5 Resolutions Every HOA or Condo Association Should Make for the New Year

Photo of people working on planning document in front of 2 laptops

This time of year is all about resolutions. And just as countless people set goals for the new year, so too should homeowner associations and condo associations. What kind of resolutions should your community association be making this year? Read on to find out.

Start Setting Reasonable Goals for Your Association

Every community hopes to improve something about their community every year. Some have bigger goals than others, but just as setting a goal to lose 50 pounds in a week probably isn’t realistic, setting a goal to make significant changes in your community or even just overhauling your association’s processes isn’t likely to happen right away. And nothing yields more frustration from association members than differing perceptions about when something should be done.

Regardless of what goals you’re setting for your association in 2020, be realistic about how quickly you think your community can accomplish it. From there, prioritize your most important goals and tasks and then write everything out so that everyone is on the same page going forward.

Be as Transparent as Possible

Make 2020 the year you go from reactive to proactive. The best way to accomplish this is through open, transparent communication with all of your community’s residents and association board members.

Depending on your community, there are several ways you could go about this:

  • Give your residents a chance to get to know the association board members. This can be accomplished as a simple email from your board members or as involved as going from door to door to introduce yourself.
  • Setting a consistent schedule and providing an e-newsletter for your community so that everyone is kept in the loop about what’s happening.
  • Making an active push to involve more people in your association meetings. Many times, residents miss or choose not to come to meetings because they don’t know about them or they’re inconveniently scheduled. Make a point to schedule your meetings on days and at times that will work for as many people as possible.

Ultimately, what you’re trying to accomplish with improved transparency is clearer expectations about what your association is doing and, as a result, reducing the chance of conflict. When people feel more involved and informed, they’re less likely to rely on their first-instinct emotions and more likely to think about issues or concerns rationally.

Be a Better Manager of Your Community’s Budget

Every new year, a popular resolution people make is to manage their money better than the year before. HOAs and condo associations should be no different because there’s always room for improvement.

Too often, however, we see associations rely on anecdotal feedback rather than data-driven analysis to decide what makes the most sense for their community’s budget. Now is the time to take a hard look at your books as a group to determine if there any projects or vendors that should be reconsidered or renegotiated going forward.

Live by Your Governing Documents

Every now and then, community associations can get a little bit too lax with their governing documents and community policies. A new year is a great opportunity to refocus yourself to make sure everyone who calls your community home knows what’s acceptable and what’s not and then commit your association to enforce policies evenly and fairly.

Focus Your Efforts Where It Matters

There’s no question that HOAs and condo associations have a difficult task. There’s a lot of work to be done — from enforcing rules and collecting dues to planning projects and managing vendors — with only limited amounts of time to do it all.

This is the year to make a resolution to focus your time and energy where it matters most: your residents. Of course, by focusing on more “big picture” items for your community, you’ll probably need some help with everything else. Fortunately, we’ve been helping communities just like yours for decades, and our team is ready to help you make all your resolutions a reality in the new year.

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3 Ways to Pay Community Association Fees With Ease in 2020

Photo of Person Holding Credit Card in Front of a Computer

When we work with a homeowner association or condo association, we strive to make life as easy as possible for you, the resident. That’s why we offer a variety of flexible payment options for your association fees throughout the year, so you can spend less time trying to figure out how to pay dues and more time enjoying the community that these payments benefit.

What options do we offer at our partner communities? Read on to learn more about how you can pay by mail, online or even by direct debit.

Good Option – Pay by Check

As always, you can make association payments by check (personal or bank bill pay). Checks should be made out to your association and mailed to the following address:

(Association Name)
c/o Cardinal Management Group
P.O. Box 52358
Phoenix, AZ 85072

Be sure to include your account number on your check! This will ensure we’re able to assign your payment to the correct account. In addition, because this method relies on the postal service, please send your payment allowing for 7-10 business days for shipping and processing.

Better Option – Pay Online or via an App

You don’t have to break out the checkbook and stamps to make your payments! You can make on-time payments quickly, easily and securely by visiting MutualPropertyPay.com or by using the “Property Pay” app on Android or iPhone devices.

