Taken at Rodeo Drive
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Taken at Ralph Lauren
- The Value of a Home
- Real Estate Headlines for Almost the End of October
- Lawn & Garden Month: Clean Up That Yard! [Gift Card Giveaway]
- College Football Rankings By Home Price (INFOGRAPHIC)
- Hey Case-Shiller It's Not the End of the Real Estate World
- Coldwell Banker and Funny or Die Launch "The Truth"
- My Real Estate Top Ten Movie List
- Welcome to Coldwell Banker Blue Matter
- State By State Housing Market Infographic
- Buyer Bonus Sales Event Extends Benefit of Home Buyer Tax Credit
- Weekend Real Estate Recap from Blue Matter | Coldwell Banker Blue Matter: [...] castle from HBO’s Game ...
- Weekend Real Estate Recap from Blue Matter | Coldwell Banker Blue Matter: [...] homes featured in each of the...
- Outstanding Home in a Drama Series: Homeland | Coldwell Banker Blue Matter: [...] final Emmy nominated drama se...
- Outstanding Home in a Drama Series: Downton Abbey « Carter's Blog: [...] Outstanding Home in a Drama S...
- Outstanding Home in a Drama Series: Boardwalk Empire | Coldwell Banker Blue Matter: [...] next home we nominate from te...
- Jan Sherman: Coldwell Banker gets an A+ for ch...
america android california chicago cities coldwell banker college towns community decor family florida Forbes headlines home home buying home improvement home listing report home prices homes home values house Housing illinois infographic innovation ipad iphone Jim Gillespie lifestyle luxury march madness mobile moving new jersey On Location real estate retirement summer survey technology towns value of a home video website youtube
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
Blue Matter [bloo mat-er]
The part of the brain that thinks about real estate.
- Decorating Your Home with Augmented Reality
- Monster of the Midway Joins Big Blue
- Real Estate Headlines for the End of July and Start of August
- 9 Overlooked Items to Prep Your Home for Sale
- Weekend Real Estate Recap from Blue Matter
- Outstanding Home in a Drama Series: Homeland
- Where US Olympic Athletes Call Home
- Here’s to Vacation Homes
- Outstanding Home in a Drama Series: Game of Thrones
- Outstanding Home in a Drama Series: Boardwalk Empire
- @TheRealLockhart Would be happy to dicuss with you. Best way to reach you? about an hour ago
- Decorating Your Home with Augmented Reality http://t.co/GjuPU4V1 #homedecor about 2 hours ago
- We need your help with a topic for our blog! Check out our Facebook page for details! http://t.co/tdZVQJzQ about 2 hours ago
- List of the ultra-luxurious, mega-properties currently for sale in the US + more in this week's RE headlines http://t.co/CLzneZ6I about 3 hours agoGet Blue Matter in Your Email
Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC on Facebook
Decorating Your Home with Augmented Reality.
Who is going to the @CoachTomFerry #Summit next week? Don't miss the TOM X day as I am one of the speakers.
Who is going to the @CoachTomFerry #Summit next week? Don't miss the TOM X day as I am one of the speakers.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Home prices nationwide have hit a bottom, and home values are finally on the rise.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home prices hit a bottom and are finally bouncing back, according to an industry report released Tuesday.
Nationwide, home values rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter, the first annual increase since 2007, real estate listing site Zillow reported. Prices were up 2.1% from the first quarter.
Even though June marked the fourth consecutive month of home value increases, overall home prices are still down almost 24% since April 2007, when Zillow began to track home values.
"[I]t seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values," said Zillow's chief economist Stan Humphries. "The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own."
Last winter, Zillow projected that the housing market turnaround would not arrive until the end of the year.
Other home price indexes have also recorded gains lately, including the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. In it latest release, it reported that home prices in 20 major markets rose 1.3% in April, the first monthly increase in seven months.
Zillow uses a different methodology in calculating home values than other home price indexes like Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Sales of foreclosed, bank-owned properties, for example, are not factored into Zillow's data. Zillow does include short sales, however, which are more difficult to distinguish from conventional sales.
"Our index is geared to consumers, conventional sellers deciding whether they want to put their homes on the market," said Humphries.
