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If you buy a townhouse or condo, you’ll find that you’re more than likely a member of a Homeowners Association, or HOA. What that means, in a nutshell, is that you, along with everyone else in your community, own the exterior of the buildings and the common areas. If your roof fails, it’s everyone’s problem, and if someone else’s roof fails, it’s your problem too. Sometimes a development of detached houses have an HOA as well.
Here are some of the advantages and drawbacks.
Pros of HOAs
There’s less work done by you and more hired by the association. You don’t have to own a lawnmower. Exterior building maintenance, landscaping and gardening all happen while you are off at work, relaxing indoors or enjoying the pool.
You may have amenities you couldn’t afford as an individual homeowner, such as a swimming pool, a clubhouse and workout facilities. Some HOAs even sponsor social events and hobby clubs.
HOAs have rules that keep up appearances. You don’t have to worry about your neighbors letting their weeds grow or keeping junk cars by the curb.
Most insurance costs – building exteriors and common areas -- are borne by the association. You need to insure only for the interior of your unit. In addition, garbage removal, cable TV and some utilities may be covered by the HOA, which might negotiate a better rate.
Cons of HOAs
Somebody has to pay for the amenities and for the upkeep work you’re not doing, and that somebody is you. Payment comes in the form of HOA fees, usually due monthly or quarterly. Fees are set by the association board and can be raised at any time. If there is an unplanned expense, the board can make an assessment. If you don’t pay your fees and assessments, you are subject to all kinds of penalties up to and including foreclosure.
HOAs have rules. A lot of them: the color of your exterior, where you park, the number and size of your pets, outside antennas, the color of your curtains and what you can put on your balcony may all be subject to regulations. Home businesses can be disallowed. Motorcycles and trucks with logos may be forbidden. Many have restrictions on how often you can sublet and who you can rent to.
Like your state or country, the association is governed by elected representatives, and the board can govern well or poorly. If you don’t like what they’re doing, your recourse is to elect someone else or run for the board yourself. Managing an individual home is difficult, and managing a community of homes raises even more issues.
Should I Buy a Home with an HOA?
Know what you’re getting into before you sign the purchase agreement. Understand the fees and assessment. Get a look at the revenue and expenses. In particular, see if the reserve fund is adequate. Roofs eventually need replacement and swimming pools need refurbishing, and if there’s no money being set aside, one day there’ll be a massive assessment.
In general, an HOA means you have less work but less individual control. If you’re comfortable with that, an association can be right for you.
Sharing living expenses with your partner or roommates can be a difficult and confusing issue for many.
Life would be made much easier if there was just one bill to pay on your home that includes everything.
Recently there have been attempts to bring such a suction into fruition. Many homeowners and renters have turned to apps that help them split expenses, or have signed up for mortgage agreements that cover stray expenses like property tax and private mortgage insurance.
In this article, we're going to give you a few tips on splitting the bills in your home to make things easier for you, your spouse, and your roommates.
Who pays what?
Many young couples are often left wondering who should pay which bill, especially when you share so many services.>
However, there's a big difference between sharing a Netflix account and sharing a car. One solution is to use the bills that report to credit agencies for whoever needs help building their credit score.
Putting credit cards under the person with the lowest score’s name can help them build credit even if they're simply listed as an “authorized user” which means you can take advantage of good interest rates and build credit at the same time.
Paying the mortgage
It can quickly become tiresome having to write two different checks each month for your mortgage or rent. To solve this problem, you can either alternate payments (you pay a full month’s rent or mortgage one month and your spouse pays the following month), or you can choose to pay bi-weekly, which will help you pay off your mortgage sooner.
The best apps to use
If you live with your spouse, you likely aren’t overly concerned with splitting all of your expenses 50/50. Chances are whoever has the higher income will foot the bill for the larger expenses.
However, if you have roommates there’s a bigger chance you’ll want things to be split evenly between you and the other members of the household. That’s where apps come in handy.
First, sit down with your roommates and go over all expenses. Write down each bill that you share: rent, heat, electricity, cable, internet, gas, insurance, and so on.
Then, decide who is responsible for making the payment on those bills. Even if you decide to split them all evenly, one person will have to be responsible for sending out the check each month.
Once you’ve determined which bills you have and who is going to pay them, it’s time to find out how you’re all going to contribute.
