Thinking About High Rise Condo Living?

Downtown workers are flocking to high rise condo living, but Houston high rise association management companies caution you; not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. If you are one of the lucky ones that is, it can be a fun and active lifestyle.

The pro, the cons from Houston high rise association management, RISE

RISE is one of the premiere Houston high rise association management companies. I reached out to them for the pro and cons of high rise condo living.

It starts with HOA dues according to RISE. HOA dues tend to be a little more, but, your amenities may replace many of your now homes expenses. All Houston high rise association management says consider savings like yard care, pool maintenance, trash service, gym memberships and the list goes on. Compare apples to apples.

Are you a hoarder? If you are, the lack of storage in high rise condo living will rule it out quickly for you. Houston high rise association management says limited space is why high-rise living is ideal for the young homeowner starting out or the older individual who is retiring and downsizing.

Can’t imagine living without your furry friend? Houston high rise association management encourages you to make certain pets are welcome. Mot high rise condo living comes with heavy restrictions on pets to just not allowing them at all.

When we talk about rules, Houston high rise association management company RISE says noise restriction are usually extensive. Do sleep days and work nights? Do you have a kicking stereo or home theatre system that you love to blast…you might want to reconsider; condo high rise living may not be your best option.

Parking is another area that needs to be considered according to Houston high rise association management company RISE. Most one-bedroom condos come with one parking space due to limited parking. They may have additional spaces you can lease, however if they don’t and you’re a two-vehicle family, high rise condo living might not be for you.

The bottom line from Houston high rise association management company, RISE

Do your homework; that’s what my friends from RISE say. Look at your lifestyle and what you are willing to change if you are making the move from a traditional single-family home or duplex. Don’t forget to ask about the financial condition of any condominium property you are considering; if you’re not sure what to look for, contact RISE (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com. RISE sets the standard when it comes to Houston high rise association management.

The Top 10 Questions from Condo Buyers in Houston

Condo buyer inspecting unit

Condo buyers in today’s’ market are a mix of first time home buyers with small families, single millennials, and empty nesters. This diversity is resulting in condo buyers’ questions being a mix of old and new. For Houston property managers, Hurricane Harvey is also affecting questions during showings. Here’s a list of 10 questions you’re likely to encounter and a possible response.

Top 10 Questions to Condo Property Managers

  1. Did this property flood? Was it affected by Harvey?

    This is an easy question, it’s fairly black and white. Yes, we had flooding or no we didn’t. If you had flooding, be prepared to answer what level and how it was handled by the condo association. Be upfront about a unit that was damaged and provide proof of mold remediation and warranties.

  2. What type of insurance does your property carry?

    Condo buyer’s may want to see proof of coverage and limits. Understand your landlord insurance policy, what it covers and what it doesn’t.

  3. Are there mandatory types of insurance required by the association board?

    The answer can be found in the CC&Rs. Educate buyers on what insurance they are required to purchase. Let them know it is recommended they talk with a licensed insurance agent for optional coverage.

  4. Are we allowed to AirBNB our condo?

    This question is becoming more popular, as AirBNB, HomeAway and other sites are still relatively new. Not all condo properties allow short term rentals such as AirBNB. Most condo buyers won’t know what short term rental means, so educate them in the lease agreement.

  5. Do you have discount condos available?

    The term “discount condos” is defined by context. Discount condos can mean condos that flooded, selling at a discount in lieu of repair. In the rental market, this could be referring to Section 8 units or condos rented at a lower rate due to seasonal shifts. Answer accordingly.

  6. Does this unit have hurricane proof windows?

    In a showing, highlight the thick walls and protections against excess flooding and wind. Not sure, check with your maintenance man or management company to find out the age and certification of windows.

  7. What is the management team like?

    This is a common condo buyers’ question, buyers want a responsive management company who will protect their investment.

  8. Who makes the rules and what are they?

    The same reason people love a management company is the same reason they hate them; management companies propose the rules and enforce them in many cases. This is the preferred method vs. a condo association board handling the issue, but that’s a whole other article.

