Friday, March 25, 2016

3 Tips For Planning a Successful Cleanup in Your Neighborhood

AMG would like to provide these tips to community association managers or HOA's to help you organize and host a successful community spring cleanup. These tips and safety precautions are important to ensure the safety for all participants.

​Neighborhoods like to have community events in the spring. Organizing a neighborhood cleanup is a great opportunity to get to spruce up the community and get to know your neighbors . As the organizer of the event you may want to consider creative ways of marketing for recruitment of volunteers by using fliers and newsletters  to promote  your cleanup.

You will need time to organize the event. Start planning at least a month or two in advance. Spring is the best time to do a cleanup. Another great idea is to prepare a volunteer schedule or time sheet so that you can organize and use volunteer time efficiently.
Here are a few tips for the community clean-up organizer:

1. Rent a Dumpster

If you are planning an opportunity for residents to dispose of household or backyard junk and clutter you will need to arrange a dumpster for your event,  preferably a large container called a “roll-off dumpster.”   

2. Have Special Tools For Special Tasks

If you are doing a litter pickup event adjacent to a roadway, in a common area or if you are doing a riverside, stream area clean up you will need trash bags and gloves.

3. Hazardous Materials or Electronics

Chemicals, liquids, oils and the such cannot be put into your dumpster on clean-up day. Make sure your organizer has provisions for disposal of such materials.

Consumer electronics (like old TVs, computer parts, refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.) need to be separated on your cleanup day so that they can be treated separately at the dump. You will need to coordinate the  transport of this material to the Landfill. 

Some of the typical cleanup needs include:
  • Volunteers
  • Trash bags
  • Refreshments
  • Gloves/heavy-duty
  • Buckets for sharp objects
  • Insect repellent
  • Tools (ropes, rakes, shovels, etc.)
  • First aid supplies

Friday, March 18, 2016

Paul Mengert: Greensboro exec passionate about property management, piloting patients

Article appeared 3/18/2016 in the Triad Buisness Journal:
From the local neighborhood to blue skies overhead, Paul Mengert is most at home when he's helping others.

As a businessman, his clients are groups looking to protect the value of homes for their residents. But as a volunteer pilot, his focus is flying patients to distant medical  appointments  in a fraction   of the five to  10 hours  of driving it would require  otherwise.

Mengert is the founder and president of Association Management Group, one of the Carolinas' largest homeowners association and condominium management firms. AMG cunently has 40 employees  spread  among its offices  in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, S.C., and Aiken, S.C. Together, they handle several hundred condominiums, town home and planned unit developments in N01ih and South Carolina.

Mengert launched the company in 1984 and said growth in neighborhood associations has been driven by the proliferation of planned communities with shared amenities  such as golf courses  and  swimming pools.

"By making the planned community into an association, (developers) could sometimes use land that otherwise wasn't buildable to make housing more affordable," he said. "The reason for associations stems from the affordability of land use and from amenities and from the sense of homebuyers caring about who they're going to be living   around."

Or, more specifically, what other homes in the neighborhood look like. Mengert said AMG works with a few neighborhood associations that go as far as prohibiting lawns from exceeding a certain height and requiring that homes be painted a ce1iain way. Not all associations are like that, he added, but they  all provide some degree of control over the environment.

AMG has grown steadily, working as a  facilitator  of  homeowner  associations.  It works  with the  leaders of the associations to expedite whatever services are offered . That  includes everything from  ensuring lawns are cut regularly, plants and shrubs are neatly trimmed  and  homeowner  dues are collected monthly.

Mengert said the competition to provide these services is pretty stiff.

"Like  a lot of industries,  it falls into a couple different categories where there are probably a dozen or so companies that are major players  in the industry in our state," he said. "Then there are some medium-sized companies. There are also companies that handle just one association. It runs the gamut."

Competition is one challenge in the industry, but so are factors that impact the real estate market. The proliferation of apartments, for example, doesn't alarm Mengert as much as the underlying reason that some younger adults are gravitating towards living there instead of buying homes.

Young potential home buyers aren't as excited about homeownership as a decade ago, before the latest recession hit.

"That said, home ownership has been one of the best long-term investments over a long period of time in the U.S.," he said. "I still think there are a lot of consumers who are attracted to homeownership not only because of the stability it gives them but also because of the long-term investment. Homeownership will continue to be an important part of most people's investment strategies."

Compared to other markets in North Carolina, including Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, the Triad is generally more resistant to the fluctuations of the economy and real estate market, Mengert said.

"Yes, we've had some downside in real estate values during the recession,  but I think  our market got hit less than a lot of other markets," he said. "And when you look at it from a homeowners association perspective, those that have more turnover seemed to be affected more by the economy. Communities where people have been there for a long period of time -like most of those in the Triad- seem to be affected very  little."

Mengert said that lately, one of AMG's big initiatives has been helping  associations  outside of the Triad  to maintain  or lift property values.

"It's always an undesirable situation if home values are declining," he said. "We really try to  work with different communities to help them devise strategies if their homes are decreasing in value. We look at why that is and what can be done about it. In some cases we've been able to facilitate a kind of informal group of Realtors to talk about what could be done to help the  prope1iy  values.

But Mengert said the biggest challenge at AMG right now is staying on top of all the rules the different homeowners associations want it to enforce. He said some of the complexity has to do with legislative effort that, in some cases, change what  communities  can and can't  do.