The indexes that include foreclosures in their market data show larger price declines. The peak-to-trough drop for the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, for example, is about 34% compared with Zillow's 24%.
Fewer than one third of the 167 metro areas Zillow surveyed recorded annual increases in home values, but the size of the price gains in these areas more than offset the losses posted by the remaining two-thirds of the markets.
In Phoenix, the biggest gainer, home values soared 12.1% year-over-year to a median of $136,200. Meanwhile, the biggest loss sustained by any of the 30 largest metro areas was in Chicago where median home values fell 5.8% to $158,600.
Foreclosures remain one of the biggest risks to the housing market recovery, Humphries said. In the wake of the national foreclosure settlement which clarified how banks can legally pursue foreclosures, Humphries expects the pace of foreclosures to pick up.
"That will translate to more homes on the market," he said. "But we think demand will rise to absorb that."
Zillow expects the housing market to continue to slowly recover, with median home values projected to climb 1.1% -- relatively flat -- over the next 12 months.
Beaten down markets like Phoenix, Las Vegas and many Florida cities, will likely record greater-than-average gains over the next 12 months, said Humphries.
The results in those places, however, will be bumpy. Home price increases will cause some homeowners who have been patiently waiting for values to rebound to put their homes on the market. And those additional listings could cool prices for a while, resulting in a staircase effect with "price spikes followed by plateaus," said Humphries.
Home values rise for the first time in five years - CNNMoney
Despite the collapse of real estate prices, it’s no big surprise some homes are still on the market for mindblowing amounts. Today, i have compiled a list to take a closer look at some of the mega-properties (most expensive homes) for sale in the market in America right now.
Fleur de Lys Mansion, Los Angeles, CA -This is inspired by a French chateaux, Suzanne Saperstein’s , 12 bed, 15 bath manse touts a ballroom that fits 200 guests, two kitchens, staff quarters for 10 people, a 50-seat theater, a 9-car garage and a 3/4 quarter mile jogging track. (List Price: $125 million, House Size: 35,000 sq. ft)
One57 Penthouses, New York, NY - 2 palatial penthouses in Manhattan, windows overlooking Central Park
List Price: $115 million for top-floor penthouse and $105 million for Winter Garden penthouse
Condo Sizes: 10,920 sq. ft. for top-floor; 13,550 sq. ft. for Winter garden
The Beverly House, Beverly Hills, CA
List Price: $95 million
Monthly Rent Price: $600,000
Listed With: Jeff Hyland of Hilton & HylandHouse
Size: 50,000 plus sq. ft.
Woolworth Mansion, New York, NY
List Price: $90 million
Listed With: Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens
Townhouse Size: 20,000 sq. ft.
Rancho Dos Pueblos, Santa Barbara, CA (List Price: $84 million, Listed With: Kerry Mormann & Associates, Property Size: 2,175 acres)
Bradbury Estate, Bradbury, CA (List Price: $78.8 million, Listed With: Hurwitz James Company, Size: 47,182 sq. ft.)
Ritz Carlton Penthouse, New York, NY (Listing Price: $77.5 Million, Listed With: Kyle Blackmon of Brown Harris Stevens, Condo Size: 10,900 sq. ft.)
Tranquility Estate, Zephyr Cove, NV (List Price: $75 million, Listed With: Shari Chase of Chase International, House Size: 38,000 sq. ft.)
1220 South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach, FL (List Price: $74 million, Listed With: Jim McCann of Corcoran Group, House Size: 20,129 sq. ft.)
Versailles, Windermere, FL (List Price: $65 million as is, construction unfinished; $90 million construction finished, Listed With: Lorraine Barrett of Florida Ranch Lands, House Size: 90,000 sq. ft.)
Parc Cinq Penthouse, New York, NY (List Price: $65 million, Listed With: Corcoran Group, Co-op Size: 12,000 sq. ft.)
Holmby Hills Estate, Los Angeles, CA (List Price: $65 million, Listed With: Loren Judd of Coldwell Banker Previews International)
The Mark Penthouse, New York, NY (List Price: $60 million, Listed With: Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, Condop Size: 9,800 sq. ft.)
Time Warner Center Penthouse, New York, NY (List Price: $60 million, Listed With: Elizabeth Sample and Brenda Powers of Sotheby’s International Realty, Condo Size: 4,000 sq. ft.)
