Ask the HOA Expert: Procedure For Voting In Person And Voting By Proxy

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Ask the HOA Expert: Procedure For Voting In Person And Voting By Proxy

Question: At our annual meeting, the procedure for voting in person and voting by proxy was different. Those who attended the meeting registered by signing in. Proxies were only counted if the signature on the form matched the signature of record. Is this standard procedure?

Answer: Presumably, whoever was monitoring sign-in recognized the members who were signing in. Signatures on proxies could be forged by someone trying to manipulate the election. While this is not common, it is a good idea to verify the identity of both attendees and proxy signers to make sure there is no election fraud.

Question: Does the board president have more authority than the other board members?

Answer: Yes, the president does have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the board as long as those decisions are in keeping with the approved budget, governing documents, established board policy/procedure and state statutes.

Question: Is it permissible for the board to convene a “brainstorming session” simply to talk as long as no decisions are being made?

Answer: Theoretically, it sounds okay but brainstorming generally leads to decision making. And the board needs to be careful about perception. If these sessions happen too often, it will appear that they are merely being called something other than a meeting to circumvent being open to members.

Question: At a recent board meeting, the president tried to pressure the management company to quit. He accused the manager of stealing and worse. None of this was announced to the other directors before hand who were caught by surprise. Does the president have the authority to fire the manager?

Answer: No. Something as important as hiring and firing a management company should be decided by the entire board, possibly with input from the owners. It appears that your president is somewhat of a tyrant and not given to communicating or cooperation. I doubt much will change until there is a change in president.

Question: We have just formed a number of committees, some ad hoc (short term) and some standing (long term). One of the standing committees we have not yet activated is called “Governing Documents Committee”. We are rethinking the wisdom of this committee as some members have “agendas” that they will likely try to impose to change the declaration, bylaws and rules.

Answer: All committees should have specific marching orders from the board. Otherwise, you’ll probably get something you didn’t want. Governing documents are complex and must adhere to state statutes. While it’s fine to make recommendations, it’s up to the board to decide if they are worthy and, if so, it’s up the HOA’s attorney to determine if they’re legal.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see http://www.Regenesis.net

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Ask the HOA Expert: Procedure For Voting In Person And Voting By Proxy

Ask the HOA Expert: Procedure For Voting In Person And Voting By Proxy

Question: At our annual meeting, the procedure for voting in person and voting by proxy was different. Those who attended the meeting registered by signing in. Proxies were only counted if the signature on the form matched the signature of record. Is this standard procedure?

Answer: Presumably, whoever was monitoring sign-in recognized the members who were signing in. Signatures on proxies could be forged by someone trying to manipulate the election. While this is not common, it is a good idea to verify the identity of both attendees and proxy signers to make sure there is no election fraud.

Question: Does the board president have more authority than the other board members?

Answer: Yes, the president does have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the board as long as those decisions are in keeping with the approved budget, governing documents, established board policy/procedure and state statutes.

Question: Is it permissible for the board to convene a “brainstorming session” simply to talk as long as no decisions are being made?

Answer: Theoretically, it sounds okay but brainstorming generally leads to decision making. And the board needs to be careful about perception. If these sessions happen too often, it will appear that they are merely being called something other than a meeting to circumvent being open to members.

Question: At a recent board meeting, the president tried to pressure the management company to quit. He accused the manager of stealing and worse. None of this was announced to the other directors before hand who were caught by surprise. Does the president have the authority to fire the manager?

Answer: No. Something as important as hiring and firing a management company should be decided by the entire board, possibly with input from the owners. It appears that your president is somewhat of a tyrant and not given to communicating or cooperation. I doubt much will change until there is a change in president.

Question: We have just formed a number of committees, some ad hoc (short term) and some standing (long term). One of the standing committees we have not yet activated is called “Governing Documents Committee”. We are rethinking the wisdom of this committee as some members have “agendas” that they will likely try to impose to change the declaration, bylaws and rules.

