesburg, VA 20176
Hours: Mon. 1-6; Tues. – Sun. 11-6
Contact Jason Barr at 703-777-8128 to visit a model home at Selma Estates.
Team SFMC takes a run for Children’s National
March 30, 2014
Thank goodness the rain stayed away for the runners and walkers pounding the streets of the 22nd Van Metre 5 Mile Run/Fun Walk on Saturday morning. Team SFMC sprinted to the finish line to the cheering Dr. Bear, the mascot for Children’s National.
The Broadlands Marketplace was bustling with an energetic crowd enjoying the music, pizza, donuts, fruit, and water available after the race. Prizes and medals were awarded to participants. The friendly staff of the Children’s Bloodmobile accepted donations until noon.
The event was a huge success for the benefit of the children in the health system.
Running for the health of it
Team SFMC is gearing up for the 22nd Annual Van Metre 5-Mile Run and One-Mile Fun Run/Walk to benefit Children’s National Medical Center scheduled for Saturday, March 29, 2014. The fun begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Broadlands Marketplace, Ashburn, Va.
The goal is set for $150,000 with late registration available on race day. A post race celebration with awards and door prizes is planned for all participants.
The Bloodmobile will be at the event to accept donations. All skill levels are welcome to join the celebration to benefit this worthy cause.
Victory for the 2014 WMCCAI Conference and Expo
March 24, 2014
The Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Association Institute (WMCCAI) board of directors and staff did a slam dunk for their March 22, 2014 Conference and Expo. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center was the stage for almost 190 management professionals and business partners catering to community’s needs. The “Get Your Game On” theme was packed with exhibits that included basketball, bingo, a photo booth, and mimosa toasts for a job well done.
Education was on the roster for participants of the event. SFMC’s Vice President Paul Orlando was a speaker for the education seminar, “A Primer to the Essentials of Common Interest Community Leadership.” The overview included a review of the history, organization and problem solving techniques for community associations.
Team SFMC performed maneuvers on the field of play scoring promotional gear for their swag bags. A Harlem Globtrotter, a referee and a few golf pros were in costume to hustle the court of the exhibit hall. The WMCCAI went into overtime to achieve an action-packed day of creative networking and seminars.
The WMCCAI Conference and Expo is coming!
March 23, 2014
The Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute (WMCCAI) will hold their expo, conference and education seminars on Saturday March 22, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (WEWCC) 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW, Washington, D.C. Members include community association managers and volunteers from property associations.
Team SFMC will join service and product providers for the largest community association industry event in the Washington metropolitan area
The WMCCAI serves the educational, business and networking needs of the community association industry.
State snow budget topples “Snowmageddan
March 15, 2014
Road crews had been called upon approximately 30 times this winter in the Washington region. Communities in Maryland, DC, and Virginia are anxious for the tulips and daffodils to break through the soil — a sure sign of spring.
The Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) snow budget was only $46 million. So far the state has blown through $123 million. SHA’s Dave Buck said that 2,400 trucks had been deployed to combat the freezing rain and snow storms of the season.
The high snow budget concerns have been compounded by the scarcity of salt for the roads. SHA used a mixture of molasses and salt brine. Frederick County mixed the salt with a small stone chip for added traction.
To treat the roads prior to the storm a mixture of magnesium chloride and a corn byproduct, very similar to corn syrup was sprayed. This treatment made the salt “stick” to the roadway instead of bouncing off. These products are less corrosive and decreased the amount of salt.
The District reported in February that the last major snow storm put its $2.5 million budget up to $6.2 million. Department of Public Works spokeswoman Linda Grant said that the snowfall of the 2013-2014 winter is less than the record-breaking 2009-2010 season but the number of storms has been greater. Crews have mobilized 25 times so far this year, compared to 20 times in 2009-2010.
Virginia highway officials rolled out about 4,000 snowplows and salt trucks to the Northern Virginia roads. The snow removal tab of $157 million exceeds the budget by more than $100 million. Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reported that the spending was far greater than what was spent in Northern Virginia for “Snowmageddon” in 2010.
