Bill Aibel | Cambridge Real Estate, Somerville Real Estate, Boston Real Estate, Newton Real Estate


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Buying a home in a neighborhood with a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) works well for some families, while others find the HOA to be burdensome or intrusive. Learning more about what an HOA is, how it works and what to expect can help you determine if your next home should be in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association.

What Is a Homeowners Association?

When builders or developers create planned communities with ameneties, they often also create a homeowners association to help manage the shared areas of the property when the building is complete. The homeowner’s association has some powers over the people who live in the neighborhood and is also responsible for maintaining the look and integrity of the community. Anyone owning a home in the community must also pay HOA fees for the services rendered. Dues can be paid monthly quarterly or annually and are determined by the association itself and its bylaws.

If you buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA it is important to discover what rules are in place and what expectations the HOA has of residents. Some are far more involved and assertive than others, with rules for trashcan placement, yard maintenance and even parking. You should know what amenities you’ll have access to when you join the community and how your fees will be spent.

Since HOA fees are an added expense, they’ll also be considered when you apply for a mortgage, so be sure to factor them in when you work out what you can afford.

Benefits of Living in a Homeowner’s Association Community

Communities that have an HOA in place are generally well maintained; the HOA is responsible for caring for public areas, landscaping, sidewalks and some roadways. You won’t have to worry about living in a messy or unsightly neighborhood when an HOA is in place.

A pool you don’t have to care for, tennis courts to use on demand and even a clubhouse for parties and get togethers are big draws for some homeowners, if these things matter to you, you’ll enjoy this type of community.

A community with an active and healthy HOA will likely have groups and social gatherings. In some HOA groups, clubs, celebrations and welcomes for new members are scheduled throughout the year. If you want a close knit, involved community, then the right type of HOA may serve your needs well.

Drawbacks of Living in a Homeowner’s Association Community

The biggest drawback of living in an HOA community is having to cope with rules that you don’t agree with or that put a burden on your family.

For many homeowners, the HOA determines what colors a home can be, how often the lawn should be mowed and even what holiday decorations are acceptable. If you prefer making these decisions for yourself, you may not enjoy an HOA neighborhood.

You may not be able to make some improvements to your home; your HOA will determine if you can create an addition, add a fence (and will specify what kind of fence you can have) or even rent out your property. Homeowners who might want to expand their home, renovate or even have kids or get a dog may find that the rules for fencing and building are too stringent.

In some cases, an HOA has the power to levy annual fees or costs for construction projects and bill homeowners for the work. In some communities, this can run into the thousands of dollars per home. You should be aware of this possibility and determine if the HOA has to power to charge members for capital improvements before you buy.

Is an HOA Community Right for You? 

If amenities and low care public areas matter to you and you don’t have plans for ambitious renovations or home changes, then an HOA neighborhood could suit your needs. If you generally dislike having rules imposed on things you own or feel uncomfortable having to request permission to make changes, the HOA may be more of a burden.

Review the rules and bylaws of any HOA you are considering buying into to be sure you fully understand what to expect before you make a purchase. You’ll be able to enjoy the neighborhood without any unwelcome surprises or costs when you know what to expect.


A seamless home search may be a dream come true for property buyers. Yet for those who want to accelerate the homebuying journey, problems sometimes may arise that make it tough to streamline a home search. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to speed up a home search and find your dream house without delay.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you expedite the homebuying journey.

1. Establish Realistic Homebuying Expectations

You know you want to buy a house, but you still have no idea what you want to find in a dream home. If you establish realistic homebuying expectations, however, you could simplify your house search.

Think about what you want in your dream house, as well as where you want to reside. Then, you can search for houses that have the features you want and are located in your preferred cities and towns.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

A mortgage generally is a must-have for a homebuyer. If you enter the real estate market with a mortgage at your disposal, you'll know exactly how much you can spend to acquire your dream residence. As a result, you can search for homes that fall in line with your budget.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you everything you need to know about different types of mortgages and help you find the right mortgage based on your individual needs.

Of course, as you search for the right mortgage, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, all of whom are happy to assist you in any way possible.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent goes above and beyond the call of duty to support a homebuyer. He or she understands the ins and outs of buying a home, and as such, will do what it takes to help you discover a great house at an affordable price.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. He or she next will craft a homebuying strategy for you and put this plan into action. A real estate agent then will help you conduct an in-depth house search. And once you find a home you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

A real estate agent also works diligently to help you achieve the best-possible results at each stage of the property buying journey. He or she is ready to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and ensure you can make informed decisions throughout your quest for your dream house.

Want to expedite your home search? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can quickly and effortlessly find a home that suits you perfectly.


Regardless of when or where you search for a house, a home buying checklist is essential. With this checklist in hand, you can quickly and effortlessly discover a residence that suits you perfectly.

Now, let's take a look at three factors to incorporate into your home buying checklist.

1. Your Home Buying Timeline

Account for how much time is available to find and purchase a house. That way, you can boost the likelihood of getting the most out of the time and resources at your disposal.

As you create a home buying checklist, consider how much time you have before you need to relocate from your current address. Then, you can see how much time you have to pursue your dream home and evaluate the steps you will need to take to make that process run smoothly.

2. Your Home Must-Haves and Wants

Consider what you absolutely require from your new home. For instance, if you need a house that is close to your office in the city, you should check out homes in or near the city itself. Or, if you require a home that offers ample space for you and your children, you should hone your search to residences that have two or more bedrooms.

Of course, it helps to create a list of home wants and needs when you develop a house buying checklist. With the ability to evaluate your home needs at any time, you will be better equipped when deciding if a particular house is right for you.

