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The Commonwealth Blog

Friday, April 13, 2018

10 Tips for Home Buyers to Get the Most Out of Open Houses

If you read a few descriptions about homes for sale, you’ll quickly realize that they’re trying to paint a perfect picture about the property. Open houses give you the chance to check out the reality of the situation and gain some insight into what you’d be getting for your money, whether you already have a Realtor or not. We’ve put together ten tips to help you make the most of your outing.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Remember that you’ll be spending a fair amount of time walking around as you explore inside and outside the property. That means that while you may want to make a striking impression on the agent hosting the open house, you need to wear something comfortable. At the same time, you don’t want to make a bad impression by wearing clothing that may make it seem like you can’t afford the home.

Have a Plan for Browsing

It helps to arrive early to try and beat the crowd, especially since you’ll have a little time to have the agent to yourself if you want to ask any questions. What’s more, you can take an afternoon to visit more than one open house in the same area. Having a plan lets you do all this at your own pace.

Give Yourself Time to Look Around

You don’t want to rush your way through a property, since you’ll miss the elements that may make you think the property definitely is (or isn’t) the one you want to purchase. You may want to take a look around the neighborhood as well. If you’re planning on visiting more than one property, be sure you’ve given yourself enough time to visit each, including travel.

Be Polite to the Host

You may not want to hear a sales pitch, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the agent hosting the open house. Be sure you sign in, and avoid criticizing the property while you’re there. Don’t arrive at an open house at the last minute, when the hosting agent is ready to head out.

But Don’t Give Anything Away

Chatting with the hosting agent can be a great way of gathering information about the property but bear in mind that the agent will probably also be trying to gather information about you. They may be trying to gauge how serious you are as a buyer, or they may be gathering information that puts them in a stronger position during negotiations. Don’t share information about your income or when you need to move. This information is better saved for the buyer’s agent who will represent you.

Keep an Eye on Features

Buying a home is about more than just getting the square feet you want. Be sure you’re looking for elements that you want in the perfect home (e.g., the size of closets) and don’t be afraid to bring a tape measure to check whether your furniture will fit.

Look Out for Property Issues

You don’t want to be surprised by outdated plumbing, wiring, cracks in the foundation, or areas where water will pool. Keep an eye on the landscaping too. You want to avoid buying a home that will obviously require costly changes or repairs in the future, and if you decide you want the home anyway, knowing they’re there will put you in a stronger position.

Take Photos or Video, But Only with Permission

Photos and video are a great reference for you later when you’re considering different properties. However, many times an open house is actually still being lived in. Respect the current owner’s privacy and ask before you pull out your camera.

Don’t Be Nosy

Similarly, being at an open house doesn’t give you permission to go through the current owner’s belongings. If a room is closed, ask if you can look inside. Don’t rummage through drawers, and don’t peek inside medicine cabinets or other sensitive places.

But Do Pay Attention to What Others Are Saying

Other potential buyers are technically your competition, but they may also know something about the area that you don’t. Pay attention to their reactions to the home to see if they noticed something you didn’t.

Open houses can provide the perfect opportunity to get a feel for a property that you’re interested in and its neighborhood without having to worry about a hard sell. The ten tips will help you make the most of your experience and help to keep you in a strong bargaining position.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Don't Neglect Your Garage When Selling Your Home

Did you know that nearly a third of home buyers think that the garage is one of the most important rooms in the house? According to a 2017 report from, it’s the fourth most important room for buyers 25-54, and the third most important room for buyers that are 55 and older. That means that when you’re trying to sell your home, you can’t afford to close the garage up and hope buyers either won’t pay attention or won’t care about the mess. We’ve put together some tips to help you stage your garage and make it an appealing feature of your home.

Declutter and Organize

The cliché about garages is that they’re constantly messy, sometimes to the point that they’re used for storage and not for cars. However, you want buyers to be able to envision themselves in the space. Since you’re getting ready to move, take the time to get rid of clutter before buyers start viewing your home. If you’re not taking it with you, it doesn’t need to take up space. Next, be sure to organize everything you’re keeping. Don’t make piles, and don’t stack boxes. Utilize peg boards and overhead storage to free up more floor space. This will also make it easier when you move, but as a bonus, it can show off organizational opportunities for the buyer.