  9. Is there storage space available?

    Not only do millennials like their toys, but so do the empty nesters. Highlight the bike racks, storage lockers, garage options and other amenities around storage.

  10. Does this community have a reserve fund and reserve fund study?

    Today’s buyers are educated, they want to know if their investment is being protected and they don’t want to get hit with assessment after assessment.

Kind of like a marriage, condo buyers’ questions are a mix of something old and something new depending on their perspective. Need information on what you should do, start with your management association, don’t have one, now may be the time to consider a change. Contact RISE (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com. RISE sets the standard when it comes to Houston high rise association management.

Should Your Condo Community Accept FHA Loans?

A very common and important consideration for a condo community, is should FHA loans be accepted? The Federal Housing Authority was designed to help individuals and families of all incomes afford housing. Compatible with single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums, the non-conventional loan requires a smaller down payment and more favorable interest rates. It’s a noble mission, but one that often conflicts with a condo homeowners association and its balance sheet.

FHA Condo Loan Application

Just the facts on FHA

  • 21% of real estate loans are FHA loans
  • 35% of millennials are opting for FHA loans
  • 82% of FHA loans were for first time buyers
  • Statistically, FHA buyers are not more likely to default on a loan
  • FHA loans do not attract a lower level of buyer; in fact, FHA insured loans can reach as high as $800K
  • Increase in pool of buyers for FHA condos increases values for those condos
  • FHA loans are assumable and eligible for reverse mortgages-great advantage
  • FHA criteria means you will have a more stable base of owner/occupant vs investor/tenant

Source: FHA Review

Embedded in these facts, are a variety of misconceptions that are now outdated. New condo buyers due to the great recession, student debt and a host of other factors are more likely to seek FHA approval. In 2018, good credit buyers with steady income are seeking FHA loans. Despite the benefits of accepting FHA, many condominiums are not approved or in compliance.

FHA Approved Condos in Houston

For a city the size of Houston, how many FHA approved condos do you think there are? It’s shocking, but with 2.3 million residents, there are only 21 FHA approved condos in Houston! Interesting enough, 184 condo properties were at one time approved, but many have now let their FHA approval lapse. Let’s find out why.

Getting Approved as an FHA Condominium

Nationwide, only 7% of condominium properties are FHA approved. The biggest reason for a property owner not seeking FHA approval is compliance. A variety of rules must be met and it differs for new vs. old properties, whether a condo owners association is active and by location. In summary, getting approval can be cumbersome and many new developments skip the process.

Working with a property management company can help fast track approval. Accepting VA loans is another way to receive faster approval for FHA compliance. A condo management firm can be an important liaison, providing documentation and data to the government as needed.

Check here for a general outline of FHA guidelines for condo properties. Three of the most common reasons for non-FHA compliance include “a right of first refusal”, owner occupancy percentages and ongoing litigation.

  1. A right of first refusal is a common clause in COA agreements and is allowed for FHA loans. However, many communities poorly define the right of first refusal and allow for a board to reject buyers for any reason. This is not allowed per FHA guidelines.
  2. The second reason for denial is owner-occupancy percentages. A property must maintain an owner occupancy rate of 51%.
  3. A final reason is there cannot be ongoing litigation between the HOA/COA and the developer or a contractor.

Approvals must be renewed every 2 years and the submission cost has dropped to $850 per submission. Not too bad considering it was north of $3000 in the past. Talk to a property management company and see how FHA condo approval can work for you.

Attract More Millennial Condo BuyersConsider the Benefits

When you consider the benefits of accepting FHA loans and the trend towards millennial acceptance, it becomes worth pursuing. Marketing an FHA approved condominium can open the floodgates towards qualified buyers, increasing market value of units and the entire property.

 

In Houston, reach out to RISE and experience a new level of condominium management. We can answer your questions and take your through the FHA approval process. Give RISE a call at (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com.

Managing a Garden Condo Residence – Nature Without the Mess.