Casa Sin Nombre, Palm Beach, FL (List Price: $59 million, Listed With: Christie’s International Real Estate, House Size: 23,000 sq. ft.)
Water Mill Mansion-Estate, Water Mill, NY (List Price: $58.5 million, Listed With: Sotheby’s International Realty, House Size: 20,000 sq. ft.)
7292 Exotic Gardens, Cambria, CA (List Price: $58 million, Listed With: Coastal Properties, House Size: 32,500 sq. ft.)
Mediterranean estate, Beverly Hills, CA (List Price: $57.5 million, Listed With: Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker Previews International and Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency, House Size: 30,000 sq. ft.)
Stone Mansion, Alpine, NJ (List Price: $56 million, Listed With: Dennis McCormack of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, House Size: 30,000 sq. ft.)
1215 Laurel lane, Beverly Hills, CA (List Price: $55 million, Co-Listed With: Jade Mills and Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker Previews International and Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency, House Size: 27,163 sq. ft.)
Hana Ranch, Hana, HI (List Price: $55 million, Listed With Island Sotheby’s International Realty, Size: 4,500 acres)
The Villa Contenta, Malibu, CA (List Price: $54 million, Monthly Rental Price: $145,000, Listed With: Chris Cortazzo of Coldwell Banker Previews International, House Size: 20,000 sq. ft.)
Aspen Valley Ranch, Woody Creek, CO (List Price: $52 million, Listed With: Joshua & Co., Size: 813 acres)
3 Indian Creek, Miami, FL (List Price: $52 million, Listed With: The Jills of Coldwell Banker Previews International, House Size: 30,000 sq. ft.)
You may also like -
Availability of finance holds key to a successful 2012 for UK hotel sectorAn improved outlook for the UK's hotel sector into 2012 will depend largely on the availability of debt to fund hotel transactions and to ...
List of Top 10 Best U.S. Cities where People planning to buy new homesIn the midst of the real estate and financial crisis, there are many U.S. Cities where People planning to buy new homes, here is ...
Specialty e-shops: Members-Only Shopping Sites, redefining the luxury shopping experienceHautelook.com- Where you will discover thousands of the top fashion and lifestyle brands at amazing savings. Each day at 8 AM Pacific, shop new ...
Volvo Concept You- a new luxury sedan for CEOs and executiveExecutive luxury cars are iconic, designed to inspire confidence in those who meet the driver. Earlier we released the List of World’s Top Best ...
Is Jennifer Lopez and Ojani Noa honeymoon tape- porn studios bidding war?Leading porn studios, YouPorn.com, Red Light District and PornHub.com all on war over Jennifer Lopez honeymoon tape shot way in 1997. Jennifer Lopez tried ...Tags: 1215 Laurel lane, 1220 South Ocean Boulevard, 3 Indian Creek, 7292 Exotic Gardens, Alpine, America House Prices, America Housing, Aspen Valley Ranch, Beverly Hills, Bradbury, Bradbury Estate, CA, Cambria, Casa Sin Nombre, FL, Fleur de Lys Mansion, French chateaux, Hana, Hana Ranch, HI, Holmby Hills Estate, House Prices America, Los Angeles, luxuryhome, Malibu, Mediterranean estate, Miami, Most Expensive Houses, Most Expensive Houses America, Most Expensive Houses For Sale, Most Expensive Houses For Sale America, New York, NJ, NV, NY, One57 Penthouses, Palm Beach, Parc Cinq Penthouse, Rancho Dos Pueblos, Ritz Carlton Penthouse, Santa Barbara, Stone Mansion, Suzanne Saperstein, The Beverly House, The Mark Penthouse, The Villa Contenta, Time Warner Center Penthouse, Tranquility Estate, Versailles, Water Mill, Water Mill Mansion-Estate, Windermere, Woody Cree, Woolworth Mansion, Zephyr Cove
Todd Aitken15 years experience in journalism and media, with emphasis on editing, technology, project management, and design. He is a writer based in Washington, attended DePauw University and is a graduate of Indiana University. He is senior scholar at Creighton University for European Vision and Values.