Be Sure It’s Clean

You wouldn’t let buyers see a messy kitchen covered in grease and spills, so don’t do it with your garage either. Be sure you dust and sweep out any dirt, grass, or other debris, like salt from winter roads. If equipment or vehicles are muddy, be sure to clean them, and take the time to remove any grease stains on the floor.

Be Sure It’s Safe

If buyers visit with kids or pets in tow, you don’t want to put them at risk by irresponsibly leaving out dangerous chemicals or tools. Ensure there’s no exposed wiring and that organizational furniture like cabinets and shelving are secured.

Keep It Well Lit

Buyers are visiting your home with the express purpose of taking a look around, so don’t make it difficult for them. Replace any burnt out lightbulbs, then make sure it’s easy to see. If it’s still dim, consider adding more lighting.

Freshen Up the Paint

Chances are, you’ve worked hard to spruce up other areas of your house. Curb appeal is paramount, but the interior paint and flooring will make just as big an impact. Take the time to add a fresh coat of paint, which can make the space seem larger. Plus, you can consider dialing up the appeal of your property with a flooring update, such as a concrete stain.

Make It Inviting

Above all, buyers should feel welcome in your space. That may mean adding elements like art to hang on the walls, or it may mean staging one part of a two-car garage as a workshop area. You want buyers to be able to envision themselves living there.

Remember, you may not think much about your garage, but potential buyers will be paying close attention to all aspects of your property. Make sure the garage is just as appealing as other areas of your home. Our tips will help you get started.

Monday, April 9, 2018

4 Strategies to Earn More Real Estate Referrals

It’s an understatement to say that referrals matter in the real estate industry. 41% of home sellers who used a real estate agent say they found their agent through a referral. Meanwhile, 61% of home buyers found their Realtors through referrals or by using an agent they’d worked with before.

It can be challenging to get the referrals to start rolling in, especially if you’re a relatively new Realtor. But even if the idea of asking past clients to talk you up sounds uncomfortable, you need to make referrals a part of your business. Start building your referral base by using the following four strategies.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Direct Ask

There’s nothing wrong with being upfront and asking clients for referrals—just make sure you get the timing right. A client might balk if you start asking them for referrals the first time they walk through your office door, but they’ll probably be happy to recommend you after you’ve helped them sell their home above its listing price.

Politely ask your clients for referrals after you’ve proven how valuable you are. Explain how important referrals are to your business, and keep business cards handy so that clients can easily pass your information to friends or families who may be buying or selling a home.

Continue to Provide Value to Past Clients

A past client who hasn’t heard from you in years may not think to refer you to a friend who’s been asking for Realtor recommendations. Stay top of mind with past clients by continuing to provide useful information to them after their real estate transaction has closed. One easy way to do this is to create a ‘Past Clients’ segment in your email database and send out a biweekly newsletter with advice for homeowners, the latest real estate trends, and information about upcoming local events. Include a call-to-action at the end of each email reminding your past clients to refer any friends or family members who are getting ready to buy or sell their home.

Network with Out-of-Town Agents

Since out-of-town agents aren’t your direct competition, they can be a great source of referrals. Let’s say you’re based in Boston, and you’ve connected with a seller’s agent from Seattle at a recent conference. That agent may work with a client who is selling their home in Seattle and planning to buy a new home in Boston, in which case they could refer the client to you.

If you start building your professional network and getting referrals from out-of-agents, you should be willing to send referrals to them as well. If you don’t have a lot of referrals to pass on, find another way to provide value. For example, you could produce a home-buying tip sheet or other content assets for out-of-town agents to share with their clients.

Say Thank You

A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. Send a handwritten thank you note to everyone who has tried to give you a referral, whether their lead has turned into a client or not. Thanking your referral sources will make them feel valued and show that you’re appreciative, and they’ll be more inclined to refer you again in the future.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Can You Compete Against Cash Buyers?

In 2017, almost 29% of all U.S. home purchases were made by buyers who paid all-cash.

This statistic may sound disheartening to home buyers who are unable to make an all-cash offer. After all, home sellers often jump at cash offers because they know the buyer is financially solid and should be able to close quickly. But that doesn’t mean that non-cash buyers are automatically out of the running when competing with cash offers.

If you’re going up against a cash offer when trying to buy a home, you’ll have to find a way to make your offer more appealing than that of the all-cash buyer. Here are five strategies to try.