Luxury Garden CommunityDespite the heat, humidity and weather, there is a large percentage of Houstonians that enjoy being outdoors and one with nature. What better way than from where they live, in a luxury garden community. After all, nature can be messy and enjoying it is one thing, caring for it, another. Garden communities have a high appeal to baby boomers or those 55+. Condominiums with serene grounds dotted with ponds and gardens provide that peaceful setting that feels removed from the urban landscape of Houston, with none of the upkeep.

Luxury Garden Communities in the Houston Market

One of the new players in the luxury garden community market is builder Sitterle Homes. Sitterle launched with a luxury garden home concept in Riverstone. These $310-400K homes offer luxury lock and leave lifestyles that Baby Boomers are craving. Read more about their concept here.

But it’s not all about new communities designed around park-like fountains, running trails and green spaces. For an older community with undeveloped land, there’s a chance to re-brand and appeal to this market and effectively compete with high rises advertising close proximity to restaurants and nightlife.

Can Your Property Become a Garden Community?

While you’ll always have the new kids on the block like Sitterle Homes. There’s an advantage for older properties to participate in this new movement towards luxury grounds, expert landscaping and outdoor amenities.

For one, it could make your property command luxury prices for less cost. If updating your units and exterior building is out of the question, consider the cost for an updated outdoors. You could improve the value of the entire property by up-scaling the setting.

Depending on your current landscaping and ambiance the changes may be minimal. If you have a lot of concrete and a few token trees, well, you have a way to go. Here are some examples of how a condo complex can reconnect with nature:

  1. Water features: Lakes, ponds, or streams could already exist on the property, but have limited access. Man made water features are expensive, but can be designed and installed. Fountains and play areas
  2. Master planned landscaping: Start with the perimeter to separate your community from surrounding areas. Create a hidden garden community that adds privacy with trees, fencing, secure gates and limited access to features inside.
  3. Parks and Recreation: While a golf course is an expensive and large feature to add to a garden community, other options do exist. Frisbee golf courses, bike trails, walking and jogging trails are much cheaper to build and highlight the natural landscapes of your community. Connecting to nearby trail systems is an added bonus!
  4. Native plants: Not only does going native attract wildlife, it’s cheaper and easier to maintain. Identify plants with signage to educate residents.

It’s all about creating that garden atmosphere and that is a delicate balance. Residents want to feel like they are living in nature, but they don’t want nature on their patio. It takes a very exceptional management company to upkeep garden properties, but the return is a very stable market. High end maintenance teams are a must to maintain the natural look without looking overgrown.

COA’s and Luxury Garden Communities

Condo owner associations in luxury garden communities are typically more stringent on exterior appearance rules to maintain a consistent look. Violators are notified swiftly and fines can be substantial. In a setting that is designed to look park-like, it can be difficult to maintain a rustic yet polished appearance. Again, nature is messy.

Management teams must continually monitor not just the landscaping and plant life, but also the wildlife that these areas attract. While it’s wonderful to see a tiny rabbit hopping down a garden path, it is quite another to have a skunk spray your patio wall when you have guest. There must be rules in place that rein nature in and that includes human nature, like feeding animals.

Becoming a Luxury Garden Community

Making the move to a luxury garden community can be easy with the right partner by your side. The management company you need must have exceptional maintenance and long range planning abilities. The onsite management must be strong and ready to enforce rules in place to protect the residents and the environment.

If you’re thinking about re-branding your community to a luxury garden community but you still have questions? Give RISE a call at (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com. RISE is that unique property management company that has all the right people to help you re-brand and move forward with nature and a little control.

Spring Cleaning Condo Properties, A Community Affair.

