Volunteers at covered bridge. Helping hundreds of people get back into their homes after Hurricane Harvey
There are concerns about the scheduled water releases from major House Dams in an effort to help prevent uncontrollable flooding in the Houston-metropolitan area cause by torrential rain from Tropical Strom Harvey, the Army Corps of Engineers begins to release water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Rise Association Management Group prepares for what might be in store for some of their condominium communities located within the vicinity of Buffalo Bayou.
Houston officials project thousands of residents to be impacted by this scheduled release. The map below provides an overview of anticipated water levels.
Many of Rise’s communities are located within this area and are expected to encounter unprecedented flooding. Owners from Marlborough Square Townhomes, located just south of Buffalo Bayou on Wilcrest Drive, are keeping a close eye on the scheduled water release.
Rise Association Management Group will be ready to dispatch a recovery team to this community if water levels reach historic levels.
For more information visit the news report on ABC NEWS
Do you think by just visiting a condo property you can tell if it is self-managed by owners or run by a professional condo management group? If you answered yes, I think you are absolutely right!
A realtor friend was telling me about a series of visits she made to various condominium properties all over town with a potential buyer. She explained how she could tell if a property is self-managed or managed by a professional condo management group almost immediately upon pulling in the parking lot. Now granted, she’s a realtor, so she probably has a level of expertise that most people don’t have, but she said, her clients’ normally have the same ability by the end of a few showings and normally pick the condominiums that have that professional condo management group. Why?
Professional condo management group; the visual difference and why
A professional condo management group makes a definite difference in the aesthetics of your property from a physical aspect. Here’s just few of the differences:
- Daily maintenance – A condo management group will have a team of people who are responsible for the daily look of your property. They make sure the pool and the area around the pool are clean; they make sure grass is cut and bushes/plants are properly trimmed and cared for. They make sure common areas are clean, well-lit and cared for. When utilizing self-management, normally a maintenance person is hired with limited supervision, so, things don’t always get done when then should or how they should-after all, they’re just one person.
- Regular extended maintenance – Does the trim on your condominium property look faded and worn? Were you swarmed by bees at the entrance to your door? These are regular extended maintenance items that a condo management group has scheduled, so they never become a problem. Again, with self-management these things are hired out or that one maintenance guy is still trying to fit it into his schedule. The sad thing is, left undone, items like this can become major expense items. Which brings us to the next item…
- Supervision and identification of capital improvements – Most self-managed properties do not have the expertise nor the people to keep up with reserve funds, capital improvement projects and long range planning. By five years in the property is showing sign of wear that are physical and expensive to repair or replace. Condo management is a full-time job, best handled by a professional condo management group.
But there’s a mental difference too…
Oddly enough, my friend also claims you can tell the difference by talking to the people or sometimes by just observing them. Not just the staff, the tenants too!
In properties that are self-managed, you will hear people openly discussing their unhappiness at how this is being done, or isn’t being done. In fact, in some communities where there is turmoil of neighbor pitted against neighbor, you can literally feel the tension as you encounter these people on the sidewalk. Heaven forbid they get a hold of the realtor’s client and tell them how they really feel. (Yes, that has happened). A professional condo management group is neutral; so, they are the barrier that keeps neighbors happy. Residents have a place to take their concerns regarding maintenance, and they know they will be addressed. Click here for another resource and view on the topic.
Staff at self-managed properties while still friendly, many times don’t have the level of expertise to handle the difficult questions a potential buyer or resident might have. When utilizing a professional condo management group like RISE in Houston, you don’t have this problem; there is always someone there to answer the questions correctly and efficiently.
Make your site visit a positive one by utilizing experts in the condominium management group business like RISE in Houston. See a professional condominium management group can increase the face value of your property, explore RISE by visiting www.riseamg.com or request a quote by contacting RISE at (713) 936-9200 or [email protected]. Condominium management that increases your value and living experience daily.
