April 2017 - The Sharper Focus

Thank you for reading our newsletter to all homeowners in Associations managed by Sharper Management. The goal of this newsletter is to touch on general ideas and helpful topics as they relate to living in a common interest community. We hope you find this information useful.
Simplify Your Space

A wise friend once told me a story about when he and his wife downsized from their spacious five-bedroom home into a two bedroom townhome. They made a pact, for every item either of them brought into their townhome, one old item needed to go.

They had committed to living in a smaller space to simplify their lives. Letting go of some of the household clutter was part of their commitment. Simplified and small space living is a trending idea across the nation. With TV shows like HGTV's Tiny House - Big Living and architect Sarah Suzanka's popular Not So Big books, there are many ideas and tips for making the most of living in a smaller space.

We've pulled ideas from a variety of sources highlighting tips we feel are useful and relatively easy to implement.

Ideas for Making the Most of Your Space 

1. Get Rid of Clutter. This is rule number one for a reason! Excess "stuff" can negatively impact your ability to focus and process information thus causing stress. A Princeton University study found that physical clutter competes for our attention and creates confusion and anxiety. Compound excess clutter with a small space and you have a recipe for a less than ideal situation.

Getting rid of things can be taxing as well. So, how do you decide what stays and what goes? One idea would be to determine whether or not you've used an item in the past 12 months. If you haven't, it's likely you really don't need it.

2. Keep the Kitchen Organized. The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house. Keeping things neat, tidy, and handy in the kitchen is important. Some ideas that may help get you started include;
  • Adding some clear storage containers that are uniform in size and save space
  • Add hooks to the backs of cabinets doors to store things like lids
  • Install a few Lazy Susans in the cupboards for easy access to all of your items
  • Create "work zones" in the kitchen. You've probably heard about the kitchen work triangle, the triangular layout between fridge, oven, and sink that makes it easy for a cook to move about the kitchen. Whether or not your kitchen conforms to this ideal, it's helpful to think of your kitchen in terms of work zones: food storage, dishware storage, cleanup (sink and dishwasher), prep, and cooking zone
  • Don't overload your shelves - too many things in one spot will make it hard to efficiently use any of the items
3. Don't Buy on a Whim. With each purchase, really decide if you love and truly need it. Every item brought into your space will need a place to rest.

4. Double Duty Furniture. Double-duty furniture that has storage and is easily moveable  provides options for multi-use. A great example is an ottoman that doubles as a place to store blankets or games inside. This same ottoman, when equipped with foot slides, can be easily moved to provide additional seating at family gatherings.

5. Keep It Clean. Dust, clutter, and general grim can take a toll on your happiness. Keeping your space picked up each day can make a big difference. Cleaning daily, for just five minutes, can go further than it sounds. In five minutes, you could clean a bathroom sink or wipe down the stovetop. The key to this tip is consistency.
An HOA Reserve Fund: What Is, Why We Need It, and How is It Determined

An HOA's reserve fund is your association's equivalent to a savings account. Where day-to-day expenses are managed from the association's operating fund, major repair and replacement costs come from the reserve fund.

Planning for and funding the operational needs of an association is straightforward. Line items such as garbage removal and lawn care services are simply added up to determine how much the association needs to generate per year/per month in dues. What becomes a bit more complicated to predict and plan for are major replacements of building equipment, roofs, siding, asphalt, concrete, etc. Responsible Boards, wise homeowners and experienced management companies have come to see that long-term planning to set funds aside now is imperative. An adequate reserve fund can mitigate or alleviate unexpected special assessments.

Reserve funds are not an extra expense to your association's operating budget (your monthly "dues") - they just spread out large expenses more evenly for the needs of your association when it comes to the replacement of those "big ticket" items.

One commonly asked question is how is the amount needed for the reserve fund determined? Typically, an HOA board will hire a specialized outside firm to prepare a Reserve Study. This study, usually conducted by an engineer, first identifies all of the components the association is responsible for replacing; gives those items a remaining "useful life;" identifies the years which those components should replaced; and predicts a cost to do so. In the end you are left with a comprehensive 20-30 year plan. In addition to the expenses, a funding plan is then generated to guide how much the association needs to be saving each year to meet those expenses. This savings "expense" is then planned as part of your operating budget, thus your "dues."

A reserve fund helps your association and Board fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to ensure your property is maintained - but this fund may also be a legal requirement for the HOA. A reserve fund may actually be required by any secondary mortgage market in which the association participates in such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, or VA. Additionally, state statues, regulations or court decisions may require a reserve fund be maintained. For example, any common interest community built after June 1994 is required by the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act to maintain a reserve fund.

Reserve funds and studies are one of the most powerful tools an association can enact. Possible statutory requirements and powerful fund planning aside, utilizing a reserve study and maintaining an adequate reserve fund is the foundation to ensuring the stability of property values.

Things to Do Around Town

With spring popping all around us and summer just around the corner, we all want to get out and enjoy some of the best months Minnesota has to offer. The ideas below are just a few things we found that are going on around town in the next couple of months. We also found a great resource link through the City of Minneapolis for upcoming local events. Enjoy!

City of Minneapolis Events

43rd Annual MayDay Parade
Powderhorn Park
May 7

The MayDay Parade and ceremony in Powderhorn Park has become a joyous annual ritual for nearly 50,000 people in the Twin Cities. For many in Minnesota, the MayDay Parade is a time to celebrate the coming warmth with hand-built puppets and masks (some over 10 feet tall), music, and performance in the street. But the essence of the parade is rooted in the local community and contemporary issues, concerns, and visions for a better world.

Northeast Minneapolis
May 19-21

Presented by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Art-A-Whirl is a free open studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis. It's a great opportunity to tour private artist studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and purchase original artwork. Over the last 20 years, it has become the largest open studio tour in the country.

Minnesota Lynx
Xcel Energy Center
May 14
The Minnesota Lynx kick of their 2017 season at home verses the Chicago Sky.

Chanhassen Dinner Theater
March 3-October 28
After a decade, the #1 best-seller in Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' history returns to the Main Stage!

Join Sandy, Danny and the rest of the Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies for an affectionate satire of high school life in the 1950's.  Don't miss the unforgettable tunes like: "Summer Nights," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "We Go Together," "Greased Lightnin'," "Beauty School Dropout," AND added songs made popular in the beloved film: "Grease (Is The Word)," "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "You're the One That I Want."  It's a high-octane rock 'n' roll party packed with explosive energy!
Need Help Renting and Managing a Townhome or Condo?

Think Advantage Home

A sister company to Sharper Management, Advantage Home helps homeowners and investors manage their single-family residences.

Since your Association is already affiliated with Sharper Management, renting your home through Advantage would have extra benefits you wouldn't find in another property management company. Those benefits include:
  • A thorough understanding of Associations
  • Information sharing regarding governing documents, rules, and regulations is efficient between Sharper and Advantage Home - Advantage is literally right down the hall
  • The Sharper Management maintenance staff is already familiar with your Association's property
  • Our emergency response team is fast and effective
If you or someone you know is interested in renting their townhome or condominium, have them contact jeff@advantagehomemn.com.

Learn more at advantagehomemn.com

Sharper Management | 952-224-4777 | SharperManagement.com