Prove That You’ve Got Your Finances in Order

If a home seller is even going to consider your offer, they need to know that it’s not going to fall through at the last minute, forcing them to put their home back on the market. You can help assuage the seller’s fears by presenting them with as much proof as possible that your finances are sound. Include a mortgage pre-approval letter with your offer, and tell the seller you can provide them with additional information about your income, savings, and credit score if necessary.

Move the Appraisal Process Along Quickly

Home sellers are often motivated to close quickly so that they can move into their new home. If they’re choosing between a cash and non-cash buyer, they may go with the non-cash buyer if she can close faster. Make yourself an attractive candidate by being ready to move forward with an appraisal and getting your loan approved quickly. It may be in your best interest to work with a smaller bank, direct lender, or mortgage broker who can schedule your appraisal in advance so that you can move forward as soon as you make your written offer to the seller.

Be Ready to Go with the Home Inspection

Just as you should be ready to move forward with your appraisal, you should also be able to get a home inspection done as quickly as possible. Although it might be tempting, you shouldn’t skip the inspection altogether—this is your one opportunity to uncover any hidden (and potentially costly) issues with the home. If your home inspection does uncover some minor issues, you may want to offer to buy the home “as is” rather than waiting on the seller to make repairs. To make their life easier, the seller may accept your offer over a cash offer with repair contingencies.

Determine If You Can Top the Cash Buyer’s Offer

All-cash buyers are usually real estate investors, which means they want to buy a property for as little as possible and probably won’t be inclined to get into a bidding war with another buyer. If you can pay just a little more than the cash buyer, the seller will be more likely to choose your offer. It may also be in your best interest to pay a little more now rather than waiting to buy when home values in your area have gone up. Just make sure you’re not getting into a situation where you’re paying more than you can afford—or far more than the property is worth.

Write a Personal Offer Letter

Try appealing to the home seller’s emotions by writing a letter that explains what you love about your house and what you plan to do with it. Some sellers may prefer the idea of their home going to a buyer who wants to raise their family in it, for example, rather than an investor who plans to rent or flip it. There’s no guarantee this approach will work, but it’s low-risk and can help your offer stand out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Strategies for Taking on Luxury Listings

The luxury real estate market can be difficult for many Realtors. While selling homes is never easy, it only gets more complex as the listing price increases. The clientele is more discerning, finding correct market value requires expertise, and marketing needs to be more targeted. With the right strategies, you can break into the luxury real estate market and increase your selling experience, becoming more efficient and effective at your job. Here’s some of our advice for taking on the luxury market:

Price the Listing Correctly

This applies to every home you sell but is most challenging for luxury homes. With fewer comparable homes, especially as you get higher in price, it can be difficult to price a listing to sell. You should know how to examine the surrounding market, rate unique home features, and come up with a true value. Estimating a luxury house price without comparable homes is a skill every Realtor needs.

Eliminate “Open House” from Your Vocabulary

Many Realtors use Open Houses liberally to help get the word out about their listings. For luxury homes, Open Houses are not the best way to attract the right kind of buyer. Many people come to Open Houses out of curiosity and may even have nefarious ideas when coming to a more expensive listing. Instead of using an open house, you can schedule more private showings or have an invite-only reception for interested buyers.

Practice Patience

While home sellers often want to rush a sale, patience is necessary for luxury listings. Finding the right buyer is a key part of the process for high-dollar properties. Pressured sales can lead to a lower price and can put off buyers. Ensure you establish good communication with your seller and set realistic expectations for the timeline of the sale.

Use Multiple Marketing Channels

Luxury buyers often expect more than the average home buyer. Photos and videos of the home should be high definition, and as a Realtor, you should invest in a professional photographer and videographer for your client. Consider a virtual tour or a drone flyover to appeal to potential buyers.

Once you’ve gotten your high-quality content, disseminate it through multiple channels, including social media, real estate websites, and Realtor exchanges. With luxury listings, focus on qualifying your leads. Do some research on possible audiences, instead of casting a wide net.

With additional experience, you’ll soon be a listing agent for luxury homes throughout your region. By following these tips, you can become an expert in the high-end real estate market.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Listing?

