In The News

By Rachel Sapin

Anticipated push by HOAs against smoking pot getting hazy.

We’re more concerned about what is happening with Social Security,” said Lewis, who is 68 and vice president of the Heather Ridge Metropolitan District, which consists of 10 different HOAs that govern over 1,000 homes in southeast Aurora.

The home of Aurora resident Van Lewis sits so close to a golf course, you can see a red flag marking a hole from his ground-level patio. His condo is part of the Heather Ridge South Homeowners Association, where he shares a wall with his neighbor and a view with the patios of nearby homes that encircle the course. Lewis, who is president of his neighborhood’s HOA, can’t remember the last time marijuana came up at a neighborhood meeting.“We’re more concerned about what is happening with Social Security,” said Lewis, who is 68 and vice president of the Heather Ridge Metropolitan District, which consists of 10 different HOAs that govern over 1,000 homes in southeast Aurora.

He said so far it’s just an issue that most Aurora HOAs are watching, not necessarily taking action on.“Most HOAs don’t have a covenant against marijuana cultivation or use,” said Jerry Orten, an HOA attorney and spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Association Institute. “Most of what’s happening now is just a discussion.”Many of the state’s HOAs haven’t decided what, if any rules, to implement. They could regulate marijuana use if they want to, Orten said. Orten said that right could come from a ruling handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

In 2007, residents of the Twin Rivers Homeowners Association said the HOA was violating their First Amendment rights by not allowing them congregate and to post signs in the neighborhood’s common plaza. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled the residents waived their constitutional free speech right when they agreed to live by the HOA’s covenant, which only allowed residents to post one or two signs on their personal property. They also ruled that the common area was private property, and also subject to the rules of the HOA. Though that ruling was outside of Colorado, Orten said the same result would be expected in Colorado if Amendment 64 were challenged in court.

Orten says Colorado’s Clean Air Act, which puts limitations on where people can smoke tobacco and on other types of smoke someone might find offensive, also gives HOAs the right to prohibit smoking in common areas. Pot use would remain hazy inside people’s homes simply because HOAs do not want to pursue that type of rule-making, Orten said.

HOAs don’t control what happens inside homes, “and they really don’t want to,” he said. Andrea Frederickson, president of The Condominium Association at East Hampden Circle, said she has concerns about the potential for civil lawsuits that could result from too much regulation.“

We are by some standards a small complex of five buildings with 60 units and certainly do not have a budget that would allow us to bring lawsuits against someone or defend a lawsuit, if someone disagreed with the rules and regulations,” she wrote in an email. “Our association … will address things as they come up and hope that some big association will try it out in court and we can know where we stand.”

She said her HOA has a nuisance clause that prevents homeowners from smoking in common spaces such as stairways, but she said that rule would not compel a neighbor to sue someone for smoking marijuana in their own unit, even if the smell wafted through vents or pocket doors.“

Ideally, you want rules people would voluntarily comply with,” Orten said. He said the bigger issue though may not come with marijuana use, but with cultivation where odors can permeate walls and potentially cause mold to grow in less-ventilated units. Residents using recreational marijuana are allowed up to six plants, but medical pot growers can obtain permission to grow more.“

If you’re going to grow, they could say you need ventilation. They could also limit your use of electricity. A lot of these grow facilities will run their lights for 16-18 hours a day,” Orten said. Whatever HOAs decide, the City of Aurora will not interfere, says Interim City Attorney Mike Hyman.  “We have left that up to the individual HOAs,” he said.

See you in Orlando!

CAI Annual Conference Offers CMCAs Education, Networking

The upcoming 2014 Community Associations Institute (CAI) Annual Conference and Exposition, May 14-17 at Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando offers an opportunity for CMCAs to earn up to 15 continuing education credits toward CMCA recertification.  The conference is expected to bring together more than 1000 community managers, management company executives, product and service providers and association board members from around the world for a content-rich educational event. The CAI conference is an opportunity for CMCAs to network with peers, meet personally with members of the CAMICB staff team, and learn about innovative best practices in community association management.