Ultra-Luxurious Home, Mega-Properties For Sale In American Luxury Real Estate Market.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Today's Coldwell Banker Open Houses in This Weekend's VIEW is Online Now!
If this message does not display properly, CLICK HERE to view it in your web browser
After five long years of a housing recession, U.S. home values have reached a bottom, according to Zillow’s second quarter Real Estate Market Reports, which were released today.
U.S. home values logged their first annual increase since 2007, rising 0.2 percent over the past year. Nearly one-third of metros covered by the Zillow reports showed annual increases in home values.
There appears to be good news on the horizon as well. The Zillow Home Value Forecast shows values will increase in two-fifths of markets over the coming year, with the biggest increases in the Phoenix and Miami markets, where home values are predicted to rise 9.9 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.
“After four months with rising home values and increasingly positive forecast data, it seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own.”
Five Years After the Bubble Burst, Home Values Have Reached a Bottom | Zillow Blog
Taken at Beverly Hills Farmers Market
Holmby Hills seeks annexation by Beverly Hills over potholes
Posh Holmby Hills' streets are pocked with potholes. Rather than wait for help from the strapped city of Los Angeles, residents want to hook up with Beverly Hills.
Holmby Hills resident William Fleischman shows where a traffic cone warns of a large hole in the street surface on North Faring Road in Holmby Hills. “Holmby Hills pays millions of dollars to Los Angeles in property taxes, and we’re getting back thousands of dollars in services,” he said. (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times / July 23, 2012)By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2012, 7:16 p.m.
When he drives his 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser to work, William Fleischman can tell if the streets he's navigating are in Los Angeles (bumpety-bumpety) or Beverly Hills (smooth). Among the worst, he says, are the roads just beyond his gated driveway in Holmby Hills, a posh L.A. enclave north of Sunset Boulevard.
Along Carolwood Drive, Faring Road and Brooklawn Drive, tree roots have buckled the concrete pavement. Cracks are visible. An orange cone alerts motorists to an 18-inch-square hole filled four inches deep with water.
Frustrated by the sad state of the streets, Fleischman earlier this month asked the Beverly Hills City Council to consider annexing the 40 or so members of the Holmby Hills Homeowners Assn. north of Sunset and east of Beverly Glen Boulevard. Fleischman said he took the step after residents hailed the idea at a May meeting and the board authorized him to look into it.
"Holmby Hills pays millions of dollars to Los Angeles in property taxes, and we're getting back thousands of dollars in services," said Fleischman, 66, a lawyer who owns a Century City investment firm.
In Los Angeles, potholes are equal-opportunity annoyers and tire-busters. The cash-strapped city said it repairs about 250,000 potholes annually in sectors poor and rich.
Whether behind the wheel or on foot, residents find the road conditions treacherous. Lauren King, president of the homeowners association, broke her foot on Brooklawn at Angelo Drive when she stepped into what she described as "a crater."
Paul Kanin, who owns the house where his son lives in Holmby Hills, recently blew the right front tire of his Audi A6 after plowing into a pothole near the intersection of Greendale Drive and North Faring Road, near Brooklawn. He waited just minutes for an auto club truck to respond to his call. The driver, Kanin said, told him: "Brooklawn is a gold mine for us. We're in the area regularly."
Some of the concrete streets still bear the 1926 Janss Investment Co. stamps. Concrete streets are much more difficult and costly to repair than asphalt-covered roads.
The city plans repairs years in advance.
"The Bureau of Street Services recognizes the need for street resurfacing in Holmby Hills and in neighborhoods across Los Angeles," said Richard Lee, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. "While we sympathize with the concerns of neighbors .... the city wants to make sure it is spending taxpayer money wisely."
In the most recent fiscal year, Los Angeles earmarked $146 million, or 2% of the city budget, to repair and repave roads. Sewer projects and private construction in Holmby Hills have kept the bureau from tackling some deterioration, Lee said, but engineers aim to "address the entire portfolio of streets needing resurfacing within the next four years and the neediest streets in the next two years."
That is not soon enough for many residents.
Leaving the city of L.A., however, would be no easy matter, said Murray D. Fischer, an attorney who has consulted with Fleischman. Fischer said Holmby Hills residents might instead consider raising private funds to fix the roads.
