Volume 100 No. 108
HARP is Helping
The housing and foreclosure crisis has been devastating to many community associations. Many associations have been forced to increase monthly assessments to compensate for foreclosures and unit owners who can no longer afford to pay their assessments. The medium to small size community is especially at risk since the source of income is more limited. This threatens the financial stability of individual households and can therefore devastate an entire building community. The domino effect can definitely apply.
Recent studies have shown that HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) has been effective in providing the opportunity to refinance to homeowners with mortgages greater than the value of their homes (underwater). This opportunity is only available to homeowners who are current with their mortgage obligations. In January of 2012, additional changes to the program were announced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This was significant because Fannie and Freddie control 70% of all mortgages in the country. As a result of the changes, lenders must compete against each other for refinance business. Since this change was implemented in March, there has been a significant increase in HARP refinancing. The average homeowner who currently refinances under the HARP program is saving an average of $2,500 annually. This has been significant in stabilizing many community associations.
The Community Association Institute has fully endorsed this program as part of their ongoing Mortgage Matters Program www.caimortgagematters.org
. Their goal is to work in protecting community association homeowners and work for fair and affordable mortgage products for all current and potential community association residents. Their work is ongoing on local, state and federal levels.
There is nothing as serene as a warm crackling fire during a Chicago area fall and winter. There is also nothing more dangerous if your chimney, fireplace and flue are damaged or dirty. Broken or cracked chimneys and flues can let heat, smoke and toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide into your home. In an older classic brick building community, where chimneys serve more than one fireplace and flue, many living units may be at risk. All fireplaces and flues should be annually inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional who knows the fire code requirements in your area. Based on the Illinois Condominium Property Act, fireplaces and flues are the responsibility of individual owners. However, chimneys are considered a common element. Here are some things to consider:
- A basic roof inspection will reveal loose bricks, a leaning chimney and cracks at joints where the chimney connects to the firebox at the roof-line.
- Debris that has fallen into the fireplace may indicate a problem.
- If mortar between bricks and stones is crumbling, the chimney may be a hazard and probably needs work.
- Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in sleeping areas and on every level of your unit and away from air vents. Interconnected smoke alarms are best because if one sounds, they all sound.
- Test smoke alarms in your unit monthly. Change alkaline batteries at least once a year. Use a familiar date such as your birthday or change batteries when you adjust your clocks during a time change.
- When in doubt, your Cagan Property Manager can put you in touch with a qualified professional that can conduct a building community fireplace, flue and chimney inspection and confirm safety standards have been met.
For more information, visit www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms
|New Elevator Safety Administrative Rules
Effective October 1, 2012
Fall is the time when many community associations are planning for 2013 budgets. Elevator maintenance and code compliancy may be an expensive issue for some communities. Here is why:
On October 1, 2012, revisions to the Illinois Elevator Safety Rules (41 Il. Admin. Code 1000) reflecting prior amendments to the Elevator Safety and Regulation Act ("Act") will become effective as State law. Recent changes to the Act include both an extension of the Act's sunset date (to 2023) and an accelerated compliance deadline for the upgrade requirements to the restricted opening of hoistway or passenger elevator doors (now January 1, 2014). The revised Rules reflect historic changes to the Act by, among other things, adopting a new technology performance code (ASME A17.7), clarifying the duties and powers of the Local Administrator, updating Permit and Certificate fees, articulating procedures for the inspection and repair of non-compliant conveyances, and addressing the retention of conveyance-related documents by property owners, licensed conveyance inspection companies, and licensed conveyance contractors.
The mandatory upgrades effecting older elevators that were scheduled for completion by January 1, 2015 has been moved up to January 1, 2014. This may have an impact on your 2013 budget plans. You've only got 15 months. The text of the revised Rules can be found at: http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincod /041/04101000sections.html
The proliferation of iPhones, iPads, smartphones and other personal communication devices in the last few years has made communications easier and more convenient. It also has created millions of tons of toxic electronic trash.
Cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury are among the toxic and potentially cancer-causing substances used to construct smartphones and other personal electronics. This is according to a 2011 article in The Washington Post. When phones and other devices are discarded, these substances leach into the ground and water where they can poison plant, animal and sometimes human life.
In the U.S. alone, people disposed of 126 million mobile phones in 2007. In the last five years, the developing world has tripled its disposal of electronic junk. According to Martin Nielsen, Chief Executive of Waste Systems, Inc., while almost all parts of smartphones are recyclable, the U.S. recycling rate for personal electronic devices is only 18 percent. In a report released by Electronics Takeback Coalition, the recycling rate for cell phones alone is even lower at a mere 10 percent.
With all the damage that improperly discarded electronic devices can cause, it's important for everyone to know how to correctly dispose of them. Stores such as Best Buy, Radio Shack and Apple will recycle your unwanted electronics, regardless of where the device was purchased. You can also learn more about electronic recycling programs for individuals and businesses at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website, www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/practices/electronics.htm
Cagan Leadership Seminar
Confirm Your Reservation: Enjoy a free meal on us while you share with fellow board leaders and learn from veteran professionals. The Cagan Fall Leadership Seminar should be on your calendar, Monday, October 15, 6:30PM in the Cagan training room. You may confirm your reservation by contacting Janet Nelson, Cagan Operations Manager at 847-324-8961 or email@example.com
. Provide your community association name and the names of those attending. It will be great to see everyone. Here is the program:
Paul H. Wieland, CPA
Process of Preparing a Community Association Budget
Weiland & Company, Inc.
Developing a Request for a Proposal
Michael J. Shifrin
Process of Updating Old Declarations and Bylaws
Kovitz, Shifrin and Nesbit
Offices in the Chicago area and Wisconsin
The Chicagoland Cooperator Condo Expo on Navy Pier
The Chicagoland Cooperator Condo Expo on Navy Pierhttp://chicagocondoexpo.com/
Navy Pier is always a fun place. Here is an opportunity for hard working community association leaders to have some fun and learn at the same time. Put Wednesday, November 14th on your calendar and register. Come visit the Cagan booth and say hello. Some excellent relevant seminars will be presented at the Expo:
- The Truth and Nothing but the Truth-Insider Secrets from an Attorney, an Accountant and a Property Manager.
- Everything You Need to Know About FHA, VA & Fannie Mae Approval for Your Condo.
- The Top Five Things Managers Wish Boards Knew.
- Energy Efficiency Issues - How Can Your Building Be Greener?
Cagan Family Summer Fest 2012
How many diverse service professionals does it take to maintain and guide a community association? It goes far beyond the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. In fact, the list is very long and never stops growing. Every community is unique and new needs develop all the time. Cagan is committed to responsive, proactive and experienced service. Here are just a few of the people that make this possible as they enjoyed a summer afternoon in Lincolnwood's Prosel Park. It was a fun time...but we did not
turn off our cell phones!