What is an HOA?
It’s important to learn more about the neighborhood HOA, such as annual dues, community amenities, and restrictions when looking to buy a new home. The goal of the HOA is to help maintain home values and the overall aesthetics of a neighborhood.
When looking for a house, many buyers tend to take into account costs associated with owning a home such as insurance, utilities, and taxes. One thing buyers may not think to consider is whether the house is in a neighborhood with an HOA, what the dues are, and how the association is run. Many buyers may be aware of association dues and regulations in multi-family developments such as condos or townhomes. But, it’s becoming a new normal to find HOAs in developments with single-family homes
What is an HOA?
There are different definitions out there for a Homeowners’ Association and many operate differently from one another. A Homeowners’ Association, or HOA, is an association that works to maintain and oversee the common areas of a neighborhood or property complex. It’s fairly common to find them in neighborhoods that offer amenities such as a community pool, gated access, a playground, tennis courts, etc. The HOA is typically a volunteer-based board made up of homeowners living in the neighborhood. Many HOAs have committees that coordinate neighborhood events, review proposed changes homeowners wish to make to their property, enforce the covenants, and more.
Get to Know the Rules
The covenants, conditions, and restrictions are different for every HOA. Some rules commonly seen in HOAs are in regard to the overall appearance and aesthetics of the neighborhood, such as the appearances of houses and lawn maintenance. Some also have restrictions regarding street parking or where residents can park their boats and RVs. Others may deal more with coordinating neighborhood crime watches and events.
When considering a house, it’s a good idea to ask for a copy of the HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions to get a better idea of what is allowed and not allowed in the neighborhood. It’s becoming more common for HOAs to have a website or social media page, which is a great place to learn more about the community. For example, some mandate there can be no cars parked in the yard of any house in the neighborhood. If a homeowner wants to paint the house a new color, change the landscaping, or add on to the property, the owner has to submit the proposed changes to the HOA for review and approval. The committee will review the proposed changes to ensure they fall in line with the covenants of the neighborhood. While these may seem rather burdensome or trivial, the HOA was designed to help maintain home values and the overall aesthetics of a neighborhood.
How are HOAs Funded?
Many HOAs require annual, quarterly or monthly dues. Those dues will vary based upon the size of the neighborhood and amenities. Dues are used for a number of things including maintenance of common spaces such as neighborhood entrances, playgrounds, pools, etc. In gated neighborhoods, many of the items that would normally be maintained by the city or parish must be maintained by the HOA. These items may include roads, sidewalks, and street lighting to name a few. Some HOAs will hire a property management company to oversee the collection of dues and coordinate maintenance issues.
Another thing to consider is whether the house is located in a new development. There may not be many amenities or common spaces to maintain as the neighborhood is being developed, so dues may be minimal. The developer may cover some of the associated costs while the neighborhood is still being developed. The true cost associated with running the HOA and maintaining the neighborhood may not fully come to light until the neighborhood is near completion and the developer turns the HOA over to the new residential board.
It’s important to pay the dues on time. Depending on the bylaws, late fees and interest could be tacked on to the bill and the HOA could place a lien on the property if the dues are not paid. The HOA could also foreclose on the property for nonpayment of dues.
After the Closing
Contacting the HOA should be a priority on the Post Move-in List as it is important to provide contact information to the HOA. It’s also a great time to get more information regarding upcoming neighborhood events or other ways to get involved. The HOA cannot operate without residents who are willing to give of their time.
It’s also a great idea to attend neighborhood events such as an ice cream social, an Independence Day parade, Halloween trick-or-treating, and a Christmas party. These events can serve as a great way to meet neighbors and build relationships.
It’s important to remember that the volunteers who serve on the HOA are your neighbors and friends. Like you, they want what’s best for the community. Every homeowner benefits from a well-cared for neighborhood.
5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall
Wow fall homebuyers with these easy staging ideas from HomeAdvisor
Selling your home in the fall means adding small seasonal elements to make your home feel warm and welcoming. And, what better place to do that than in the kitchen? Here are some ideas to help you make your kitchen — and your home — appeal to fall homebuyers:
Fall counter decor
You should always keep the countertops nearly clear when potential homebuyers are walking through. In fact, you should keep it down to about two to three essentials if you’re living there from day to day. For the fall season, you can add small elements like placemats, fruit and leaf decor (window drapings, vase, etc.).
The smell of leaves, apple pie, pumpkin and cinnamon evoke the cozy feelings of fall. Candles are nice and actually baking something “fall-like” before a showing is a sure way to make potential buyers feel more at home during a showing.
Colors of fall
Depending on the current condition of your home, you might consider a fresh coat of paint. What color you decide to use may or may not be influenced by the season. While you should always lean towards neutral colors, you might consider accent walls or cabinets in browns or dark tones of red or green if you think they would work. The cost to paint an interior room is about $380, though prices will vary depending on the size of the room.
