Friday, June 1, 2018

Beginners Guide to HOAs

When you purchase a new Home in many cases you will also become a member of the community Home Owner's Association or HOA.

Most people have a general idea of the purpose of an HOA but it's important to understand that there is no one set of rules for how and HOA will operate.  There are certain legal requirements for all HOAs but be aware that individual HOAs may operate under very different rules.

Some subdivisions and most non-subdivision homes won't be governed by an HOA but before making any real estate purchase you should make sure what HOA rules may apply.  Property listings will commonly include information about HOAs and the required dues but it's wise to double check when listings state that there is NO HOA.

Once you've established that there is an HOA you need to find out how much the HOA dues are and what costs the HOA is responsible for.

In North Carolina the seller's Disclosure Statement will usually provide much of this information but the best way to be sure about the HOA rules, responsibilities and costs is to contact the HOA directly or to ask the seller to provide the necessary documentation.

HOA documentation will often be referred to as the 'CC & Rs' - that is the 'Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions'.  There will also be a set of Bylaws.  Between them these documents will outline the various responsibilities of the HOA, the rules restricting the homeowners within the HOA and the fundamentals of how the HOA is set up.

Make sure you review these documents and understand:
  1.  What if any maintenance on your lot and building the HOA is responsible for
  2.  What if any maintenance in the community your HOA is responsible for
  3.  What communal facilities are paid for by the HOA and are there any additional fees for using them
  4.  What rules and restrictions about what you can do at your home & in your yard

1.  In Townhome and Condo communities HOAs are often responsible for elements of exterior building maintenance. Make sure you understand what items are covered and which are not.

2.  Many HOAs are responsible for entryways and landscaping in common areas.

3.  Often the neighborhood pool, playground, pond etc. is the responsibility of the HOA and you have a right to use them as a member of the HOA.  However, this isn't always the case and some communal facilities have rules about who can use the facilities or even extra fees.

4.  Most HOAs have rules in place to limit and govern the appearance of the properties in the community.  They may govern what color you can paint your house, whether you can park on the street, what kind of fence you can install, holiday decor etc..  Make sure that you take time to understand these rules before buying the house.

Strong and effective HOAs can have a positive affect on your property value so once you own a
house in a neighborhood with an HOA it's a good idea to stay involved so that you can have a say in how the HOA is managed and how your money is spent.  Although many Associations hire a management company to manage their Day to Day operations the HOA Board and the HOA membership retain control over spending and making any changes to the rules. There will be annual membership meetings, members will receive an annual budget notification and you can decide to run for a position on the Board.

I hear many complaints about HOAs but there are significant benefits to living in a community where there are uniform regulations and clear rules.  When you find a house that you like it is VERY important to make sure you understand the HOA rules or the implications of not having an HOA before you buy.

If you have more specific questions about HOAs or need help deciding whether a house in an HOA subdivision is the right choice for you please get in touch.  
We have considerable experience of working with clients in many different HOAs and in subdivisions with no HOAs and are happy to help!

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Real Estate Advice, Local Knowledge & SO Much More!

Louise Norton
704 408 0733

PO Box 481487, Charlotte NC 28269

Monday, June 20, 2016

What will it cost to Sell my House?

Thinking about selling?

Here's what you should know about what you will have to pay.

These are the main items which are usually deducted from the sellers' proceeds at closing.

(You should note that there may be additional expenses - this is not an exhaustive list.)

1.  Mortgage Pay-off

If you borrowed money to buy your current house then probably the biggest cost to you when you sell will be repaying that loan.
It is common for monthly mortgage statements to include a 'current balance' showing how much you still owe on your loan.  The actual pay-off will be a little different and will probably include some fees.  You should request this information directly from your lender.

2.  Realtor Commissions

Your listing agreement will detail how much commission you will have to pay your Realtor when the house is sold.  This amount will be paid at closing from the proceeds of the sale.

3.  Attorney Fees

Attorney's prepare the paperwork and conduct the closing.  Seller's should expect to pay around $500-900.

4.  Taxes on the Sale (sometimes called Revenue Stamps)

In North Carolina you will pay $1 per $500 of the sale (rounded up to the nearest $1).  This is normally a seller cost.

5.  Property Taxes

Depending on when your property taxes are due and whether you have paid them for the year you may have to give the buyer a credit at closing toward the property taxes.
For example if bills are usually mailed at the end of the year for that year's taxes but you are moving in April then you will give the buyer a credit for the number of days you owned the property and they will pay the bill in full when they receive it later in the year.

