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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 9/15/2017

In theory, a Homeowners Association (HOA) is a great idea. It gives homeowners a say in how their neighborhood or complex is run and maintained and it gives people an opportunity to get to know their neighbors.

But we’ve all heard stories about homeowners associations that range from a small annoyance to a nightmare, and even some that are just plain strange.

On reddit, homeowners were asked to share some of the stories from their homeowners’ associations. Here are the best ones.

Outsmarting the HOA

Reddit user Bundabar tells about the numerous difficulties they’ve had with their homeowners association when it comes to home improvements. In one instance they were told by the HOA that their fence was a few inches too tall. In response, Bundabar appealed their decision and presented new plans for his backyard… plans that included at 40ft HAM radio tower, which incidentally cannot be regulated by a homeowners’ association. The HOA quickly changed they mind and allowed Bundabar’s fence to remain a few inches outside of regulation.

Backyard engineering

In another strange HOA tale, reddit user Furlessxp shared their experience with a neighbor who loved to tinker. The neighbor began work on a treehouse in his backyard which the HOA disapproved of. A years-long dispute followed, and ultimately the HOA told the neighbor that he would have to have the plans for his treehouse certified by an engineer. At the next meeting, according to Furlessxp, “he handed in the blueprints signed and stamped by no other than himself. That was a great meeting. It turns out that he had a PhD in civil engineering.”

Rooting for the home team

In a different thread, user Viking042900 explains that he liked to fly the flag of the Georgia Bulldogs when the football team was playing. The HOA regulations in his neighborhood state that homeowners are only allowed to fly flags on the day that sports teams are playing. User Viking042900 notes that he accidentally left the flag out a day longer than was allowed, but the HOA was still threatening him with fines.

His response?

“Now I was mad. I printed off a schedule of every sporting event the Bulldogs had in every sport, even club sports and then proceeded to fly the flag every single day.”

Since the University of Georgia has some time of sporting event nearly every day, it became impossible for the HOA to enforce this rule. Ultimately, the association gave up and let him fly his flag freely.



We’ll leave you with one last HOA tale from reddit. This time, user Interwebbing was running the show as president of the homeowners association. His policy?

“I was HOA president for 3 years and never enforced anything. Power to the people.”




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 9/8/2017

Wait, when was the last time you cleaned that ? And how often are you supposed to wash that? Never have to ask yourself these questions again by creating a monthly chore calendar. Creating a chore calendar may seem like you’re taking your house cleaning duties a little too seriously, but by creating a regular cleaning schedule you will set yourself up for success. And you’ll have a guaranteed cleaner home, and who doesn’t want that? Monthly

  • Scrub grout in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Wash pillow and mattress protectors as well as duvet covers.
  • Discard any food in the freezer that has become freezer burnt or is past its time.
  • Wax any wood floors your home may have.
  • Dust fans you have throughout your home. Don’t forget to do this in the winter when they are not in use to avoid build-up.
  • Wipe down and disinfect light switch plates and door knobs.
  • Wipe down and disinfect your home phones and your family’s cell phones.
  • Flush drains. Try a natural solution by pouring baking soda down drains and allowing to sit overnight to deodorize. In the morning pour hot water down the drain to rinse the baking soda out and flush the drain.
  • Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards.
  • Check the fire alarms throughout your home and replace any batteries when necessary.
Weekly
  • Dust each room in your home.
  • Empty all trash bins throughout your home. Don’t forget smaller, less used baskets like in your child’s room or in the office.
  • Clean sinks, toilets, and bath of any soap scum or buildup.
  • Vacuum and mop the floors throughout your home.
  • Wipe down surfaces like tables and counters.
  • Clean mirrors and windows.
  • Wash sheets and pillowcases.
  • Sort through your mail and email inbox. Pay any upcoming bill and file paperwork as necessary.
  • Clean fridge out of any food that has gone past its expiration.
  • Wipe down appliances in the kitchen such as the microwave, stove, and toaster.
  • Wipe down and deodorize trashcans and recycling bins.
  • Put out fresh towels in your bathrooms and kitchen
Daily
  • Tidy up. Keep on top of clutter by putting items away when they are no longer in use.
  • Make the beds and if your children are old enough encourage them to make theirs.
  • Sort out mail. File and discard as necessary.
  • Clean up as you prepare meals to leave time to relax after dinner time instead of spending another hour in the kitchen.
  • Wipe up any spills as they happen to avoid having to use elbow grease to clean up later.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor and any other high traffic areas.
  • Throw in a load of laundry. If you have a large family make laundry more manageable by doing a load a day.
Keeping your home clean is hard work, there is no doubt about that, especially if you have a family. However, by creating a monthly chore calendar you can create a more manageable workload for yourself. With a little planning up front you can have a neat and tidy home you can sit back and truly enjoy!





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 9/1/2017

Getting ready to move is a fun and exciting time. With all of the change happening around you, it’s good to have a solid plan in place for moving that will get you through. Perhaps the most chaotic time is two weeks leading up to moving day. Don’t worry, we have a checklist ready for you, so you can be prepared. 


2 Weeks Before The Move


First, you should make sure that your car is ready for the drive, if you’re driving to your new house. Even if you’re hiring a moving company, you’ll need to know that your car can handle the trip and that your movers and you have maps available. Even in the age of GPS, this is a good idea just in case you lose service on the road.


Next, you’ll need to get cleaning. You should begin cleaning any of the rooms in your house that have been emptied out including closets. This is a good time to make one last check that everything has been packed. If you need to make any kind of arrangements to have your old home or your new home professionally cleaned, you should do so at this time. It will be much easier to have your new home painted and cleaned before you arrive with all of your stuff.   