It’s funny, Wiki defines property management such as condominium and townhouse management services as follows:
Property management is the operation, control, and oversight of real estate as used in its most broad terms. Management indicates a need to be cared for, monitored and accountability given for its useful life and condition. This is much akin to the role of management in any business.
Property management is also the management of personal property, equipment, tooling, and physical capital assets that are acquired and used to build, repair, and maintain end item deliverables. Property management involves the processes, systems, and manpower required to manage the life cycle of all acquired property as defined above including acquisition, control, accountability, responsibility, maintenance, utilization, and disposition.
That’s great for a generalist in property management, but not for someone who is a specialist in condominium and townhouse management services. Ask yourself if your condominium and townhouse management services is really doing all of that.
But Wiki doesn’t stop there, it talks about roles; roles essential in condominium and townhouse management services
So, what does Wiki say the roles are in property management by a condominium and townhouse management services group?
1. The full and proper screening or testing of an applicant’s credit, criminal history, rental history and ability to pay.
2. Lease contracting or accepting rent using legal documents approved for the area in which the property is located.
3. Mitigation and remediation regarding any maintenance issues, generally within a budget, with prior or conveyed consent via a Limited Power of Attorney legally agreed to by the property owner.
4. Maintaining necessary records for tax and legal purposes.
A little vague huh? In fact, realistically, this doesn’t come close to outlining all the services you expect from your condominium and townhouse management services group, does it? But it may be all you are getting if you are using a generalist for your condominium and townhouse management services.
What should you expect from a condominium and townhouse management services group?
First, you should expect everything above, but not delivered by one or two individuals trying to be all and wear all the hats, resulting in a limited knowledge in anything in particular. Look for a professional condominium and townhouse management services group like RISE. This simple secret is what sets RISE literally above all the rest:
CONTENT KNOWLEDGE IN ALL AREAS BY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE SPECIALIST IN THEIR AREA OF EXPERTISE RELATING TO CONDOMINIUM AND TOWNHOUSE MANAGEMENT SERVICES!
Wow, what a concept! RISE will not send the maintenance guy to represent you in a civil case in court; they won’t have a customer service representative do your tax return. Very simply, RISE has tooled their company for your success by staffing with every known professional needed to effectively and efficiently act as a condominium and townhouse management services group. Why would you want a generalist when you can have RISE, the specialist?
Want to know more about comprehensive condominium and townhome management services by a specialist, explore RISE today by visiting www.riseamg.com or request a quote by contacting RISE at (713) 936-9200 or [email protected]. RISE, the condominium and townhouse management services group that increases your condominium/townhome value and living experience daily.
We’re all adults, and we all understand the need for rules, following the rules and accepting the consequences, but sometimes a condo management company with limited experience and structure becomes a predator in the eyes of the owner/tenant and worse yet, in the eyes of the buying community and their behavior can hurt your property values.
Who makes the rules, the condo managment company?
A good condo management company knows that every condominium community has a set of CRRs that provide the basic guidelines for governing the community. It is the job of the condo management company to:
- Interpret governing documents
- Apply rules unbiased across the residents
- Provide access to rules/consequences for residents
Unequal application can result in unhappy residents who will accuse the condo management company and the board of bias. The old one person tells 10, who each tell 10 and you can easily see how the predatory title can get started.
Is it just the rules from the condo management company that effect values?
Condo management companies can get the predatory title by not having a structure for their financial practices including collection of monthly fees. In the CRRs, there should be wording that tells tenants their rights. Good condo management companies go a step further than telling you to check your CRRs for information on collections; they provide clear communication of:
- When monthly fees are due
- What the penalty is for late payment
- The results of terminally delinquent accounts, such as liens against your property, etc.
- Communication of budget including reserve funds and special assessments
Condo management companies like RISE do rise to the top when it comes to this type of service, as they only deal with condominium management, and they have amassed expertise in all areas of condominium management instead of having one person try to wear all the hats and have all the knowledge; lawyers are interpreting the documents, financial people are providing a clear and concise look at the finances of your property, maintenance professionals are accessing risk and management people are making sure you, the resident are always in the loop and treated fairly.
