Cheryl Pendenza's Blog
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.
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.
“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.”
Moving to a new home can be both exciting and stressful -- especially if pets and young children are involved!
Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies for avoiding frayed nerves and keeping problems to a minimum.
Cultivate a Positive Mindset: Making a conscious decision to remain cool, calm, and collected throughout your move will set the stage for a more relaxed experience for everyone. Since stress and irritability can quickly spread from one family member to another, it's up to the parents to set a positive example for the kids. When you resolve to be patient and optimistic about how things are progressing, you'll tend to be more resourceful, encouraging, and solution oriented.
Be organized: Creating a priority list of tasks that need to be completed by a target date is an excellent strategy for staying focused and on schedule. There are a lot of details to attend to when you're moving, so it's usually necessary to have a written plan and a checklist of things to remember.
Here are three ideas to consider for avoiding confusion at your new home: Clearly label all boxes; make sure that screws and other fasteners for dissembled furniture are stored in an easy-to-find clear bag or container, and take a photo (for easy reference) of cable and Internet connections before disconnecting your TV, sound system, and computer equipment. That way, when everything needs to be reassembled and reconnected at your new home, the process will go much more smootly!
Some people tend to just throw odds and ends into boxes, hoping that all the "pieces of the puzzle" will somehow magically fall into place at their new home. Unfortunately, when you pack your belongings in a haphazard manner, frustration is always the end result.
If you really want to be super-organized, consider drawing a "furniture map" of each major room. That way, you can give copies of the plan to the movers and hopefully streamline the furniture setup phase at your new home. Another efficiency tip is to color-code your boxes to help make sure the right moving boxes end up in the correct rooms.
First-Day Survival kit: Since it's highly unlikely that you'll unpack all your belongings and supplies on the first day, it's always a good idea to pack toiletries, medications, a first aid kit, and cleaning supplies in an easy-to-reach place. Other things you might want to have handy in the car for the first day at your new home would be a vacuum cleaner, pet food, dog leashes, toys for the kids, stuffed animals, games, healthy snacks, and cold beverages.
Miscellaneous Priorities: Digital photographs and computer files can be securely stored on a portable hard drive or a free cloud storage service available through Google or Dropbox. As far as small valuables, such as laptops, jewelry, mobile devices, and important documents, it's generally recommended that you transport those items with you in your car -- preferably in a clearly marked box.
FHA loans have long been a valuable resource for Americans who want to fulfill their goal of homeownership but who don’t have the benefit of a lengthy credit history and equity.
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but want to explore all of your options in terms of financing, this article is for you.
Today we’re going to talk about FHA loans and how to know if you qualify for one.
What are FHA loans?
FHA loans are issued by private mortgage lenders across the country, just like regular mortgages. The difference, however, is that an FHA loan is “guaranteed” by the federal government.
Lenders decide your borrowing eligibility, and how much you can borrow, by determining risk. If you don’t have a sizable down payment (oftentimes 20% or more) and you have a low credit score, most mortgage lenders will see you as a risky person to lend to.
When you get an FHA loan, however, the federal government assumes some of that risk, allowing you to secure the loan anyway.
This means you can buy a home with a low credit score, a smaller than usual down payment, and save on some closing costs.
How do I qualify for an FHA Loan?
To find out if you qualify for an FHA loan, you’ll head to the same place as a traditional mortgage--a mortgage lender. Oftentimes, you can simply call or visit the website of lenders to get the process started.
As with all things, it’s a good idea to shop around for a mortgage lender. Their offerings will be largely similar, but there might be minor differences that make one better than another for your particular circumstances.
Down payment requirements
To secure an FHA loan, you will need to make a down payment of at least 3.5%. However, this low down payment comes with a price. You’ll typically be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees on top of your accruing interest for your loan.
Credit score requirements
While you can often secure a mortgage with a lower credit score through an FHA loan, there are still some requirements. To secure a loan with the lowest possible down payment (3.5%), you’ll need a credit score of 580 or above.
Previous homeowners and FHA loans
A common misconception about FHA loans is that they are only for first-time homeowners. However, you can still qualify for an FHA loan if you’ve owned a home before as long as it has been three years since you’ve had a foreclosure or two years since filing for bankruptcy.
If you meet these three conditions, you should be able to secure an FHA loan through a traditional mortgage lender.
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Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall, poses an interesting question about whether "good fences make good neighbors."
On one hand, there are several advantages to having your property surrounded by a fence, especially if you or your neighbors have dogs or small children running around.
If you happen to have a vegetable garden or fruit trees in your backyard, a well-constructed fence can also help keep out ravenous deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and other wildlife.
There's no doubt that fences can serve a variety of useful purposes, ranging from privacy and safety to wildlife control and home security. While it can be beneficial to mark off your property boundaries and keep your backyard private, a question to consider is whether a large fence -- especially a new one -- sends the wrong message to your neighbors. Striking the perfect balance between privacy and friendly neighbor relations can be tricky at times, but there are compelling reasons to stay on good terms.
- Security reasons: If you take the time to chat with your neighbors every now and then, they'll have more of a tendency to keep an eye on your property when you're on vacation or just away for the day -- especially if you ask them. People tend to be more helpful, observant, and protective of others with whom they share a bond or have a sense of community. In contrast to that, if they don't even know your name and haven't exchanged more than a few words with you in years, they'll be less inclined to pay attention to who's on your property and whether they belong there or not.
- Sharing resources: Keeping the lines of communication open with your neighbors is beneficial on many levels. When you have a friendly, ongoing relationship, you won't feel reluctant to ask them for help when your car battery's dead and you're running late for work. Trusted neighbors can also provide you with valuable information, such the names of dependable home improvement contractors or how to arrange a free pickup of household clutter that you want to donate to the Salvation Army.
- Quality of life: When you're regularly greeted by friendly neighbors, your neighborhood will feel like more of a welcoming and upbeat place to live. It may be necessary for you to set the example or make the first move, but once a friendly atmosphere has been created in a neighborhood, it's relatively easy to keep it going.
So while you may not want your neighbors to get in the habit of stopping by your home to chew the fat, every day, it can be worth your while to greet them by name, offer help whenever possible, and be the kind of good neighbor you'd like them to be. Setting a positive example may be all that's needed to establish a cooperative relationship and possibly even a life-long friendship. And, if all else fails, keep in mind the words of Benjamin Franklin: "Love thy neighbor, but don't pull down your hedge!"