6.  HOA

Some HOAs charge a transfer fee.

7.  Buyer Concessions

Buyers may ask the seller to contribute toward their closing costs.  This is common with first time buyers but any buyer could request this and it will be part of your negotiation.  If you agreed to pay closing costs then this will be subtracted from your proceeds at close.
Buyers may also ask you to purchase a Home Warranty and contribute to repairs and again, if you have agreed to do so this will be deducted at closing.

Being aware of the potential costs of selling your home will help you to make a good decision about whether to sell and to avoid surprises at closing.

Are you thinking about selling?
Need Helpful Advice?

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Louise Norton
704 408 0733

PO Box 481487, Charlotte NC 28269

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What to Expect at Closing?

Buying or selling a house can be a stressful experience.  There are so many things to think about!

Don't hesitate to ask your Realtor about the process.

I tell all my clients that no question is too small and that they shouldn't hesitate to ask.  

Here are some of the things which I get asked about most frequently.

Do I have to come to Closing?
  • Most of the time all of the buyers and all of the sellers will attend closing. 
  • Arrangements can be made for the closing to go ahead without you there. This may take some time to organize so make sure the Attorney knows ahead of time.

Who else will be at Closing?
  • In North Carolina the Closing transaction will usually be completed at an Attorney's office and an Attorney is responsible for co-ordinating the transaction.  
  • At a typical closing you will see the buyers, the sellers, the closing Attorney, and two sets of Real Estate Agents at the closing table.  
  • Real Estate Agents do not have to attend but usually do to offer advice and ensure that the transaction runs smoothly.  
  • You may also see other professionals represented - a representative of the lender for example.
  • There is no requirement for the buyers and sellers to be in the same room at the same time to close.

What should I bring to Closing?
  • Make sure you know ahead of time what amount of money you need to bring to closing.  Some Attorneys will require that the money is wired, others will accept a Certified Check - make sure you ask.  A personal check or envelope full of cash will not be acceptable for closing!
  • The Attorney will also need to see a photo ID so make sure you bring your driver's license.
  • If you have had a recent name change which may affect the paperwork at closing make sure the Attorney knows ahead of time so that the correct names appear on the paperwork.

How long will closing take?
  • If all parties are attending the Closing and the Buyers are using a mortgage then the closing will  take much longer than if there is a cash buyer  and the seller is closing remotely.  
  • The Attorney will usually give a brief explanation  of every piece of paperwork which needs to be  signed and in most cases buyers should expect to  spend 30-45 minutes at the closing table.  
  • Sellers usually have less paperwork to sign and their side of the transaction can be completed more quickly.

What can go wrong at closing?
  • In the vast majority of cases closing runs smoothly.  All parties to the transaction have provided all the information ahead of time and any questions about the parties or the property have been answered before you get this far. 
  • In some cases, however, a deal can fail even at this late stage. Disputes around repairs may come up or some detail about the physical property may be disclosed which should have been disclosed earlier. 
  • Careful planning and research ahead of time is always wise but it is also good to be aware that nothing is FINAL until the closing is complete and the deed recorded.

What happens after closing?
  • Even after the paperwork is signed the sale is not complete.  
  • The Attorney will still need to arrange for the deed to be recorded and commonly you should not expect to receive the keys to your new home until this is complete.  
  • After Recording is complete the keys will be released and the Attorney will disperse the various funds. Sellers should make arrangements with the Attorney to receive their funds either by check or by wire to their bank. 

All closings and all Real Estate transactions are different so make sure that you get up to date and reliable information from a Realtor as you work through your sale or purchase.

Looking for an Expert to Guide You Through 
Your Real Estate Transaction?

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Real Estate Advice, Local Knowledge & SO Much More!

Louise Norton
704 408 0733

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Local Information - Great Sources!

There's so much going on in and around Charlotte.
There are lots of wonderful places to visit along with a full calendar of events and activities.

The challenge is keeping up with what's going on and making sure you don't miss a single thing!
There are a lot of local resources I use and share to keep myself and my clients up to date with all that's happening around the area.

Here are some of my Favourites:

Charlotte's Got a Lot
Go Carolinas
Charlotte on the Cheap
Lake Norman Magazine
Charlotte Magazine
Moving to Charlotte - the Un Tourist Guide
Lake Norman Currents
Town of Davidson
Town of Huntersville
NC Travel & Tourism  
Mecklenburg Parks & Rec
Lake Norman Tourism

You can also check out my Facebook page for regular posts on local activities & fun places to visit.