Important note: In order to may payments via the website or app, you must send an email to accounting@cardinalmanagementgroup.com for login codes.

Best Option – Pay by Direct Debit

You can take all of the guesswork out of making secure, on-time association payments by enrolling in direct debit. With this method, payments will be automatically withdrawn from your designated account on your desired schedule — it doesn’t get any easier than that!

Want to set up direct debit? Send us an email at accounting@cardinalmanagementgroup.com to get started.

As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our team by reaching out to your community manager or calling our corporate office at (703) 569-5797.

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Help Us Give Back This Holiday Season With Our Toys for Tots Collection

Holiday Toy Drive - Donate by 12/11

Every year since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program has helped put smiles on the faces of thousands of children by providing toys to less fortunate families in communities across the country. And this year, we’re excited to announce that the Cardinal Management Group, Inc. team is doing its part to help collect toys to further the program’s mission in our own community.

Where You Can Donate Toys

From now until December 11 at 12pm, our team will be collecting new, unwrapped toys in our Woodbridge, VA, corporate office and at our client community Cardinal Forest Condominiums in Springfield, VA. See the addresses below for directions:

Corporate Office (Collection by the front of the building in the lobby)
4330 Prince William Parkway
Woodbridge, VA 22192

Cardinal Forest Condominiums
5900 Prince James Drive
Springfield, VA 22152

Toys donated at either location will go directly to the Toys for Tots and will be distributed to children throughout the region. If you’re unable to donate in person, we encourage you to explore other donation options available on the official Toys for Tots website. For questions or more information about Cardinal Management Group, Inc.’s Toys for Tots collection, please call (703) 569-5797.

Thank you for helping to make the D.C. metro area a great place to live — and happy holidays!

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Get to Know Portfolio Manager Candace Lewis

Photo of Candace Lewis with Cardinal Management Group, Inc. logo

Cardinal Management Group, Inc. is comprised of a talented team of professionals across numerous disciplines who are dedicated to serving our clients through exceptional service. One such team member, Portfolio Manager & Director, Professional Designations & Education, Candace Lewis, CMCA®, AMS®, plays a pivotal role in working with our client communities on a daily basis.

What does a portfolio manager do? How does a portfolio manager help our clients succeed? Read on to see Candace’s answers to these questions and more.

What Do You Do for Cardinal Management Group, Inc.?

As a portfolio manager, I manage eight client communities by assisting with overseeing contracted services for projects as well as regular maintenance. I also work closely with each association’s board president.

As a Portfolio Manager, What Does a Normal Day Usually Entail?

Every day is a little bit different, but working closely with homeowners and board members to fulfill requests, respond to emergencies and assess areas of improvement in the community is a large part of my daily responsibilities. In addition, communicating with vendors about a wide range of projects is a key part of my role.

What Do You Find Most Rewarding About Your Position?

I’m successful in my career because of the support I’ve had. Community management isn’t an individual effort, and I’ve always had such great team members backing me up. Today, administrative assistants Sabina Green and Nicole Tavano are essential to the work I do with our clients.

Speaking to Cardinal Management Group, Inc. itself, I very much appreciate the family-oriented culture we have here. Moreover, leadership has always made work-life balance a point of emphasis for everyone on our team, and that’s really important because it ensures I have time to spend with my son.

Any Important Tips for Someone Getting into the Community Management Industry?

One thing I’ve learned about this industry is that training and, most importantly, hard work are the keys to advancing quickly. Beyond that, having a good attitude, being detail-focused and embracing a “people person” mentality are absolutely vital to making it happen for your clients.

Interested in getting into the community management industry? Check out current job openings at Cardinal Management Group, Inc. today.

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5 Best Practices for HOA and Condo Association Budget Planning

Photo of group of people at table working on budgets

October is an especially busy time for homeowners associations and condo associations because that’s typically when they’re in budget-planning mode and getting everything in order for the upcoming fiscal year.

