How to Choose the Perfect Management Company

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There are many choices when it comes to association management companies.  While finding the right company for your community may seem challenging, we’re here to make it easier. Here are the main aspects you should look at when considering a management company:

How long has the company been in business?

The management of your association can directly impact the property values in your community so it is important to engage a qualified and experienced management company. If a company has been in the business for a while, they will be able to provide more references, quality vendors, and a high level of confidence in their abilities.

What is the average tenure of the Community Association Managers?

Experienced managers that hold professional designations bring a higher level of professionalism to the position.  They have the knowledge, dedication, and commitment to their industry and will be both a benefit to community and a resource to the boards in which they serve.

Does the company participate in education for both employees and board members? 

Reputable management companies invest in and provide education and training for both their employees and the board members in which they serve.  It should be the management company’s priority to provide educated, professional and accurate training, advice and guidance on important issues relating to Association Management to their board members.

What services does the company offer? 

It is important that the management company offers the services needed for your community.  Understand what type of company, their mission and values and make sure you know what services are included prior to signing the contract.

Can you visit their office?

Being able to visit your community association management can be a relief. It provides a higher level of connection and allows you to gather insight about the company and how they are able to meet your community’s needs.  Your management company will effectively be part of your team and getting to know them and the culture of the company can make the difference between a decent experience and a great one.

How do they manage associations similar to yours?

Any management company should be able to provide names of HOA and condo associations they manage as well as specific references you can contact.  These communities should be well-run and similar in size and type as your community. If your community is unique in many ways, find out what they will be able to do specifically for the quirks in your community.

What is their communication style?

Clear communications between the board and the management company is the basis for a productive and successful relationship.  Ask about responsiveness, find out if they have any additional support teams, and how the management company typically communicates with the board to determine if this will meet your expectations. Make sure to get any necessary contact information to make it easy for your residents to know who to call.

Final Thoughts

Finding a good fit for your community can be a rewarding venture. Make sure to go into the meeting expressing the expectations and priorities of the board and any and all requirements you will have.  In your initial meeting, have these main aspects in mind and you will have an easier time determining the capabilities as well as the “personality” of the management company and identify if they would be a good choice for your community.

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How to Tell if There are Microscopic Guests in Your Home

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Dust Mites are microscopic, pest like insects that make their homes in household dust. They typically go unseen by the naked eye and pass their time by eating dead skin flakes and dander.

Are Dust Mites in MY Home?

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You may be thinking that dust mites are only common in extremely dirty households but Dust Mites occur naturally and can appear in nearly all homes, especially if you’re in a humid climate. Dust Mites love tropical weather because they absorb moisture in the air instead of drinking water. They thrive in older homes and lower income residences where mold may be present.

How Do Dust Mites Affect My Health?

Environments with excessive dust mites can cause an array of issues for people sensitive to allergies or anyone who has asthma. Dust Mites are known by the American Lung Association to trigger asthma attacks. These allergens can cause an immune system response inducing either milder symptoms, like an occasional runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing or severe symptoms resulting in coughing, congestion, facial pressure, or a severe asthma attack.

How to Detect & Evict Your Tiny Unwanted Guests

sylvie-tittel-673971-unsplash.jpgDust mites love to live in your bedroom, snuggled in your bedding. They also like persisting deep in the stuffing of sofas, chairs, mattresses, pillows and carpeting. Keep in mind that Dust mites are NOT bed bugs and while unpleasant, are generally not harmful.

Here’s our general plan for keeping Dust Mite populations low:

Cover mattresses and pillows in zippered dust proof covers. These covers are made of a material with pores too small to let dust mites and their waste product through. They are also called allergen-impermeable.

Avoid fabrics that cannot be washed in hot water. Cold water isn’t as effective. Dry cleaning kills all dust mites and is also good for removing dust mites from living in fabrics. If possible, it’s best to avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, blinds, upholstered furniture, wool and synthetic fibers, down-filled covers and pillows in the bedroom. Switch traditional stuffed animals with washable ones. Consider replacing carpeting to help alleviate allergies in your home.

Use a certified filter with your central furnace and air conditioning unit. This can help trap dust mites from your entire home. Freestanding air cleaners only filter air in a limited area. Avoid devices that treat air with heat, electrostatic ions, or ozone.

Keep the humidity in your home less than 50 percent. This can be done with a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner.

Maintenance

Wash your sheets and blankets weekly in hot water. You have to wash them in water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more to kill dust mites. Non-washable bedding can be frozen overnight.

