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.
25 Smart Home Technologies that Matter Most to Home Buyers
Nearly 60 percent of the real estate agents polled said they are seeing more smart home features in listing descriptions than they did two to five years ago.
Everyone is talking about the connected home. Smart home technology is becoming the new norm and now according to a survey of more than 500 Coldwell Banker sale associates it’s taking off in real estate as well. Nearly 60 percent of sales associates surveyed said they are seeing more smart home features in listing descriptions than they did two to five years ago, and one in three sales associates noted that properties with smart home features and technologies sell faster than homes without them.
The relevance of the smart home was also apparent at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas earlier this year. Members of the Coldwell Banker Real Estate marketing team attended CES. The team couldn’t walk more than a few feet without encountering a new piece of smart home technology. From security systems with advanced motion sensors to innovative systems that allow for lighting control from mobile devices, the connected home was ubiquitous.
Inspired by CES, Coldwell Banker compiled a list of the top 25 smart home products and technologies that matter most to buyers, based on the Coldwell Banker survey and CES favorites. The list is grouped into seven categories: security, temperature, safety, lighting, entertainment, appliances and overall connectivity.
Check them out below, and follow along all week as we continue to highlight smart home technology on the Blue Matter blog and through social media with #smarthomeweek.
1. Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock – With Kevo the smartphone is now the key. Home sellers can allow their realtors, or anyone else such as a neighbor or a housecleaner, to have access to specified doors for a designated time. Eventually when the new buyer moves in all they have to do is download the app and they’re ready to go.
2. iSmartAlarm –Meet one of the DIY smart home security leaders, with no monthly fees and no contracts. This easy-to-install wireless DIY system is great for apartments or small homes. The iSmartAlarm system is almost infinitely expandable via door and window motion sensors, smart switches, and iCamera and iCamera KEEP models with streaming video and video storage. Packages start at $199.
3. Oplink Connected– Oplink Connected is great for a slightly larger home, and provides a premier service for a low monthly fee. The DIY alarm package includes door and window sensors as well as video cameras which are controlled through its mobile app.
4. SAGE Security & Home Automation– Coming soon — SAGE allows for management of the entire connected home through mobile devices and televisions. The television-centric SAGE system enables consumers to check on children in another room via a video feed, see who rang the doorbell or lower the room temperature — all from the comfort of the TV room couch.
5. Nest Learning Thermostat – Tell a buyer that the home has a Nest thermostat and their ears will perk-up. The Nest Learning Thermostat absorbs its owner’s daily routine and adjusts the temperature accordingly. The Nest thermostat can be controlled through a phone, its built-in sensors detect an empty home allowing Nest to set itself to an energy-efficient temperature. Oh, and it also saves customers about 10 – 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills per year — a huge win.
6. Honeywell Lyric Thermostat – Honeywell is known for temperature control and their new smart thermostat, the Lyric, is a solid entry into the smart home market. The most talked about advantages of Lyric are its geofencing feature and humidity sensor for more accurate comfort, control and savings. All of these qualities are definitely pluses for families.
7. Canary – This sleek-looking product is mostly about security, but it made this smart temperature list for its ability to monitor air quality, temperature and humidity. It’s cool enough to make an impression with potential buyers, at only $249. The Canary system is available in white, black or silver.
8. Big Ass Fans’ Haiku with SenseME – The world’s most advanced ceiling fan knows exactly when to speed up and when to slow down. Not to mention, it is a gorgeous and luxurious addition to any room. Starting at $1,045 it’s a better fit for luxury homes, but it will certainly set any listing apart.
9. Iris Safe & Secure Kit – With Iris, Lowe’s is making it simple for just about anyone to make their home smarter. Feel more confident that families, homes and pets are safe and secure with the DIY, self-monitored home security system. Receive notifications directly to a smartphone, tablet or computer whenever an alarm event is triggered.
10. First Alert Onelink – This suite of smart home safety products is fresh to the market. Included in this offering (and available for presale on Amazon.com) are a Wi-Fi combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm as well as a watch, both of which send phone notifications if something is amiss. The First Alert Onlink safety products, including the already available Wi-Fi thermostat, will be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem.
11. Nest Protect – This smart home device is a smoke and carbon monoxide smart alarm that speaks in a human voice, telling the user if there’s smoke or CO, which room it’s in, and if there is immediate danger. Definitely comforting for families!
12. Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight – This genius little nightlight keeps track of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and home climate. If something’s not right, it sends immediate phone notifications.
13. Sengled Pulse Smart Bulb – This combination light and speaker had everyone buzzing at CES 2015. Simply twist the bulb into an existing light socket, download the app and connect to the Pulse bulbs. The Sengled Pulse Smart Bulb can stream music and control lighting at the same time.
14. Lutron Caséta Wireless – This connected home solution allows for lights, battery-powered shades and temperature to be controlled from a mobile device. An easy DIY solution that’s affordable, these products are less than $150. For example, hit “morning,” lights will turn onto a certain level, shades will rise and room temperature is adjusted to the desired level.
15. Philips Hue – Philips Hue delivers more than 16 million colors and all shades of white light to personalize lighting to suit any occasion, mood or moment. With more than 230 apps, Philips Hue can sync lights to music, or even simulate a sunrise effect. Bulbs and lamps are now all controllable via the Hue app or MyHue portal.
16. Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set – With this simple starter set, turn lights off-and-on from anywhere, create schedules and dim to create the perfect ambiance. The set includes the WeMo link, which allows users to connect up to 50 WeMo Smart bulbs. Can’t get enough of Belkin WeMo products? Get tricked out with complete Belkin home automation.
17.LG Studio Collection – LG Studio, LG’s premium line of kitchen appliances, seamlessly blends best-in-class innovation with an uncompromising approach to design. Its full suite of appliances — including refrigerators, cooktops, ranges, ovens and microwaves — delivers integrated and timeless styling, embodying LG’s finest expression of aesthetics and performance.
18. Whirlpool Smart Duet Washer and Dryer – Whirlpool has made it easy to control every load at anytime from anywhere. The Smart Front Washer and Dryer now work with the Nest Learning Technology, helping to keep clothes fresh if the cycle ends while the user is away.
19. LG Mega-Capacity French-Door Refrigerator – LG’s Mega Capacity Refrigerator boasts incredibly impressive size. As the largest in its class, families have room for even the biggest shopping expeditions with space to spare! It also includes the Slim Spaceplus Ice System and the Smart Cooling Plus System, which help keep food fresher, longer. The LG Mega-Capacity Refrigerator includes a 10-year limited warranty.
20. GE ChillHub This first-of-its-kind smart refrigerator has two USB hubs, WiFi and an open-source IOS-compatible app that integrates with the refrigerator by allowing access to sensor data and control of fridge components. The first ChillHub accessory, Milky Weigh, will even tell you how much milk you have left!
21. N’FINITY PRO HDX Dual Zone Wine Cellars – The N’FINITY PRO is the most advanced wine cellar on the market. Equipped with an energy saving cooling system, telescopic shelving and dual zone cooling, these smart wine cellars will take care of all wine storage needs in the most cost efficient way!
22. Vizio 60″ P-Series Smart TV –This Ultra HD TV is crystal clear and lets users stream popular apps and favorite shows in UHD quality and use UHD playback from next generation cable and satellite receivers, Blu-ray players and more.
23. TCL Roku TV – The TCL Roku TV was released in August 2014 and quickly became a favorite because of its price and comprehensive smart TV features, such as its selection of more than 2,000 streaming channels, easy-to-use interface and simple remote. Recently, Roku announced plans to support 4K UHD streaming in future Roku TV models.
24. DishWorld TV App – The DishWorld app allows viewers to stream live TV on any smart phone, computer or tablet. The app can be used on Roku, Slingbox, Samsung Smart TV, Apple, Windows or Google Play devices.
Connected Home Platform
25. Iris Smart Kit: With so many ways to make a home smart, it can be a lot to digest and manage. Thankfully Lowe’s is making it easy with a single app to manage a Smart Home. Iris offers three starter kits and basic or premium service plans.
Source: Lindsay Listanski/ CB Blue Matter
10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children
If you have kids (or are planning to) and you’re shopping for a house, your what-to-look-for checklist is probably already a mile long. To avoid getting swamped by the home buying process, focus on what you really want from your home. Beyond the basics of location, price, condition and school district, what would really make a home a great fit for your family? Consider adding these 10 items to your home buying wish list — and then share your own ideas in the Comments.