There is a light at the end of this snow tunnel. March 9th will bring the big event: daylight savings time. Communities will spring ahead to one more hour of sunshine and gear up to retire the snowplows for the season.
10 rules to follow for community safety
February 20, 2014
No matter where you live — city, suburb, or the country — remember some simple safety rules. Historically, winter has a lower crime rate than the summer season, however, there has been some unusual crime events in the Washington Metro Area. Alexandria and Prince William County both made the headlines this week when violent suspects approached the homes of innocent people.
- Communicate about your whereabouts with trusted family and friends.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Always walk briskly when you are out and about. Conceal all valuables and only carry what you need.
- Stick to heavily populated and well-lit areas.
- Avoid unsolicited offers for help.
- When meeting someone out for the first few times, consider meeting him or her at a public location instead of at home.
- When returning home, be cautious. If you see anything out of the ordinary, call 911.
- Examine your locks, door frames and window frames.
- Keep the house locked, even if you are home. Be cautious about opening the door to unknown visitors. Consider using lights when you are at work or out-of-town to give the impression that someone is home.
- Take pride in your community. Contact the Police Department to present a safety awareness workshop for residents. Request a free security assessment of your home.
- Consider a security system for protection for your home.
Do you know of any additional safety tips?
Top 12 Homeowner’s Insurance FAQs
January 14, 2014
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported general responses to the most frequently asked questions about homeowner’s insurance. Please check with State Department of Insurance for comprehensive information.
1. Why should I buy homeowners insurance?
- Home Owners: Protect both your house and personal property.
- Tenants of Rental Properties: Protect your personal property.
- All parties: Protection against liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.
2. Are deductibles required and if so, what are they?
Yes, most homeowners forms contain deductible provisions applicable to losses occurring under Section I (Section I losses include (a) dwelling, (b) appurtenant structure, (c) unscheduled personal property, and (d) additional living expenses). The type and amount of deductible varies by company. Deductible provisions do not apply to Section II losses (Section II losses include personal liability [bodily injury and property damage] and medical payments to others). Some companies offer an optional deductible applicable only to wind or hail losses. Most offer higher deductible options such as $500 or $1,000 at a reduced premium.
3. What property and perils are excluded from most homeowner policies?
Most homeowner policies provide coverage that does not apply to animals, birds, fish, automobiles and business property; for loss or damage caused by flood, surface water, water which backs up through sewers or drains, earth movement, nuclear damage, war, etc. Section II coverages (personal liability and medical payments) do not apply to the operation, ownership, use, etc., of any aircraft, automobile, recreational motor vehicle, water craft powered by more than 50 horsepower motor; bodily injury or physical damage caused by an intentional act of the insured. It must be noted that these are a mere sample of property and perils not covered. A complete review of your policy is the only way to determine what property is covered and what perils are insured against. Also, there are specific limits of coverage on property insured under the homeowner’s policy such as money, securities, water craft, theft of jewelry, silverware, and/or guns.
4. My house was completely destroyed by fire. I’m trying to collect on my personal property that I had in the house, but the insurance company is telling me I need an inventory. Can they do that?
Yes. Whether your policy pays for the replacement or just the actual cash value, the company is only obligated to pay for personal property that you can show you owned at the time of loss. It is a very good idea to keep an up to date inventory in a secure place. Also, to help you remember what you had, it is helpful to take pictures of each room and keep them with your inventory.
5. Our sump pump failed and the insurance company is denying our claim because the water backed up through our sewers. Can they do this?
Most insurance policies exclude water damage from water that backs up through sewers or drains. You may wish to contact your agent and inquire about putting an endorsement on your policy, which would cover sewer back up.
6. All my CDs and tapes were recently stolen from my vehicle. My insurance company advised there is no coverage for these items in either my auto insurance or my homeowner’s insurance policy. Is this true?
