Life With An HOA

If you’re buying a home in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), there are some things you need to know. The community provides you with shared amenities and services like front yard maintenance and security patrols. The HOA board collects a monthly or annual fee to maintain those amenities, protect the integrity and safety of the community and to enhance property values for the homeowners.

The main benefit of life with an HOA is that you can enjoy the amenities you want without having to pay for them by yourself. But, shared benefits means that your dues are used for two things –property maintenance and improvements and for building reserves. This can include future expenses like swimming pool resurfacing or unexpected expenses like fallen tree removal. It also means that the HOA may have some rules you may not like, such as no yard signs or flags on holidays.

That’s why you need to see the governing documents of the HOA, including the CC&Rs, – covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These are the rules of esthetics, conduct, maintenance, and security the homeowners voted to have, such as how many pets you can own or whether you can park your car on the street.

Keep in mind that HOA boards are composed of volunteer homeowners like yourself and that they’re not property managers. HOAs typically hire third-party property managers so board members can enjoy the community, too.

You can then make the decision whether this particular community is right for you.

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It’s Okay to Buy and Sell Around the Holidays

Homes for the Holidays - Banner

Once upon a time, real estate was thought to slow down as the new year approached, giving way to hot cocoa and flurries of snow. These days, we know better, and when winter comes around, it’s also the time to buy or sell your house. So, grab your mug, sit down by a fire and find out why now is the season of homes for the holidays:

1. Twinkling with holiday lights, your house will shine bright to eager buyers looking for their perfect home.

2. Temperature isn’t the only thing dropping this winter; mortgage rates are near historic lows.

3. Homes are new beginnings for buyers and sellers. When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, sellers will want to start fresh and buyers will want to be all settled into their new home.

4. Tax benefits are the ultimate holiday gifts for both buyers and sellers who close before the end of the year. (See your tax advisor for more details and the best advice to take advantage of a transaction that takes place before December 31.)

5.Serious buyers are out. Your home won’t be subject to casual window shoppers, (they’re too busy at the mall or on their computer searching for holiday gifts).

6. Buyers have extra time off from work, which means more hours in their day to search for a home.

7. January is typically the month when employees are transferred to new positions. To capture these buyers, your home must be on the market now because they often can’t wait until spring.

Contact us to learn more! Or, print this information to share with a friend.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Outdoor Lighting for Safety and Beauty

Landscape lighting is one of the best ways to make your home safer and more appealing. You can highlight your home’s best features and light the way to your entry for guests, all while eliminating dark hiding spots for unwelcome visitors.

  • Step back from your home so you can see the whole house and yard in daylight and at night.
  • Do you have elegant brickwork, bay windows or a verandah to showcase?
  • Are there fountains, pools or other features you’d like to show at night?
  • Is your home beautifully landscaped? Are there trees or plantings you’d like to shower with attention?
  • How well-lit are your doors, pathways, steps and parking from the street?

One benefit of pathway lighting is that it can radiate several feet. You can install solar-powered walkway lamps that are attractive and affordable.

Spot lights can be put low on the ground or high on a wall, or they can hang from the eaves of your home to focus on specific features. Each light provides unique shadows and can bring architectural and landscaping features center stage.

On the ground, install flood lights that shoot light up against your home, bushes or trees. Motion detectors can flood the area with light which discourages pests.

Outdoor lighting can make your home more attractive at night, but it can also make your home more attractive to future homebuyers, as a beauty and safety feature. And that’s always a good investment.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

How to handle the holidays

The holidays are here and you’re in the middle of trying to sell your home. Your family is still expecting a big holiday season, so how are you going to sell your home while you do all the extra shopping, cooking, decorating and entertaining?

Remember: No one should expect you to take on so much, so it’s OK to handle what you can and delegate or eliminate what you don’t want to do.

Here’s how you can use the holidays to your advantage:

Decorate just a dot. Put out a few family favorites to show how lovely your home can be for the holidays but box up the remaining decorations for the movers. If you get an offer on your home, you’ll only have a few festive things to take down and pack up.

Delegate the dinner. Someone else can host the big family dinner while you bring a dish instead. You’ll have more time for decluttering and packing and keeping your home tidy for showings.