For registration and information, visit www.caionline.org/events/conference.  

 

Forget Work Life Balance

By Will Yakowicz

Ivan Misner, the networking guru of BNI, says entrepreneurs will never achieve balance. Here’s a far better way to maintain your sanity.

If you haven’t eaten dinner with your family in the past week, haven’t taken a day off in over a year, and feel like you still don’t have enough time to finish your work, you’re doing something wrong.

Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of global networking organization BNI, knows how unbalanced life is while running your own business.

Misner has written 20 books, runs BNI offices across the world from North America to Asia, and has a wife and kids. If you ask him, he’ll tell you he doesn’t live a balanced life. He’ll also tell you that you’ll never achieve balance either. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t lead a healthy life.

“Do you want to know the secret to balance? Forget about balance, you’ll never have it,” Misner told me recently. “You cannot have balance as an entrepreneur, but you can create harmony.”

The difference, Misner says, is not just semantics. “Harmony is something different. When you look at the scales of justice, people think balance is something they need but it’s not realistic,” he says. “For the entrepreneur, who has the most unbalanced life, [he or she] needs to get over it.”

Below, see Misner’s four tips to live a more harmonious life.

Be here now.

Misner says three words are the key to start a harmonious life: “Be here now.” Whereever you are, be there in mind, body, and spirit. “When you’re at work, don’t think about the time you didn’t spend with your kids last night. Be at work,” Misner says. “If you’re home, don’t think about that project at the office, be with your kids. It sounds simple, but it’s not easy. If it was easy everyone would do it. This is about focus–focus on the people you are with and make sure to be fully and completely there.”

Make time for the most important things.

Set aside time for the most important things and tasks in your life. This sometimes means you’re going to need to get creative. Misner says it’s important for him not to be an absentee dad. So, he squeezes writing books into his night hours.

“I’d hang with the kids, eat family dinner together, hang out, put them to bed, and go into my office at home at 10 p.m. and work until 3, or 5 or 6, grab a few z’s, and go into the office,” he says. “When my first book came out, my oldest daughter was surprised, ‘When did you write a book?’” He’s now writing his 20th book.

Integrate tasks.

Unlike much of the advice you might read about creating solid work and life boundaries, Misner says merging them together is the only way to go.

“For many years, I’d spend summers at the lake house and work remotely. But then, I decided to bring my management team with me for three or four days at a time while my kids and wife were with us,” he says. “If you can integrate work-life elements together, you can create harmony. My life is way out of balance–I’m on the road for nine months this year, but I am not an absentee dad. My wife comes with me and our kids, who are now adults, will meet us and we’ll make it a vacation.”

Remember: You can’t have it all.

You can’t do it all. It’s impossible, Misner says, so you have to pick and choose and practice time management. If you want to be a decent spouse, then make time to take off and recharge your battery. If an urgent work project comes up that will ruin the company, leave the vacation and make it up to them. But keep in mind this one thing: “Remember when you’re 70 years old, you’re not going to look back and wish you spent more time at the office,” Misner says. “But, you will regret not fostering a better relationship with your kids and partner.”

In the News: Subprime Mortgages

By Les Christie

Borrowers with bad credit were shut out of the mortgage market after the housing bubble burst, but now a handful of small lenders are starting to offer subprime loans again.

Once synonymous with toxic, adjustable-rate mortgages — like the “exploding ARMs” that led many homeowners to lose their homes to foreclosure during the housing bust — subprime mortgages are once againbeing offered to borrowers who pose a higher credit risk, typically those with credit scores that fall below 640.

But this time around, the loans are much more costly. During the housing bubble, lenders were handing out subprime loans with cheap teaser rates and little or no down payments. Now, lenders are charging interest rates of as high as 8% to 10% and requiring borrowers to make down payments of as much as 25%-35%.

The premium price is worth it for some borrowers who are trying to build or repair their credit, according to Bill Dallas from Skyline Financial, of Calabasas, Calif. Skyline started offering subprime loans a few months ago under its NewLeaf Lending division.