Almost all auto and homeowners policies exclude coverage for any losses of tapes, disks and other sound transmitting or receiving equipment used in an automobile. Some insurance companies however, will provide coverage for these items for an additional premium. Check with your agent to determine if coverage can be purchased for the stereo, tapes and disks used in your auto.
7. My boat was stolen and now my insurance company will not pay the claim on my homeowner’s policy. Can they deny my claim?
Theft to watercraft, including furnishings, equipment and outboard motors, are typically excluded if the theft occurs outside your residential premises. To adequately cover your boat and its accessories, you should contact your agent regarding a separate policy covering the boat.
8. I have specifically insured antique items listed on my homeowner’s policy. If I have a total loss, would the insurance company pay me the insured value?
Your insurance company would first confirm the value of the items with one or more independent antique dealers. You should then be paid a dollar value based on the dealer(s) estimate of the worth of the antique items. If you disagree with the settlement offered by your insurer, then you can follow the dispute resolution process outlined in your policy. There is a simpler way: Get appraisals and have your agent establish the stated values in the policy. You should also keep your appraisals up-to-date.
9. During a storm, a tree from my neighbor’s yard fell and destroyed my fence. Does my homeowner’s policy pay for the damage or does my neighbor’s policy?
Generally, your own policy should cover the loss. Your insurance company may be able to recover the amount it pays you for the loss and your deductible from the homeowners insurance that your neighbor may have if the loss occurred as a result of your neighbor’s negligence.
10. Recent rainstorms have flooded and damaged my basement. Is there any coverage under my homeowner’s policy?
Flood coverage is generally excluded on the basic homeowners policy. However, some homeowners policies provide coverage for backup of sewers and drains that cause flooding in your basement. This coverage can be purchased for a nominal premium. You should check with your agent to see if this coverage is provided and how much it costs.
If, however, you live in a flood-prone area, you should consider – and may be required by your lending institution – to purchase a flood insurance policy. Your agent should be able to inform you about the Federal Flood Insurance Plan and the exclusions and limitations of coverage in this policy.
11. When can an insurance company cancel my homeowners coverage during the policy term?
Generally, your policy can be cancelled for these reasons:
- Non-payment of premium;
- Material misrepresentation/Fraud;
- Conviction of a crime arising out of acts increasing the hazard insured against. (For example, conviction for illegal storage of fireworks);
- Discovery of willful or reckless acts or omissions by the insured increasing the hazard insured against. (For example, not getting a gas leak fixed);
- Physical changes in the property insured which result in the property becoming uninsurable. (For example, should the home become vacant for more than 60 consecutive days, a greater exposure to vandalism and damage is assumed to exist); and
- A determination by the Commissioner of Insurance that continuation of the policy would place the insurance company in violation of the law.
12. The food in my freezer went bad because I lost power in my home. Does my homeowners policy provide coverage for this?
The basic homeowner policy usually does not. However, this is a popular coverage for insurance companies to offer and you may be able to buy this coverage for a nominal additional premium. There is also the issue of where the power was lost. Some policies are limited to coverage for electricity lost in the home or where the electricity enters the home. Others will limit coverage to within so many yards from the home. Your agent should be able to tell you about the availability of coverage and how much it would cost.
Where to find Santa in the DC area
December 10, 2013
If your kiddies have a wish list to drop off to Santa, check out these top spots in the Washington, DC Metro Area. St. Nick will be parading, sleighing and ho-ho-ing until the big day! Check them out:
- Eileens Bakery and Cafe, Fredericksburg, Va. hosts a Santa Breakfast on Sun., Dec. 15. Reservations required.
- Reston Town Center is decorated to the hilt and offers continuous holiday happenings.
- Dumfries, Va. Victorian Holiday Parade on Sat., Dec. 14.
- Fair Oaks Mall, Va. houses Santa in a blue festive Ice Palace.
- Ticonderago Farms, Chantilly, Va. offers weekend fun for the family with Santa time.
- Santarchy, Washington, DC unleashes Santa-wannabes to visit all over the city on Sat. Dec. 14.