One way is to open up a shared account. Doing so can be messy, however, if you’re using that account for multiple bills. Some banks and services also charge a portion of the transfer, so you’ll each be losing money each month, and the amount depends on how many bills you have.
Some apps and services you can use to split bills and transfer money include Splitwise, Mint, PayPal, and Chase’s QuickPay. The benefit of apps that don’t transfer money is that they are often free and don’t collect transfer fees. So, if you’re comfortable with handling money by hand, you could save in the long run.
A buyer's market typically is a dream come true for those who want to find a high-quality and affordable house. In fact, there are many things you can do to capitalize on a buyer's market to ensure you can purchase a house that you'll be able to enjoy for years to come.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get the most out of a buyer's market.
1. Narrow Your Home Search
Consider where you want to live and what you want to find in your dream home – you'll be glad you did. If you hone your house search, you can avoid wasting time and resources on homes that fail to meet your expectations.
As you evaluate potential home destinations, think about your day-to-day activities. For example, if you work in the city, you may want to search for houses that are in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you have kids, you may want to explore residences near parks and other family-friendly attractions.
In addition, it often helps to make a list of home must-haves. Once you know what features you want in your dream home, you can conduct an in-depth search to discover a house that will suit you perfectly.
2. Get a Mortgage
A mortgage is crucial, particularly for individuals who want to take advantage of a buyer's market. Because if you enter the real estate market with a mortgage in hand, you can map out your home search based on your budget.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage generally won't take long. Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you everything you need to know about home financing and help you select the right mortgage. Furthermore, these financial institutions employ mortgage specialists who can respond to your home financing concerns and queries.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
If you want to streamline your search for a home in a buyer's market, you should work with an expert real estate agent. That way, you can receive homebuying tips and recommendations you may struggle to receive elsewhere.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to complete a successful house search in a buyer's market. As such, he or she will work with you to make your homeownership dream come true.
For instance, if you want to purchase a top-notch house as quickly as possible, a real estate agent can help you do just that. Or, if you want to buy a house at a low price, a real estate agent can help you discover a terrific residence that matches your pricing expectations.
As you get set to enter a buyer's market, it helps to prepare as much as you can. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can simplify your home pursuit in a buyer's market. As a result, you can find a wonderful residence that is sure to serve you well both now and in the future.
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Let's face it – clutter can be a problem, particularly for those who intend to sell a home in the foreseeable future. But if you allocate time and resources to remove clutter from your home now, you may reap the benefits of your efforts during the home selling cycle.
Ultimately, there are many reasons for a home seller to eliminate clutter before he or she lists a residence, and these include:
1. You can help a homebuyer envision what life may be like as the owner of your house.
Oftentimes, homebuyers want to picture what life may be like if they purchase a particular residence. Yet a home that is filled with antiques, decorations and other items may make it tough for a homebuyer to do just that.
If you remove clutter from your residence, however, you can make it simple for a buyer to see your home's full potential. As a result, a buyer may be better equipped than ever before to determine whether your residence is the right choice.
2. You can earn extra cash.
Although your house may be loaded with a wide range of personal belongings, you don't necessarily have to throw these items away. In fact, you can always sell excess items to simultaneously remove clutter from your house and earn extra cash.
It may be a good idea to host a yard sale before you list your house. This will enable you to sell excess items as well as inform neighbors about your upcoming plans to add your residence to the real estate market.
Of course, you can sell excess items online as well. Or, you may be able to donate assorted items to local charities.
3. You may speed up the home selling process.
The home selling process may prove to be long and complicated, especially if a house is overloaded with clutter. Thankfully, removing clutter may make it easy for you to stir up lots of interest from potential buyers as soon as your residence becomes available.
A clutter-free residence is more likely to be clean and tidy in comparison to other houses. Thus, when buyers enter a clutter-free residence for the first time, they may fall in love with this house right away. And if a clutter-free home makes a positive first impression on a buyer, a seller soon may receive a competitive offer to purchase his or her house.
If you're searching for help as you try to remove clutter from your residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer plenty of assistance throughout the home selling journey.
Typically, a real estate agent will help you list your house and promote it to potential buyers. Plus, if you need help as you get your home ready for the housing market, a real estate agent will make it simple to prepare your residence and ensure it makes a positive impression on buyers.
Eliminate clutter from your house, and you may increase the likelihood of a fast, profitable home selling experience.