Among his firm’s subprime mortgage customers: young, first-time homebuyers and former homeowners whose credit was ruined in the housing bust.

“They’re just Americans who want to buy homes but can’t,” said Dallas, who used to run First Franklin, a subprime lender that went bust in the mortgage meltdown.

Most of these borrowers have nowhere else to turn. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which back 80% of all U.S. home loans, won’t back loans issued to subprime borrowers.

Only the Federal Housing Administration continues to support low-credit score borrowers in the wake of the housing bust. But it has hiked fees and premiums.

To help protect borrowers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requires strong consumer protections. The loans cannot carry interest rates that increase after default, or prepayment penalties, for example. And lenders must provide these borrowers with homeownership counseling from a representative approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In addition to the small lenders who are issuing subprime loans, Wells Fargo recently lowered the minimum credit score it requires of borrowers to get FHA loans.

Wells Fargo is now approving applicantswho have scores of between 600 and 640 for FHA loans, which remains well within FHA’s guidelines, according to spokesman Tom Goyda.

“It will open up access to credit for many lower income families, including first-time homebuyers,” said Goyda.

And Dallas points out that these borrowers don’t necessarily have to pay those high interest rates for the life of the loan. Once they demonstrate they can repay their loans regularly, their credit scores should improve and they should be able to refinance into a lower-rate loan.

In the News: Winter hits housing recovery

By Chris Isidore

Cold weather hurt home prices in January, as a closely watched measure of housing values posted its third straight monthly decline.

“The housing recovery may have taken a breather due to the cold weather,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

But home prices are still bouncing back from the bust. On a year-over-year basis, prices gained 13.2% nationally. The high point of the current recovery, the 13.7% increase in November, was generally seen an unsustainable by housing experts.

Home values over the last year have been helped by a drop in foreclosures, a decline in the unemployment rate and a relatively tight supply of homes available for sale. But beyond the cold weather, prices have faced a headwind of higher mortgage rates than a year ago, when rates were approaching a record low.

Later Tuesday the Census Bureau will report on new home sales in February. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com forecast a 5% drop in the pace of new home sales for the month, even when adjusted for seasonal factors.

7 Business Apps For Professionals

Smartphones have given today’s mobile workers the ability to not have to worry about having everything they need before they get moving. Which is great, until they end up in a conference, airplane, or other no-reception zone without the crucial One Thing I Need. Good smartphone and tablet tools don’t just provide access – they think ahead and plan for contingencies, like a personal assistant. They’re the tools that can make your job a whole lot easier.

Which apps do this? We happen to have seven of them, linked and ready for installing. The best part: all of them, except one category, are free, and the one that isn’t free is notably less than a hamburger.

1. TripIt

TripIt is a personal assistant for travel, especially if you give it access to your email inbox and let it scan for tickets and itineraries. Afterward, you literally don’t have to do anything except open the app to see all the details: your confirmation number, your departure time, the address of your hotel, the distance to the conference center, and the website of the restaurant you’re supposed to eat at Friday night. Open it up at least once before you journey and TripIt will hold your travel details for offline viewing, in case you don’t want to spring for WiFi on the plane. (iPhone/iPad, Android)

2. QuickOffice

There are all kinds of mobile business apps that claim to work well with Microsoft Office documents, but only so many offer only read-only access. Those that do offer editing tools often want to tie you into their own cloud storage schemes. Not QuickOffice. This app was recently acquired by Google, but it still works as a utilitarian open, edit, and save solution for quick views and adjustments. We’ve talked about the importance of information mobility, and this app provides a great way for mobile workers to access documents on the go. (iTunes, Android)

3. Pocket (or Instapaper)

Which app looks and works better is a matter of taste, but both Pocket and Instapaper do their jobs remarkably well. That job: take blog posts, news articles, and other content on the web (including everything at WorkIntelligent.ly – shameless plug), strip it down to just the text and necessary images, and save them to your device for reading when you have time. Big offices used to have such “clipping services” way back when, but they didn’t let you choose your favorite font. (Pocket: iTunes, Android; Instapaper: iTunes, Android)