Do you have a Santa spot to share?
Know the community rules before you buy
December 6, 2013
Community Associations Institute (CAI) provides resources to community associations. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) represents realtors, property managers and other real estate members. These organizations offer a free brochure, “Community Matters, What You Should Know Before You Buy,” a handy reference for prospective homeowners.
Knowing the rules, procedures, restrictions and the assessments for the community can assist in the decision to buy a home.
October 25, 2013
Photo via decoreyouadore.com
Are you searching for a family friendly activity for the weekend? Look no further! We’ve got a couple options for you.
South Riding’s Halloween Spooktacular Parade
South Riding is hosting its annual Halloween parade on Saturday, October 26 from 2pm – 4pm. The Parade starts at the South Riding Golf Club, 43237 Golf View Dr at 2pm. For more information about the event, click here.
Trick or Treating at Reston Town Center
Costumed children who visit participating retailers will receive treats and goodies. Be sure to look for the pumpkin flyer in the window!
Here’s a list of some of the participating retailers:
American Tap Room
Ben & Jerry’s
Bow Tie Cinemas
McCormick & Schmick’s
Potomac River Running
PR at Partners
The Bike Lane
CAI Large Scale Managers’ Workshop
October 18, 2013
As reported before, SFMC’s Paul Orlando attended CAI’s Large Scale Managers Workshop in Honolulu. We got a chance to catch up with Mr. Orlando to ask him about his experience:
What was the one big “take away” from the Large Scale Managers workshop?
“The workshop was a great opportunity for networking. Professionals from around the country are able to trade ideas and best practices and that’s a great take away from the experience. We were able to visit some large scale communities there and talk about their best practices, too.”
How is managing a large scale community unique?
“It’s unique in that most of the operations are carried out by on-site staff as opposed to a management company. There are also a lot of social and special events because of the size of the communities.”
What is the most challenging part of managing a large scale community?
“The sheer size — the number of homeowners and residents makes it challenging.”
What is the most rewarding part of managing a large scale community?
“You really get to feel like a part of the community because you’re there so often.”
If you have any additional questions for Mr. Orlando about large scale community management, leave them in our “comments” section.
Pearls of Wisdom
September 27, 2013
Have you ever wished that there was a compilation of tips for living in or leading an HOA? CAI published one. It’s called “Pearls of Wisdom” and it’s available for download on their website.
It’s divided into sections and the sections are called:
- Be a Good Homeowner
- Be a Good Neighbor
- Be a Good Board Member
- Be a Good Leader
- Have Productive Meetings
- Work with Committees
- Develop a Successful Budget
- Seek Compliance with Rules and Deed Restrictions
- Tenants and Kids, Parking and Pets
- Working with Difficult Personalities
- Foster Community Spirit
- Know When it’s Time to Go
The tips are typically one to two sentences long, which makes for quick and easy reading.
Click on the photo above or click here to download.
Happy Anniversary, CAI!
Congratulations are, again, in order to the Community Association Institute. They’re celebrating their 40th anniversary today.
Here’s a brief history of CAI:
CAI was officially founded Sept. 20, 1973, making 2013 the organization’s 40th anniversary. The first newsletter, CAI News, was distributed to 200 members. Today, CAI’s flagship magazine, Common Ground, is distributed to more than 32,000 members in 61 chapters.
Visit their anniversary website here.
Keeping Up with Your Community
August 28, 2013
Be honest, when your community sends out newsletters or bulletins, do you read them? Does your community use an email list serve? How often do you read those?
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t pay much attention to that information, you may want to start. If anything, you should be concerned with the information that your HOA is putting out because there could be important information that you need.
For example, when a community needs to have their parking spaces repainted, the spaces need to be blocked off and cars need to be moved. If residents aren’t paying attention to announcements, they may not know that their cars are at risk for being towed.
This is just one example of how important it is to be on top of the news in your community. If the HOA is producing materials to keep you informed, it’s your responsibility as a homeowner to pay attention so you know what is expected of you.
