Working with HOAs

Move into a neighborhood that has a great homeowners association (HOA) and you could enjoy years of rising property values. Homeowners associations generally oversee housing in planned development areas. A house that you purchase could be serviced by a HOA if you live in a subdivision, gated community or in a community that leases homes.

Check out homeowners associations before you buy a house

Real estate developers form homeowners associations to oversee houses that are bought and sold in specified jurisdictions. Millions of American homes are managed by a HOA. Rules and monthly HOA fees vary, generally ranging from $100 to $400 a month.As with realtors and home builders, some HOAs are better than others. Here are ways to get the most out of homeowners associations.

  • Look over the interior and exterior of houses you’re considering buying. Is the lawn neatly trimmed? If the house is painted,is the paint chipped? Notice if there are holes in the ground or if the yard is full of weeds.
  • Walk around the neighborhood. You have nothing to lose by getting out of your car and walking around a good neighborhood that you’re thinking of buying a house in. Pay attention to fences, sidewalks and driveways. A good HOA will ensure that fences, sidewalks and driveways are in good condition.
  • Visit community amenities like picnic areas,community swimming pools and entertainment centers. These areas should be secure. It’s better if they are managed by a volunteer or HOA employee who works onsite.
  • Find out the types and percentage of services that HOA fees are spent on. Generally, a good HOA will invest a portion of fees into savings. More than 70 percent of the HOA will also be funded. An under-funded HOA may lack the financial resources to properly care for your house and other properties in the neighborhood.
  • Meet with someone from the HOA and ask about rules and restrictions. Consider buying a house in another neighborhood if you strongly disagree with one or more of the HOAs rules. Remember, there are many HOAs in the country.
  • Ask the HOA when the last repairs or upgrades were made in the community. Find out what specific types of repairs or upgrades were made.
  • Get a copy of the minutes from two to three HOA meetings. Confirm that HOAs followed through on action items noted in the minutes. You want to buy a house that’s located in a community that’s managed by a responsive, well funded and progressive HOA.
  • Find out if the HOA has had any claims against it. Also, find out if the HOA is in compliance with local and state regulations.

Homeowners associations could make buying a home in a subdivision or another community under development rewarding. To get the most from homeowners associations,research the HOAs’ rules before you sign a mortgage. Also, research the entire neighborhood to see how well the HOA is doing its job. With research and the right questions, your relationship with a HOA could extend far beyond paying your monthly HOA fees.

You Don’t Have To Get Sick Just Because It’s Winter

Pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers may air television, radio and internet commercials that encourage you to stock up on cold medicine simply because temperatures are dropping. But, you and your family don’t have to get sick at home, school or work just because it’s cold outside. Rather than giving into old beliefs and pricey ads, turn your home into a healthy zone this year.

Cold temperatures don’t have create nagging colds and fevers

The first step toward turning your home into a good health zone begins with a decision. Simply decide that you are going to develop zero or fewer colds. Other steps toward creating a healthy home include:

  • Washing your hands after using the bathroom and before handling food and teaching your children to do the same
  • Cleaning and rinsing vegetables, fruit and meat (if you are a meat eater) before you eat them raw or prepare them as cooked dishes
  • Wiping counters and tabletops after you finish cooking or dining
  • Cooking and cutting with clean utensils
  • Vacuuming pet hairs and regularly cleaning coverings that pets sleep and play on
  • Training pets to stay off counters, tables and furniture
  • Letting everyone in your family participate in weekly house cleanings – you can miss a lot if you try to clean an entire house alone. Cleaning an entire house alone can also cause you to feel frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Taking rugs outside and shaking them free of lint and other debris at least once a week

What you do in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom matters

Those are just a few steps that you could take to make your house healthier. Additional ways to create a more healthy home are also easy to implement. For example, you could:

  • Sleep on a supportive mattress. Get a good night of sleep. This includes getting sufficient deep sleep. Consider using a fitness watch to track how much deep sleep you’re getting each night.
  • Stock your kitchen with healthy foods that are loaded with natural vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Drink plenty of fresh water and eat raw vegetables and fruit daily if you’re system allows.
  • Place dumbbells, a jump rope and exercise mattress in your house. The basement and first floor of your home are good places to jump rope, lift weights, do yoga exercises and cardio. You can also climb the steps at your house, dance for exercise and jog in place.
  • Grow green plants in your home. Green plants help to keep oxygen healthy and balanced.
  • Create a meditation room at your house. Pick a quiet space as your meditation room, a space that’s further away from outdoor and indoor traffic. Meditate three to four times a week or every day, in your meditation room.
  • Hold family discussions and encourage openness and verbal, emotional, psychological and physical safety at home. Share and talk about topics, events and items that are concerning one or more members of your family. Do this in a loving and supportive manner.

By stocking your home with an assortment of liquid and pill form cold medicines each winter, you could be sending a subconscious message that you have to get sick because it’s cold outside. You could also, unintentionally, send that same message to your children. If you’ve given into pharmaceutical and manufacturing ads that encourage cold medicine buying in the past, consider bucking that trend starting this year. Two to three years into this mind shift, you just might find that you and your family catch fewer colds.

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