"I'm not saying whether those changes are right or wrong, I'm just saying it's a challenge," he said.

He cites as an example the big dispute over satellite dishes from a few years ago. Most neighborhood associations AMG worked for simply banned them because the dishes were unsightly.  Then regulators  basically  stated that  satellite dishes couldn't be  prohibited.

"Reconciling those kinds  of things is always a challenge," he said. "On the one hand we have    some owners who theoretically bought into that community because they didn't want to look out  their window and see a satellite dish. We have other owners who really want satellite TV service. Balancing  the interests  and rights  of all the members  is really important."

When he's not ensuring that lawns are manicured, hedges are tidy and satellite dishes are tastefully hidden, you'll often find Mengert in the cockpit. He has made multiple trips to deliver beds, toys and clothes to an orphanage in Haiti, but also has since 2009 volunteered with Angel Flight Soars. With the help of 1,000 volunteer pilots like Mengert, the nonprofit flies 2,500 missions a year.

Late last year, for example, Mengert flew Helen Lindsey, a quadruple amputee awaiting a bilateral  hand transplant,  from Atlanta to  Winston-Salem  for a doctor's  visit.

"I personally suffered (and fully recovered) from a condition that required medical treatments not available locally," Mengert says. "Because of this, I am very empathetic to those who are in need, or who have a loved one in need, of nonemergency medical treatment not available in their home city. Angel Flight  Soars facilitates transportation  for people  at a time of need.", the nonprofit flies 2,500 missions a year.

This article is from the Triad Business Journal:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Security Measures Does Your HOA Take?

When it comes to safety and security of a Homeowner's Association community, often times the best defense is good offense. Each state has different requirements connected to an association’s responsibilities when it comes to defending its dwellers, however, at some point, everyone needs to ask himself the simple question – what security measures does your HOA take? Warning alarms, advanced gates, guards — are great measures to keep the unwanted visitors away from our walls, however, there are other ways to prevent thieves and other uninvited individuals. 

1.  Has your Homeowner's Association developed a safety policy? In this policy, HOA should create a process for annual revision of on-going security systems and find out what kind of security measures to consider in the future, and then tailor a budget accordingly. 

2.  Has your HOA established a relationship with local police? Invite local police officers who protect your neighborhood to come and talk at board meetings. This is mainly because you wouldn't want your first interaction with law enforcement to be in the event of an accident. 

3.  Has your HOA created a safety committee? This group of people would be in charge of  supervising the property on a regular basis, in order to recognize possible security flaws.

4.  Has your HOA met all the neighbors? Developing the awareness of community will support everyone. Neighbors  who are on friendly terms with each other, are more likely to look out for one another and be more aware of what’s going on in their community. It's important to plan  occasional gatherings where neighbors can get acquainted with one another. 

5. Has your HOA reminded home owners about security? As simple as it may sound, this is one easy way to get everyone's needs met. If HOA goes into the trouble to publish at least a bi-monthly safety tips in homeowners association publication, this alone can raise the awareness and security at once. Demonstrating crime statistics of the community they live in  and talking about measures that are designed to keep your neighborhood safe. 

These are the questions everyone needs to ask themselves at some point, but whichever safety measures your Homeowners Association takes, make sure you understand your personal responsibility in your home's security.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

It’s Easy to Organize a Spring Clean-Up Community

Today people are into a community-wide spring clean-up. It’s because they want to have a better and healthier environment. Who manages it? Neighborhood associations will organize the cleanups supported other organizations such as community colleges, schools, churches, the common public, and many others. Even though it seems easy to organize it, some people face difficulties. That’s why they need to learn something. These people need to find some tips to conduct a neat cleanup event. The first thing to prepare is the time. They indeed require time to organize such event. It’s good to start planning in advance. A month of planning is a good choice.

Pick the Date

When it is about the season, spring always becomes a good choice. It’s because they can clean weeds and grass easier before these have the chance to pile up. Otherwise, such kind of mess will be difficult to clean. When they choose a day for cleaning up, they should check with other members. It’s to avoid any possible conflicts. Here’s an idea. Reserving a hauler or roll-off before on the selected date is a good thing. To put simply, people should have a good plan. It helps their Community Association set a document and direction they need to organize a spring clean-up.

Forming a cleanup organization in a neighborhood is a nice way to get the job done professionally and efficiently. Before they start, they may buy a simple notebook. The purpose is to record information like numbers, name, and other details. It’s imperative to keep everything documented before and during the cleanup. It will be useful for grant applications and references, in fact. The next thing to decide is the cleanup area. Making a sample map will help them coordinate the pickup routes, drop sites, and roll-offs of the project. It’s also useful to make notes on types and amount of trash to clean-up. It’s a kind of neat association management.

Gathering the Team

What kind of equipment to use? Each HOA community has different preferences. It depends on what kind of cleanup project they are going to conduct. Some common items would be trash bags, refreshments, buckets, insect repellent, rakes, ropes, safety signs, and many others. The most difficult part to organize a spring cleanup community is the recruitment. Building a team isn’t as easy as people might think. Most people can’t leave their jobs, in fact. The best idea is to conduct a promotion. It takes much time to distribute flyers at local neighborhood and Homeowners Association. However, the result is quite satisfying.