What are your thoughts? Do you ignore newsletters and emails?
Leave us a comment!
The Welcome Wagon
August 16, 2013
Let’s talk about new neighbors.
Whether you live in an HOA that has an actual “Welcome Committee” or you just want to get to know new neighbors as they arrive in the community, it’s a good way to build community spirit.
In old movies, you can see throngs of residents flocking to the new neighbor’s home with casseroles and desserts. Nowadays, people just don’t have time for that. However, if you notice people moving in, why not take a few minutes and try out one of our tips?
- Have a game night and extend the invite to your new neighbors.
- Send them a handwritten note or card welcoming them to the community. You’d be surprised just how meaningful a little personal mail can be.
- Make a basket of things relevant to the community such as small gift cards for local stores. If a bunch of neighbors contribute, it can end up pretty inexpensive.
- If you see that the new neighbors have children, extend the invite for a playground or park play date. The parents can get to know one another and it’ll make it easier for the new kids to make some friends.
- If there are events already happening in the community, be sure to extend a personal invite to the new neighbors so they know what’s happening. Sometimes during a move, people don’t have time to check out community calendars. A community event is a good way to help the new family get acclimated.
- Try the old standard: Make a dish and take it over. Try and do a little recon-work first, though. Nowadays people have so many dietary restrictions, it’s better to ask first.
Those are just some simple ideas to get you started. What does your neighborhood do? Let us know!
The “Comm” in Community
August 14, 2013
Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s particularly important when living in a homeowners association.
Failure to do so can result in misunderstandings or arguments between neighbors. It can also cause unpleasant feelings towards your managers. To avoid these misunderstandings or difficulties, there are some simple tips to help encourage better communication in the community.
- Attend monthly meetings. Find out when and where your HOA meets and go. Even if you don’t have an issue to bring up, it’s good to know what’s going on in the community. It’s also good to know your board members and to make sure they know you. That way, you know who you can go to when there’s an issue or a question.
- If you can’t attend meetings, find out where minutes are posted. If they aren’t posted anywhere, contact your community’s secretary and ask for some highlights or important information.
- Volunteer for committees. The more involved you are, the more open the lines of communication are.
- Be familiar with your community’s disclosure packet and bylaws. The more you know, the less confusion there is. If you have a question about one of the bylaws, email your community manager.
- Take the time to say “Hi” to your neighbors when you see them around. A smile and a wave go a long way towards building community ties.
- If you do notice a neighbor disregard the rules, gently remind them of the policies. If you notice that they are ignoring the rules on a frequent basis, be sure to submit a complaint, via email, to your community manager so that they can handle it. That way, there’s less tension among the neighbors.
Of course there are many other ways to maintain good communication within a community, but these tips can be a start. Let us know how your community communicates!
August 12, 2013
Homeowners everywhere have probably experienced a “pet waste” problem at least once or twice. When asked about community complaints, SFMC managers all cite it as being one of the most common.
Nothing ruins the fun of the outdoors quite like a pet owner choosing not to clean up after their dog. It’s unsightly and it’s a health hazard. Pet waste can play host to various types of bacteria, so leaving it around puts humans and other pets at risk. Not to mention, it’s just plain gross.
The August edition of CAI’s “Quorum” features an article by David Jensen (Pet Waste Management Expert with “DoodyCalls”) with tips for improved “pet etiquette.”
- “When taking your own dog for a walk, always keep a couple pickup bags with you.”
Even if your pet doesn’t have to go, if you see a neighbor has forgotten their own bag, you can offer them one.
- “Make use of community pet waste stations for bag pick up and drop off.”
Those stations are there for you. By using them, you’re contributing to the betterment of the community.
- “If you forget a bag and your dog does do his business, don’t forget about the waste.”
Just because you don’t have a bag with you does not mean that you are no longer responsible. Be sure to grab a bag at the nearest waste station and go back for the waste.