Answer: All committees should have specific marching orders from the board. Otherwise, you’ll probably get something you didn’t want. Governing documents are complex and must adhere to state statutes. While it’s fine to make recommendations, it’s up to the board to decide if they are worthy and, if so, it’s up the HOA’s attorney to determine if they’re legal.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see http://www.Regenesis.net

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Ideas To Improve Your Small Front Yard

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Ideas To Improve Your Small Front Yard

There are many ways to improve your small front yard without uprooting your driveway or dialing back your front porch. In fact, with the right touches, small front yards can be just as appealing as large ones. Here are some ideas to make your small yard appealing year round:

#1 Take a symmetrical approach.

One way to make your small front yard more appealing is to use symmetry. Balancing the elements of your yard on either side of your sidewalk — grass, fencing, flowers, shrubs — will make it look grand and inviting; it will also cost less than it would in a larger yard, because you have less acreage to cover. You can also find a local landscaper to map out and implement a symmetrical yard plan for you.

#2 Make a seamless transition from yard to house.

Use materials like box planters, stone steps or retaining walls to blend your home and yard together. Potted plants on your front porch or patio will also extend the yard without cluttering it. Make sure you choose plants that complement one another, so you don’t have a lot of overgrowth.

#3 Use a hint of color.

If you want to wow people in your small front yard, pick a brightly colored flower, shrub or tree that stands out either on the porch or in the yard itself. Then use neutral colors around to make it stand out. This will be the eye-catching piece in your small yard that people will never miss.

#4 Hang basket flowers.

Hang flower baskets around your front porch or patio. They add fresh color and a natural element to your home without cluttering the porch area itself. You can change them every season or every year, depending on the flowers or shrubs you choose.

#5 Light it up.

Your front yard might be less appealing if people see it at night. That’s why you should add plenty of lighting. One option is to install standing, solar-powered lamps along the walkway; another is to hang lamps on your front porch to illuminate the plants there. It just depends on how much money and time you want to invest.



Photo courtesy of DesignMine

#6 Refresh your front door.

While not a traditional part of the “yard”, your front porch is still important to the beauty of the area as a whole. This means your front door needs to be appealing as well. Fix any cracks, scratches or other damage to the door. Also, think about revitalizing it with a new coat of paint. Choose a color that complements the exterior landscape.

Conclusion

These are only a few tips to help you improve your small front yard. You want to make it seem bigger, if not at least more comfortable. Adding a fence might be another option to consider, though you’ll want to lean towards an open design pattern like picket or chain link. Just keep your budget in mind and try not to clutter your yard while trying to redesign it. For more tips on making the most of a patio in a small yard, check out this post from HuffPost Homes.

Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

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You're Not Going To Believe Where We Got These Chic Home Items

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You're Not Going To Believe Where We Got These Chic Home Items

Who says keeping your home looking fashionable has to cost a fortune? We’re big fans of stores like Home Goods, World Market, and Target for inexpensive furniture and furnishings, but today we tried a little experiment and hit a different kind of store.

Behold the beauty of home decor shopping at Walmart. No, really. If you didn’t know this stuff was from the discount superstore, you wouldn’t suspect it. In fact, we found so much cute stuff we went over our original plan to find six things that stood out. So, instead, here are the nine things you’re going to want to buy for your home at Walmart.

1. Fabric

Didn’t know Walmart had fabric? Neither did we. It’s not a huge section, so you’re not going to get the variety you would at a “regular” fabric store, but there was plenty to choose from. And now we have a fun new project recovering garage sale chairs that have been sitting in our garage for months.

2. Décor

How cute are these hurricanes at $9.88 each? Walmart also had a slew of candles in the same aisle, ranging from $2.97 for a tall pillar to $3.97 for 100 tealights.


Walmart

3. Sheets

This Hotel Style Collection is super soft and super chic. We love the pattern, but they did also have a variety of solid-color options.


Walmart

4. Towels

We also like the Hotel Style Collection Towels, which were extremely soft and luxurious.


Walmart

5. Pillows

Grabbed these four throw pillows out of a bin, with prices ranging from $4–10. So cute.


Walmart

6. Rugs

Rug shopping is a beating. There are too many choices and colors and weaves and sizes, and most of them are too expensive. If you have a busy house with lots of two-legged and four-legged beings running around (ahem!), you may not want to invest in a high-quality piece at this point. Which is why this 7′ x 10′ rug in a fashion-forward graphic pattern (sensing a trend here?) was a great find. Especially at just $100!


