When we first moved to the Dallas area, we were surprised by how many subdivisions had homes where there were no driveways placed in the front of the house. Instead, homes back up to each other where an alley is used to access driveways and for the garbage trucks on garbage day. After almost four years in DFW, I am still not a fan of alleys behind homes, but it does present a nicer looking street when you see absolutely no cars parked down an entire block. Unfortunately as families get bigger, homeowners are forced to park some cars in front of the house as kids reach driving age and more cars are needed. If you do end up picking a neighborhood where garages are in the backs of the homes, here are some tips to help.
If you absolutely love the house, then these things might not matter, but go into your purchase with eyes wide open knowing the little things that may become big things after living there a few years.
The first time I heard the word “fungible” was in my college economics class. Fungible was one of those concepts that stuck with me because it seemed like such an odd word for what it really meant. There is nothing “fun” about something being fungible. It means something can be easily substituted – easily replaced with something of relatively equal value. If the gasoline at Costco is just as good as the gasoline at Chevron, but it’s $0.10 cheaper, most people will line up at Costco. Most people treat not only the brand of gasoline as fungible but even the grade of gasoline, putting regular in their cars when the engine may perform better on premium fuel. Too often many home buyers and sellers see real estate agents as fungible.
Real estate doesn’t allow you to go through a transaction 3 times with 3 different agents
The problem is particularly acute in real estate, because there are so many people with real estate licenses, and in a hot market where homes can easily sell themselves, people would just use their brother, sister, or cousin to sell their home. The extra benefits or slightly better sales price a more experienced agent “could have garnered” is minimized, because the general view is that agents get too much anyway for the amount of work they do. Real estate doesn’t allow you to go through a transaction 3 times with 3 different agents to see which scenario turns out the best.
Just recently I was working with a person who wanted to buy a newly built home. Her credit needed work and she needed to save money to get the down payment. After courting this buyer for several months (who assured me she was buying alone and not working with another Realtor®), I found out that she went ahead and tried to purchase the new home with two other buyers, listing another Realtor as their agent. My guess was that one of the other two buyers convinced her to use the name of another agent – maybe a family friend or someone that promised them other incentives. While I’ll never know the exact reason, the outcome was the same. I was considered fungible. My new home services are probably not matched by many agents in Texas, but that didn’t matter. The three buyers on the contract simply replaced me with another agent. I was substituted – my services were not deemed valuable enough to the three buyers, or at least two of them. This happens all the time especially with buyers who see agents as disposable at the first sign of trouble in the home buying process. Any hiccup they see is the fault of the agent, and they immediately look to find another one. Luckily, not everyone does this, but it happens more than you would think.
LESSONS FOR HOMEBUYERS
Stop using just anybody to purchase or sell a home. Interview agents and ask hard questions. Find out which agent is the most qualified and best fit for your personality. If the most qualified person doesn’t listen or acknowledge your spouse, or seem demeaning, find another agent.
You can’t spend 7 days to look for a home you’ll live in for 7 years.
Have patience and value relationships. Deciding to pick another agent because your current one was out of town for the weekend after showing you homes for 6 months is disingenuous. A trustworthy and qualified agent brings a good balance to discussions on why that dream home may not be so perfect. When home buyers get FOLP (fear of losing property) the buyer rep agent is often left with an angry buyer, an upset seller and listing agent, and no commission. There truly are multiple homes that will meet most buyers’ needs if the first choice is taken, but home buying requires patience. You can’t spend 7 days to look for a home you’ll live in for 7 years.
Value specialization and geography. If you want to buy a high-rise condo in the Post Oak area of Houston and your agent lives in a Post Oak condo, selling high-rise condos for the past ten years, you probably should use them to find you a place. If you’re buying a newly constructed home, find a new home specialist. If you’re buying beachfront property, find an agent that works almost exclusively with properties near (and on) the water.
Understand that working with a good real estate agent and sticking to their advice can pay dividends long after you’ve closed on your home. Savvy homebuyers that realize this have an agent on their life team just like a lawyer or a primary care doctor. That agent will help guide them through all kinds of real estate related issues and may even find a house for the buyer’s son or daughter years later.
