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When it comes to homeowner’s associations, you need to know what type yours is before you determine whether to “join” it. There are two types of associations, covenant-based and voluntary. When homeowners ask about requirements to join a homeowner’s association, they may believe it is optional, but if our association is covenant-based, you have automatic membership by virtue of being a property owner.
Here’s How They Work
A voluntary association is a group of property owners that collectively decide how to improve their neighborhood. By the time you move into the neighborhood, the HOA may be well-established, so you’re not aware of how it started. Such HOAs are more similar to neighborhood improvement clubs, local sports team sponsors and other folks that join in order to develop a sense of community.
A covenant-based HOA is a contract that is part of the land purchase agreement within a development. That means that all property owners automatically must retain membership and that agreement is binding on all future owners within the specified development.
You might question how a contract is binding on future owners, but in the case of a covenant-based homeowner’s association, the covenant “runs with” the property as recorded in the county land records office. The document that spells out the covenants attaches to the property deed. When you buy a lot or home in the development, the original deed and any liens or covenants that attach to it become your responsibility.
Often, the original developer set up and controlled the association until the last piece of land sold or a sufficient number of homes sold so that the running of the association could transfer to the owners. Typically, these determinations are part of the original covenant documents filed with the county records. HOAs run by a board of elected owners from within the development. Unlike a voluntary association, renters or leaseholders cannot become members even though they are bound by the rules and conditions of the association.
Know Which Type It Is
Before you choose to purchase a home in a neighborhood with an association, learn whether it is voluntary or covenant-based. Ask to see copies of the covenants, conditions and rules (CC&Rs) before you commit to purchasing in that development. Your real estate agent can write a contingency into your purchase contract to require approval of the CC&Rs if you’re concerned about living within the HOA.
When you buy a new-to-you home, foremost on your mind is changing everything to make it yours. You paint the inside and even remodel the kitchen. A priority is removing the old carpet and installing new flooring. Lower on the list are changes to the exterior, but they are on the list. If you bought the house from family or people known to you, they might want to come check out the changes you’ve made. Sometimes, though, you notice a former owner driving by, and because you don’t know them, you don’t know what to think.
Should You Worry?
Does It Matter?
With spring just around the corner, your thoughts may turn to enjoying the great outdoors. By making a few improvements, you can create your own restful, outdoor oasis even as you add value to your home.
Research has found that homeowners often gain the most value by improving backyards and investing in outdoor upgrades. Among enhancements you can make outside your four walls, kitchens and living rooms rank as the most popular — and they allow you to move your entertaining outside, where you can enjoy seasonal beauty.
What are some steps you can take to create an appealing outdoor living space?
Upgrade an Existing Patio
Before you begin creating your outdoor common area, consider your goals. Do you prefer a place to entertain or a serene, private retreat — or a combination of both? Your intended use of the space will guide you in choices for design, landscaping and furnishings.
Take a look at your patio or deck structure. Is it stable, sturdy and in good shape? Could it use a comprehensive refurbishment or at least a new coat of paint?
You may want to take some measurements to ensure that everything you plan to include in your outdoor retreat will fit in the intended space. If you come up a little short, consider working with a contractor to expand or rework your existing patio. Alternatively, you may opt to build a completely new home base for your outdoor living space.
In addition, take a look at the areas surrounding your patio or deck. Are the walkways in good shape? Is there direct access from parking areas to the yard so that guests need not come through your house to join the party? Does the path for foot traffic keep people off your lawn? If you’d prefer a different traffic pattern, now is the time to make changes.
Add Some Personal Touches
Once you’ve created the basic footprint for your new outdoor living area, it’s time to start making the space your own with some personal touches. Start by considering comfortable seating options to accommodate your maximum number of guests.
Beyond seating, the sky is the limit when it comes to appointing your outdoor space. If you love to cook outside, consider adding a full kitchen setup with grilling station to your entertaining area. Enjoy the warmth of a cozy fire on chilly nights? Add a fireplace — complete with pizza oven. Meanwhile, landscaping details such as water features enhance the natural beauty of your outdoor area.
With a little creativity, you can create an outdoor living space that adds value and enjoyment to your home for many years to come.
The homebuying journey is exciting, particularly for an individual who is pursuing a residence for the first time. Ultimately, there are many questions that a buyer should consider before he or she searches for a house for the first time, and these include:
1. What is my "dream" home?
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the homebuying journey involves defining your dream residence. Because once you define your dream residence, you'll be able to narrow your house search and move closer to purchasing your first home.
Think about what you absolutely require in a new home. For example, if you want to own a house in a region where the weather is hot and humid year-round, you may require a central air conditioning system. Or, if you want to enjoy a fast, easy commute to work, you may want to pursue residences close to your office.
2. How much can I afford to spend on a house?
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is essential. Because if you have a mortgage in hand when you begin your house search, you may be able to gain a competitive advantage over rival homebuyers.
To obtain a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you everything you need to know about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages.
In addition, don't hesitate to get expert insights into assorted mortgage options. The longer you wait to get pre-approved for a mortgage, the longer you may need to wait to kick off your home search. Thus, you risk missing out on a potential dream house if you fail to get your home financing in order.
3. Do I need to hire a real estate agent?
Hiring a real estate agent is a must, especially if you plan to embark on the homebuying journey for the first time. In fact, a real estate agent can help you quickly and effortlessly navigate the housing market and discover your ideal residence in no time at all.
Typically, a real estate agent will offer comprehensive assistance at each stage of the homebuying journey. He or she first will meet with you, learn about your homebuying goals and help you craft a homebuying strategy. A real estate agent then will keep you up to date about houses that match your criteria and set up home showings. And when you find a home that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer and negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf.
Let's not forget about the advice that a real estate agent will provide, either. A real estate agent is unafraid to be honest with you and will provide feedback throughout the homebuying journey. Also, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.
Take the guesswork out of finding and acquiring your first house – employ a real estate agent, and you can receive plenty of support as you move along the homebuying journey.
Renovating your home is a great way to improve your home while also adding value. While you may go into a home improvement or renovation project with the best-laid plans, problems are bound to arise especially with a larger scale job. Some issues can be prevented by understanding the most common pitfalls that may come into play during the home renovation process.
Establishing and sticking to a budget is a common home renovation problem. When setting a budget for your project, it is helpful to work with an experienced professional who can plan for contingencies. While the budget might be "set in stone" in the beginning, contractors may discover other issues that need attention further into the project. Additional costs may be incurred along the way so be prepared for the possibility of budget overage as the project moves ahead.
While the goal of a home improvement project is to update the home and add something new, it is also important to work within the existing architectural style. Renovation projects should complement the original structure of the building so that the update flows seamlessly with the original structure. Introducing a completely different style can make the addition or renovation seem out of place and forced when compared with other more established elements.
Consider how the renovated space will be used and how it will impact daily life. Try not to sacrifice function for design. It is important that the final project looks good but it should properly serve its function and add value to the home and to your life. A home renovation project may look fantastic but if it creates usability issues such as lighting, electrical access or a disturbance in traffic flow it may create frustration in the end.
Focusing Too Much on Trends
Trends are enticing and an exciting way to personalize your home but beware, what is popular today may fall out of favor next year. If you're incorporating a trendy detail into a big renovation decision, be sure it's something you truly love. If not, consider incorporating trendy colors and textures in places that are easy to update like paint, carpeting or decor.