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First-Time Condo Buyer? What to Expect from Your New Homeowners Association

First-Time Condo Buyer? What to Expect from Your New Homeowners AssociationEvery owner of condominium property automatically becomes a member of a homeowners association, otherwise referred to a “HOA” throughout the United States or a “Strata” in Canada. With that membership come certain rights and responsibilities. The primary right that the owner has is to vote at HOA meetings and elect board members. Responsibilities include payment of condo fees and assessments, compliance with association by-laws and rules, and maintaining a condo unit in conformity with those by-laws and rules.

Let’s take a quick look at various other terms you may hear about from your new HOA.

Declaration of Condominium and By-Laws

The declaration of condominium establishes the existence of a condominium property. It gives the precise location of the property through a legal description and describes each individual unit in the development along with the various common elements.

Individual Units

Ownership of an individual condominium unit is defined by the declaration of condominium and ordinarily consists of the interior walls and everything within the interior walls of a dwelling unit. Anything outside of that unit is usually considered to be a common element, such as the entryway, the swimming pool, the tennis courts, the parking lots and more.

Common Elements

This is property both inside and outside of buildings that the individual condo owner has an undivided interest in. It would include any common hallways, garages, parking lots, recreational facilities and open space on the property described by the declaration of condominium. If for example, there are 100 units in a condominium development, each individual unit has an undivided one percent interest in the common elements.

Running a Homeowners Association

Homeowners associations tend to operate like a small democracy. When matters are brought up at meetings to be voted on, each condo unit has one vote. Each HOA has an elected board of directors. They’ll meet once a month to decide on association business and make decisions on behalf of the HOA. The unit owners are permitted to be present at these meetings.

Owners’ Responsibilities Inside Their Units

Owners are responsible for any repairs within the walls of their dwelling unit. They might be responsible for damage to other units from leaks or flooding from a burst pipe. Depending on the by-laws, the unit owner might be responsible for maintenance or repairs of any pipes or electrical wires running behind their walls. The association is responsible for anything on the common elements.

Don’t let the purchase of your next home get derailed. If you’re thinking of getting started on condo shopping, your trusted, reputable and highly experienced real estate professional will guide you through your condominium purchase.

Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs

Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs Size matters when you are buying a new home. Whether you plan to expand your family, need more room for your stuff, or are concerned with resale value, you want to get the most space for your money. Also, if you want to add a feel of luxury to your home, one of the best ways to do it is to create open spaces rather than cramming all your furniture in rooms so tiny you can barely walk around without knocking something over.

Traditionally speaking, the larger a home is, the more it costs. If there are two newly built houses side by side in a subdivision, the bigger one is likely to cost more. However, there are some tricks to finding spacious houses that are affordable.

Choose Emerging Neighborhoods

Houses in this year’s trending neighborhood are at their peak prices. Clever buyers look for neighborhoods that are in the process of being gentrified, buying at the bottom rather than the top of the market, to get more house for their money.

Fix It Up

Houses in perfect condition, that show well, sell for a premium. If you want to get more house for your money, choose something that needs a bit of TLC. A house that has pink walls and orange shag carpet might appear just too ugly to consider when you first view it, but it might just need a few coats of paint and some new carpet to become a spacious dream home.

Do Some Finishing

Unfinished areas such as attics and basements can be finished to create additional living spaces. The basement could become a family room and the attic an extra bedroom or study. An unfinished space can become the extra bathroom you need to make morning more manageable.

Consider an Addition

Contractors can add rooms to a house. If you have a large lot, you can build an extra wing. With a one story ranch house, it may be possible to raise the roof and add a second story.

The more stuff you have, the smaller your home appears. Reduce clutter and invest in smaller condo size furniture to give even the smallest home the appearance of spaciousness. Call an experienced real estate professional if you want to find your spacious luxury home at a bargain-basement price.

First Time Buyers: Understanding How Property Taxes Work and What You Can Expect to Pay

First Time Buyers: Understanding How Property Taxes Work and What You Can Expect to PayAre you about to buy a house or condo for the first time? Congratulations! Owning your own piece of real estate is a liberating experience and one that will provide you with the foundation to build your personal wealth and equity. Once you own your own home you’ll be responsible for a variety of new costs, including property taxes which are assessed by your local government to pay for municipal services. In this blog post we’ll share how property taxes work and what you can expect to pay when you buy your new home.

It All Begins with a Local Property Tax Assessment

As mentioned above, local governments assess property taxes as a means for paying for police officers, fire fighting services, road maintenance and the other various costs that come with running a town or city. Whether you’re buying a house, a townhouse or a condo, the property that your home sits on is inside of an area known as an “assessment area”. When the local government determines what your local tax levy or tax rate will be, they will assess your home based on the real estate market value of similar homes in the area. You can multiply your tax rate by the assessed value of your home to determine how much you’ll owe in property tax.

Property Taxes as Part of Your Closing Costs

When you close on your new home you’ll have to pay property taxes, and your real estate agent will help you to understand how much these taxes will be and how they will be paid. In most cities and counties you’ll pay a pro-rated amount of property tax that covers the time span from the date you purchase the home until the end of the year, after which time you’ll be paying your full assessed rate.

Don’t Forget Your Overall Tax Picture

Finally, don’t forget that property taxes can be factored in to the rest of your overall tax picture. Check with your accountant or another financial professional to determine whether or not you can write your property taxes off against your income tax to save some additional money. There are numerous tax benefits to owning a home, so it’s best to start using them from day one.