When you’ve lived in your home for decades or even a few years, you can overlook the flaws potential buyers will see. A professional home inspection during the prelisting can help you get ahead of the buyer’s demands before escrow. You’ll learn about small and large fixes you may need to negotiate with the buyer, as well as any underlying issues with your property. Here are just a few reasons you should get a pre-listing home inspection:

Saving Money

While it might seem counterintuitive to make repairs before listing your home, it can help you in the long run. Buyers are entitled to conducting their own home inspection, and if their inspector finds too many issues, they may ask for a price reduction or ask you to make the repairs. Knowing about any issues in advance will save you money by allowing you to make decisions about repairs before prospective buyers become involved.

Knowing What Your Property is Worth

You’ve decided on a purchase price with your Realtor before an inspection will be done. If you need to make major repairs or negotiate with the buyers for concessions, it can throw off your final price. Performing a pre-listing inspection assists you in being more aware of any issues and allows you to set the correct listing price.

Soothing Prospective Buyers' Concerns

Most buyers will only have the opportunity to do one or two walkthroughs of your property before making an offer. Having a recent inspection lets the buyer know there aren’t any major issues in store. They’ll still likely want an inspection of their own, but knowing that you’ve conducted a home inspection may make them less wary of placing a bid.

Highlighting Your Home’s Advantages

Assuming you’ve made improvements to your home or it’s been built relatively recently, a home inspection can show your selling points. Your Realtor can point to electrical upgrades, new plumbing, or a recent HVAC system overhaul. If you have under-the-hood advantages to show off, a home inspection helps prove those to your prospective buyers.

Opening Your Home History

It’s important for buyers to feel like your home is an open book. A pre-listing inspection is a goodwill gesture, showing everyone that you’re going above and beyond what’s expected of sellers. Most listings won’t have a pre-listing inspection, so having yours ready can give buyers additional confidence and peace of mind.

Set yourself apart by doing a pre-listing inspection. You’ll be setting your property up for success and know more about your home when going into negotiations with your potential buyers. It’s an additional step that can lead you to earn buyer trust and make more money on your home sale.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Eco-Friendly Features That Home Buyers Love

The concept of going green has gone mainstream, and home buyers are increasingly looking for homes with environmentally-friendly features. In a 2017 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 56% of respondents reported that their clients expressed interest in sustainability. And those home buyers who aren’t swayed by the benefits of environmental stewardship will likely be won over by cost-saving opportunities: eco-friendly home features can dramatically decrease utility expenses.

Realtors and home sellers should take stock of environmentally-friendly features in their listings and make sure prospective home buyers understand all the advantages. Features to highlight include:

Energy Star Appliances

Energy Star criteria are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, and appliances that are Energy Star-certified are proven to reduce energy consumption without compromising performance. Mentioning Energy Star appliances in a home listing helps signal to prospective buyers that the home has energy-efficient features that could help them save on their utility bills.

Smart Thermostats

Many Americans are already using programmable thermostats to change their home’s temperature when they’re sleeping or away, with the goal of reducing unnecessary energy consumption and costs. In the past several years, however, smart thermostats have improved on the traditional programmable thermostat and introduced new ways to save energy. Many smart thermostats allow homeowners to:

  • Monitor the temperature in different areas of their home using sensors
  • Automatically adjust the temperature when their phone is a certain distance away from the house
  • Remotely change their home’s temperature using an app on their smartphone
  • Get energy reports based on their usage patterns

Modern Insulation

It may not be the most attractive green home feature, but good insulation will help keep warm air inside during the winter and cool air inside during the summer, leading to decreased reliance on the HVAC system. Many environmentally-conscious home buyers are now looking for sustainable, high-performance insulation. Thermowool, a sustainably sourced combination of sheep wool, recycled carpet wool, and regenerated polyester, is one popular option. Cotton insulation is another alternative; it’s a sustainable resource and is similar in performance to fiberglass (without the potentially harmful formaldehyde).

Low-E Windows

Low-emissivity (low-E) windows have a special coating on their glass panes to reflect radiant infrared light. This essentially means that energy stays on the side of the window where it originated, keeping the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The glass also reflects UV rays, which reduces the risk of furniture and window treatments fading in the sun.

Solar Panels

Solar panels on roofs can significantly reduce energy consumption costs. Savings vary by region, but many states are seeing utilities being reduced by more than $100 per month in homes with solar panels. And those significant savings are encouraging home buyers to pay more upfront: one study from the National Renewable Energy Library (NREL) found that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money on average than homes without them.