Shiny things do get dull. Listen and ask questions. While it’s easy to get focused on the prettiest house, it’s critical to understand the other factors that help you avoid a money pit. And if the house is right, did you listen when your agent said there could be a mall built right down the street from the neighborhood you love, and traffic will triple in the next 5 years. There is so much more to consider than just the house. Even financially, buyers will purchase a home knowing that it will stretch them, only to lose the house 5 years later as taxes go up or other life events happen.
LESSONS FOR REAL ESTATE AGENTS - WHAT CAN WE DO BETTER?
Be honest about your specialty. Having a large circle of friends and family does not automatically qualify a person as a top real estate agent. But with the barrier of entry to real estate being so low, the industry is super-competitive. This leads to agents competing for every single deal even when they may have little to no experience in selling certain types of property. My wish for agents is to focus on being more specialized which brings more credibility to the industry. Trying to chase every deal over every area of the city spreads the agent’s time and expertise too thin, ultimately leading to unhappy buyers and sellers when deals fall through. Agents focused on certain types of property in a well-defined area, will tend to be able to better navigate through problems they see all the time.
Set better expectations with your buyers. Don’t promise a flawless transaction when so many variables are outside of your control. You don’t control the seller, their agent, the inspector, the mortgage lender, or the closing officer. Tell your buyers the problems you anticipate and the path around them. Good agents that have developed a good rapport with their buyer tend to have less lash back when things go wrong. An agent with tons of expertise but no personality will immediately get the blame when things go wrong.
The transaction doesn’t end at closing. The best agents will continue to provide value long after the sale. Even though I have a broker’s license, the agent who sold me my home when I wasn’t practicing years ago, still calls me up a few times a year to see how things are going. I’ve used his vendor list several times to get things done on my house.
Focus on educating your clients. Even for experienced homebuyers and sellers, most people don’t buy or sell a property every month. If it’s been more than 2 years since the client did a real estate transaction, chances are things have changed in the market. There may be new forms to complete at closing, new regulations. It’s easy to get focused on getting and closing the deal to move onto the next, but most clients will appreciate the extra insight and guidance along the way, even if they don’t verbally say it.
You can’t save everyone. Some people just won’t take advice – plain and simple. Some people are going to change their mind or contradict themselves twenty times. As an agent, you’ll need to set boundaries and decide when does it make sense to not have that person as your client.
An iBuyer is the term typically used for real estate companies that offer to buy a seller’s home through a streamlined process. The advantage to the home seller is that they don’t have to keep their home on the market for months wondering when their home will sell. This is especially important for people who plan on buying another property and need the proceeds from the sold house to close on the next home. The catch is (since there always is one) the home seller may not get top dollar for their property and still have to pay a commission/service fee for the transaction. So the seller is making a tradeoff – getting a higher profit on their home sale which may require a few months versus a guaranteed sale in as short as 2-3 weeks for less money.
In crazy markets (i.e. San Francisco) where sellers get 20+ offers on their property in 48 hours, the iBuyer model is not needed right now.
Ironically, the iBuyer concept has been around for many years – go to any REI group (Real Estate Investment club) in any major city and that is exactly what many private investors have been doing for years. They offer to buy your home at a discount, in some cases closing on the home in a matter of days. The big difference here is that investors have typically targeted ugly homes with people who may be behind on their mortgage payments and don’t want to go through a foreclosure. HomeVestors, based in Dallas, TX, has been doing this for years through its franchise We Buy Ugly Houses®. While HomeVestors is a very successful franchise, the iBuyer nomenclature used in 2018 has come to mean a very different type of company – one based on technology and the “I” (Internet). An iBuyer takes advantage of a vast amount of public and private data about home sales and population projections to have computer algorithms help determine how much they should offer a home seller for their home, and the iBuyer’s potential profit if they fix it up and resell the home weeks or months later.
The big 3 iBuyers discussed today are extremely well-funded technology companies that target hot markets and a much higher home price point. These iBuyers can purchase pretty houses in fast growing neighborhoods, make few fixes and then sell the home to a new home buyer in a few months. The sellers working with these iBuyers are not consumers who have missed multiple mortgage payments – it’s quite the opposite. These sellers may have lots of equity, good credit, and are too busy to wait on getting their home sold. They are looking for convenience and fast liquidity, and will pay for that by taking less of a profit on the sale of their home.