Walmart

7. Furniture

In truth, they didn’t have a ton of furniture at our Walmart (much more online), and most of what they had was of somewhat questionable quality. That’s not surprising; you’ll get a similar deal at Target or IKEA, depending on the piece. But this $248 TV unit definitely caught our eye. It’s glorified cardboard in the back and we’re not sure what the rest of it is made of, but it looks like wood, unlike many other pieces you might find that have a darker and not-so-rustic wood finish, it’s an ample size at almost 60″ wide, and the design is really attractive.


Walmart

8. Placemats

$.88 apiece, with a cool graphic pattern, and they wipe off clean? Done.

9. Mirrors

During our shopping excursion, we saw so many great mirrors, it was hard to choose. We ended up with this fun set of five round mirrors, which is going to look great on the wall next to the garage door. It was a screaming bargain, at $16.


Walmart

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Shipping Container Homes: Yay Or Nay?

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Shipping Container Homes: Yay Or Nay?

Shipping container homes were born, at least in part, out of a desire to live efficiently and affordably. After all, a skilled DIYer can build a home out of a couple of containers for about the price of a mid-size car. But what if you love the idea of living in a container home, but building one…not so much? Or maybe you’re not so keen on the way the containers look, even if you embrace the idea for other reasons.

With the growth in popularity of container homes, you have options. Lots of them, from inexpensive pre-fab tiny units to sprawling customs that bear little (or no) resemblance to big metal boxes.

Pre-fab

Pre-fab means prefabricated. That means the house is not being built from scratch on site, although, when it comes to shipping container homes, even customs will use some pre-made parts (like the shipping container itself). These are, not surprisingly, far more affordable than a custom build.

Canadian-based company Honomobo has gained fame this year for its pre-fab container homes that aren’t just super stylish, but also eliminate one of the potential complications with these types of structures. “Foreseeing complicated regulations regarding tiny homes, Honomobo homes are built to local building codes as either primary or secondary residences and, unlike tiny houses on wheels, are typically installed on a permanent foundation,” said Curbed. While many of their homes are considered tiny – the 208-square-foot mini studio is priced at $39,801 – they also range up to a 1,216-square-foot two-or three-bedroom home for $162,728.

Even better: Honomobo residences are typically delivered in 10 weeks.

The HO3 unit above uses three shipping containers “knit together to create a private full bedroom, kitchen with an island, and a stunning 21′ wide front window to maximize light and indoor/outdoor connection,” they said. The 528-square-foot unit is $112,743.

The units are also stackable, which is perfect for developers looking to maximize income potential.


honomobo.com

If you don’t want a container home as your primary residence, you can add one to your backyard to use as a she shed, guest house, or income unit.


tinyhousetalk.com

Or, how about a granny flat?

The Monaco by Nova Deko is a $24,000, one-bedroom, one-bath, 160-square-foot granny flat “where the living space duals as a bedroom,” said Off Grid World. “It features a tiled bathroom, full kitchen,” and eating area.


Off Grid World

Custom

While custom container homes will generally far exceed the small budget associated with many of the small, pre-fab homes, there are numerous advantages. Obviously, the ability to design a space that is built to exact specifications is No. 1. Custom container homes can also be designed to suit other needs, like this one that was constructed to be as green as possible.

“Two shipping containers surround a taller common space in Nederland, Colorado. The containers house sleeping and work areas while the center space hosts dining, living and a loft above,” said Nifty Homestead. “The project is off-the-grid using solar orientation, passive cooling, green roofs, pellet stove heating and photovoltaics to create electricity.”


niftyhomestead.com

Flying Box Villa represents another trend in shipping container home design – it doesn’t reveal the shipping containers at all.


busyboo.com

“What’s better than a shipping container home that doesn’t look like one? How about a container home that redefines everything we thought we knew about prefabricated design? That’s exactly what we have with the aptly named Flying Box Villa by French architecture firm 2A Design,” said Busyboo. “This small modern home is a visual blur — an aesthetic tour de force that is as unique as it is functional.”