4. Agenda (or Fantastical)

It’s odd how unhelpful the default calendar on an iPhone or Android can be. With how much design has gone into the OS of each, how can something as simple as a calendar cause so many headaches? Why can’t you just get an agenda view of everything that’s happening today when you start it up? Why does entering the time and date of an event feel like unlocking a bank vault? My own fix is Agenda Calendar 4, which makes smart guesses about when you want to schedule things, shows your day in a well-designed glance view, and generally gives you more information and links from an event than Calendar. If you frequently use the iPhone’s Reminders function, you might instead try Fantastical 2, which ties directly into the iPhone’s alerts and reminders systems. (Agenda: iTunes, Android; Fantastical: iTunes)

5. Chrome

Chrome is Google’s own browser. Your iPhone already has the Safari browser, and your Android phone likely has its own default browser. So why would you bother to install a browser that shows the same web pages as either of these? One big reason: if you use Chrome on a desktop computer and sign in on both your desktop and phone with your Google account, you can see and open any tab you had open on your desktop browser when you left it. Or just start typing in a few words from the page you already went to into Chrome’s search bar, and Chrome should come up with it. It feels magical (and maybe a bit creepy). (iTunes, Android)

6. CloudCube (Android only)

Maybe you already feel backed up, cloud-connected, and ready to grab your files from anywhere. So cloud-connected, in fact, that you sometimes have a hard time remembering in which cloud you stored that certain file, and where you have room to put that next big one. CloudCube works with all the notable syncing services: Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box, SugarSync, and more. Move files between clouds, see what’s inside each account, and even sync folders between your Android device and your services of choice. (Android)

7. IFTTT (If This Then That) (iPhone only)

Wouldn’t it be neat if every time you took a screenshot of your iPhone, that screenshot was automatically saved to where you want it? Or if every time you completed a Reminder on your phone, it emailed the appropriate person to let them know, automatically? Or if you could see, on your phone, every photo you’ve been tagged in from Facebook? With IFTTT (short for If This Then That), that kind of two-step, non-thinking action is entirely possible. The hardest part is thinking up the “recipes” that you want for your phone, but after playing with the website a bit, you should get a real sense of just how many things can be done without your having to even think about it. Be sure to install this iPhone app so you can take full advantage of that set-and-forget productivity. (iTunes).

What other business apps do you consider critical to getting the job done either while on the go, or at the office?

Best and Worst Resume Phrases

By Suzanne Lucas

To find ideal employees, these key phrases can help inform your decision.

“I’m a real go-getter who always thinks outside the box, demonstrates thought leadership, and proactively motivates myself!” If this sentence made you cringe, you’re not alone. These phrases come from the new CareerBuilder survey on the best and worst résumé terms.

The company surveyed 2,201 hiring managers and HR people to come up with the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

The Worst Résumé Terms

1. Best of breed: 38 percent

2. Go-getter: 27 percent

3. Think outside of the box: 26 percent

4. Synergy: 22 percent

5. Go-to person: 22 percent

6. Thought leadership: 16 percent

7. Value add: 16 percent

8. Results-driven: 16 percent

9. Team player: 15 percent

10. Bottom-line: 14 percent

11. Hard worker: 13 percent

12. Strategic thinker: 12 percent

13. Dynamic: 12 percent

14. Self-motivated: 12 percent

15. Detail-oriented: 11 percent

16. Proactively: 11 percent

17. Track record: 10 percent

The Best Résumé Terms

1. Achieved: 52 percent

2. Improved: 48 percent

3. Trained/Mentored: 47 percent

4. Managed: 44 percent

5. Created: 43 percent

6. Resolved: 40 percent

7. Volunteered: 35 percent

8. Influenced: 29 percent

9. Increased/Decreased: 28 percent

10. Ideas: 27 percent

11. Negotiated: 25 percent

12. Launched: 24 percent

13. Revenue/Profits: 23 percent

14. Under budget: 16 percent

15. Won: 13 percent

Considering, according to this survey, the average hiring manager spends two minutes looking at a résumé (and other studies have shown the time to be 45 seconds), it may be worth your time to rewrite your résumé to reflect what hiring managers want to see.