Budget planning at this level involves a handful of moving parts and considerations, and if it feels a little bit overwhelming as you get started, just keep these five best practices in mind:

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

If you’re reading this, you probably already know what a substantial undertaking planning an HOA or condo association’s budget can be. Treat time like an ally and give yourself — and those who will be working on it with you — ample time to do it right. Remember, you’ll probably have RFPs (requests for proposals) to send out to potential vendors and plenty of research to complete before you can put down any hard numbers.

We typically deliver the draft budgets to our clients’ board of directors or finance committees within 90 days in advance of the association’s upcoming operating year. This ensures every decision-maker has the necessary time to review the budget, ask questions or make revisions.

Get the Details Down in Writing

Your members deserve to know exactly what’s going on in their community, and it’s their right to be able to see the budget you’ve put together. With this in mind, it’s important to document as many details as possible. Not only will it increase transparency in your community but it’ll also save you time that would otherwise be spent answering questions.

We always recommend that budgets should include detailed narratives with descriptions about general ledger accounts so that anyone — whether they’ve seen the budget before or not — can tell what each line item is for.

Keep the Needs of Key Stakeholders in Mind

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not considering the buy-in you’ll need from other association members, especially board members. Moreover, you can’t build a budget in a vacuum; rather, you need to plan it out within the context of the current and historical financial health of your community.

Regardless of your HOA or condo association, these items should always be considered during the budget-planning process:

  • Legal requirements of state statutes and governing documents
  • Membership and board expectations, goals and desires
  • Committee feedback
  • Financial forecasts and analyses of past financial activity
  • The association’s audited balance sheet, specifically the members’ equity balance
  • Required reserve funding
  • Contract increase, renewal and expiration terms
  • Pending expenses (projected year-end figures)

Zero-Balance Your Budgets

As a general rule, you should always zero-balance your budgets. What that means is that, on paper, every dollar of your budget should be assigned a specific role. 

Any funds you plan on saving or spending should always be reflected in your budget. This makes it easier for you, the board and any other association members to understand exactly how everyone’s money is being spent. It’s easier than it sounds — just make sure you don’t have any money unassigned to a specific purpose by the time you’re finished making your budget.

Do Your Due Diligence

Planning an HOA’s or condo association’s budget is not an easy task, and you might feel a major sense of relief when you complete everything you need to. But there’s nothing worse than crossing the finish line only to worry about whether or not you got everything right.

We put our clients’ budgets through an intensive peer-review process that includes the involvement of one of our senior vice presidents before they ever reach the association board for final approval. In addition, we always include helpful charts, budget history, supporting information and a cover letter expressing our recommendations to make the board’s life a little bit easier, too.

Additional oversight is always a good idea, regardless of whether you’re confident about putting together a sound financial plan or not. Remember, it’s never a bad idea to get as many people as possible to take a closer look at the work you’ve done because peace of mind is priceless.

Want more recommendations and tips for a smoother budget-planning process? Want to see how we help our clients build better budgets? Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Cardinal Management Group, Inc. leverages over 30 years of experience to help communities just like yours.

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4 Tips for a Happier Halloween for Your HOA

Photo of Halloween pumpkins

It won’t be long before you see pumpkins and spooky decorations around your neighborhood. The Halloween spirit is in the air, which means fun is right around the corner. And if your HOA is in the process of planning for Halloween, here are some simple tips worth remembering:

1. Give Friendly Reminders About Decorative Limits

Much like Christmas, Halloween is a time when some neighbors will take their creative vision to the max and deck out their homes with over-the-top decor. 

We love it when people get excited about holidays — it always seems to create more energy in a neighborhood. At the same time, it’s always a good idea to ensure compliance with bylaws to maintain property values no matter the time of the year. There’s no reason for over-the-top enforcement, however, and friendly suggestions go a long way towards fostering a positive relationship with neighbors.

2. Plan a Fun Community Event

One of the best ways to bring a community together for Halloween is to literally bring them together! It doesn’t take much to put together something fun for Halloween, either. Here are just a few simple ideas:

3. Be Firm in Your Prioritization of Safety

Halloween is a great holiday for communities because it’s a time when neighbors get out of the house to have fun and interact with one another. But even with all the fun to be had, it’s essential that you make it clear to all your members that you want them to be safe.

