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I’m seeing a growing trend among my buyers to purchase homes that aren’t in HOA communities. They are willing to purchase older homes (because the builders set up HOAs in all the new ones) and live in neighborhoods with funky colored houses to avoid these mini governments.
“The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.” – John Locke. This is one of my favorite quotes of all time and I find it very fitting when talking about HOAs. After all, they were created because homeowners/builders wanted to preserve the neighborhoods. Yet, when referring to HOAs, another quote comes to mind. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton.
That isn’t to say that they are all bad. I know quite a few HOAs that all they do is make sure no one has a car up on cinder blocks in the front yard while for the most part leaving the homeowners alone. Tragically, these are few and far between.
I’ll use my HOA as an example. While I understand why we can’t park in the street (they are too narrow) and why we must keep our porch lights on (no street lights), I have a difficult time justifying some of our other “choices”. Like why do we have a security camera that looks into our swimming pool (creepy) and why do we pay for private security to ride their bike around the subdivision (not a gated community)? We need keys to get into and OUT of our pool areas and our public bathrooms are always locked, yet we pay for a cleaning service to keep them sparking. The craziest thing of all? My HOA would rather have vacant, abandoned homes (and collect the fines from the bank) than allow homeowners to rent out their properties (I really must congratulation the genius who thought of that particular rule).
There are many other examples of HOA insanity. One friend pays over $400 in HOA dues and assessments because they can’t control their spending, another had her car towed because she parked it in front of her garage (perfectly legal), yet another’s 24 hour security did nothing while their home was being invaded (even after numerous phone calls). I wish I could say that these are only the extremes, sadly they are actually middle of the road normal.
Yet I can’t place all the blame on the HOAs. We (homeowners) created this mess. We gave them the money and the power and then for most of us, we didn’t get involved and didn’t hold that money and those people accountable. What’s the solution? Well that’s the $10,000 question. The government does what it can to control them, but success in this area is limited. The best thing to do? Get involved. Run for your board, attend the meetings, get educated, and hold your community management company accountable to its spending. Change doesn’t happen overnight, you have to work for it.
As a buyer’s agent, I’m looking at houses all day long. I know what buyers like and what makes them immediately leave. These concepts aren’t new, yet in this market of distressed properties, I’m seeing less and less “staging” and cooperation and more of a “you’ll take it as it is and love it” attitude. After all that’s what all the banks do right?
In actuality, REOs (real estate owned) or bank owned homes are the easiest to show and sell. They are vacant. A buyer can see the home anytime they want . Added to that the buyer’s can look at the house all they want without the weird feeling of snooping through someone else’s stuff. REOs are sometimes remodeled, painted in a neutral color, the carpet is replaced, and in some cases the appliances are new or retrofitted. Finally, the process is often faster, 30 -60 day escrow and no third party approval needed.
So how do you get your home to compete?
First, if you have to sell your house as a short sale you can’t compete on time. The best you can do is hiring a short sale specialist (I can refer you to some great ones no matter where you live) to work the negotiation process. Often times, the right agent can make a huge difference in time.
However, you can make your home competitive in other areas.
1.) Make your home as easy to show as possible. We live in a fast food culture. We expect instant gratification. If a buyer can’t see your house immediately, they most likely will not see it at all.
2.) Clean you house. I sounds like a no brainer right? You’d be surprised how often I walk into a house with dishes in the sink and clothes on the floor.
3.) Remove personal items like pictures and chotskies. You want the buyer to be able to imagine their stuff in the house, not be obsessed with the photo of you pole dancing a light post.
4.) De-clutter the house. If you’ve started packing, move the boxes to the garage where they are out of sight. This let’s the buyers see the full space and opens up the rooms.
5.)If you’ve already moved, keep the power on. Buyers work and many of them can’t view houses until the evenings. Looking at homes with a flashlight has become a common practice. Stand out and keep the power going.
6.) Don’t over power the house with smells. Neutral smells like cinnamon, vanilla, and light lemon are inviting and nostalgic. Fruit Explosion or anything floral from the dollar store may smell great to you, but they can also induce headaches and allergies in others.
Your house is competing against the house next door that’s $10,000 cheaper and bank owned. You want to impress the buyer so much, they are willing to stick around for 4 months waiting for lien holder approval. Take the extra time and effort to make your home more appealing to buyers. Now, more than ever, your house has to make the buyer fall in love.
*On a completely unrelated note, I’m hiring. If you know anyone who loves to look at houses, is independent, organizes and a motivated, please have them submit a resume to Jessica.L.Kincaid@gmail.com
A few of my friends have shared this note of Facebook. I love it. Every time someone shares it, I feel compelled to read it again and again. Now I’ve decided it’s my turn to share it with you. Enjoy.
Date a Girl Who Reads
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since …she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Don’t fear you might fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that know all things will come to end-& you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.