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                   FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

 

While many questions are unique, to help customers quickly answer typical questions we have started to compile a list of the most frequently asked questions – FAQ’s. We will be adding new questions and answers soon, but we hope the list below help you understand your property better as well as the services provided.

 

 

- Who is the contact for my Association?

Each property is assigned a property administrator and a property manager. The unit owner contact is the property administrator. To find out your specific primary contact, please go to the tab, “Communities” and find a listing of all properties, alphabetically.  A link to e-mail is provided to help you send your message to the correct person.

 

- Who “runs” my Association?

The Board of Trustees runs the property.

 

- What and who are the Trustees at my Association?

The Trustees are unpaid leaders, who volunteer their time to run the property. Per the Condominium Documents, they may hire a managing agent.

 

- What is the role of the volunteer Trustees?

While the Trustees are unpaid leaders, the state and case law clarifies that these owners have the fiduciary duty to make the decisions, as one Board, on behalf of the entire community.

 

These decisions include, but are not limited to:

·        Budgets / levels of condo fees

·        Major contractors’ selection, including the managing agent

·        Policies

         1. Late fee date

         2. Late fee amount

         3. Frequency of services

         4. Use of sub-committees

 

- What is the role of the management company?

There are two manager “roles” – advising the Trustees and then implementing Trustees’ votes on policies.

 

For example, the managing agent will do research on costs and make recommendations on the budget, yet the actual total budget is determined by the Trustees.  Then the managing agent would communicate that new budget to the unit owners and mail out payment coupons.

 

- What is included in the monthly fee?

This question is important, but varies dramatically from property to property. Please read the annual budget mailer and obtain a copy of the budget to learn more about your specific property.

 

As a general answer the monthly fees cover upkeep of the common areas.  But what is common area? The “type” of property will often give insights into the common area jointly owned.  Thus the “type” of property will determine the services provided. The “style” of the property often determines the type & quality of services.

 

For example, Home Owner Associations (HOA’s) tend to be communities of single-family homes, where each owner takes care of the maintenance of his/her home and the exterior landscaping. Thus the common area work is limited to a commonly owned club house and/or some commonly owned land.

 

For example, the Townhouse style homes tend to have all exterior landscaping as common area.  This style home tends not to have common hallways, yet has privately-provided utilities (i.e. water and heat). Please note that there are exceptions to most rules, so we do have one townhouse community with common heat and two townhouse complexes with common water.

For example, the Garden Style properties tend to have the most common areas, such as landscaping, parking, common hallways and some shared utilities.

- I don’t understand insurance - what is included & not included in the condominium policy?This question is another very important issue, but also varies dramatically from property to property. Please read the annual insurance mailer and obtain a copy of the certificate (free). Then immediately have your private insurance agent speak with the insurance agency hired by the Association to purchase the master policy.

As the master policy can vary dramatically from property to property, it is critical that your private insurance agent dovetails the master policy included in the condo fees to determine your remaining insurance needs.

 

A partial list of exposures that you will need to cover includes, but is not limited to:

·        Deductible in the master policy

·        All private property not attached

·        Exposures not covered in the master policy

       

Please make sure that your insurance advisor is fluent on any special needs, such as using this property as a second home and/or for rental property.  There are open exposures to both physical property coverage and liability coverage that must be reviewed with your private agent.

 

If you do not have a private insurance agent, while not required, please consider obtaining a quote from the agency that provides the master policy.  Please see that information on our “Communities” tab.

 

- What do I need from Sterling if I decide to re-finance or sell my property?

To sell a condominium, the buyer’s bank and/or the buyer’s attorney will need many documents prior to closing on the loan. Some of this information is free, such as budgets and minutes, yet other documents are billable.

 

Sterling uses the leading condominium document clearing house, called Condo Certs to process your document request. Their Web site is www.condocerts.com and their toll free number is 800-310-6552. This allows 24/7 Web access to the key documents that the buyer’s mortgage company will require.  

 

If you have any questions after you have placed your order on Condo Certs, please send an e-mail to your property administrator.

 

- What is a project questionnaire and why is that important?

Bankers are required to do research called due diligence, on the person taking out the loan AND the property.  If the property is a condominium, there is a project questionnaire. Due to an array of factors, most of the leading condominium management firms in New England had the leading condominium law firm create a standard condo project questionnaire that has been reviewed and pre-approved by leading banks and federal government agencies (i.e. HUD, FNMAE, etc.).  Please note that custom project questionnaires, per input from the Association’s lawyer, cannot be processed.

 

- What is a no-lien certificate (called a “6-d” in MA and “Resale Certificate” in RI)?

Per state laws, condos are viewed by the court systems and mortgage companies as a mini-government. By state law, a statutory lien exists, for unpaid balances, regardless of this lien being recorded at the Town and/or county registry.

 

Therefore most mortgages companies and the buyer’s attorney will demand a notarized no-lien certificate prior to closing.  For sales, it is critical that the payment clears the banking system, so advanced payment of condo fees is highly recommended as surprises at closing will block the processing of the no-lien certificate.

 

While the 24/7 processing service by Condo Certs can start the process quickly, the no-lien certificate must be notarized locally by the management company. Therefore it is prudent to start your document request cycle about 3-4 weeks in advance, not a few hours prior to closing.

 

- Does Sterling provide rental services?

Yes, however, our focus is South Framingham, where we have dozens of investors who own significant property consistently looking for new tenants. Due to our positive relationship with the existing residents, owners, and tenants, as well as diverse language skills, we tend to concentrate our resources on this niche. For more information, please go to Rentals.

 

Please e-mail Barbara Quinn at bquinn@sterlingservicesinc.com for more information.

 

- Do you have recommendations for help on my private maintenance needs?

Sterling provides access to its in-house maintenance division and pre-screened contractors.

 

Sterling provides full remodeling services as well as painting. The remodeling can include kitchens and baths, as well as finishing the basement. Sterling has in fact created a sub-specialty; insurance remodeling which is now offered to single-family home owners.

 

For emergency response, after a fire or water loss, we recommend Service Master by Gilmore Brothers, 800-783-0552.  Please click on “Classifieds” for more information.

 

For plumbing, we recommend Flaherty Plumbing, 508-653-1775.

Please click on “Classifieds” for more information.

 

For sewer back-ups, we recommend Rooter-Man, 508-877-8344.   Please click on “Classifieds” for more information.

 

For HVAC – heating, ventilation and air conditioning, we recommend Martel HVAC Corp, 617-926-3443. Please click on “Classifieds” for more information.

 

 

Please click on the 'Ice Dam' link below to find out more information about this topic.

 

 

 

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