In the days leading up to the big night, send out reminders for parents to keep themselves and their kids as safe as possible during Halloween activities. Always remind them to:

  • Bring flashlights, glowsticks and reflective clothing
  • Stay on the sidewalk or out of the way of potential traffic
  • Inspect candy for tampering or allergies
  • Trick-or-treat in groups

4. Don’t Let Halloween Decorations Linger

No one should be expected to clear up their decorations immediately after the last piece of candy has been given out, but you don’t want month-old Jack-o’-lanterns to sit around too long, and those fake cobwebs all over someone’s house probably won’t look great come Thanksgiving.

Gently remind members that it’s acceptable to leave holiday decor up for a few days after Halloween but encourage timely clean-up whenever possible. Doing so will protect property values and keep everyone on the same page about expectations in regard to the community’s bylaws.

Want more advice and suggestions from our team? Check out the rest of our blog or get in touch with us today.

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Cardinal Management Group, Inc. Welcomes Two New Clients in September

Exterior Photo of Providence Square Building

As we said goodbye to summer, we knew it’d be a busy fall ahead! And we got the new season started off on the right foot as we welcomed two more clients into the fold at Cardinal Management Group, Inc. Read on to learn more about the associations that joined the family as our clients this September.

Providence Square

Interior photo of Providence Square

Located in Fairfax, VA, Providence Square is a beautiful mid-rise condominium that we’re thrilled to have in our client portfolio. This collection of 96 residences recently underwent renovation to refresh its interior common areas, and we don’t think it could have gone any better.

Renovated Interior Space at Providence Square

Southlake Recreation Association

Southlake Recreation Center Entrance Monument

Our second new client to join us this month was the Southlake Recreation Association. This group, located in Prince William County, VA, oversees incredible amenities, including the ever-popular pool, tennis courts and clubhouse. We’ve partnered directly with its board of directors, and we’re excited to be working with its team at this great location.

Want to see who else we’re working with? Check out our full communities and associations list here, or get in touch with us to learn more about how Cardinal Management Group, Inc. can help your HOA or community association.

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5 Tips for a Successful Annual HOA or Community Association Meeting

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Fall is the time of year is when homeowners associations and condominium associations prepare for the year ahead. And for many neighborhoods and communities, it’s an important time because it’s annual-meeting season.

Getting ready to host your next annual meeting? Here are some tips to help it go as smoothly as possible.

Build Out a Clearly Defined Agenda

There’s nothing worse than a chaotic, overly long meeting. That’s why we recommend going in with a point-by-point agenda so that everyone involved knows where the meeting is headed. This will be your roadmap for the entire meeting to ensure it stays on track and gives attendees an idea of what to expect before you ever call the meeting to order.

Get Every Document Prepared Well Ahead of Time

There’s no question that preparing for an annual meeting is a tall task for any board, and you’ll want to leave no stone unturned in terms of preparation. Getting the necessary documentation (i.e., reports, budget information, etc.) together ahead of time is important not only for the success of your meeting but also for the potential legality of it, too.

Be Smart About When You Hold Your Meeting

While your monthly or quarterly association meetings might only be attended by board members, your annual meeting is an important opportunity for everyone in your community to get involved. With that said, it’s no secret that not everyone is going to want to spend time at a meeting, so you’ll want to be sure to pick a date and time that are least likely to conflict with most work schedules, holidays, weekend plans, etc. 

You can’t make it work for everyone, but don’t make the date and time of the meeting an easy out for less motivated community members.

Get the Word Out Early

Your bylaws might dictate how early you must give notice of an annual meeting, but we recommend getting the initial notice out as soon as possible. Once you’ve picked a date and time, reach out to your community with a “save the date” or a simple email so that people can keep it on their radar. Then, as the date approaches, be sure to send reminders and more information about what to expect so it stays top of mind for your neighbors.

Consider Offering Food or Hosting in a Fun Location

Many bylaws require that a certain percentage of homeowners be in attendance in order for important votes to take place. This ensures that small groups of people can’t sway the community one way or another without the say of the larger group.