As with all other taxes, property taxes are a fact of life that every homeowner faces. When you’re ready to buy a new home and to learn more about how property taxes will affect your purchase, contact your local real estate agent today.

The 3 Minute Guide to Real Estate “Flipping” and How to Get Moving Today

The 3 Minute Guide to Real Estate If you’ve been thinking about investing in a real estate project you may have considered buying a distressed house or two at a steep discount in order to fix them up and sell them at a higher price. This is known as “flipping”, and in today’s post we’ll share a quick guide to flipping homes and how to get started with this type of real estate investing.

Assessing Your Budget and Tolerance for Risk

We’ll start by stating the obvious: when you buy real estate with the intent of flipping it, losing money is a very real possibility. You’ll need to assess your own tolerance for risk and decide how much you want to invest in your real estate venture.

If you’re new to buying homes it’s a great idea to start small – an inexpensive “fixer upper” house or a condo – and work your way up from there. Spend some time crafting a budget to assess how much you’ll be spending to acquire the home and in repairs or renovations, and what you expect to receive when you sell.

Shopping for Suitable Houses and Condos

Once you’ve got your budget prepared and your finances are in order you’ll need to start looking for a suitable home. The ideal listing is one that is priced at a discount to all of the other homes in the neighborhood as the home is in some state of disrepair or has certain issues that need to be fixed up. Spend some time browsing through local property listings which are sorted by price and note which options are the least expensive. This is where you’ll want to start.

Scale Things Up by Finding a Partner

After you’ve bought, repaired and sold a home or two you’re likely going to want to scale things up. Consider bringing on a partner who can help shoulder some of the workload or one that may want to invest capital so that you can buy homes in a higher quantity. Remember, this is business; if you work with someone else you’ll want to formalize your arrangement with a written contract.

As with any business venture, there’s a bit of a learning curve that you’ll need to overcome when you begin flipping houses. As long as you’re patient and ready to move when you find the perfect home, you’ll soon find success with your real estate investments. 

Are You Ready to Make the Leap into Home Ownership? Here’s How You Can Tell

Are You Ready to Make the Leap into Home Ownership? Here's How You Can Tell Are you ready to make that leap from living at home or renting to owning a home of your own? While everyone moves at their own pace, here are some signs that you can use to determine if it is time to own your own home. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you can use to justify your decision.

Are You Sticking Around?

If you plan on moving soon for a job or think that you won’t be in town much longer, it may be better to rent. However, if you are thinking about living in the same town or within the same county for years to come, it is time to put down roots.

The stability that comes with home ownership may make you more prepared for a marriage and/or a family if that is something that you want. This stability may make you more attractive if you are single and searching for a long-term relationship.

Do You Have a Steady Job?

Those who have a steady job and know that they have a stable salary may want to make the move to home ownership. As long as there aren’t any other major debts eating into your income, you can probably handle a mortgage and other costs associated with home ownership.

The equity that you build in your home can help you build wealth for the future if and when you want to retire. Your home may also make a great rental property in the future, which can help you diversify your portfolio and keep you solvent for years to come.

You Are Spending More Time Watching Television Shows Related to Home Ownership

You may have caught yourself recently watching shows revolving around people or couples who are looking for homes. You may also be watching programs dedicated to giving tips as to how you can upgrade your home. If you watch these shows frequently, it may be a sign that you are ready to move out on your own and take on the exciting challenge of being a homeowner.

Are you ready to be a homeowner in the near future? Only you can say for sure if it is time to make that leap. However, those who are looking for a long-term housing solution may be ready to make that move. For more information, it may be worthwhile to talk to a real estate agent today.

Juggling Priorities: How to Manage Buying a New Home and Selling Your Old One at the Same Time

Juggling Priorities: How to Manage Buying a New Home and Selling Your Old One at the Same TimeAre you a homeowner who is thinking about selling their current home and making an upgrade to a newer, larger home?

If you’re facing the prospect of having to manage a home purchase and a home sale at the same time you’ll find that there are numerous priorities that are begging for your attention.

In today’s blog post we’ll share a few tips for how to manage a buying and selling transaction simultaneously without being overwhelmed by them.

Start By Getting Your Finances In Order

Before you start the hunt for a new home you’ll want to ensure that your finances are in order and that you’re fully prepared for the many costs that you’ll face.

If you are currently paying off a mortgage on your home, you’ll either need to be approved for a second mortgage to buy your new home or you’ll need to sell your current home first.

You’ll also need to have your down payment lined up for the new home, as well as some money set aside to cover your closing costs. If you plan on selling first and then buying afterwards you may want to have a “transition fund” set aside to cover any rental or other costs if it takes a month or two before you get into a new home.

Selling First Is Typically Far Easier

It’s worth noting that selling your home first and then buying is far easier than buying first and trying to sell. There is a lot of uncertainty in the selling process, especially if you’re in a slower real estate market. Conversely, once you find that perfect new home you can typically get an offer in and close on it quickly if you’re the only bidder.

Begin The Hunt For Your New Home Immediately

Although you may want to wait before you buy your new home, you’ll want to get your house hunt started as soon as you decide to make your move. The more time you give yourself to find a new home, the better the chance you’ll get one in your target community and with the features you’re after.

Leverage Professional Expertise To Help You Manage It All

Trying to manage both selling your current home and buying a new one at the same time will be a significant challenge – one that can be made far easier by working with an experienced real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the local market. Contact your real estate agent before getting started and they’ll be able to advise you how to best proceed.