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Archive for the tag “Property Managment in CT”

U.S. Home Sales Up

Source: Record Journal

WASHINGTON (AP)Americans are buying more homes in every region of the country, the latest indication that the housing market could be on the mend.

An increasing portion of those sales are from first-time buyers, who are critical to a housing recovery.  Sales of previously occupied rose 3.4 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.  That nearly matches January’s pace of 4.63 million – the best in two years.  It is still well below the nearly 6 million that most economists equate with healthy markets.

A pickup in hiring and cheaper mortgages, combined with lower home prices in most markets, has made home buying more attractive.  While many economists acknowledge that the market has a long way to go, most said the April sales report was encouraging.

“The trend in sales is upward, and we think it has a good deal further to go over the next months as payrolls pick up further and mortgage availability improved,”, said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics.

Sales rose last month from March in all regions of the country.  They increased 5.1 percent rise in the Northeast, 3.5 percent in the South, 4.4 percent in the West and 1 percent in the Midwest.

And more first-time buyers entered the market.  In April, they made up 35 percent of sales.  That’s up from 32 percent in March.

“First-time homebuyers are slowly making their way back,” said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.  “That is still below the 40 percent-to45 percent range during healthy times, but the highest measures completed sales.  A sale typically closes a month or two after a buyer signs a contract to buy a home.  But a growing number of buyers in recent months have been investors who pay cash, which speeds up the process.

For questions, concerns, assistance in Connecticut Real Estate and Homes for sale or Condominium Property Management, visit www.BarberinoRealEstate.com or call 203-269-0284 x 110

In The Swim – Decisions you need to make when considering a pool for your home

Source: William Hageman – Tribune Newspapers

A swimming pool can be the crown jewel of your property, capable of turning a bland yard into an outdoor oasis.  But before you take the plunge, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of various pools.  Here are sone things to consider:

Categories:  Aboveground and in-ground are the two main types of pools.  Above ground pools are  less expensive, less permanent and come in a choice of sidings (resin, aluminum, steel).  There are also inflatable varieties.  These are typically do-it-yourself projects.

In-ground pools – more costly, larger and permanent – come in four basic types; vinyl liner (a linter is attached to a frame built in the excavation), aluminum (a cheaper material but not as sturdy), fiberglass (a large factory into an excavation by crane) and concrete (construction on-site to your specs and available in these, professional installation is the norm.

Is it worth your while?  A key consideration – before size, depth, shape or cost is whether you are planning to stay in your home for a while.  If confronted with a foreclosure, layoff or job transfer, there are few alternatives for relocating the pool.

“An aboveground pool is not meant to be moved, but they can be,” said Dan Harrison, president of online pool and spa retailer poolandspa.com. “They have to be taken apart carefully, boxed up and moved.  With an in-ground, you’re making a very big commitment.  If you’d asked me 10, 15 years ago, those word wouldn’t have come out of my mouth, but that’s a very big concern these days.”

Design.  Harrison said have a pool design in mind before visiting and installer.  He suggested checking out pool websites or doing an online search of pool images.

“Look at 500 images, then print out five of them that you like,” he said. “Then when you’re going to the pool store, you can tell them; this is kind of what I like.  What is so important to one person might not even be on the radar of someone else.”

The design or shape of the pool will also depend on intended use.  If you want to swim laps all day, rectangular is the way to go.  If you want to host neighborhood or family gatherings with games and splashing, consider other shapes and depths.  (Above ground pools don’t provide deep and shallow ends.)

Cost.  A soft-sided, above ground pool from a big box store can cost $200 to $800.  Harrison said.  “If you took those same types of dimensions and decided on steel or aluminum sides, you’re probably talking $2,000 to $6,000 or $7,000, depending on the quality, the pattern of the lining, things like that.”

Go in-ground and the sky’s the limit.  Custom concrete can be built to any design or shape.  “You can have bar stools in it, an island, a waterfall, all that stuff”, Harrison said.  “On in-grounds you can go $15,000 to $200,000.”

Beware of additional costs such as a deck and fence. “Somebody comes to us and said they want a $30,000 pool, they have to realize you’ll have to double that for the walkway and rock and all that, “Harrison said.  “When you’re considering and aboveground, it’s the price of the pool, put it up and there you go.  An in-ground, you’re paying tens of thousands for somebody to come in and dig up the yard.  Then you need brick work, landscaping, and the deck.  You have to think of it as a total yard make-over.  There are a lot more elements to in-ground pools.  Fencing kind of gives people a heart attack.  They figure they call the fence guy because they have an acre and a half, and he tells them it’s another $12,000.”

 

Construction.  An above ground pool can be set up in a few hours if youo have capable help and have done the necessary preparation.  Tome frames for in-ground pool can vary from one to three weeks (vinyl-lined), to two weeks (fiberglass) to up to we weeks (concrete).