Interested in protecting your community from a predatory condo management company?
There are numerous condo management company models out there, but none has the complete package like RISE in Houston. Never a predator, always a partner and always watching out for your property values. Interested in seeing how a condo management association can help you sustain and even increase the value of your property, explore RISE by visiting www.riseamg.com or request a quote by contacting RISE at (713) 936-9200 or [email protected]. Condominium management that increases your value and living experience daily.
Remember that song, “It’s Alright to be Little Bitty”? Well, now it’s not just alright, it’s cool and the tiny house living concept has reached the condominium market with micro-condos coming to downtown Houston. Houston condo management groups like RISE are ready for the challenge. Imagine living in a space that is a mere 300 SF, wow! There are a lot more moving parts and a lot more residents in a 500-unit micro-condo, so Houston condo management companies need to be on top of their game. Can’t get that song out of your head? Me neither, so just sing along.
Houston condo management made micro
So, what could be so different for Houston condo management when it comes to micro-condos? The first thing is many of the furnishing may be built-in as part of the condo for functionality. If that’s the case, who takes care of these built in interior items, many of which fold into walls or become walls or counters? Traditional condo is studs out for maintenance. Add to that and you have added a substantial amount of maintenance costs. Houston condo management companies like RISE have teams that can provide input from all sides of the equation and provide a reasonable solution.
500-Units will tax any Houston condo management group
Let’s step back from the maintenance and say we stay with traditional studs out, consider the magnitude of collecting monthly homeowner fees and managing the day to day task of that many residents. Any Houston condo management group that takes on a task like this better have heavy resources to rely on when it comes to all facets of condo management; physical plant, financial, security, risk management and long term planning. Companies like RISE in Houston bring all the best skills to the table. Do your homework when finding the Houston condo management group to manage your property no matter what size so make sure they understand all the complexities.
What’s the difference between managing 500 micro-condos vs 500 condos?
The difference in managing micro-condos vs traditional condos is the footprint. The foot print and proximity of one condo to another in a 500-unit micro-condo brings a whole new dimension to close living quarters. Any Houston condo management group will tell you this abbreviated proximity to one another means rule enforcement is not only a must, but also a challenge. Does that mean an onsite manager, only assessment of the situation can tell and companies like RISE know this, so they do that assessment up front.
Micro or maxi, Houston condo management is the way to go
Still singing that song….any way, the size of your property really doesn’t matter; any property will be better served by a full service Houston condo management company. Emphasis on the “full service”, a company like RISE that offers as much or as little as you need and all the experts under one roof. Give RISE a call and explore what RISE can do for you. You can visit their website at www.riseamg.com or request a quote by contacting RISE at (713) 936-9200 or [email protected]. Remember, “It’s Alright to be Little Bitty.”
Tenant screening is more than just a process, it is a must for physical and fiscal security of your condo property and every condo management company in Houston should have experience in this area. Screening protects the residents, be they owners or tenants and protects the property in terms of fiscal matters.
Does your condo management company know how to legally screen tenants?
Tenant screening when done properly and by professionals like the staff at RISE, a Houston condo management company, is completely legal and provides the protection and security you deserve. There are five basic areas that good tenant screening covers and you will find this to common across the Houston area when talking with a condo management company.
- Request an application and have an application fee
- Run a credit check
- Run a background check
- Call past rental or mortgage references
- Verify employment
A good condo management company knows that tenant screening when performed in this manner with standards in place that perspective tenants are aware of such as a 600 credit score, or 3x monthly rent in income per month are sound ways to perform tenant screening. Check out this article from the American Apartment Owners Association for best practices https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/tenant-screening/best-practices-use-tenant-criminal-history-to-screen-tenants/
When should my condo management company start the screening?
Most condo management companies, like RISE in Houston will tell you tenant screening really does start with that first contact, be it by phone or in person. Pre-screening questions can be woven into the general conversation and any red flag can be addressed later in the process. You might ask questions like:
- What’s bringing you to make a move?