3. Your Home Buying Budget

You know you want to purchase a house, but your current financial situation may be limited. Fortunately, if you prepare a home buying budget, you will know how much you can spend on a residence and map out your search accordingly.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with credit unions or banks before you begin a home search. Credit unions and banks can teach you about different types of mortgages and how they work. Plus, these financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

For those who want to streamline the home buying journey, it's a good idea to hire a real estate agent, too. A real estate agent can help you craft a home buying checklist, as well as provide tips and guidance as you search for your ideal house.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to find a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. First, a real estate agent will help a buyer evaluate the local real estate sector and narrow their home search. A real estate agent will also help a buyer discover a home that matches their expectations. Finally, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to put together a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

Craft a home buying checklist today – you will be happy you did. Once you have a home buying checklist, you can more seamlessly navigate the house buying journey.


We get it. Buying a house, whether it's your first house or your third, is a big deal. You want to find the best deal for yourself while getting the home you’ve been dreaming about, and you want to live a happy life in the house for years to come. Deciding on which home to purchase can come with a lot of questions and self-doubt. Is the neighborhood as great as it seems? Will I have good neighbors? What if my circumstances change, will I be able to maintain my mortgage payments? If I wait longer will a better property come on the market? How do I know I'm making the right decision?

So many questions can paralyze you from pulling the trigger on your home purchase. We’re here to help you understand buyer’s remorse and how to make the best home purchase without detrimentally second guessing yourself throughout the buying process. So, what do you need to know?

Asking "What-if?" is entirely natural. Consumers question our purchasing decisions all the time. It doesn't matter if it's a new car, new home appliance, even a pair of shoes or a new accessory. People work hard for their incomes and want to get the best goods and services possible with their means. It's only natural that they want to ensure they make the best decision when it comes to significant investments like a home. You aren't any different, and that's completely natural. Recognizing and accepting the fear of buyer’s remorse can help you differentiate between good questioning and over-questioning your home purchase.

Holding out for something better. Worrying that a better home will come along down the road and that you've made your buying decision too hastily can put your investment goals on hold indefinitely. To keep yourself from falling into this agonizing trap work with your real estate agent to write down a complete list of everything you want in a home and order your list by priority. Keep your list with you and review it when you're viewing homes with your agent. When you think you've found the right place you might find that worry start to creep up, consult your list again, revisit the home and make your decision with certainty.

Avoiding Buyer’s remorse:

  • Make sure you find the right real estate agent. If you don’t have confidence in your agent, you’ll start to question their recommendations and your own decision making. Your agent should offer you guidance throughout the entire home buying process. They should be able to answer your questions thoroughly and take care to give you good advice. A good property agent will take the time to review your desires thoroughly and will only present you with homes that they know fit your list of requirements. Most importantly, you should feel completely comfortable with your agent, be able to call with questions when you have any concerns and feel that they are genuinely listening to you.
  • Don't take too much stock in advice from friends or family. You're enthusiastic about the prospect of buying a home, and you'll be tempted to show those close to your different houses you're considering. While you should feel free to do this, be wary of the feedback you might get. The best home for you might not match someone else's idea, and their opinion of your home selection, mortgage agreement or neighborhood choice shouldn't make you question your decision. If you're working with a good agent and consulting your financial advisor, you are in the best possible hands to make the right choice. Stick with your trusted professionals and be confident in your purchase.

Once you’ve selected a home, don’t keep shopping. Continuing to visit new open houses after you’re in the escrow process will only lead you to question your purchase. Believe in yourself, trust your professional guidance and follow through on the home you know to be right for you.


Believe it or not, buying a condo can be a quick, easy process, particularly for those who understand their homebuying needs.

Ultimately, there are several factors to consider before you purchase a condo, including:

1. Your Budget

How much can you afford to spend on a condo? You should evaluate your homebuying budget closely to ensure you can cover all of the costs associated with condo living.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage usually is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can browse a wide range of condos and find one that matches your budget perfectly.

Furthermore, don't forget to account for homeowners' association (HOA) fees before you buy a condo. HOA fees will vary depending on the condo community, and you should learn about them in advance so you can budget accordingly.

2. Property Size and Location

How much space do you need to accommodate your family? Consider the short- and long-term ramifications of a condo purchase, and you should have no trouble finding a condo that is the right size for you.

If you're uncertain about how big of a condo that you'll need, don't hesitate to consult with a real estate agent. This housing market expert will learn about your homebuying needs and help you narrow your search for the ideal condo.

Also, be sure to consider the location of a condo. If you want to find a place to live near school or work, you should search for condos that will help you cut down on your commute time.

3. Condo Rules and Regulations

Condo living is different from living in a traditional house. In a condo community, you'll have your own property, but there may be numerous condo rules and regulations in place that you'll need to follow at all times.

For example, many condo owners cannot modify a property's exterior without first getting approval from an HOA board. This means if you want to paint your condo bright pink or upgrade the property's windows, you'll need to ask the HOA board for permission.

Examine a condo community's rules and regulations prior to purchasing a condo. This will enable you to review the HOA board's mandates and determine whether you would feel comfortable following these rules and regulations.

When it comes to finding a condo, there is no need to look for a property on your own. Conversely, if you work with a real estate agent, you can take the guesswork out of searching for a top-notch condo.

Finding a real estate agent with condo experience is essential. This real estate professional will set up condo showings, keep you informed about new condos as they become available and negotiate with property sellers on your behalf. That way, this real estate agent will make it easy for you to acquire a first-rate condo at a budget-friendly price.

Kick off your search for the perfect condo today, and you can move closer to securing a condo that will serve you well for an extended period of time.