Judy Rivard's Blog
The number of architectural styles in any given neighborhood can be overwhelming to home buyers, especially if they don't feel immediately called to one type. To help narrow it down, the property you choose should reflect everything from your budget to your lifestyle. The more you account for how you interact with the home, the happier you and your family will be. We'll look at the key questions that can help you decide.
How Will the Future Look?
This question has everything to do with the details of your future goals. Maybe you already know you'll need enough space in the home for a new baby, but have you considered how the property will affect an infant or toddler?
Parents may want to opt for a home without stairs to limit the number of accidents. The same advice goes for those who may find themselves hosting elderly relatives on a regular basis. If you're planning to be an empty nester soon, it may be time to downsize to a cottage so there's less to clean and maintain.
How Practical Is It?
There's no understanding a property until you've really lived in it, but there are ways to forecast the obstacles that can pop up along the way. A modern home may be beautiful in its own way, but the stark angles may feel cold to someone who would prefer a more welcoming traditional home.
If curb appeal is high on your list of priorities, then you may want to opt for a craftsman home. These homes come in all shapes and sizes, so it may be easier to find something in your budget than you think.
If you're planning on hosting parties or events, you need to define how much patio and yard space you'll need for everyone. While any property may feature outdoor amenities, you'll likely have the most luck with a traditional or a ranch.
Selecting a property type is more than just considering how many bathrooms you need and whether you want a formal dining room. You have to consider how the infrastructure and design will either help or hurt your daily routine. A cottage with a cozy breakfast nook will be useless to someone who would prefer to eat in the living room. The more you picture yourself in each of the rooms, the easier it should be to decide on a type.
Homeowners associations (HOAs) exist to maintain the cleanliness and appeal of a community. Whether a home belongs to a HOA is a major consideration for home buyers. Some see it as a benefit, others a deal breaker. Here's what to consider before going with or without a HOA.
If privacy is a high priority, a HOA may not be ideal for you. Homes that are part of a HOA are usually connected or have very little space between them. If you're looking forward to meeting and becoming friends with your neighbors, you may not mind. In fact, most HOAs will organize community activities to foster cohesiveness between residents.
Monthly HOA fees can range anywhere from $200 to $600. Just as with rent, more desirable locations like New York City and Los Angeles will fall in the higher end of the spectrum, while small towns and rural areas in the lower end. The upkeep required for older homes and more populated communities will also demand higher fees. Amenities such as golf courses, fitness centers, and gated security will also add dollars to your dues.
HOA rules vary widely and are voted on by the community's residents. You'll be restricted on what colors you can paint your home's exterior, what decorations you can place, how late you can use the fitness center, where you park, etc. Some HOAs also have rules on the size and number of pets you can have. You can vote on new rules in the meetings, but don't expect midnight parties to become a thing.
One of the premier benefits a HOA offers is resolving disputes. You won't have to write a passive-aggressive letter to your neighbor about their barking dog or parking in your assigned space. Bring it to the HOA, and they should address the issue directly with the offender. On the other hand, if you happen to have petty neighbors, you may find yourself being reported for actions that may or may not be against the rules.
Another big selling point of a HOA is the convenience. You'll never have to mow your lawn, rake leaves, or clear snow. Most HOAs will cover general maintenance such as HVAC and plumbing repairs, pest control, and landscaping. Again, the quality of these services depends on the HOA itself, so be sure to do your research beforehand.
The pros and cons of a HOA all come down to your individual values, plans for your home, and the price and quality of the services rendered by the HOA. Read online reviews and talk to your potential neighbors to get an idea of what to expect.
Lot 2 Cave Hill Rd, Leverett, MA 01054
17 Liberty St, Easthampton, MA 01027
For many investors, purchasing a property to rent out just makes sense. But finding properties that'll help you meet your long-term goals can be tricky. Whether you're considering a turnkey property or a property to rehab and rent yourself, keeping these tips in mind will help you weed out low-performers while you're hunting for a solid investment.
Tip 1: Run the Numbers
For experienced investors, this is probably a no-brainer. For beginners, it's a smart reminder. When you're seriously considering any property, you need a solid expectation of the expenses associated with the property:
- How much your mortgage will cost
- How much you'll pay in property tax and insurance
- Fees charged by a property management firm, if applicable
- HOA fees, if applicable
- Vacancy and repair costs
Compare those numbers with the amount you can expect to receive in rental income each month. Ideally, you'll receive more each month than you'll be spending on the property. In some cases, a property might be worth purchasing even if you aren't going to pocket money each month. That comes down to your long-term goals and the market where you live.
Tip 2: Buy in A Market You Know
Though sometimes the best markets are far from home, and we'll the last to discourage investors from looking outside their own county, it's vital to understand the area. Some examples:
- College alumni might choose to buy near their alma mater
- Retired or active duty military might choose to buy an investment property near a military base
- Nurses might purchase an investment property catering to short-term nurses near their hospital
If you're able to land an investment property in an area that caters to your niche, you'll already have valuable insight and an "in" when it comes to renting it out and understanding the real estate market in the area. Use your insight to give you an edge.
Tip 3: Consider a Small Multi-Unit Property
By purchasing a duplex, triplex, or quad you can live in, you can take advantage of an FHA mortgage--with its low down payment and interest rates--and secure a primary residence as well as a rental property (or two, or three). Although this type of investment can require more hassle, more tenant screenings, and more time in managing tenants and repairs, it can be a solid place to begin an investment portfolio.