Have someone without a dust mite allergy clean your bedroom or wear a filtering mask when dusting or vacuuming. Try to stay out of the bedroom for a while after dusting and vacuuming as it stirs up dust. When dusting, use a damp mop or damp cloth to reduce the amount of dust stirred up.

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Vacuuming is not enough to remove all dust mites and their waste but it can help. CERTIFIED vacuums with high efficiency filters are scientifically tested and verified as more suitable for making your home healthier and can keep dust from flying back into the air. Make sure it has a double-layered micro filter bag or a HEPA filter.

Minimize cluttered areas in your home. Stacks of papers, books, and piles of junk – anything can collect dust and if it isn’t being used or cleaned frequently, is likely the perfect dust mite home. Regular de-cluttering will help control the allergens present in your home.

 

Even if you find that you have Dust Mites, it doesn’t mean your home isn’t clean. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation if America, dust mites live in almost every home in most areas of the world, no matter how clean. The goal should be lower their effects and reducing their numbers rather than trying to completely rid your home of them. Start in the bedroom and work your way out throughout the rest of the home.

Further Reading:

American Lung Association: https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/dust-mites.html

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org/dust-mite-allergy/

Your Stress-Free Holiday Hosting Guide … With an HOA

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Planning a party for the holidays is stressful enough without the added concern of HOA guidelines and policies to add to the mix. Before you throw in the towel, here’s our tips to stress free hosting for the holidays.

Decorations

Does your HOA have guidelines on when you can put up holiday decorations and when you need to have them down by? Are there policies on lawn ornaments, inflatables, or lights? As a community member, keeping safety in mind and decorating to the enjoyment of all residents is part of the responsibility. Knowing these regulations will also prevent any Holiday mishaps from happening and prevent violations from the HOA.

For more HOA friendly tips, check out our article on Holiday decorating here.

Parking

When guests start arriving, cars will start adding up in front of your house. Is street parking an option in your community or is there a designated visitor lot for non-residents? Talk to your neighbors ahead of time so traffic doesn’t come as a surprise. Some communities make special exceptions for Holiday parking, make sure to ask your main office about any details.

Noise

Keep in mind that most communities have a noise ordinance one made by the HOA and another by the city. Nothing disrupts a party like someone knocking on your door with a noise complaint but luckily most HOA’s have a guideline on what types of noise and – how much – is acceptable.

Location

Does your community have a Clubhouse that would fit your guests more appropriately? It may be easier to coordinate, provide more room for guests and parking, and a buffer for noise between your party and your community. Each community will have their own set of Clubhouse policies so make sure you take a look at those in advance and keep an eye on how long you have the room booked for. Always book for a little longer than expected for adequate clean up time.

Pool & Outdoor Amenities

Not all Holiday parties have to be Winter Wonderland themed. If you’re planning on a tropical theme and it includes pool access, coordinate with your main office to let them know how many guests will be attending to make sure there won’t be any code violations. Each community has their own pool area max capacity and food and drink policies so make sure you’re well aware of those before planning. It’s always good to give your community a head’s up on any parties to ensure everything goes more smoothly.

Keep the Community Aware

Whatever party you are planning to have, regardless of theme, keep your community board in the know. This can make it easier for you to plan and can even help you organize your resources better. They may have specified parking areas you weren’t aware of or ways to reserve certain amenities to guarantee they will be available for your party.

Decorating with Flair… While Keeping it Fair

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Decorating is one of the most fun aspects of the holidays. It’s the time of the year when your lawn goes from the same everyday style to a winter wonderland. If you’re in a community with an HOA or are looking to keep everyone in your neighborhood happy, this one’s for you.

Keep it Tasteful

It’s very easy to get carried away with holiday decorations, Christmas and Halloween especially. Keep in mind, that while it’s on your own lawn, everyone in the neighborhood will be subjected to anything you place on display. If your Holiday lights create too much light pollution, you may need to keep them off during respectable hours so as to not wake any of your neighbors up. Lights that blink or are too bright can be subject to local ordinances as well. These rules vary by city or county and violations could result in ticketing and fining.

As tempting as going extreme Holiday decorating is, it’s not worth giving yourself a record.

Talk With Your Neighbors

If you’re new to the area or want to start decorating this year, try asking a community member about decorating policies for your community. Talking with the people who live around you creates a sense of Holiday cheer and helps you stay in good graces with people you could be living next to for a while. It’s not always possible to please everyone but stick with a good balance of your own tastes with your communities.