Life  expectenancy.  Above ground pools can last 10 or 15 years or more; their liners will need replacement in 6 to 10 years, depending on use, care and climate.  In-ground pools have longer life spans.  A vinyl liner mat have to be replaces in 10 years; a concrete pool is durable and can last for decades.  If you live in an earthquake-prone area, fiberglass may be a better choice because it has some give.

Safety.  This is one area people overlook.  Above-ground pools, protected by gates and locks are safer when it comes to children.  In-ground pools can be made safer through technology – infrared sensors, gate alarms, locks, video cameras, etc.  But homeowners are often lax.

“If you’re in the house and there are kids and there’s a pool, you have to think every second that a kids can get in that pool,” Harrison said.  “Do most people think that way?  No, but that’s the truth.”

 

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LONG TERM FINANCIAL PLANNING

[Source:  Walt Williamson, PCAM]

The Reactions of many unit owners in homeowner associations to the news that major special assessments or loans loom on the horizon range from “a doe caught in the headlights” to anger.

On one end are those who own at common interest communities with insufficient capital reserves who wonder how they can possibly afford a major monthly increase in fees pay their share for roofs, roads, and other major common element systems – and on the other end are those who are genuinely angry and often ask “where did our money go?”

Based on experience from more than a few 3 community associations, the problem of underfunded reserves for capital repairs and replacements is going to cause, for many people, financial hardship and perhaps the inability to maintain residence at a particular property.

Unlike municipalities and states that are also short on funds for capital repairs and replacements, most community associations who have insufficient capital reserves can look to two major causes:

  1. Artificially low monthly common fees; and /or
  2. Lack of a documented plan to justify and track future capital needs.

Those who feel that keeping the monthly fee as low as possible for competitive purposes compared to other similar properties are exactly the same.  There are differences in demographics, financial resources, quality of construction, and myriad other factors that could cause significant differences.

Also, the use of thumb rules as “$1,000 per unit” and guidelines regarding “10% of the Operating Budget for reserves” are useful, but they may not address situations where the potential shortfalls are so great that possible in-house remedies are unworkable for addressing actual funding needs say within the next five to seven years.  In these cases, it is incumbent upon an association’s leadership to make all unit owners aware of the near and long-term financial outlook.  In other words – no unpleasant surprises!

In a nutshell, a document near and long-term capital needs plan consists of these components:

  1.  An inventory of each common element system (roofs, roads, decks, etc.,)
  2. Estimated current and future replacement cost for each common element and estimated remaining useful life for each element.
  3. Evaluation of current reserve policies vs. future funding needs.
  4. Adjustments to annual finding as necessary.
  5. Communication to all unit owners of possible shortfalls – well in advance!

Community associations that are 15 or more years old have one set of problems with common elements such as roads and roofs that will soon have to be repaired or replaced within the next five or so years.

Officials at newer communities, especially 55+ types, may have the problem of convincing owners that building reserves now is the right this to do when many of them scoff at projecting needs out twenty or so years from now.  Some of the new developments that have free standing units on large acreage are surprised when they find out that their reserve funding policy is woefully inadequate for road repaving twenty or so years in the future.

All should be reminded that future buyers and lending institutions have become much more interested in the financial soundness of community associations.

Recent legislation has attempted to increase transparency and access to information about the operations of homeowner associations.  Everyone who has a vested interest should become informed (and participate) in the governance process to prevent short-sighted funding decisions.

Feel free to contact Alan at Alan Barberino Real Estate, LLC at 203-265-7534 if you have any questions in reference to the above referenced article. www.BarberinoRealEstate.com

Common Interest Ownership Act

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

Source: Perlstein, Sandler & McCracken, LLC  

 www.CTCondoLaw.com

Adopting maintenance standards will encourage preventative maintenance and reduce the likelihood of losses.  If a unit fails to comply with a maintenance standard, he or she can be required to reimburse the association for any repair costs that are not covered by the master insurance policy.

The Benefit of Adopting Maintenance Standards

The Common Interest Ownership Act permits the association to adopt standards for the maintenance of unit owners.  By Adopting maintenance standards, the association can remind owners to address risks in units which, if overloaded, could cause damage to the community.  By engaging in preventative maintenance and addressing these risks, the unit owner reduced the likelihood of loss.

While the association can adopt maintenance standards, it may not have the power to actively require owners to abide by them.  Active enforcement may require an amendment to the declaration or bylaws of the association, depending on when the community was created.

Nevertheless, Subsection 47-257 (e) of the Act provides that if the association incurs an expense that is not covered by the master insurance policy because a unit owner failed to comply with a maintenance standard, it may assess that expense solely against the owner’s unit.  Thus, failing to comply with a maintenance standard does not necessarily make the unit owner responsible for the total cost of repairing any damages.  If some of the costs are covered by the master insurance policy, the owner is not responsible for those costs.  However, the owner may be held responsible for paying those costs that are not covered by available insurance proceeds, such as deductible.

To read more, visit www.CTCondolaw.com .

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 www.BarberinoRealEstate.com 

 phone: 203-269-0284

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