1. Entry storage. From the strollers and car seats of the baby stage to the sports gear and backpacks of the older years, a never-ending parade of stuff comes with having children in the house — and the more places you have to put this stuff when you walk in the door, the better! Look for a house with built-in entry storage, from closets and cabinets to cubbies and shelves. Having an entry out of view of the rest of the house is ideal, so you can enjoy your home without staring at the gear in the entryway all the time.
2. Convenient laundry. A laundry in the basement may not be the first thing you notice at an open house, but if you have young children, you might want to give the laundry zone a little more thought. Having the washer and dryer on the main level — in a mudroom or off the kitchen, for instance — comes in incredibly handy when you’re wrangling small children who go through more wardrobe changes in one day than Lady Gaga. A laundry near upstairs bedrooms is another good option, since this will likely mean a lot less schlepping of heavy baskets up and down the stairs.
3. Stairs that can be safely gated. Speaking of stairs, if you are looking at homes with more than one level, pay attention to the stairs and railings. Look for stairs that can be gated easily at the top and bottom, and sturdy railings without any wide gaps. Airy, open staircases may look beautiful, but if you can’t easily block them, life with a little one will be very stressful.
4. Ditto for the kitchen. While being able to see what’s going on in the living room while you chop veggies for dinner is a definite plus, it still pays to consider how you can gate off the cooking area to keep curious little hands out. Door openings that are larger than standard size may require custom (read: costlier) solutions. Of course, you may decide you don’t need to separate this area … but it never hurts to think about it before you buy.
5. Built-in storage. Built-in storage means more places to neatly stash your family’s stuff, without worrying about anchoring tall, topple-prone pieces of furniture to the wall. Ideally, look for built-in shelving in the living room or family room with open shelves above and closed cabinets below.
6. Kid-friendly bathroom. We’re not talking about a themed bathroom here, but a functional space that will work well for your family. Look for a bathroom with a tub and plenty of room to maneuver — you may be spending a remarkable number of hours perched on a stool beside that tub, so comfort and spaciousness count! Other details to look for include a bathroom mirror that comes down close to the sink (so little ones can actually see themselves), and storage space for bath toys and extra towels, and if you have a large family, multiple faucets are a big plus.
7. Bonus space. When you have kids, extra space is always a good thing. Look for an area of the home that has the potential to be used in a number of different ways, from playroom to home office to nursery for a future sibling. If the space (attic, basement) is not finished, find out what it would take to make this area usable in the future.
8. Fenced yard. Even a small yard can offer big possibilities to a child, from building play forts to digging in the dirt. For your own peace of mind, look for a backyard that is fully, securely fenced, so you can let creative play happen without worrying your little explorer will go toddling off toward the street.
9. A view of the outdoors. Being able to take care of a little chore inside and still have a view of your child playing can be a huge help. A bonus benefit of having a good view of your outdoor space — whether through generous windows, sliding glass doors or French doors — is that it will encourage you and your family to actually use it!
10. Master suite. As a parent, having a space to call your own is so important. Sure, you may end up sharing the space with a toddler who had bad dreams or a random pile of Lego bricks more often than you would like, but knowing that this space is officially yours is worth it. Look for a master bedroom with its own private bathroom and a spacious closet. French doors leading to your own private balcony or patio? Major bonus.
Source: CB Blue Matter Victoria Keichinger,Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill
What Millennial Home Buyers Are Looking For in Their First Home
If you’re considering putting your home on the market, there are several ways you can make your home more attractive to this next generation of home buyers.
While home is a universal concept, there is one generation making extra waves in today’s real estate market. Representing about a fourth of the population, this group of young group of consumers are setting trends from technology to fashion and even food and are now emerging as a dominant force in today’s real estate market.
This year, it’s anticipated that more than half of all home purchases will be made by first-time buyers, and most of these newbies will be millennials. So, if you’re considering putting your home on the market, there are several ways you can make your home more attractive to this next generation of home buyers.
From adding smart home tech to pulling up that dreaded carpet, Nick Gagis of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage shares what millennial home buyers are on the hunt for in this episode of NBC Open House.
Source: CB Blue Matter/VICTORIA KEICHINGER/ Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC Youtube
Source CB Blue Matter