But, if you’re the one doing the hiring, stop and realize your own biases and maybe vow to spend a bit more time looking at résumés. After all, it’s not about what the résumé says (unless you’re hiring professional résumé writers); it’s about what the person can do for you.

Though you may want to immediately reject someone because he or she threw a word like synergy around that might not always be the best course. Take a closer look and see what the person has really accomplished. After all, your goal should be to hire the best people for your business, and that may mean people who aren’t the world’s best résumé writers.

North Carolina CMCA Commercial

North Carolina will be the testing ground for a new branding initiative in support of the CMCA credential.  The purpose of the branding campaign, a key program initiative of the current CAMICB Board of Commissioners, is to increase awareness of the CMCA credential as an indicator of professionalism in the field of community association management.  In North Carolina the campaign is focused on identifying tactics which will raise awareness of the credential – and the value of the credential – among key stakeholders, including volunteer community leaders and their fellow homeowners, management companies, legislators and regulators, non-credentialed managers, and current credential holders.

Among the tactics being tested in North Carolina over a four month period – March-June, are carefully targeted cable television advertising, web ads, media relations and enhanced use of existing internet search tools.  North Carolina was selected as a test state for a number of reasons, including the number and variety of common interest communities in the state, a strong professional management community, and a relatively high level of awareness of the common interest community model among legislators and regulators.

Check out the television spot by following the link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/btexnzx6dxph3il/CMCA%20North%20Carolina.mov

CAMICB welcomes comments on the project from managers working in North Carolina.  Comments may be emailed with the subject line “CMCA Branding Campaign” to info@camicb.org.  Your active engagement in this effort will be appreciated.

 

Lessons From the Girl Scouts

By Peter Economy

They sell $800 million dollars’ worth of cookies every year, and not just to parents. Your company can learn a lot from them. In fact, so can you.

The annual Girl Scout Cookie campaign is a big business, generating sales of more than 200 million boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, Do-Si-Dos, and other delights. That makes the Girl Scouts the Number 3 seller of cookies nationally. According to the organization’s leaders, selling those iconic cookies teaches girls five key entrepreneurial skills. Guess what? Those same skills are what will drive success at your company. Scout’s honor.

1. Set Goals

As the saying goes, “Life without goals is like a race with no finish line-;you’re just running to nowhere.” We all need goals to give focus to our lives and to help us create the plans that lead to success. However, there are right ways and wrong ways to set goals, and it’s up to you to teach your people the best ways while providing them with the information, resources, and support they need. The acronym SMART still makes sense: All goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

2. Improve Decision-Making

Everyone in business needs to make decisions big and small. Decision-making is a skill that gets better when it’s exercised. Help your people make better decisions by delegating tasks to them and granting them the autonomy they need. Start with small tasks and work up. Your employees will learn vital decision-making skills along the way while becoming more engaged in their jobs.

3. Embrace Financial Literacy

Your people should understand where revenue comes from and the role that each person plays in creating it. While salespeople are often well aware of a company’s sales figures, and how much of that total they generated, chances are that your accounts receivable clerk or your facilities manager has no idea about the figure or how the work they do contributes to it. Teach your people the key numbers for your business-;such things as revenue, income, expenses, inventory turnover, and profit-;and then be diligent about communicating them on a regular basis, ideally every week.

4. Emphasize People Skills

Business is all about people, and building strong and positive relationships with coworkers, vendors, customers, and members of the community in which you do business. While some people are naturals when it comes to interacting with others, some are not. Provide your employees with opportunities to build their people skills by working in teams that have the authority to do valuable work and make important decisions. They will learn valuable people skills along the way.

5. Put Ethics First

Every business should be built on a firm foundation of honesty and ethical values. The best way to achieve this is to model these behaviors yourself. Be honest and transparent in all your employee, customer, and vendor interactions, and be very clear to your people that you expect them to behave in exactly the same way. Be sure to praise employees for doing the right thing, and make it a part of the performance appraisal process.