Community Policies

Does your community have an HOA? Does that HOA prohibit year round decorations, lights, or signage? Some communities are more lenient for the Holidays and are worth the quick chat with your association members to find out. Keep in mind that these rules and regulations are contractually enforceable in your neighborhood.

Keeping the Peace

There are a multitude of ways to celebrate this Holiday season. It may be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or maybe nothing at all. Many neighborhoods are multi-cultural, and part of being a good neighbor is to respect everyone’s right to celebrate how they choose.

This is the time of year to think about each other.

If you have a theme for your front yard, be polite and kind about your presentation and do your part to keep peace in your neighborhood for the Holiday season.

Bottom Line

The best way to keep your Holiday Decorating stress-free is to research, talk with your neighbors and community members, and to be thoughtful in your planning.

 

Four Swaps To Upgrade Your Diet

Healthy SwapA healthy diet consists of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and lean proteins such as chicken, fish and eggs. It is possible to switch to a healthier diet without making a dramatic change. Here are a couple of simple food substitutions that can transform your diet:

Have a protein smoothie or shake for breakfast

Sometimes, with our busy schedules, we do not have time to make breakfast. Instead of skipping breakfast or choosing bad options, try a protein smoothie. Ingredients like peanut butter, oats and Greek yogurt are natural ingredients that provide a protein boost. They will help you burn more calories all day, keep your energy high and balance your blood sugar. Smoothies from many retail outlets are loaded with sugar. When making your own, opt for fresh or frozen, no-sugar-added fruits which make your smoothie sweet. Sneak in some greens – like spinach or kale – to add to your veggie intake. (You’ll never taste them.)

Eat quality meats

When it comes to meat, try to avoid antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and mercury from grain-fed eggs and meats. Swap them for products from grass-fed, pasture-raised and free-range animals. If you are looking for fish, shop for wild-caught varieties.

Increase Healthy Fats

Some fats are good for you! Foods such as avocado, wild-caught salmon and olive oil are healthy. So are nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Try increasing these foods in your diet.

Cut the coffee

The caffeine in coffee can rev up your stress hormones. Try reducing your caffeine intake by switching to green tea. The caffeine is less, and you get the added benefit of healthy antioxidants. You can also try cutting down caffeine by mixing your regular coffee with decaf, or look for lower-caffeine varieties.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

It’s Almost Back to School Time!

Back to SchoolMost of the Central Florida school districts will be kicking off the 2017 school year in the next week or two.  It’s hard to believe it is that time already!  This can be both an exciting and a stressful time for kids and parents.  We have a few tips to help ease you into the school year like a pro and make a great start for your kids (and you!)

  • Planning ahead is crucial! The more you can try to get prepared for ahead of time the better.
  • Start getting your children back to their school sleep routine now. This will help ease them back into it so it is not so difficult for them to fall asleep/wake up when the school year starts.
  • Post a family calendar so everyone can keep track of all of the activities the school year brings. Consider posting a second homework calendar to help keep everyone focused on what the kids need to do and when they might need some help from Mom or Dad.
  • Consider organizing some playdates with some of your kids’ classmates. Hopefully they are going back into the school year together so this will help reestablish those friendships that may have gotten neglected over the summer.
  • Check through last year’s school supplies in case there are things that didn’t get used. This can save you some money when you go shopping!
  • Use this time before school officially starts to get your kids accustomed to laying out their clothes for the next day the night before, packing things that will be needed in the morning before bed, etc. This will hopefully make those hectic mornings run more smoothly!
  • Make an inbox for school related documents. Teach your child to remember to put things that need a parent’s attention in the inbox and remember to check this inbox every day for things like permission slips or homework that needs review.
  • Make an age appropriate rewards program for your children. This will help add motivation for your child to meet important goals.
  • Don’t forget to carve out time for fun activities and happy family time. Don’t let yourself or your children get too burned out by working constantly.

Follow these tips along with anything else you can think of that will work with your family routine.  Don’t be afraid to give your child age-appropriate tasks to be responsible for during the school year.  This will help give your kid a sense of ownership and control over their day.  Most importantly, remember to work together as a family unit!  This can be a hard time for families, but you are all there to support each other so lean on one another when needed!

We wish you all a happy and successful start to the school year!

Three Natural Therapies for Falling Asleep Easier

iStock_72421373_LARGE-500x333Not being able to fall asleep can be very frustrating, especially when you consistently struggle to get a good night’s rest. Insomnia and other sleep disorders can affect your health, and while sleep medications can bring on the zzz’s, you should not be relying on medications to help you sleep in the long term.