THE BIG 3 IBUYERS
Zillow (Instant Offers Product)
Zillow launched their iBuyer offering in 2017 under the service name Instant Offers. Initially in Orlando, FL and Las Vegas, NV it is now in Phoenix, AZ. Like every well-funded iBuyer their plans are to go national, which is making some local real estate agents more than a little nervous. Zillow is trying to keep friendly with Realtors® by working with some agents to send them the seller leads for those sellers that decide not to take Zillow’s offer and list their home the traditional way with an agent. With Zillow’s program they may buy the house directly using their own money (REO – real estate owned) or work with a third-party investor who may buy the property. The options are presented usually within 2-3 days of the time a seller contacts them about selling their property.
OfferPad will give sellers an offer on their home within 24 hours and the application form to tell them about the property being sold only takes 5 minutes to complete. Every home seller that uses them also gets a free local move if their new place is within 50 miles of the property being sold. OfferPad operates in Phoenix, AZ; Atlanta, GA; Tampa, FL; Orlando, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Charlotte, NC; Salt Lake City, UT with Nashville and Dallas coming soon. OfferPad has been in the game since 2009 and actually had a partnership with Zillow until they found out about that company’s Instant Offer service.
Opendoor is another well-funded iBuyer that recently raised over $325 Million from venture capitalists, which will help expand them into new markets. They are rapidly making inroads in fast growing markets like Dallas-Fort Worth where one agent told me last year that there was a month where over 25% of the listings in one area were owned by Opendoor. Their impact is so big, the home builder, Lennar, has invested in the company. This is a great strategy since as a home builder one of the biggest problems is having buyers time the sale of their current home in order to close on their newly constructed home. If Lennar can refer buyers to Opendoor, it gives them a backup solution to sell their old home when the new one is ready. Currently Opendoor works in Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Nashville, TN; Raleigh-Durham, NC; San Antonio, TX; Tampa, FL and Phoenix, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Orlando, FL like Zillow.
HOW DO IBUYERS IMPACT HOME BUYING CONSUMERS?
As a buyer, you can still working with a buyer’s rep agent and purchase a resale home from one of these iBuyer companies. One of the benefits is that you may buy a home where some of the major issues have been already identified and fixed. Also, dealing with a company means that the process for documentation and closing will probably be a lot smoother. When you work with local agents from hundreds of different real estate companies you can see a lot of variance in process. These companies work at scale doing thousands of transactions, so they need processes in place to make buying and selling their inventory of homes smooth – at least in theory. Expect more iBuyers to enter the market in various forms using technology to make more informed and quicker decisions.
You can assume the real estate industry is undergoing massive transformation and will continue to do so, which has been long-predicted by many in the industry. Home sellers don’t want to pay 6% to sell their home, and if they do, then at least they can get a quick guaranteed transaction. In reality, when home sellers use an iBuyer, who purchases their home, it may end up costing them 8-11% or more, but again, it may be worth it, especially if that home would have sat for two more months requiring two more mortgage payments.
From a buyer perspective, the most important thing is that you purchase a home that is properly transferred with no major surprises that will cost you thousands of dollars later down the road.
Texas is known for its hot weather. Houston and Dallas are no exceptions. When you are building a new home, you want to ensure the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) can withstand the Texas heat and winter cold…while not breaking the budget.
And, yes, Dallas does dip into freezing temperatures in winter, while some Texans living in older homes complain of utility bills in summer reaching $500 plus!
The good news is, many newer homes feature green building design that can drastically reduce the energy cost. Green design aims to, among other things, increase water and energy efficiency of the home while reducing pollution. Some techniques and materials may include green roofing (radiant barriers), wall and roof insulation, insulated windows and doors, and water conserving fixtures.
One of the most important components of a green home is the HVAC system, particularly the air conditioning system. When working with a builder it’s important to understand whether the base system they offer will meet the needs of your family. Some concepts to become familiar with include:
The seasonal energy efficiency ratio is a standard of performance of a unit equaling the cooling output during the warm season divided by the total electric energy input. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. In the South, units are required to have a rating of at least 14. Anything above this (16, for example) may provide a higher efficiency, but will cost more and it may take longer to see a return on investment.