It’s that time of year again, we’re all coming out of winter hibernation and slowly venturing out. For condo managers and staff, it means spring cleaning condo properties. Admit it, you’re seeing neighbors you thought had moved, it’s like a whole new community! Along with spring comes an annual rite of passage, “Spring Cleaning”. Spring cleaning started years ago, when homes in the winter were heated with coal furnaces/fireplaces and illuminated with oil lamps which left soot and residue on everything. When spring came, the house was opened-up and emptied out to be thoroughly cleaned. (Origins of “Spring Cleaning”) I don’t know about you, but I’ve slacked up a bit. But spring cleaning shouldn’t be limited to just your home, spring cleaning condo properties helps you complete a few items on your annual check list.

Tip 1: Spring Cleaning Condo Properties

Paperwork makes the world go around and your association is probably drowning in it. Spring is a great time to archive association management records in that cabinet. By now, all important paperwork should be with the CPA for tax preparation. Add a discard tag to your boxes if you don’t already have that system in place. Discard tags tell you when a box can be shredded or if it is a permanent file. I can already hear you saying, “our records are electronic”; guess what, you still need to backup files and store them on a separate HD or flash drive for security.

Tip 2: Management by Walking Around

Once you’ve cleared out the paperwork, try a little MBWA (Management by Walking Around). When RISE does spring cleaning for our clients, this is one activity that can’t be forgotten. Managers learn more about the needs of the property by walking around and interacting with staff and home owners. Speaking of staff, take your maintenance, landscaping and office employees with you. Use the time to gather input and identify needs of the community.

Tip 3: Preventative Maintenance

Spring cleaning is also important for preventative maintenance. There are a few items that require upkeep before the hot Houston summer is upon us – air conditioners and pools. RISE knows when those brutal Texas summers are on the way, it is essential to use spring as a time to tune up. HVAC in each unit should receive a tuneup and maintenance check and filters should be replaced. Outside, confirm the A/C condenser is clear of leaves and debris so they can operate efficiently.

Spring is also an important time to set a date for the pool to open. Beforehand, a pool must be cleaned and inspected, both inside and out. Repairs should be made if needed and filtration, PH and chlorine systems tested and ready for non-stop summer operation.

Tip 4: Get Everyone Involved!

Spring cleaning condo properties is best done as a community wide event! Don’t make it feel like a hassle for residents. Instead, get everyone involved, have a community wide kick-off party and give DIY tips for styling your balcony or patio. Come up with a contest, such as, “Most Improved Balcony!”. Get a few local sponsors and pass out gift cards and food. Have the onsite manager talk about why Spring Cleaning a Condo is important and efforts residents and the association is taking for upkeep. When everything is done, celebrate your accomplishment with the opening of the pool or a community party.

Want ideas on spring cleaning condo properties, talk to my Houston friends at RISE, get info from people who live it every day, explore the RISE difference at www.riseamg.com or contact RISE at (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com.

The Digital Condo Age, Tech Solutions to Age Old Problems.

Welcome to the new digital condo age; it’s the age of Alexa, Google Home, Amazon Key and smart home technology additions that can regulate temperatures, turn on/off lights and allow you to view your home from your phone while you’re away. The digital condo age can help provide solutions to age old problems like package management, energy conservation and security for condo management teams.

Gadgets for the Digital Condo Age

Let’s face it, most of us enjoy our gadgets and that’s good in the digital condo age. Alexa and Google Home devices are becoming more popular to voice control many of the functions in their homes. These devices interact with various smart home peripherals via Bluetooth or Wifi. In the digital condo age, Nest thermostats, doorbells with built in cameras and electronic locks are providing a new level of energy conservation and security. Products are flooding the market and the race in on; some devices will flourish, while other will flounder. Check out this smart socket introduced at the recent electronic consumers show (https://www.cepro.com/photo/new_smart_home_iot_devices_ces_2018_innovation_awards_winners/0).