- “If you find a station in disrepair or in need of servicing, notify your community manager.”
By keeping all waste stations in working order, it will encourage your neighbors to use them and keep the community clean.
By following these rules, communities will be a safer and cleaner place to live and play. If you notice someone is consistently ignoring the rules, do not confront them yourself. Be sure to submit a complaint, in writing, to your community manager.
Have you ever had a pet waste problem? How did your community handle it? Share in our comments section!
Justin Bieber, HOA Bylaws and Disruptive Neighbors
July 15, 2013
Back in June, there were reports of an altercation between NFL star Keyshawn Johnson and Justin Bieber. Johnson allegedly confronted Bieber about his reckless driving through the neighborhood while his daughter was playing. That day, Bieber’s Ferrari came through the streets at more than twice the posted speed limit.
Though Bieber himself was not driving the car that day, this is not the first time he’s caused trouble within his Calabasas neighborhood. Several of his neighbors have complained about loud parties, motorcycle races through the streets, and other antics that draw the attention of paparazzi and news helicopters. The neighborhood understands that celebrities don’t invite the reporters, however the greater issue is the refusal to adhere to the HOA bylaws.
How are Justin Bieber and his neighbors relevant to HOAs everywhere? Neighborly disputes are some of the most common complaints that association management companies receive. It’s also important to remember that when you purchase a home in a community with an HOA, you are agreeing to a set of bylaws that must be followed.
The altercation between Keyshawn Johnson and Justin Bieber is a good reminder to anyone living in an HOA. When someone isn’t following the rules and it affects you or your family, contact your community manager — do not confront the neighbor yourself. Confrontations like that often escalate and it can be avoided. By contacting the manager in writing (via E-mail) with proof of the violations, it makes it easier to enforce the bylaws of the community.
Have you ever had a neighbor who didn’t follow the rules? How did you handle it? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Celebrate by Del Webb Community Celebrates the 4th in Style
July 8, 2013
For the third year in a row, residents of the Celebrate by Del Webb community held their annual 4th of July parade. Celebrate by Del Webb is an active adult community in Fredericksburg, Va. News.Fredericksburg.Com’s front page featured an article about the parade and some of the residents who participated.
Read the article here.
HOA ProTip: E-mail Writing
June 24, 2013
In the May/June issue of Community Manager, the article “Before You Press ‘Send'” discusses the importance of creating clear, concise e-mails that “won’t get ignored.” In the world of community and property management, there is a lot of information being sent back and forth electronically. Whether you’re a manager, administrator, homeowner, board member, or vendor, you’re essentially in a competition for electronic attention. Creating an e-mail that is not only professional, but clear enough to convey what you want or need right away is the best way to insure that you get attention.
Bryan A. Garner, writer for HBR’s Blog Network, gives some pointers for efficient e-mail writing:
- Start with a short, descriptive subject line.
- Keep your message brief — within one screen capture — and direct.
- Make any requests for information or action clear and succinct. Include deadlines.
- If your message must contain descriptive text or narratives, structure the information chronologically and with a “clear beginning, middle, and end.”
Forbes.com also produced a list of tips for e-mail writing by Helen Coster:
- Avoid metaphors.
- Keep language simple and avoid needless words.
- Use English rather than jargon or slang.
- Don’t use exclamation points (!), characters or symbols.
Along with these tips, e-mailers must remember that once the message is sent, you cannot take it back. In order to optimize your correspondance, you must remember that everyone’s time is valuable. The better crafted the e-mail, the more smoothly everything goes.
Veterans Memorial Dedication at Four Seasons
June 19, 2013
Last week, George Ellis attended the dedication of a Veterans Memorial at Four Seasons at Historic Virginia. Above are photos from the dedication.
April 24, 2013
This past weekend, SFMC team and family members flew to San Diego for the 2013 CAI Anual Conference and Exposition to celebrate CAI’s 40th anniversary.
Feel unsafe? Contact 911 — pronto!
