Monthly Archives: October 2013

Association docs are free on-line

Here at Urbanwood, we’re pleased to pat ourselves on the back for an industry changing idea. Even as a small property management firm we get bombarded with requests from Realtors for the governing documents of our communities as they seek to close a sale.
Previously the industry standard was to affix a charge for production of these. Mailing and shipping and an up-charge for producing them often led to a cost of $165 more or less.
Honestly folks we’re too busy for that nonsense. These are public documents, available at the County Recorder’s Office. But what Realtor in his or her right mind has time to make that visit?
While this could be an excellent income stream, Urbanwood decided long ago to publish the governing documents of its client associations on-line on our website Yes, we are the archivists of these publicly held documents and yes you would pay a fee for obtaining them at the County Recorder’s Office.
But given Urbanwood’s philosophy of doing business, we thought that these documents should be available, free of charge, to anyone who wants to peruse them or download them.
A courtesy perhaps. Rather, it’s our way of doing business.

Good and Necessary to be Licensed

Ancient history in the world of periodicals but it’s still worthwhile reading. Writing in the Spring 2011 edition of Resource, the Minnesota Association of Realtors periodical, Brad Boyd, MNAR Legal Counsel and attorney with Thomsen, Nybeck, P.A. unequivocally reiterates the statutory requirement for property management firms to hold a real estate broker license.

This is as it should be if only because management handles other people’s money. A broker license is no guarantee of excellence in service. However, it does bespeak a minimum level of competency for management firms. (A small but important distinction: individual managers need not hold more than a real estate salesperson license so long as their activities are overseen by a broker.)

So why am I fussing at all about this? The need for such licensing is plain on the face of it, yet I’ve come across more than a couple instances where the management firm is either not properly licensed or not licensed at all. (Read all the details on The MN Commerce Department website’s enforcement page.)

Why is this an issue? Liability. We have to pay some big bucks every year to maintain our liability insurance coverage. That protects us and it also protects our clients. Insurance is one of those things that you keep paying, hoping nothing will go wrong. But when you need it, insurance coverage is there. There’s also a State Statue or two about requiring such coverage for Common Interest Communities and management firms like ours.

This is one area where the “gummint”, as Molly Ivans would say, has done a great job in protecting the consumer. You could pay me to fix your car. You wouldn’t want me to fix your car. But I wouldn’t be breaking any law even with my complete lack of competence in this field.

I don’t contend that this is a problem running rampant. This is more of an occasional bad actor popping onto the stage. But it is rightly a stain upon and cause for consternation within the industry. We professionals work hard to establish our reputations and not just to distinguish ourselves from the poseurs.

Especially for self-managed communities and those managed by smaller firms (like Urbanwood), the moral of the story is to ensure that your current or potential service provider is properly licensed.

A simple way to do this is to use the license look-up tool at the Dept. of Commerce’s website:

Urbanwood’s licenses and the statutory language are on-line at our website:

Please always do real estate business with a licensed professional.

Buy Local


Urbanwood is a proud advocate of the Buy Local movement. We’re about as local as it gets, having lived in South Minneapolis since 1987. We have no intention of opening a foreign office.
Granted, property management is a business unlike retail but Buy Local still resonates with us professional service firms. We know you by name, not log-in code. We are apprised of the characteristics of your property and community. You call our office and you will speak to one of the owners of the company.
“Local” tends to entail smaller size. We are no exception and we are not ashamed. High quality is delivered in small batches, not mass quantities. Small is flexible, it conforms to you. Unlike Pink Floyd, doing business with us is not “Welcome to the Machine”. We do not manage (or even know) thousands like you. Every one of our clients is irreplaceable.
Your favorite neighborhood hardware store doesn’t have a million square feet of floor space but it does happen to have what you’re looking for. And if you’re unsure what you need, the staff is always helpful. As with property management firms, large size is no guarantor of the advantages which large size would seem to suggest.
Most people tend to prefer to resolve complaints and issues quickly. There is nothing quicker than the owner behind the counter. And the owner behind the counter has more of a vested interest in an amicable resolution than in maximizing business efficiency. If the opposite were true, the owner would be in a corner office high up in a skyscraper providing service to thousands just like you.
Buy Local.