"It's hard to imagine the city of L.A. would give up that kind of tax value," he said of Holmby Hills' proposal to join Beverly Hills.
Moreover, at least one Beverly Hills council member is not keen on the annexation idea. "I'm very opposed to it," John Mirisch said. "I understand people would like to have our services — the kinds of roads we have, the police and fire response. But extending the borders is not the solution."
Beverly Hills spends about $2.6 million yearly maintaining its streets.
Holmby Hills is the third leg of the so-called platinum triangle that includes Beverly Hills and the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Subdivided in the 1920s, Holmby Hills was billed by the Janss Investment Co. as "the ultimate in real estate development," with gently rolling hills ideal for estates.
Among residents north of Sunset is real estate magnate-philanthropist Donald Bren. The late philanthropist Frederick R. Weisman's art collection is housed in a villa there. In February, the home of soap opera producer and writer Bradley Bell and his wife, Colleen, was the setting for a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser for President Obama.
("Lower Holmby," the portion south of Sunset, and home to Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion, is not included in the annexation proposal.)
Fleischman said he realizes that, in a city with crushing deficits, Holmby Hills residents risk seeming like "spoiled brats."
But he said he's serious about his annexation proposal, "our only option after 20 years of frustration," he said.
Holmby Hills seeks annexation by Beverly Hills over potholes - latimes.com
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Judge blocks UCLA's proposed sale of Japanese garden in Bel-Air
A court ruling says the sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden would violate UCLA's 1964 agreement with the garden's donors to maintain it in perpetuity.
Bel-Air resident Michael Rich takes in the beauty of the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. The university planned to sell the garden amid steep budget cuts, but a judge recently blocked the proposed sale after Carter's family filed suit. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times / January 18, 2012)By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2012
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday ordered a temporary halt to UCLA's proposed sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air.
In granting a preliminary injunction, Judge Lisa Hart Cole said UC regents had contractually agreed to maintain the garden in perpetuity.
UCLA said it would instruct its real estate broker to postpone the opening of any bids for the garden and an adjoining house and would consider its legal options. The opening of bids had been planned for August.
"We're disappointed by the judge's ruling," said Kevin Reed, UCLA's vice chancellor for legal affairs. "This will be a setback with respect to the sale."
In November, the university announced its intention to auction the two acres containing a Georgian Colonial house on Siena Way and the garden on Bellagio Road. The university set the minimum bid prices at $9 million for the residence and $5.7 million for the garden.
The garden was donated by Edward W. Carter, a retailing magnate and former chairman of the UC Board of Regents, and his second wife, Hannah Locke Carter, under a 1964 agreement that the university would maintain the garden in perpetuity. In 1982, the parties agreed that proceeds from the sale of the house would be used to create an endowment for the garden, as well as to fund certain professorships and, possibly, scholarships and fellowships.
In May, Carter's heirs filed suit seeking to stop the garden sale. In her ruling, Cole said they had a reasonable probability of prevailing in court.
She also said at an earlier hearing that the university had behaved in a "duplicitous" manner by failing to notify Carter's heirs in 2010 when the regents petitioned the Alameda County Superior Court for permission to sell the garden.
UCLA was facing steep budget cuts when it decided to sell the garden.
"The university believes that resources are best directed toward our academic mission," said spokesman Phil Hampton, "and not toward a garden that serves no teaching or research purpose."
Judge blocks UCLA's proposed sale of Japanese garden in Bel-Air - latimes.com
Friday, July 27, 2012
America's Most Expensive ZIP CodesEdited by Francesca Levy, 09.27.10, 05:00 PM EDT
In these neighborhoods $4 million homes are the norm.
Los Angeles has always been home to some of the world's most expensive real estate. But forget Beverly Hills, 90210: The new hot spot for multimillion-dollar mansions is Duarte, 91008.
Duarte, Calif., home to the 91008 ZIP code, is a small suburb northeast of downtown LA, near the Los Angeles national forest. The median cost of a house in this tony town is a whopping $4,276,462, making it the most expensive housing market in the country. It ranks No. 1 on Forbes' annual ranking of America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes. More...
By the Numbers
The Country's Priciest ZIPs
In these neighborhoods, $4 million homes are the norm.