April 15, 2013
- Image Source: safetysign.com
While it is the community association manager’s job to maintain order and to enforce the rules of the community, many times residents mistake their managers for law enforcement. In the March/April edition of Community Manager, “Call 911 — Not Me!” is about taking your personal safety and the safety of your home into your own hands.
Disclosure packages often contain information about the board’s authority over community safety and it also should outline what their obligations are. This is also true for the role of managers with regard to the safety of the community.
Managers are encouraged to remind the residents of their communities that yes, the board and the managers do keep an eye on the community. However, they are not meant to be used as some kind of security task force. In fact, association staff members are discouraged from even using the word “security” as it could create a liability issue should something happen within the community. For example, if the community is gated and the gates are referred to as “security” gates, the manager and association are responsible for anything that may go wrong in the event of a malfunction.
Even if your community has a neighborhood watch, their jobs are simply to observe and report. They remain in their vehicles and call the police in the event of a threat to the community.
Asa Ashcraft, LSM, PCAM, and managing director at Spanish Trails Master Association says, “If you see smoke and flames, or electrical arcs, or somebody armed or who looks suspicious, call 911. Don’t call me.”
Of course, there are ways to open up a dialogue that will educate community memebers about the safety of their homes. Suggest the start of a committee that focuses on safety and how to improve security conditions in the community. Have that committee open up a dialogue with local law enforcement. Likewise, be sure to promote safety measures in newsletters and talk to your manager about practical solutions.
The important thing to remember, though, is if there’s an urgent situation or you feel as though your safety is compromised — call the police, not your managers.
2013 WMCCAI Conference and Expo
March 27, 2013
On Saturday, March 23, SFMC participated in the Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute (WMCCAI)’s annual conference and expo. The expo featured vendors, law firms, and continuing education courses throughout the day. Here are some photos, provided by George Ellis.
HOA Pro Tip: Complaints and Concerns
March 22, 2013
One of the benefits of living in a homeowners association is that you have a body of people who can regulate conflicts and address concerns. The management company and the HOA are also there to enforce rules.
This neighborhood had no way to stop one of its residents from building a 40-foot statue in his backyard because they do not have an HOA. While that is an extreme case, complaints about neighbors or community rules are common.
When asked, “What are some of the most common issues that your home owners contact you about?” SFMC members across the board discussed the idea of “The Four P’s — People, Pets, Parking, and Pools.”
Basically, people are concerned with where they can and can’t park (and if someone is in their space). They care if their neighbors are being disruptive or frustrating. They want people to pick up after their pets and they want their pool membership.
Does this sound familiar? If it does, you aren’t alone.
What’s important to remember is that these concerns and questions are completely valid and should be welcomed by your management company. If you don’t feel like you can go to your management company with these kinds of concerns, then maybe that management company isn’t the one for you.
HOA Pro Tip: Meetings Part 2
March 8, 2013
Since our last ProTip entry, we had some time to talk to SFMC’s own George Ellis about his thoughts on the subject. Hopefully, his thoughts will help encourage you to get involved and attend a meeting to see for yourself:
1. What do you think are the main benefits to regular attendance at HOA meetings?
“They are better informed and educated. They are better able to become involved. They get to know the association leadership personally and are able to involve themselves with available committees. They are also exposed to the professionalism that oversees the association and they tend to feel a sense of ownership.”
2. What goes on at a typical meeting that homeowners might not realize?
A big part is the current board initiatives. i.e. “We are going to plant 50 trees” (hey, I didn’t know that).
The typical attendee sees beyond the mowing, swimming pool and monthly assessment payments. They see the discussions of investments, rules enforcement, interactions with developers, county, insurance, web sites, Architectural Review Committee work, public utility easement discussions, lawsuit activity (mainly collections), etc.
Often times the board and management are keyed into the small details and the attendee becomes more educated.”
HOA Pro Tip: Meetings
March 6, 2013
One of the easiest ways to really dive into living in an HOA is to attend the meetings. Community managers agree that the biggest problem that they see is apathy and that leads to less “know how” about certain HOA issues.