Tons in the HVAC world are not measurements of weight; they measure the capacity of a unit to remove heat. Thus, 12,000 Btu/h (British thermal units per hour) refers to one ton of AC capacity. Minimal HVAC standards are about a one ton capacity per 600 sq. feet. Energy Star rated homes should have one ton per 1000 sq. feet. So, for instance, a 2,000 square foot home requires a two ton unit for energy efficiency, and so on.
Dual vs Single Stage Blowers
A standard single stage system runs at only one speed. The system always runs on high, whether you need it or not. The dual stage blower uses a compressor and, often, a variable speed air handler to adjust the air flow into the home, resulting in more energy efficiency and lower cooling costs. With a dual stage system, you don’t get that sudden, loud blast of air coming through the vents every time the A/C kicks on.
Another key component to your HVAC system is the systems that control when it comes on. Today’s thermostats can be very sophisticated and automatically adjust your system based on time of day, or even the humidity in the air. Two systems like the Nest thermostat and Ecobee are common choices for many new homes.
Nest smart thermostat
Ecobee smart thermostat
The last thing you want to consider in understanding your HVAC system is ease of maintenance. Chores like changing filters are important, but they can be a hassle if the task requires you to get in your attic and crawl over insulation to change the filter each month. Ask questions about how your HVAC system needs to be maintained.
A few more HVAC maintenance tips:
While there are many great new home communities in North Texas, unfortunately, most people including builder sales consultants won’t go into detail about the perilous weather in Texas if you’re from out of state. It can be disheartening to move from a place with mild weather and then have $10,000 worth of damage in the first year you move to Frisco, Prosper, Rowlett or other places that have been hit hard in the past. Most residents take it in stride and consider it a cost of living being in North Texas. If you haven’t moved here already, I tell people to be honest with yourself on whether you can mentally and financially bear having to replace a 20-year roof every 2-3 years. It sounds crazy, but this has been the reality for some since 2014.
It’s only the end of March and there will be many more hailstorms in Texas this year. Here’s what you should know:
Take an hour (or two) to really read and understand your home owner’s insurance policy. Most agents want to keep your business, so if you have questions, write them down and send them an email so you have your concerns addressed in writing.
After a hailstorm, always do your own visual inspection the very next day or as soon as possible – start at your front door and walk a circle around the house and make a list:
DON’T GO ON THE ROOF but look up from the street to see if any shingles are missing; also look at the vents and see if they are damaged/dented.
SHOULD YOU CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT?
Before calling a general contractor (GC) or roofer talk to your agent (NOT the claims hotline). Many agents can at least answer general questions without documenting it as an official claim. You pay thousands a year for insurance advice so use a phone call, but remember to still have your list of damages in an email in case you need to send it later.
NOTE: There is a big difference between calling your agent who may have given you their personal cell phone because they live in the neighborhood versus calling the 1-800 line of your big insurance company. Calling the 1-800 claims number will most likely get your call recorded in the CLUE database even if you decide to not file a claim. It’s the insurance company’s way of creating a history on your property that there may have been damage around a specific date. If you are unsure, you may want to talk to a reputable GC or roofer first who can give you a rough idea on costs to fix. Then you can decide whether it’s even worth it to bring the insurance company into the picture.
IF YOU DO CALL THE CLAIMS DEPARTMENT
Any adjuster coming out to your place will be recorded in your report. Insurance companies have strict policies in which to adhere to. They take measurements on the roof and there has to be so many indentations within that area to file a claim. They might only replace half the roof facing the direction the hail came from. Ideally you can walk with the claims adjuster and watch what they are looking for and then compare what you have listed versus what they found. Don’t be afraid to mention something they missed or suggest something (age of fence or if you just had it restained, or new paint on siding).
SELECTING A GC/ROOFER
Once the claims adjuster has been out, you know what’s to be repaired, replaced based on what they will cover.