Bringing nature in
If there are windows in the kitchen, make sure to keep them clean. Depending on the weather outside during a showing, you might open them and let the fresh air in. It helps to create a flow between nature outside and the atmosphere you’re trying to create in the kitchen. If your budget allows, you might also accent the windows with fall-like window treatments to create an even easier flow. If you don’t have these treatments, a professional home stager can sometimes find them for a reasonable price.
Natural lighting elements
Lighting is an essential element of home staging, no matter the season. In fall, in particular, it’s all about enhancing the twilight or sunset and complementing of all the fall colors. For lighting in your kitchen, consider accent and track lighting. Or, you could install recessed lighting on a dimmer switch, which will allow you to control the brightness of the kitchen to complement the mood outside.
Source: Andrea Davis
Why the Fall Selling Season Is Better Than You Think
There is a common misconception that spring is the only worthwhile time to list your home, and listing anytime outside the prime “selling season” will lose you thousands. In truth, the fall selling season is the next best time to sell your house.
There is a common misconception that spring is the only worthwhile time to list your home, and listing anytime outside the prime “selling season” will lose you thousands. In truth, the fall selling season is the next best time to sell your house. Here are the main reasons why selling in fall is a good idea — and how to present your home to its best advantage.
The National Association of Realtors reports that 34 percent of homes sell within 30 days on the market during the fall selling season. This is just a shade behind spring, which comes in at 39 percent. Many of these homes sell for above-asking price based on the study, which researched homes sold between 2010 and 2014.
The Reasons to Sell
Though there is a slight slowdown in the market during the fall, there is less competition. By being able to highlight your home — particularly if it’s only one of a few available in your area — chances are high you will end up with multiple offers or an offer over asking price, something that every buyer covets.
It is also important to remember that regardless of the season, serious buyers are still looking — and ready to purchase when the right home comes their way. This means you can focus your marketing on buyers who are serious about your home.
How to Show Your Home
Though it is still a good season to sell, fall does have some unique challenges, particularly if you live in an area where the seasons change drastically throughout the year. Regardless of where you reside, these five tips will help ensure your home stands out.
1. Warm It Up
Regardless of where you live, open shades and blinds and turn on all the lights to warm your home with an abundance of natural light. If you live in a colder climate, consider turning on a gas or electric fireplace or boosting the thermostat by a few degrees to ensure potential buyers feel the warmth.
2. Use Seasonal Decor
Seasonal decor can create an emotional impact on potential buyers. As one of the strongest senses, smell can play a large part in creating a visceral reaction on a buyer. Scented candles in a harvest scent, freshly baked goodies, or even a stew roasting in a slow cooker can help buyers picture themselves gathering in your home with friends and family. Throw pillows, gourds, and fall flowers will also add a bit of extra color to bring the feeling home.
3. Keep Up with Curb Appeal
Raking leaves, and cleaning gutters remain essential in ensuring your home looks good from the outside in. Line pathways or porch steps with pumpkins or brightly colored mums in harvest hues. Even dried corn stalks tied to a porch column can provide a seasonal pop that makes your home stand out
4. Play to the Crowd
Fall is a prime season for empty nesters or new buyers to the market, so make sure to speak with your agent about how to target your home to the most applicable buyer, and ensure your staging and marketing efforts keep them in mind.
5. Show the Seasons
In fall or winter, your yard may not show at its best, so keeping a photo album of your property in full bloom available for buyers to browse can help them visualize your home in its glory.
Regardless of the season, if a property is priced right, it will sell. Work with a real estate agent to determine local demand, buying patterns, and selling prices in your area to determine the best time for you to list.
Image Source: Flickr/Sharon Mollerus
Degrees With the Shortest Savings Path to Homeownership
College students taking specific courses of study have the potential to become homeowners sooner after graduation than others, according to a new report by realtor.com®.
Engineering majors have the most promising prospects, with petroleum engineering majors able to become homeowners in an average 2.6 years—the shortest time of all the degree tracks analyzed by realtor.com. Petroleum engineering majors earn a starting salary of $96,700, according to Payscale.com, which allows for $19,340 savings each year—enough to accumulate a 20 percent down payment on a $250,000 home in roughly two-and-a-half years.
“When it comes to homeownership, degrees in engineering really pay off,” says Joe Kirchner, senior economist at realtor.com. “While this analysis leverages averages and assumptions, it shows just how powerful a high starting salary can be when it comes to early homeownership.”
Other degrees with short timespans to homeownership include: physician assistant studies (2.9 years); computer science (3.5 years); chemical, computer, mining or nuclear engineering (3.6 years); and electrical engineering (EE), electronics and communications engineering or electrical and computer engineering (ECE) (3.7 years).
On the other hand, homeownership is some years away for education majors—according to the report, education majors average seven years saving for a down payment.
“Our analysis also underscores the importance of consistently saving, especially if you aren’t making a high starting salary,” Kirchner says. “While seven years may sound like a long time, putting away 20 percent each month could have education professionals in a home by their late 20s or early 30s.”