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.
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.
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:
- Start a trunk-or-treat tradition in a common community space.
- Host a Halloween-themed potluck
- Plan out a fun costume contest
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.
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.
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.
Southlake Recreation Association
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.
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.
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)
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 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)
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
As a member of an HOA or community association board, your primary responsibilities revolve around ensuring your neighborhood or community is a great place to call home. And one of the ways to make that happen is by working to build stronger bonds between residents, which ultimately reduces the potential for conflict and improves overall resident satisfaction.
With summer in full swing, there’s no better time than now to get to work on turning neighbors into friends. The weather is great, the days are long and the stresses of the holiday season are still a long way off. So if you’re thinking about hosting your community’s next great get-together but aren’t quite sure where to start, check out these simple ideas that are sure to be a hit with your residents.
If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s this: We all love food. And there’s just something about a hot grill and great food that brings people together.
Make use of your shared spaces, like your neighborhood park or rooftop gathering area, and fire up the grill. Add simple but unforgettable touches by creating a theme around your event or building a menu ahead of time and have everyone sign up ahead of time to bring a dish. You can even get a competition started to find out who the real grillmasters are in your community!
Community Yard Sale
It might be a little bit late to call it “spring cleaning,” but there’s never a bad time to get residents thinking about what they can get rid of in their homes. Spread the word and find a great place for everyone to get together with their stuff. Be sure you do plenty of advertising ahead of time (simple signs will do) inside and outside the community to make sure you have a steady stream of people checking out your yard sale.
Outdoor Movie Screenings
Summer nights and movies go together like popcorn and butter, and you can take advantage of the comfortable evening weather by hosting an unforgettable outdoor movie night for your residents. Renting an inflatable screen that’s big enough for your neighborhood is probably less expensive than you think, and there isn’t much work on your end aside from spreading the word. Just be sure to pick a rain date for your event ahead of time!
If your neighborhood has a clubhouse or pavilion that would be perfect for a larger gathering, you might want to consider hosting a wine-and-design night. These fun events, also known as paint-and-sips, have been growing in popularity over the past few years, and they’re the ideal way for residents to unwind and get to know each other in a fun, friendly way.
If your community has space for a bonfire or even just a patio for a fire bowl, this is something you can do well into the fall months, too. Break out the s’mores fixings, power up a portable speaker for music, and get ready to enjoy a relaxing evening around the fire. If it seems simple, it’s because it is, but residents always have a great time at events like these.
As always, be sure to check with your community’s management professionals for advice regarding the necessary insurance and steps to follow to host these events in your neighborhood. Want some more great ideas for how to host a fun summer block party or event in your community? Check out this great article from Good Housekeeping.
We are so excited to announce that our partnership with Burke Village, an amenity-rich townhome community in Burke, VA, has grown to a full-service management relationship, effective July 1, 2019.
A 139-home community with walking trails, a tennis court and a tot lot, Burke Village first partnered with Cardinal Management Group, Inc. in 2017. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the Burke Village Homeowners Association to provide financial management services.
Now, as their full-service management partner, we’ll be providing Burke Village with a more robust range of services to ensure that the community is able to operate efficiently and effectively for many years to come. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Burke Village to our full-service management portfolio, and we look forward to our continued partnership with this fantastic neighborhood.
A community’s homeowners association (HOA) or community association can be a make-or-break element of a potential homeowner’s decision to call a neighborhood home. Why? It’s usually because a community association means they’ll be paying extra on a yearly or even quarterly basis, plus they’ll have to abide by a set of rules while they live there.
But even with the potential for added cost and oversight, many people embrace the community association structure in their community. Here are five of the most common reasons why:
In neighborhoods that have extras like sports courts, parks, pools, clubhouses or trails, the association is most often the group that’s in charge of ensuring that these amenities are ready for everyone to use. The fees an association collects from residents often go to paying for things like basketball court resurfacing, trail maintenance, pool cleaning, clubhouse utilization, etc.
With an association, residents know that the things that made them fall in love with the neighborhood in the first place will always be taken care of without having to make significant time investments themselves.
Property Value Protection
Have you ever driven past a beautiful home only to find that the next door neighbor’s home is taking away all the attention with overgrown grass, an ugly paint color or unsightly exterior finishes? Community associations work diligently to ensure that doesn’t happen in their neighborhoods.
Because community associations set and enforce rules that determine things like a home’s lawn care requirements, decorating restrictions and appearance standards, homeowners can rest assured knowing that their neighbors can’t do much to damage property value.
Established (and Enforced) Community Standards
Speaking of standards, the community association is the body that’s in charge of setting community rules and expectations for every homeowner. Whether it’s eliminating inconvenient parking situations or simply maintaining guidelines for how late people can be out on the tennis court, the association is responsible for ensuring everyone can enjoy their home by preserving the standard of living in the neighborhood.
Although not every neighborhood is going to have substantial parks or green spaces, it’s generally the community association’s responsibility to keep shared spaces looking good. From mowing the grass to power washing sidewalks, those associations are there to keep the place people call home looking beautiful.
A simple fact about in a neighborhood with other people is that disputes can happen. These situations can range from simple discrepancies about property lines to stressful situations when someone is being loud or inconsiderate. Fortunately, for those who live in a neighborhood with a community association, disputes don’t have to become awkward interactions because they can act as a mediator or arbiter.
Moreover, these associations are boards or committees comprised of actual residents, so they’re conducive to homeowner feedback, suggestions and requests. So if you have an idea that you want your neighborhood to consider, a community association meeting is a great place to start.
Want to learn more about the benefits of (and things to consider about) living in a community with a homeowners association or community association? Check out this great article from Realtor.com.