- How long have you been in your current home?
- What do you like best about where you’re living now?
- Is this closer to your job?
Condo management companies find these little conversational questions can be a real asset in tenant screening. Companies like RISE have professional staff trained in screening potential residents.
How does a condo management company use tenant screening to protect fiscal security?
The condo management company knows that tenant screening doesn’t just provide physical security, it also provides fiscal security. Anyone who has ever owned rental properties can tell you how expensive and time consuming it can be to evict a tenant for non-payment or excessive damage to a property. That same person will also tell you that tenant screening is the key to getting sound tenant who meet their fiscal obligations, yep, they pay their rent!
Want more information on condo management company techniques for tenant screening?
This is just a low level view of tenant screening the advantages, find out more by contacting RISE Management. Give RISE a call and explore what RISE can do for you in providing tenant screening and more. You can visit their website at www.riseamg.com or request a quote by contacting RISE at (713) 936-9200 or [email protected].
Preparing for severe weather is a Texas tradition, because as the saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute and it’ll change.” Those sometime erratic changes lead to excessive wind damage, flash flooding and tornados just to name a few. That is why your condo management company needs to know this tradition and the disaster protocol by heart. Remember this recent headline in Houston:
So, preparing for severe weather means keeping the trees trimmed, right?
If your condo management company thinks all they need to do is trim the trees in preparing for severe weather, then you may need a new management company. Trimming the trees is just a very small part of it all. Your management company should have a comprehensive risk management plan that includes preparing for severe weather, particularly flooding in areas like Houston where this is common. This two part plan also has a contingency side for after the event.
Just think back to past flooding in the Houston area, and the damage there was. Companies like RISE management protect you; they start their relationship with you by doing a comprehensive analysis of your property both financially and physically. That means, when preparing for severe weather, there is already a plan in place. Remember, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” It really is that simple.
What’s in a plan when preparing for severe weather?
Plans like these are three part:
- Financial-When preparing for severe weather, you need to know any financial implications are covered. These can includes making sure insurance is adequate and premiums are up to date. Money is allocated in the reserve fund or budget to address the cost of prepping the property prior to a disaster to protect it; as well as to clean up and maintain after the disaster.
- Pre-Event Planning-Preparing for severe weather in the pre-event stage can mean many things depending on the weather event. Severe wind it may mean securing items that can be dislodged by wind and cause physical damage; moving people from first floor units if there is concern over flooding; cleaning drains, boarding up windows, etc.
- Contingency Planning-Preparing for severe weather also includes contingency planning, what if the buildings are uninhabitable; how do you protect the belongings of the residents, where do they live, do you have resources out there. How soon can you get the insurance company in to review the damage and pay out. What things can be done prior to their arrival.
Where do I start in preparing for severe weather?
From a personal standpoint, there are numerous websites by local, state and federal government that tell you what to have on hand when preparing for severe weather. Items, like water, canned food, blanket, flashlights, cash, full tank of gas, etc. Here are a few to check out:
Give RISE a call and explore what RISE can do for you to help prepare for severe weather. You can visit their website at www.riseamg.com or request a quote by contacting RISE at (713) 936-9200 or [email protected]. Enjoy the Texas weather safely.
Condo insurance is that bet you make with your insurance company that the “oops” will happen. Even if the “oops” doesn’t happen, you need to be prepared. Condo insurance is a little different then insuring a single family home, so let’s see what you need to look at. Don’t understand insurance, contact one of the many fine insurance agents int he Houston area to review what you may need in condo insurance.
What condo insurance does the condominium association carry?
The good thing about condo insurance is that it is normally less expensive due to the cost being spread across multiple owners. Most condo insurance policies carried by the condo association itself cover studs out and common areas, plus liability for the common areas. That essentially means that anything inside your unit is NOT covered. So, if you get a water leak and it damages your carpet or flooring, your condo insurance is responsible for the loss. If you don’t have a copy of the master insurance policy, ask for one from your condo association and review exactly what they are covering. In rare cases, there is an All-In policy that covers the entire property inside and out (remember, even All-In policies do not cover your personal belongings. Also look at the deductible on the master policy and encourage your condo association to keep that deductible in reserves for the condo insurance; again, planning is always your best bet.