Dash to a destination. This is the year to take the kids to see their grandparents, go on a ski vacation, or head to the beach for the holidays. Have fun and leave the home selling to your BHHS KC Realty agent.

As you strive to keep everyone happy during the holiday season, take time for yourself, too. Your only job should be to make showings easy for professionals to sell your home. It’s a bonus if you’ve made the holidays easier for your family, too.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Features That Make a Home Cozy

There’s something wonderful about winter, even if you live in a warm climate. Like bears in hibernation, we tend to slow down, stay home and relax more often in cooler weather.

If you’re shopping for a home or recently purchased a home, these are the best features your new home can offer to help you enjoy cooler weather.

Fireplaces: Whether you have a gas, electric or wood-burning fireplace, or a firepit in the backyard, watching the flames is a great way to relax, listen to music, or cuddle under your favorite blanket with a purring cat or fluffy dog by your side.

Built-ins: Bookshelves, china hutches, and window seats may seem like yesteryear, but they also add utility and character to your home. They can be updated with newer finishes but the quality of built-in woods and craftsmanship can rarely be matched today.

Sitting areas: A reading nook or a small conversation area can be intimate, comfy and charming. Make it a no-electronics zone for books, sketching or needle arts.

Hardwoods and rugs: Hardwood floors are warm, elegant and highly in demand. To soften the sound and protect the beauty of floors in highly trafficked areas, choose hand-knotted wool or silk rugs. They stand the test of time and you can move them around for a change.  

Lighting: Adjustable lighting, from three-way bulbs to lamps with arms to dimmer switches, can make relaxing more personal and comfortable. Think of all lighting as task-oriented to choose the right fixture and bulb for your needs.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Does Your Home Have An Odor?

You’ve worked hard to get your home ready to sell. You’ve cleaned, decluttered and painted. But there’s still one more thing you need to do – make certain your home smells great for every showing.

Here are four things to keep in mind to ensure your house smells fresh and clean for potential buyers:

Stuffiness. Energy-efficient homes lock in odors. Open the windows and air out stale, musty rooms. Steam clean carpets and curtains, wash all bedding, and store stinky athletic gear and out-of-season clothing and shoes away.

Pets. From goldfish to iguanas to cats and dogs, all pets produce odors. Dogs need baths, and most need brushing. Cat boxes need daily scooping. Animal cages need constant cleaning. Steam clean all fabric surfaces where pets sleep and play with their toys.

Food odors.  If you love foods like garlic, cabbage and fish, your kitchen holds odors, too. Clean your oven, burners, sink drains, and any other equipment that may carry odors. Grind up a lemon in the disposal and let the water flow. Clean out the refrigerator.

Mold and mildew. If you can smell moisture, it will soon turn worse. Check pipes and floors for leaks. Toxic mold can grow anywhere that contains cellulose, poor light, and low air circulation. Replace cloudy shower curtains and wash towels frequently. Replace cleaning and dish sponges with fresh scrubbing tools.

To keep your home showing-ready, wash dirty clothes and bed linens frequently. Take baby diapers and other disposables to the outside trash every day.

A good rule of thumb is – if you can’t remember when you cleaned it last, clean it now.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Your Rights As a Borrower

When you shop for a mortgage loan, you have certain rights that are guaranteed by the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Knowing your rights will help you get the best loan possible.

You have the right to:

  1. Receive equal treatment by the lender, so that a credit decision isn’t based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or whether any of your income is from public assistance.
  2. Shop for the best loan type for you, whether adjustable or fixed rate, and compare the fees of different lenders.
  3. Be informed about the total cost of your loan including the annual percentage rate (APR), points and other fees. Your interest rate is based on your credit history and credit scores, the borrowed amount and how much you’re putting as a down payment.
  4. Receive a Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure Form, formerly known as a Good Faith Estimate, before you agree to the loan and pay any fees. Compare the exact loan product you want as offered by two or more lenders.
  5. Know which fees are not refundable if you decide to cancel the loan agreement, such as the fee to research your credit.
  6. Ask questions about loan terms and fees that you don’t understand.
  7. Know the reason if your loan was turned down.

Ask your lender to show you the advantages and disadvantages of each loan product so you can choose the best one to suit your needs. As always, consult your financial advisor before making any decision.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!