Shade Trees

This last category might be the least technologically advanced, but shade trees can still be a big selling point for homes. Mature trees can provide shade to keep homes cool in the summer while allowing more sunlight into the house when they shed their leaves in winter. Trees can also help save energy by acting as a wind block. Trees’ natural energy-saving assistance can be a boon for home sellers: the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers estimates that a mature tree can increase a home’s value by anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

Eco-friendly features are well worth emphasizing in a listing. As a Realtor or home seller, appeal to your prospective buyers’ desire to live sustainably, reduce energy consumption, and lower their monthly utility bills.

Monday, March 26, 2018

5 Simple Strategies to Make a Small Kitchen Look Larger

The kitchen is one of the rooms that prospective homebuyers pay the closest attention to, and a cramped or cluttered meal prep space can be a major turn-off. Don’t despair if you’re selling a home with a small kitchen, though. There are advantages to a small kitchen—there’s less space to clean, for one thing—and there are plenty of things you can do to visually maximize the room.

You don’t necessarily need to knock out a wall to make your kitchen appear larger. Here are five ideas to make your kitchen look bigger without a complete renovation:

Get Transparent with Glass Cabinets or Floating Shelves

Trading out opaque cabinet doors for glass ones will visually increase the depth of your kitchen and give the room a modern, airy look. If you’d like to go a step further, you could eliminate cabinets altogether and opt for floating shelves. However, keep in mind that floating shelves aren’t for everyone. You’ll need to keep the items on the shelves looking organized and orderly during showings; if your exposed shelves get too cluttered, your kitchen will end up looking more cramped than it actually is.

Get Creative with Your Storage Space

Ample counter space is something that most homebuyers look for in a kitchen, and your potential buyers may have misgivings if your counters are cluttered with appliances and pantry staples. As you’re preparing to show your home, store all the appliances that you don’t use regularly. If you have time and a modest remodeling budget, you may want to add storage features that buyers will see as an asset. You could:

  • Add a corner appliance garage to capitalize on otherwise unused counter space
  • Install a pull-out cutting board under your countertop
  • Add a plate rack to unused space on your wall
  • Install a pull-out pantry shelf to store spices and small kitchen gadgets
  • Take advantage of an open wall by retrofitting a recessed shelving unit between the studs

Keep Your Color Scheme White or Light

It’s an old trick, but a good one: stick to a white color scheme in your kitchen to reflect light and make the room appear larger. White walls, cabinetry, countertops, and ceiling will make your kitchen look unified and boundless. You can keep a white kitchen from looking too sterile or flat by playing with different textures or adding a bright or dark color as an accent. Not sold on the all-white look? You’ll still be able to keep your kitchen looking open and airy if you choose a light hue and keep the whole room in the same color family.

Keep Your Window Treatments Minimal

A dimly-lit, cave-like kitchen is bound to make a bad first impression. You’ll want to let as much natural light into your kitchen as possible to make the space seem bigger. If your kitchen windows currently have fabric curtains or another heavy type of window treatment, consider trading them out for blinds or opaque shades that will let light in without sacrificing privacy.

Choose Furnishings That Match the Scale of the Kitchen

A small kitchen is not the place for a chunky antique game table or chairs with wide legs. Oversized furniture will block a viewer’s sight lines and make the kitchen appear cramped. Avoid this problem by staging your kitchen with furnishings such as a tall, narrow table and streamlined stools. And if you currently have kitchen furniture that feels inessential, store it before you start showing your home.

If you’re still concerned about the size of your kitchen, talk to your seller’s agent. As a real estate professional, they should have ideas to play up the highlights of your home while minimizing—or finding the silver lining to—the quirks.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tips to Save Money When Decorating Your New Home

Decorating a new home can seem like a daunting task. Whether you’ve brought furniture from your previous residence or you’re starting fresh, new furniture and fixtures can be expensive. When you’re moving into a new home, especially as a first-time homebuyer, it’s important to keep your costs down. Purchasing brand new furniture from high-end stores like West Elm and Crate & Barrel, hiring professional painters, and ordering expensive lighting and bathroom fixtures can quickly eat up your emergency fund.