What you need to cover
If the condo insurance policy handled by the condo association is a ‘studs out’ policy, then you will need to have a policy that cover:
- Damages within your unit (studs in)
- Your personal belongings in case of loss
- Liability to cover a guest who may be injured inside your unit-(If you are doing short term rentals with your unit as is common in Houston, this one is important).
It may sound like a lot of condo insurance considering you are paying on the master policy through your HOA dues, but consider the consequences of being under-insured. A typical water leak that damages flooring and cabinetry can easily run in excess of $5000 per incident and those incidents never seem to come at a good time financially. Don’t forget flood insurance if you happen to be in a flood plain; this can be purchased through your state and normally will be mandatory at closing.
The best recommendation is to have a professional insurance agent review the master policy for the condo so they can confirm what coverage may be lacking and recommend additional coverage if needed. By doing this, you will be certain that one of those little “oops” won’t wreak havoc on your finances. If you’re looking for an agent or would like more information about what is actually covered with a condo insurance policy you might consider Allstate.
Don’t forget to check out what your lender requires
If you are just now purchasing your condo be sure to find out what if any requirements your lender may have regarding condo insurance. Again, a copy of the master policy and a reputable insurance agent should be able to help you out on the rest so there are no budgetary surprises.
So get on the phone and make the call, first to your condo association for a copy of the master policy and then to your favorite Houston condo insurance agent.
Let’s start by reviewing exactly what a condo reserve fund is. The condo reserve fund covers capital expenditures that will occur due to repair or replacement of critical items as they wear out. Your management company or condominium association should have a condo reserve fund study on hand and that study needs to be updated yearly to define what those systems are and the anticipated date of failure with replacement cost. Remember, the elements, heat and humidity, in the Houston area take their toll on these critical systems.
Are there condo reserve fund standards for financing?
Rule of thumb says there should be at least 10% of your annual operating budget in your condo reserve fund at any time. In fact, for FHA insured loans, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans, it is actually a requirement that an amount equal to 10% of your annual operating budget be set aside in your condo reserve fund. Additionally, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae require that no more than 15% of the homeowners be delinquent on their assessments. Click here for more info.
What is the benefit to you?
A condo reserve fund that is equal to 10% of the annual operating budget on deposit helps to ensure that you as a condo owner will not be hit with last minute assessments to address critical failures. So, it should be limited surprises when it comes to maintenance assessments and repairs. This also helps you when it comes to personal budgeting. When you decide to sell your unit, it will also act as a selling point allowing for more financing options and better comfort for the buyer that this is a fiscally responsible property.
Things that can have an effect on your condo reserve fund
There are many things that can affect your condo reserve fund. Inflation is one of them. You may think that the interest you are earning on the deposited reserve fund money will offset this, but consider this: it takes a 13% increase in reserve contribution to offset a 1% increase in inflation.
The age of your complex also has a direct effect on the amount you need in your condo reserve fund. The newer the units, the less needed in reserves, as things are at their beginning of life. However, as a complex ages, you could need as much as 30% more to accommodate the aging items that are covered by your reserve fund.
Your objective in funding also is a factor; if you plan to be 100% funded obviously your monthly amount will be more. If you are using baseline funding, be ready for additional assessments.
What’s the golden number?
For most condominium projects across the country and in the Houston area, the golden number for condo reserve fund assessment is anywhere between $50 and $100 per month. While this might sound like a substantial number, consider this, an assessment of $1500 hitting at the wrong time can be devastating.
Get with your management company and/or condo board today and find out first if they have done a condo reserve fund study and second, if they are meeting the minimum requirements of 10% of the yearly operating budget being assessed for the condo reserve fund. Don’t get caught off guard!
Rise Association Management Group
3200 Wilcrest Dr. Ste 110
Houston, TX 77042