Homeowners associations are intended to help protect property values and maintain a pleasant living environment. To accomplish those goals, they impose certain rules on residents. Here are four questions to ask before buying property in an HOA: Can You Afford It? HOAs are funded by member dues paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. It’s important that you know the cost of the dues and when they’re assessed so you can factor that amount into your budget. Also, note the rules and process regarding changing the dues. What are the Rules? All members of an association must adhere to a set of rules known as the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). These rules regulate many facets of homeownership, such as lawn maintenance, architectural design, and where you can park vehicles. Review a copy of these documents—you don’t want to find out after closing that you can’t store your boat in your driveway. Which Amenities are Included? HOA dues are often used to maintain common areas and amenities, such as swimming pools and trails. These features may be selling points for you or you may not expect to take advantage of them. Understand what you’ll be paying for and note that even if you don’t use all the features, they could add to the property’s future resale value. Do You Want to Get Involved? Many homeowners associations welcome new volunteers for committees or their boards of directors. These can be great ways to meet your neighbors and keep on top of issues affecting your neighborhood. For more help learning about HOAs and deciding if a home is right for you, talk with your REALTOR®.
It’s the holiday season, which for many means vacationing and traveling. However, traveling can leave your home vulnerable to burglaries. Here are some ways to protect your home while you’re gone. Securely Lock Everything You know to lock the doors, but it’s also important to secure the windows, garage, and sheds or other structures. Many burglaries occur because these things are unlocked or poorly secured, so this simple step can go a long way in protecting your home. Ask the Neighbors Another way to protect your home is to have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and packages while you’re gone. They can also put out and retrieve trash barrels and check the inside of the house. It will appear like your family is home—or at least that someone is watching. Remove the Spare Key It’s convenient to stash a spare key or garage door opener outside. But those fake rocks and similar hiding places won’t fool criminals. Instead, install an exterior door lock or garage door opener with a keypad entry. Don’t Post Although you want to document your vacation by posting photos on social media, it is safer to wait until you return home to post. Posting that you’re away alerts potential burglars that your home is empty and a good target for a robbery. Install Smart Home Devices Everything from HVAC systems to lights to music can be controlled remotely. Whether according to a schedule or via your phone, you can make it look and sound as if you’re home. You don’t even have to make a big investment—a few old-school timers can create similar effects.