REMEMBER, THE SEASON JUST STARTED
We are at the beginning of the spring storm season so it’s not a bad idea to just wait if your damage is minor before filing a formal claim. Every separate claim is a new deductible.
Whether you’re building a new home and looking for design ideas or just remodeling a single room in your 12-year old home; here are some of the latest design trends for 2017 shared by our friends at Floor & Décor in The Colony, TX.
Interior Wall Colors
White on white continues to be a big trend in kitchens and bathrooms for the clean airy feel that it brings. Black and grey are also being mixed in to break up the white or complement non-white pieces in your room.
The new “natural” color for homes is moving towards “greige” which is a soft mixture of grey and beige which you are seeing a lot in remodeling shows like Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. It’s being used on floors, walls, and even in the furniture. You may also see it being used a lot in beach homes, particularly in flooring which gives a grey weathered look to the browns and tans. It’s been around since the 1980’s in fashion, but has never been so heavily used in home interiors until now.
The new wood-look tiles continues to become more and more popular in a lot of spaces, so expect to see a lot more of that along with other natural appearing textures like fiber in tile format.
An accent wall use to be just a space with another complementary paint color. Accent walls are now moving towards rich textures, uneven surfaces, and all kinds of new materials from glass, to wood, to rough fabric. And now, ceilings are getting the same treatment due to advances in very strong polymer mortars that allow wood and tile to be glued right to the ceiling.
Tiles and Shapes
If going with tile, square is definitely out, unless if used in borders and accent sections. Rectangles and arabesque tile are definitely in style.
Large format tile (LFT) is now the way to go in entry ways and spaces where you want to make the space feel larger. This would be tile where at least one side is 15″ or larger.
What trends are you seeing, let us know!
Quite often people will call us after they visit a new home community around Dallas and say, “Which builder is better; who should I go with?” This usually ends in a very quick conversation with both the potential buyer and us hanging up frustrated. The buyer is frustrated because they want a simple, quick, Yes-or-No answer on the biggest purchase of their life. And we are frustrated because they broke several rules of being a savvy new home buyer which we’ll discuss later. But first let’s talk about perceptions.
As much as we hate being inundated with ads and billboards for new things, the reality is that branding and pricing are two critical tools used very successfully in the home building industry. Exclusive communities pick high end builders with high end finishes and we the consumer translate that to quality. Even if the home is out of our price range, we put a bookmark in our minds of what is the gold standard and then try to find a product, in this case a home we can afford, that gets as close to that standard as possible. This perception that more expensive houses or the builder with more commercials is always the better builder is false. Even when builders tell you what type of flooring they use, or insulation, or HVAC system, it still doesn’t mean that you are getting the best home for your money.
The yearly best builder rankings can also exacerbate the problem when companies go on huge popularity campaigns to get votes or worse, we translate most homes built in Dallas-Fort Worth to mean that a builder constructs the best quality.
There is No Perfectly Built Home or Perfect Builder
Even when two buyers go with the exact same builder, the experiences that the two buyers may have can be night and day. So what’s the reason for the discrepancy? It all comes down to the team that put your house together and the materials used during that specific time of year on that specific lot. In other words, your house is one-of-a-kind and even when you go with a production builder, the reality is your house is still custom – as no one else will have your house, on your lot, using the exact same materials that came from the factory at that exact time. The bricklayer that did your house may have half the experience as the mason that did the house next door by the same builder. I’ve seen two houses right next door to each other, both built at the same time, but one has massive foundation issues. All of these factors contribute to the fact that no builder can be perfect on every house, all of the time, in every community. This is why we try to focus the customer’s attention on proactive monitoring and not so much on some article that said Builder X was voted #1 in Dallas two years in a row. Assuming all builders are using trades with a reasonably good standard of quality, it’s best to put your energy into some of the nuances around warranties, inspections, and what value you can get for the same amount of money. If your family uses a lot of energy then maybe you focus on which builder uses the most green construction methods. If you want perfectly flat walls and floors, then go look at some recently finished homes the builder has completed, but just remember, your home will be one-of-a-kind. It’s doing this proactive research and questioning that will ultimately answer who is best for you.