Do you have a great resource that's missing from my list?  Let me know!


Call/Text/Email Any Time
Real Estate Advice, Local Knowledge & SO Much More!

Louise Norton
704 408 0733

PO Box 481487, Charlotte NC 28269

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to be the "Winning" Buyer.

If you're thinking about buying a house this spring/summer in Charlotte there's a good chance that you may have to deal with a multiple offer situation on the house you want.
Here are some tips to help you put together your best offer and be the "winner".

1.  Don't get too Invested

Finding out that you lost the house you loved and 'had to have' because the seller accepted another offer - yes that's disappointing.
I recommend that everyone be cautious about falling too much in love with your 'dream house' before your offer has been accepted.
I know it's hard but if you stay calm and realistic you are less likely to make a mistake - for example over-paying.

2.  Educate yourself

It's never too early to start looking at "For Sale" listings and getting an idea of how much you can get for your money in various neighborhoods.
Research your preferred subdivisions and then look further afield to see what else is out there which offers very similar benefits.

3.  Hire a Realtor

There is no downside to having a buyer's agent working for you.  Commissions are generally covered by the seller but your agent represents YOU.

A good professional will help you to write the strongest offer possible and will understand all the factors which might lead to your success.

4.  Get Prequalified

Without a pre-qualification letter from your lender you will not almost certainly be unsuccessful in a multiple offer situation.
Talk to some lenders early - find out what you can borrow and who you want to work with before you start looking at houses.

5.  Plan your Move

If you have a house to sell or you're locked into a lease then you will need to consider how that will factor into your purchase.  An offer which is contingent on a sale will not be as strong as one that isn't.

You may want to explore selling your current home and even moving into temporary accommodation so that you are in a stronger position when you make an offer on your new place.

Price is not the only factor a seller will consider in deciding which offer to accept - timeframe can also be a key component in their decision making.

6. Don't Leave Anything on the Table

If you make an offer on a property in a popular neighborhood make sure you make your strongest offer.

Often sellers will come back to the pool of buyers and ask for "Highest and Best" offers.  However it's important to know that they don't have to so if you don't submit your best offer at the start you may lose out.

Think about the financials and the relevant dates - a quick close or a short due diligence period may also be attractive to the sellers.

6. Put your Best Foot Forward

You may want to consider writing the seller a letter to accompany your offer - telling them how much you love their house and why you think you would be the right buyer.

These personal touches can be a factor particularly when there are several quite similar offers.

7. Be Ready to Move on

Don't stop looking when you make an offer.  Stay aware of what other properties are coming to market so that if you are unsuccessful you can put your efforts into the next opportunity.

Thinking about Buying, Need Guidance?

Call/Email/Text - Any Time!

Louise Norton
704 408 0733

PO Box 481487, Charlotte NC 28269
You can also find me on Facebook 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Satisfied Clients throughout the Charlotte Metro Area

Completed Transactions
Check out this map which shows all our transactions.

As you can see Charlotte and the Lake Real Estate works throughout the Charlotte Metro area from Kannapolis & Cornelius to South Charlotte and beyond.

Whether you're buying or selling it's always important to use a professional Realtor with plenty of recent experience.

How can Charlotte and the Lake Real Estate help you?

Call/Email/Text - Any Time!

Louise Norton
704 408 0733

You can also find me on Facebook 

Favorite Neighborhoods - Oakhurst, Cornelius

Finding a more convenient location than Oakhurst in Cornelius would be challenging!

This community is close to everything it seems!

Just a couple of miles from Birkdale, minutes from shopping at exit 25 and only a short hop to Lake Norman - how much better could it get?

.... But there's more ! - Oakhurst boasts its own shopping center, community park and swimming pool!

Everything is walkable within Oakhurst - there are sidewalks throughout.  You can even walk to a restaurant (131 Main) coffee shop (Charlie's) and pub (Cork and Cask) right there in the community.   

There are various home types in Oakhurst. 

Single level condos, two and three story townhomes, and single family homes all coming together to provide a great mix!

Prices start in the lower $100s for condos, mid $100s for town homes and go up into the mid $200s for single family homes.  

 Truly there's something here for everyone!

Would you like more information about this Neighorhood?

Call/Email/Text - Any Time!

Louise Norton
704 408 0733

You can also find me on Facebook