There is a real lack of interest in the goings on of the community association, yet when decisions are made there can be frustration or even anger. Managers agree that might not happen if people attended meetings regularly and expressed interest in the decision making process.
Have you ever been to one of your HOA meetings? Did you find it helpful? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience.
HOA Pro Tip: Disclosure Packages
March 5, 2013
At SFMC News, we want you to get the most out of living in an HOA. We will now offer a series of “HOA Pro tips” that are designed to help you — the homeowner.
The first tip is possibly the most important of them all. In our research at SFMC, we’ve discovered that the main cause for concern or complaint is a simple lack of communication and understanding. This can be fixed easily with one simple tool: Your disclosure packet.
When you move into an HOA, you are given a disclosure packet which outlines the bylaws and procedures of your association. Though it may not seem like exciting reading, it is full of very important information that you are likely to need.
Many managers would agree that the majority of problems that their homeowners face could easily be prevented by taking time to read and ask questions about their disclosure packages.
So remember, homeowners, if you haven’t taken the time to look through that disclosure package, now’s the time!
Leave a comment to tell us about a time if the disclosure packet helped you!
Legal Advice Roundtables
February 25, 2013
Ursula Burgess (Rees Broome, PC) has announced that WMCCAI will be offering legal advice roundtables on Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Registration for the roundtables will begin at 6 p.m.
The event will be held at the Tyson’s Corner Marriott, located at 8028 Leesburg Pike Tyson’s Corner, Va 22182. Parking is available on-site for $2 per hour with a $6 maximum.
Not only will you be able to get answers to your most difficult legal questions, but you will also be able to network with some of the area’s top community association law firms.
These roundtables will also serve as two continuing education units towards earning your PCAM designation and maintaining your CMCA certification and your AMS designation.
The event fees are as follows:
Homeowner Member — $20
Business Partner Member — $50
Manager Member — $20
Nonmember — $65
Court ruling update on monetary penalties
February 16, 2013
Ken Chadwick Bruce Easmunt
Local attorneys Ken Chadwick and Bruce Easmunt of the firm Chadwick, Washington, Moriarty, Elmore and Bunn graciously gave us about an hour of their time on Feb 12 to explain recent court rulings, both at the circuit court and VA Supreme Court levels, that impact the ability of our client associations to use monetary penalties to encourage and compel owners in associations to comply with rules and regulations.
For many years most associations have relied upon provisions of state statutes for this authority but the court rulings now indicate that the association governing documents are the controlling authority. Associations that do not have documents with language permitting such monetary penalties may find themselves having to amend their documents by action of the members.
Article contributed by: Paul L. Orlando, CMCA®, LSM®, PCAM®, SFMC Vice President
Congratulations to Lynn Perry Parker
February 8, 2013
SFMC is thrilled to share Lynn Perry Parker’s recognition as 2013′s Super Lawyer for both the District and Maryland.
She launched LPP Law in August of 2012 to represent local and national for-profit and non-profit businesses.
Painted Skies and Puddles in Tucson
February 8, 2013
Tucson displayed beautiful sunrises and sunsets during the CAI 34th Annual Law Seminar from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26. After a rainstorm hit the area, the winter landscape woke up and became alive with color.
CAI 34th Annual Law Seminar
January 26, 2013
SFMC Executives traveled to Tucson Arizona for the CAI 34th Annual Law Seminar from January 23 to January 26.
The 81 degree weather was a welcome change compared to the 18 degree temperature back in the DC Metro Area. News that the first winter snowfall hit the northeast on Thursday spread through the seminar like wildfire. Community managers were in snow mode as updates were texted and tweeted to manage the streets and sidewalks.
The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa hosted the sessions packed with legal updates ranging from case studies to cloud applications. The splendor of the Tucson desert and canyons were explored after the conclusion of the educational portion of the day. Restaurants galore sprinkled the streets of the city. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar provided an excellent dinner and comprehensive wine list with great service.