Unfortunately, not everyone in your community is going to be as enthusiastic about the meeting as you might be, and you’ll likely need to get creative to entice some people to be there. Sometimes, all it takes is offering up the promise of free food or a unique location for the meeting, but we’ve even seen some boards host speakers to talk about special topics to draw greater attendance. 

Have questions about planning for your community’s next annual meeting? Get in touch with us today to learn more from our expert team and to find out how Cardinal Management Group, Inc. can help your HOA or community association.

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Cardinal Management Group, Inc. Welcomes Four New Clients in August

Photo of Cardinal Management Group's new client communities

As the summer wanes and we inch closer to fall, our team has been busy as ever as we welcome new clients into our family and continue working closely with our ever-expanding portfolio of HOAs and community associations. And we’re proud to announce that we were able to welcome four new clients in August alone.

Read on to learn more about our newest clients who we have the pleasure of serving the D.C. metro area.

The Greens at Amyclae (Stafford, VA)

The Greens at Amyclae photo

A spacious community comprised of 200 single-family homes, The Greens at Amyclae is a family-friendly neighborhood that includes three tot lots and ample walking trails. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this community, however, is that it actually features two cemeteries that make it a distinct place to call home. Most importantly, this community is filled with a fantastic group of people, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about getting to work with them.

Fairfax Station (Fairfax, VA)

Fairfax Station photo

Fairfax Station is a gorgeous 540-home community that’s self-managed by a great group of volunteers that we now have the honor of partnering with. This is a unique partnership that will allow us to work closely with this community’s HOA while providing our expertise via covenants and architectural services.

Midtown North (Reston, VA)

Midtown North Photo

We’re excited to welcome Midtown North, a 78-residence midrise condominium, back to the Cardinal Management Group, Inc. family! These residences offer fantastic views of the surrounding area and some incredible amenities for residents to enjoy, and this will be the second time that we’ll be working closely with the condo association.

South Cove (Dumfries, VA)

South Cove Photo

South Cove is a charming 217-townhome community located just minutes from our corporate offices. We’re proud to announce that we’ve partnered with its HOA, and we’re looking forward to helping this well-established neighborhood even better for its current and future residents.

Want to learn more about how Cardinal Management Group, Inc. can help your homeowners association or community association? Get in touch with us here.

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3 Benefits of Choosing a Local Community Management Partner

People shaking hands

In your search for the right partner to help you manage your neighborhood or community, you’ll come across countless potential management companies — some located just a few miles from you, and others located halfway across the country. And while you probably have plenty of pros and cons to weigh for all of your options, one thing you should definitely consider is where your community management team is located.

But does having your community management partner located nearby really make a difference? That’s probably determined by your unique needs, but here are three things local community management companies can offer that others simply can’t:

Readily Available in Your Community

Perhaps the greatest benefit of having a local community management partner as opposed to a regionally based or national management company is that a local partner is able to be at the community with shorter notice.

Whether you need help with inspections or need someone to fix a problem, a local management partner is always going to offer more. That means you never have to worry about resolving issues by yourself. And isn’t that the whole point of having a community management partner anyway?

Local Expertise

Choosing a local community management partner means a team of local professionals is at your disposal. These are the people who’ve dedicated their professional lives to working in the world of HOAs, condo associations and community management, and the fact that they’re focused on the local area means they’re better equipped to handle questions about local regulations and ordinances. Plus, because these people actually live in the same region, they can often provide firsthand recommendations for nearby contractors and vendors as needed.

Face-to-Face Communication

In most circumstances, a phone call or an email will be enough to get questions answered or to figure out next steps. If you’re like us, however, you enjoy face-to-face interaction every now and then.

No matter who your community management partners are, you should always know they’re a phone call away. But with a local partner, you can rest assured that an in-person meeting or strategy session is never out of the question.

Want to learn more about how Cardinal Management Group, Inc. can help your community in the Mid-Atlantic region? Check out our full list of services, then get in touch with us today.

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