Also in Real EstateFrancesca LevyAmenity-laden properties at the top of the market continue to command just as lofty prices.
Francesca LevyUltra-high-end homes are on the market for tens of millions in Door County, Wis., and other unexpected spots. What are they doing there?
Francesca LevyA new study reveals the cities that cost the most for foreign-based companies and individuals.
VideoInside Alpine's $68 Million Home
Kamson CEO Richard Kurtz sells his luxury estate in America's fourth most expensive zip code.
$150 Million Celebrity Castle
Inside America's most expensive home located near Hollywood.
San Francisco's Penthouse Palace
The 20,000 square foot property is largest newly constructed condo on the market.
Sneak Peak Of Billionaire's New Mansion
A look at Carlos Slim's new $44 million dollar Fifth Avenue mansion.
Previous ListsCrib NotesFrancesca LevyHousing Market and Luxury Real Estate News
America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes - Beverly Hills, California 90210 is #6
Thursday, July 26, 2012
6 Hidden Costs of Home Ownership - and How to Handle Them10
They say humans are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. But as we get older, we learn to be afraid of lots of other things, from snakes to radio show hosts on the other end of the political spectrum from ourselves. (I kid. Sort of.)
But seriously, one of the biggest, learned fears of home buyers and home owners, old and new, is the fear of unpredictability in our home-related expenses, whether it be an unexpected one-time repair or just a trickle of little, monthly costs we didn’t account for.
The fortunate thing about this particular set of fears is that you can unlearn them by getting educated about the common surprise costs that arise and managing them systematically. Here’s a how to do just that:
1. Property tax increases. So, you got a 30-year-fixed home loan, and you set up an impound account with your bank so as not to have to worry about paying big lump sums for your property taxes twice a year. Fact is, the day could still come where you get a note from the bank advising you that your payment is going to go up - because your property taxes have increased! Property taxes are based on your home’s value, so as the value of your home rises, your property taxes will likely also go up over time.
Talk with your mortgage professional about how homes are reassessed for tax purposes in your area: how often they are reassessed, when, and whether there are any limits on how much your taxes can go up in a given year. Understanding how tax increases work and what their limits are allows you to predict and project your worst case scenarios in terms of extra costs, years in advance. It also helps to know that in a down market, your homes value - and property taxes - can also decrease, and to know that your property taxes are deductible on your income tax return. So, if you do have increases, you’ll have a corresponding tax break.
2. Utilities. Garbage, gas, water - these all cost money, something that’s easy to forget when your landlord is covering them. But when you own a home, you also own these bills. During the buying process, it can be very difficult to predict exactly how much these bills will run. Your best bet is to ask the seller if they will kindly provide you with copies or at least the amounts of their recent utility bills, so that you can have some sort of basis in reality for your own budget and spending plan. Also, it’s not a terrible idea, once you own the place, to go through and do an energy audit to find places where you can stop leaks of heat, cool air and water, and otherwise put a cap on those utility bills.
3. Unexpected repairs. Obviously, the reason we get disclosures and inspections and such is to minimize the likelihood of buying a lemon of a home - and minimize the spectre of unexpected repair costs. Your first line of defense at managing these costs is the one-two punch you have to execute during escrow: (1) reading your disclosures and inspection reports and getting repair bids for any issues that arise therein, and (2) obtaining a home warranty to cover things that arise later on.
Most people get #2 right, but don’t pay as much attention to disclosure and inspection report follow-up as they should. The other common fail is that people allow their home warranty to expire after a year, rather than paying the annual renewal fee (new home owners: expect to see this in the mail 10 or 11 months after closing). Don’t fall into either of these pitfalls: if you own a home long enough, chances are good that you’ll eventually have some unexpected need for a repair come up, whether it’s a plumbing snafu or a roof leak. Keep a handle on your home repair bills by keeping a home warranty in place, and keeping your home’s systems well maintained (see #6 on this list).
Beyond that, stay smart about your financial planning by diligently saving so you have funds to tap into in an emergency, and by making informed decisions about your insurance policies (e.g., exploring flood or earthquake insurance if you live in an area where these are common hazards). Ask your home owners insurance provider to brief you on what is and isn’t covered, to be sure you’re not unduly exposed to repair costs if bad things happen.