Try these techniques to help prepare your body for sleep:

Mind-body Therapies – Techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai chi and deep breathing techniques can help you relax and calm your thoughts. These techniques foster a greater mind-body awareness.

Natural supplements – Certain natural supplements and herbs can help reduce anxiety and help your body prepare for sleep, with less risk of developing a dependence on using them than if you were to take sleeping pills. Some popular natural sleep aids include melatonin, magnesium, chamomile tea and L-theanine. Try not to take the supplements every day, and only take them when you need extra help falling asleep.

Get On A Sleep Schedule – When you stick to a sleep routine, your brain learns these patterns and can better prepare you to fall asleep (kind of like the famous Pavlov’s dog experiment). Stick to the same bedtime every day (weekends included) and wake at the same time every day to set your biological clock. Also, develop a routine to help train your brain that it is time for bed: put on pajamas, drink some chamomile tea, read a book and brush your teeth. Your brain will learn these cues and prepare for sleep.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

Fourth of July Safety

Can you believe that it’s Fourth of July weekend already?  Many people will be getting togetfireworks-dc-56a236c45f9b58b7d0c7f731her to enjoy celebrations and valuable time with friends and family over the long weekend.  There will be much fun to be had in communities and towns all over the country.  We hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and also a safe one.  Below are some safety tips to keep in mind to make sure your holiday is fun and without any incidents.

 

  • It is best to view fireworks at a public event
    since these shows are managed by professionals.
  • If you do decide to have fireworks at home, make sure they are never given to children, that there is water nearby, that fireworks are never pointed towards any person or animal, and that you never try to relight a dud firework.
  • Barbecue grills should always be supervised while in use.
  • Never grill indoors.
  • Use tools with long handles that are specially made for the grill.
  • If you are heading to the beach or pool, make sure you check weather conditions.
  • Do not swim while under the influence of alcohol and do not swim alone.
  • Ensure that children do not dive headfirst into shallow water or water of unknown depth.
  • Beware of rip currents if visiting the ocean.
  • Wear sunscreen when outdoors to protect your skin.
  • Stay hydrated and be sure to drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty at the time.
  • Pets can become frightened with the sounds of fireworks.  Make sure your pets are safe and secure inside.

We hope that these tips help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  We wish you lots of fun and time with loved ones!

How to Find Reliable Health Information Online

We’ve all done it, you have pain or a symptom that you’re concerned about and the easiest laptop-small-500x333resource to go to is at your fingertips- Dr. Google.  The internet has so much information it’s difficult to know what to trust.

What websites can you trust?

  1. Sites that end in .gov like cdc.gov or cancer.gov. These are linked to federal agencies that address research and training needs for health care topics.
  1. Non-profit sites that end in .org like familydoctor.org are often powered by a reputable organization, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, so you know your source is credible.
  1. Websites from trusted medical institutions, like Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, have detailed information about many health conditions, symptoms, treatment options and more.
  1. Look for the HON code symbol at the bottom of the website which means the website has been certified for its credibility by the Health On the Net Foundation, a non-governmental organization that certifies health and medical websites.

Red flags to look for:

  1. Websites that are not authoritative sources and don’t cite their facts
  1. One-sided, biased or outdated information
  1. Claims of a miracle or secret cure based on testimonials

If you have a medical concern, the internet can provide useful background information to help you make informed decisions, but always consult a physician to be diagnosed. Don’t base your medical decisions solely on what you find online or what friends tell you.

Talk to your physician before making any changes to your medications or treatment.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

6 New Reasons to Try Yoga

iStock_000039178872_Large-500x334A central premise in yoga is “everything is connected.” That’s clear when you look at the health and fitness benefits of yoga that scientific research is confirming. Yoga is not just a way to stay fit — but an overall health aid. Here are some ways that yoga affects your health that you may not have considered:

 

  1. Stress Relief:  Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system, as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.

 

  1. Pain Relief:  Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga, meditation or a combination of the two, reduces pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.

 

  1. Better Breathing:  Yoga teaches you to take slower, deeper breaths.  This helps to improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response. It also helps improve circulation and more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.

 

  1. Flexibility:  The goal is not to bend and stretch like a performer from Cirque du Soleil. Even slight gains in flexibility and mobility help increase range of movement and help to reduce aches and pains.

 

  1.  Better Body Alignment: Yoga brings awareness to body alignment, resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems that you are unknowingly causing yourself.

 

  1. Focus: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind-body health. This helps to improve coordination, reaction time and memory.