You need to get your records in order. Any prescriptions that you have must be transferred to a new pharmacy nearby. It’s a good idea to keep all of your important documents in a safe such as passports, financial statements, deeds, titles and wills.  


You’ll need to get your family prepared for the move as well. Be sure that you know where pets and kids are going and how they’re getting there. Collect all other valuable items such as jewelry and family heirlooms and pack them somewhere for safe keeping.  


One Week Before The Move


The last week in your home might be kind of stressful and emotional. Make sure that everything is packed at this point. Label each box for easy unpacking once you get to your new place. You could easily forget what’s in each box by the time you get there! 


Other items of concern:

  • Confirm the move-in and closing dates with your real estate agent.
  • Arrange to pay your movers.   
  • Make a plan in case the movers end up running behind and you get to your home before your stuff does. 
  • Back up your computer and keep a drive with the files on it in the safe. 
  • Dispose of anything hazardous within your home like paint and chemicals.
  • Change your address with the Post Office if you haven’t already done so.
  • Cancel or change newspaper and magazine subscriptions. 
  •  Find meals that you can make using the remaining food in your fridge. 
  • Empty lockers at school and the gym. 

Return borrowed items to friends and family.

There will be quite a bit left for you to do once you get to your new home. You’ll need time to get established. Moving is exciting and stressful all at the same time! With a plan, you’ll be on your way to a smooth move! 




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 8/25/2017

When you stop and think about it, there are quite a few money-saving opportunities out there that you may not be taking advantage of.

Here are a few ideas worth considering:

  • Automobile Insurance: If you haven't touched base with your insurance agent in a few years, it might pay to call or email them to review your policy. Until you ask, you never know what kind of insurance discounts you may be eligible for. For example, savings can often be obtained by taking a defensive drivers' course, purchasing your automobile and homeowners' insurance from one agency, commuting a shorter distance to work or telecommuting, or simply having a safe driving record. In some cases, you could save a chunk of money by shopping around and switching to a less expensive insurance provider.
  • Cell phone services: Make sure the cell phone service plan you have is competitive and geared to your needs and data usage patterns. With at least four major service providers to choose from (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile), it make sense to do some comparative research to make informed choices regarding prices, features, time commitments, and services. Checking out online reviews and comparing notes with friends, family, and coworkers about cell phone services can also help you save money.
  • Credit cards: If you're like many people, you probably get inundated with credit card offers, every week. Since it's such a competitive industry, some credit card offers are clearly better than others. While the most prudent approach is to limit your credit card use as much as possible, it also makes sense to seek out the best deals, the lowest interest rates, and the most favorable terms. Assuming your credit card payments are up to date and you've maintained a good credit history, it's often possible to negotiate a lower interest rate on your current credit cards, too. That alone could make it easier to pay off your balance and save money.
  • Contractors: Whether you're considering remodeling your bathroom, replacing your roof, updating your kitchen, painting or re-siding your house, waterproofing your basement, or building a backyard deck, prices can vary widely from one contractor to the next. While it's important to hire a contractor who's experienced, honest, insured, easy to work with, and dependable, there's no reason to pay exorbitant prices for good quality work. Getting at least three price estimates on projects around the house is generally a good way to ensure you're not getting overcharged. Online reviews and personal recommendations from relatives, friends, and neighbors can often point you in the direction of a good residential contractor.
One of the most important principles of smart money management is to make sure you're getting the most value for your dollar. As a consumer, you entitled to shop around, get the best deal, and be satisfied with the quality of products and services you're purchasing.





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 8/18/2017

Property taxes are no laughing matter. At their worst, they leave some homeowners responsible for paying a local government more than ten thousand dollars a year. When these types of property taxes rise some adults decide that it's better to simply pack and move.

Don't let property taxes force you out of your home

That's why it's important to understand how property taxes are calculated in an area you're thinking about moving to. For example, are property taxes based on the sale price of a house, the actual value of the property or based on another set rate?

Before you buy a house, find out how heavily a local government depends on property tax income to meet its budget. Also, find out how often this same local government raises property taxes. You could learn a lot about local taxes like property and sales tax by attending council and local chamber of commerce meetings.

If people don't raise the issue, ask questions that lead to the answers you want. Of course, you'll want to do this investigating before you buy a house.

Steps to lower property taxes

But, even researching and investigating local property taxes may not keep you from receiving a hefty property tax bill in the mail. You might have to take other measures to lower property taxes. Following are some ways that you could lower property taxes:

  • Conduct a survey - After a major weather storm like a hurricane, tornado or earthquake, get your house appraised. If you're paying property taxes based on the value of your home and the assessment shows that the storm reduced your home's value, share this information with your tax department and request that your taxes be lowered.
  • Rent your property - You might pay lower property taxes if you rent a portion of your property, especially if the tax department allows you to deduct the costs of property repairs.
  • File for an abatement - If you served in the military or have reached senior citizen status, file for an abatement.Depending on local tax office rules, you might qualify for a property tax reduction.
  • Move to another county - By moving a part of town that has lower property taxes, you could reduce your property tax rates.

Gain a say in local property tax rates

Next to monthly mortgage payments and student loans, little may unnerve Americans like taxes. Included among this annoyance are property taxes. By taking one or more steps that could potentially lower your property taxes, you could end up breathing better.

You could feel more relaxed. You'd definitely have one less financial obligation to concern yourself with. Another gain that you might enjoy is learning about the importance of participating in local government meetings and initiatives.

The more than your voice is heard, the more influence you might come to have on local politics, including property tax rates. It may sound far fetched now. But, you could become an influence on who plays a key role in preventing property taxes from rising so high that home ownership gets out of reach for far too many people in the area where you live.




Categories: Uncategorized