busyboo.com

Or, maybe disguising the containers isn’t your goal. If you like the urban look associated with shopping containers, check out this home from Hive Modular, which used two twenty-foot shipping containers the homeowners bought for $800 apiece “to create a cabin complete with kitchen, dining room, living room with a wood burning stove, laundry room and two queen beds,” said Nifty Homestead. “The two cabins are connected by a middle section loft and roof” made out of fir beams and featuring a glass door at the entry. “The cabin is partially powered by solar power arrays and connected to a rainwater cistern, making this building an ecologically-sustainable vacation home.”


hivemodular.com

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$119,900 :: 27564 WISTERIA Street, Harrison Twp MI, 48045

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Property Photo

3 beds, 1 full bath
Home size: 1,021 sq ft
Lot Size: 9,583 sq ft
Added: 02/07/17, Last Updated: 02/27/17
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 217009499
Community: Harrison Twp
Tract: STEVEN’S SHORE ACRES
Status: Active

Brick & vinyl sided ranch located on nice size lot. Living room has space ready for wood stove. Kitchen dining area has door wall to deck, Large attached garage has two car entry on the front and one car exit door at the back of home. Also has finished room in garage for work or, or office, plus a shed. Lots of potential to make this home your own! Make an offer!

Listed with Keller Williams Macomb St Clair


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$119,900 :: 27564 WISTERIA Street, Harrison Twp MI, 48045

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Property Photo

3 beds, 1 full bath
Home size: 1,021 sq ft
Lot Size: 9,583 sq ft
Added: 02/07/17, Last Updated: 02/27/17
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 217009499
Community: Harrison Twp
Tract: STEVEN’S SHORE ACRES
Status: Active

Brick & vinyl sided ranch located on nice size lot. Living room has space ready for wood stove. Kitchen dining area has door wall to deck, Large attached garage has two car entry on the front and one car exit door at the back of home. Also has finished room in garage for work or, or office, plus a shed. Lots of potential to make this home your own! Make an offer!

Listed with Keller Williams Macomb St Clair


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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Taking Title To a Home With Your Friend

Taking Title To a Home With Your Friend

Question. My fiancee and I expect to settle on our new house shortly, but we will not be married until the end of this year. We need to know if there is some addendum that we need to protect each other’s interest in the event of a tragedy that claims one of us. We wish to ensure that the other gets the property with absolutely no claims considered by family members.

Answer. For unmarried people who own property, there are two ways that they can hold title. The first is called “tenants in common” and the second is “joint tenants with right of survivorship.”

Under the first approach — tenants in common — each of you would have a divisible interest in the property. Let us assume in your case that each of you will have a 50 percent interest in the property, although the percentage of interest can be anything you both decide upon. If one of you dies, your 50 percent interest in the property will go to your estate, presumably through your Will, which you should have.

If title is held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, however, then there is no divisible interest. If one of you should die, the other would automatically own the entire property.

It seems to me that the joint-tenant approach is the one you are looking for. However, let me raise a question for you to ponder before you make the final decision.

I am not interested in breaking up your relationship before you get married, but what happens if you find out before the marriage that you and your fiancee are not right for each other? If you should die under the circumstance, your interest in the property may automatically go to your fiancee, which may not be what you want.

You might want to consider the tenant in common arrangement, coupled with a Will. Under this approach, if you die before marriage, your interest in the property will go to your heirs, as designated in your Will. Presumably, your Will would give your interest in the property to your fiancee. However, if you and your fiancee have a falling out, it is easier to change the Will than to change the title.

The Will can be unilaterally changed by you; changing the title requires action and approval by both of you. You also will have to pay a transfer and recordation tax to the jurisdiction in which the property is located if you change title as unmarried persons.

Once you get married, however, I recommend you have the title changed to a “tenant by the entirety” arrangement. This has the same effect as a joint tenant with right of survivorship, but creates a more sacred relationship for husband and wife that is honored by law.

It is possible under some circumstances, for example, for a creditor of one of you to break a joint tenancy. Generally speaking, it is almost impossible for the tenant by the entirety arrangement to be attached by a creditor of only one party to the title.

And before you take title, the two of you must enter into what I call a “partnership agreement”. Spell out — in a written document — answers to such questions as (1) what happens if one of us wants out; (2) how much do each of us have to pay every month for the mortgage, insurance, real estate tax and food and household supplies, and (3) what if one of us cannot make the monthly payment. This is just a few of the many questions the two of you must work out and resolve. The time to reach agreement is when you are talking to each other, not when you are at odds.