Package Management in this Digital Age

Package management has long been a problem for management companies, but this digital age could provide some needed avenues for improvement. In the digital condo age here are some tips and suggestions that can be implemented to help: (https://www.advancedins.com/resolving-condo-association-package-management-issue/)

  1. Make sure tenants know where the liability for missing or mis-delivered packages that are not delivered directly to the management office lay. Even in the digital condo age, don’t take on a responsibility that is a liability.
  2. Consider installing package lockers as a capital improvement. Package lockers can provide an easy solution for deliveries to be secured. Amazon is currently working with communities to develop locker locations in a program known as Amazon HUB. (https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/99336:4:US)
  3. Another choice in the digital condo age for package management is the installation of smartlocks. Smartlocks can be used on a specific space for deliveries and accessed via key cards/codes for resident and package safety.

Amazon Key System

You may have residents who opt to use the Amazon Key System in the digital condo age. This system is not inexpensive coming in at almost $300 to set up. Then there’s the issue of someone you don’t know having access to your home while you’re not there. Some are comfortable with that, other’s, not so much. You can read more about how this works and the pros and cons in this article ( https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/10/amazon-key-unlocks-your-door-for-in-home-package-deliveries/).

The impact of the Digital Condo Age

It remains to be seen what new rules or amended rules may need to be put in place to accommodate the digital condo age. For instance, with the Amazon Key System, what is the liability to have delivery people going past the management office, wondering around looking for an individual unit they are delivering to? Who pays for the installation of digital options and once installed, what becomes the property of the unit?

Want to more about the digital condo age and how to manage the challenges it can provide, check out RISE at www.riseamg.com or contact RISE at (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com.

Post Hurricane Demand for Houston Condos

If you’re looking for the calm after the storm, you probably won’t find it just yet. Post hurricane, the real estate market in Houston is changing. Depending on whether you are an owner, property manager or buyer, it could be positive or negative. Housing prices have increased along with rent in areas that didn’t flood.

Condo Buyers In Houston Ask New Questions

For Houston property managers, Hurricane Harvey is also affecting questions during showings. Here’s a list of 10 questions you’re likely to encounter and a possible response.

Thinking about high rise condo living… Houston high rise association management companies weigh in.

Downtown workers are flocking to high rise condo living, but Houston high rise association management companies caution you; not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. If you are one of the lucky ones that is, it can be a fun and active lifestyle.

The pro, the cons from Houston high rise association management, RISE

RISE is one of the premiere Houston high rise association management companies. I reached out to them for the pro and cons of high rise condo living.

It starts with HOA dues according to RISE. HOA dues tend to be a little more, but, your amenities may replace many of your now homes expenses. All Houston high rise association management says consider savings like yard care, pool maintenance, trash service, gym memberships and the list goes on. Compare apples to apples.

Are you a hoarder? If you are, the lack of storage in high rise condo living will rule it out quickly for you. Houston high rise association management says limited space is why high-rise living is ideal for the young homeowner starting out or the older individual who is retiring and downsizing.

Can’t imagine living without your furry friend? Houston high rise association management encourages you to make certain pets are welcome. Mot high rise condo living comes with heavy restrictions on pets to just not allowing them at all.

When we talk about rules, Houston high rise association management company RISE says noise restriction are usually extensive. Do sleep days and work nights? Do you have a kicking stereo or home theatre system that you love to blast…you might want to reconsider; condo high rise living may not be your best option.

Parking is another area that needs to be considered according to Houston high rise association management company RISE. Most one-bedroom condos come with one parking space due to limited parking. They may have additional spaces you can lease, however if they don’t and you’re a two-vehicle family, high rise condo living might not be for you.

The bottom line from Houston high rise association management company, RISE

Do your homework; that’s what my friends from RISE say. Look at your lifestyle and what you are willing to change if you are making the move from a traditional single-family home or duplex. Don’t forget to ask about the financial condition of any condominium property you are considering; if you’re not sure what to look for, contact RISE (713) 936-9200 or info@riseamg.com. RISE sets the standard when it comes to Houston high rise association management.

FEMA will repay hotel stays for displaced individuals and families

You must take the following steps to be eligible for repayment:

1. Go to Disaster Assistance and register for assistance.
2. Once you are registered, keep all receipts.
3. Use the following phone number to process hotel payments: 800-621-3362