4. HOA dues increases. If you choose to buy a home in a Home Owner’s Association (HOA), you’ll be given a number of disclosures about what the HOA dues are during escrow, so the dues themselves should be no surprise. What can come as a surprise, though, is the fact that dues can go up over time - sometimes in relatively shorter order. I’d encourage you not to skim lightly over what may seem like the least important of the HOA documents you’ll receive: the newsletters and board meeting minutes. You might expect them to be full of minutae like stories about Mrs. Cranston’s rogue tabby cat - and indeed you might find that in there - but you’re also likely to find discussions of proposed HOA dues increases far in advance of them being enacted, as well as discussions about major building or complex repairs and upgrades that need to happen and how they will be paid for.
The other thing you can and should do to avoid getting blindsided by an increase in your HOA dues is to simply be a present and active participant in your HOA, including attending board meetings, sitting on the board or simply building relationships with your neighbors. The board makes many decisions which impact the HOA dues and assessments that will be levied on all members. So getting yourself on or in the room with the Board puts you that much closer to the power position for managing your dues.
I only have anecdotal evidence on this point, but I believe strongly that HOAs where the members have close interpersonal relationships are HOAs where the members are much less likely to default on their dues - even if they default on their mortgages! Associations nationwide have been plagued by high rates of dues default since the start of the recession, and when one or five or eight members default repeatedly, everyone else’s dues are likely to be raised to cover the shortage. Having your neighbor over for coffee on occasion or watering their plants while they travel boosts your chances of keeping a handle on your HOA dues and are just nice neighborly things to do - if they help keep a lid on your costs of homeownership, too? All the better.
5. Special assessments. There are two types of special assessments for homeowners. The first are assessments imposed by the City, County or State on top of your property taxes, to pay for things like street lighting, parks, first responder agencies and to help the schools out - these are often imposed after a city or district-wide vote, which helps you predict for them. If you’re planning to buy a home, often the seller’s tax bill - which you can get from them or even, in most areas, on the county tax assessor’s website - will list the existing special assessments separately from the property taxes, so you can know how to budget for them.
The second type are assessments imposed on HOA members when the building or complex needs a major repair that the HOA has insufficient funds saved up for, or a large, unexpected repair needs to be made. For example, I know of a number of California HOAs that imposed special assessments to replace the buildings’ roofs when many insurance companies stopped covering buildings with wood shake roofs.
Again, staying involved with your HOA and board helps keep you apprised and avoid being completely shocked by special assessments, but it also behooves buyers of homes in HOAs to look carefully over the HOA financials, including their reserve account statements and their plans for maintaining the buildings over the years. Many HOAs do a great job of planning to replace roofs, windows, private roads and walkways years in advance - and saving up for these projects - to minimize the chances of having to make surprise special assessments. And others, well, don’t.
6. Basic maintenance. When I bought my current home I gutted it to the studs and remodeled it completely, including all new appliances and systems,so I haven’t had to do many fixes on broken things - knock wood. Yet and still, every year, Spring rolls around and I end up spending a nice chunk of change just keeping the place in tip top shape, from having the gutters and carpets cleaned, to having the windows and exterior power washed, to having my backyard (known affectionately by my friends as Jurassic Park) weeded and the paint touched up inside and out. Being aggressive about maintaining your home on an ongoing basis allows you to avoid bigger, scary repair bills later on - but it does cost.
The only way I know to manage these costs are to plan for them - I keep a running spreadsheet of little fixes, touch-ups and mini-upgrades (e.g., putting in a dimmer, etc.) I want to do to my home. That allows me to plan and budget for them all year round, so that it’s fun and exciting when the time rolls around to do them. Some maintenance costs, like pest control, may be available on a monthly contract with your vendor, making them much more predictable. Finally, these are costs that are well-suited to being minimized by a little DIY weekend work - if you’re so inclined and you have the time, you might be able to do these sorts of basic maintenance items yourself to keep the costs down considerably.
All: Have you ever had a surprise cost burst your home ownership bubble? What was it, and what advice would you give for avoiding hidden costs to new home owners?
6 Hidden Costs of Home Ownership - and How to Handle Them