I suggest you discuss these matters with your fiancee, and with your respective lawyers, before you go to settlement.

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Why Do Home Buyers Wait For Spring?

Why Do Home Buyers Wait For Spring?

Why do they wait until the competition ramps up and all the other buyers are ready to buy? Why do buyers wait for the “hot” spring market with its price increases and multiple offers?

  • Some buyers delay because they are doing what is expected – “we’re always done it this way” thinking is common in real estate.

  • Others may need the first warm rays of sun and the fragrance of spring flowers for motivation.

  • There may be more listings later in the spring, as sellers react for the same two reasons above, but increased buyer competition may cancel out advantages.

    Indications are that this will be an active spring market with real estate price and mortgage rate increases which extend deep into 2017. Getting ahead of this momentum may bring benefits and real estate you can love.

    You’re got nothing to lose by shopping now and a lot to gain. Here are Five Smart-Buying Tips for Getting a Jump on Spring:

    Tip #1: Find a real estate professional who is has a lot of experience in the locations you’d consider and with the type of property (detached house or condominium) you want to own.

    Ask around. Check the net. Interview at least two; ideally more. In the process ask the real estate professionals a lot of questions. Learn what you need to do to prepare to make an offer and what to look for in the properties you’ll view. You’ll also discover the listing price range to shop in and which are the best locations in your buying range. If you don’t start this strategic relationship first, you’ll miss out on many of the advantages of an early start.

    Tip #2: Build your professional team to be ready for offer time.

    Your real estate professional may have recommendations for mortgage brokers, home inspectors, real estate lawyers, and surveyors. Take three names for each and interview them to determine the fit and what they consider the extent of their professional responsibilities to you.

    • For example, concentrate on locating a mortgage broker who has the experience, contacts, and interest to help you finance your purchase. The questions you ask the real estate professional about price range, size of mortgage, and steps in the buying process should also be directed to the mortgage broker. The mortgage pre-approval letter, which may be essential at offer time, will only be truly useful when you’ve been professionally vetted and stamped as mortgage-worthy.

    #Tip 3: Stop Wasting Time and Concentrate on Real Estate.

    There’s a lot to learn and to think about when buying real estate, so your productivity matters. The US 2016 version of Deloitte’s sixth annual Mobile Consumer Survey revealed more online time wasting than ever:

    • More than 40 percent of consumers check their phones within five minutes of waking – text messages (35%) and email (22%)
    • Each day is disrupted since we look at our phones approximately 47 times. Sleep is disrupted: more than 30% check their devices 5 minutes before sleep and about 50 percent in the middle of the night.
    • Every 60 seconds on Facebook, 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. The average Facebook visit is 20 minutes; Facebook reports visitors spend more than 50 minutes a day using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. (Source: Zephoria)
    • Millennials (25 to 34-year-olds) demonstrated higher levels of mobile device interest and use than the phone-hooked younger demographic.
    • Postpone binge watching the latest hyped series until after you buy your dream home.

    Tip #4: Sell Yourself on Success

    According to sales inspiration Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, “The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want, and show them how to get it.” To achieve success, clarify, with the help of professionals, exactly what you want and need from a real estate purchase. Then decide to get it. The professional team you select will provide the know-how and will help you refine your dreams into an achievable goal for the location and price range involved. Do your homework, so you understand what they show you.

    Tip #5: Motivate Yourself During This “Buy-athon”

    What motivates you to want to own real estate? Postpone as many non-real-estate distractions as possible. Clarify what will sustain you through the often-stressful buying process. Use slogans, affirmations, or whatever it takes to persist. You may make offers and lose out on one or more properties before you find yours. Persist using self-motivation – that’s your job. No one else can motivate you. No one cares as much about the outcome as you do.

    What are you waiting for? Get the jump on spring!

    Final Smart-Buying Tip:Don’t get in the way of the professionals finding out what you want and helping you get it.

    For more from PJ…visit her blog whatsyourpoint.mobi

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    Uneven Economic Recovery Has Real Estate Implications

    Low GDP growth and stagnant wealth among the middle class will cause real estate markets to remain relatively unchanged between 2016 and 2017.

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