You can always make improvements to your home down the line, but saving money up front will help you keep a reserve for any major problems, like your AC system breaking. Follow these tips to keep cash in the bank when decorating your new home:

Focus on the Important Items

It’s easy to get carried away when looking at gorgeous Persian rugs, fancy lamps, and antique dining room chairs, but they don’t make up the backbone of your home. Think about what pieces you use the most and spend the money where it matters. This usually includes items like:

  • A bed you (and your partner) enjoy sleeping in. Sleep is essential to a quality life, so don’t skimp on the quality of the mattress and bedframe.
  • A comfortable sofa you’ll love for years to come. Investing in a couch that you love is integral. You host people in your living room, watch TV, and relax on your sofa. You can reupholster a quality sofa over time to keep up with design changes.
  • Your dining room table can be a hotspot for entertaining activity if you’re a cook (or great at pretending to be one). This isn’t essential for everyone, but a good dining table is versatile for many activities.
  • An office chair and desk if you work from home. These two pieces in tandem can help back and shoulder pain from forming in the long run.

Save on the Accessories

Many other items in the home are available at affordable prices, and the quality isn’t detrimental to your aesthetic. Consider saving on indoor rugs, lamps, side and night tables, throw pillows, and other items. Local family and friends may be able to help you by donating hand-me-downs, or you can shop at thrift stores. If you need new furniture, there’s always IKEA, which has many essentials at reasonable prices. You don’t need to overspend on these items. Work out a budget for each room and don’t go over it. You can always purchase your dream coffee table another year.

Take a DIY Approach to Painting

When moving into a new home, there are two common situations with paint. One is that the previous homeowner painted everything neutral to appeal to you, the future buyer. The second is that the previous homeowner has painted the rooms in colors that you dislike. Either way, the time before move-in is the right time to paint. Spending thousands to hire professional painters eats into your decorating budget, so do it yourself. You can also apply this logic to other simple projects you want to do around the home. If your skillset allows you to DIY, save the money. If it’s something more complicated, like plumbing or electric, consult a professional.

When you move into a new home, it may seem like you’ll never finish unpacking and you’ll constantly be spending money on decorating. But you can save with these tips and by prioritizing what furniture is most important in your life.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Joining an HOA: What You Need to Know

If you’re in the process of buying a new home that’s part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), you should be prepared for all that entails. You may not have considered the importance of an HOA in your home-buying factors. Most condominiums, townhouses, and some free-standing homes in planned developments are part of HOAs. When you join a community that has an HOA, you’re obligated to join it and pay monthly or annual fees. Ensure you know how the organization works, what your will fees cover, and what amenities you’ll receive. Homeowners’ associations aren’t for everyone, so make the right choice for your lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know about HOAs.

What Are My Dues For?

Homeowner’s associations come with monthly or annual dues, which can range in price depending on the quality and size of the property and amenities. Check with your Realtor to see what the HOA covers, such as:

  • Utilities (Water, Sewer, Gas, and Electric)
  • Internet and Cable TV
  • Trash Pickup
  • Home Insurance
  • Lawn Maintenance
  • A Gym, Pool, or Other Community Spaces

Compare the costs and amenities of the property you’re considering to other listings in the area. If you can, talk to members of the HOA to see how well it operates. There’s a difference between professionally managed homeowners’ associations and those governed by residents. A professional company can often save money in the long term by negotiating contracts and are more impartial when dealing with your neighbors.

What Are the Amenities and Restrictions?

After you’ve found out what your dues will be paying for, you should find out what additional amenities and restrictions come with your HOA membership. Are there significant limitations on what you can do in or around your home? Here are some questions we recommend asking:

  • Determine hours and guest policies for any communal areas like a pool, recreation center, parks, or game rooms.
  • What happens if you lose a key to access a security gate or clubhouse? Check the procedure for replacement.
  • Do you have street parking and can your guests park outside overnight? Figure out the rules on additional parking and outdoor storage.
  • Pet policies: how many pets are you allowed to have in your home and are there size or breed restrictions?

There are possibly additional amenities and restrictions you and your Realtor may not be aware of right away. Ask for a copy of the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) as well as By-Laws and Regulations to discover if the HOA is the right fit for you.

Homeowner’s associations can be a wonderful thing. They help manage your neighborhood, can maintain your yard, and keep homes looking consistent. But HOA rules can also be restrictive and feel expensive to some people. Discuss the pros and cons of the HOA with your Realtor to determine what the best choice is for your living situation.

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