The Trust Factor
Unfortunately, many financial transactions have become more complex over the years. You have mechanisms where people digitally sign documents that they really don’t read, industries that have little regulation, and various relationships that allow multiple parties to get a piece of every dollar you spend. All of this leads to a society of skepticism. You see it all the time on the news with poor consumers getting cheated on a used car sale, a roof replacement, or some other big investment.
So when it comes to homes, many consumers feel that someone is out to get them and screw them over. And if it’s not fear of losing money, then it’s how much can they can “save” by doing it on their own. They may get answer A from a new home sales rep in the model, get answer B from their Realtor buddy in another city, and then logically assume that answer C is how they should proceed.
So when buyers ask us, “who should I go with,” it truly requires working with the buyer over a period of time to walk the homes, ask the questions, and then make an informed decision on who will produce the best outcome. Most builders and Realtors are not former sleazy used car sales people. However, price does matter. Like many things in life, if you want paint that never fades, floors that never squeak, and a foundation that won’t crack in Dallas soils, you will need to pay extra. When you have two builders in the same neighborhood at the same price point, the investigation takes longer, as you really need to get into the finer points on the differences. And always remember, you won’t go to jail for talking to a recent mover and asking how the construction process went for them.
Being a Savvy New Home Buyer
Looking at new homes is fun – a lot of fun! It’s so thrilling that many people will throw out everything they’ve ever learned about planning and financial management for the sake of touring a pretty new model home over the weekend. And once they’ve been sucked into the possibility of actually owning something brand new, they’ve completely overlooked all the important questions and steps necessary to not only get the home, but enjoy the house – one, two, or even ten years later.
The first rule of buying smart is to slow down and understand your options.
Being a smart new home buyer means taking your time and doing the research – it is understanding your financial situation, your family, your lifestyle, the market, before you venture off to see 10 model homes in one afternoon.
So when people call with the, “which builder should I pick,” question, we already know they have rushed into the process and want an easy way out of a hard decision. The first rule of buying smart is to slow down and understand your options. You have to understand the builder’s perspective along with the goals of the super nice sales rep in the model home. While everyone has good intentions, you have to live with that home long after the community has closed-out. This is why slowing down and speaking with a new home specialist is one of the first things you should do.
You can test drive a new car… You can’t do that once you’ve closed on your newly built home.
As consumers today, we are trained to want to cut out any “middle-man” and go direct to the supplier. There are times when this makes sense and times when it doesn’t. Building a new home is a time when it doesn’t make sense. You can test drive a new car and even drive it for a few days before deciding it’s not for you. You can’t do that once you’ve closed on your newly built home.
Savvy buyers will focus on location first and really understand commutes. Do you really want to live in Frisco and drive to downtown every day? It may be worth it if you’re single and have plenty of time. It may not be worth it if you have to pay for babysitters and drive like a maniac for almost an hour to get to your kid’s soccer match.
Savvy buyers understand there is money that can be saved by working with a Realtor. Certain times of the year builders may give bigger incentives. Sometimes, buyers may even be able to get a rebate. But the impatient buyer gives up all these options when they roll up to a model home and rush through the door with no counsel.
Savvy buyers realize that sometimes paying more now, is actually cheaper in the long run, and the one person who had a really bad experience with Builder A, was really a unique, weird situation, where several compounding factors led to such a high level of dissatisfaction.
So, when you’re ready to buy new, spend a little more time upfront researching, selecting your team, then enjoy the process of looking at pretty houses and the best option should eventually reveal itself.
In many ways, buying a new home is a lot like buying a new car. There are many different manufacturers and features to choose from and price is always a big factor in your decision. What many people don’t stop to realize is just like a car there are certain times of the year when it’s better to sign a contract.
The general rule is to sign a contract towards the end of the month where a builder may throw in extra incentives to earn your business. This helps them meet their monthly sales goals. However, it is very important for builders to make their annual numbers, especially if the builder is a publicly traded company on the stock exchange. Companies like Toll Brothers and Pulte Homes are publicly traded and have fiscal years that define the beginning and end of a 12-month period where they will measure their performance and report the results to their shareholders. Every company has a fiscal year but they don’t necessarily line up to the calendar year where January is month one and December is month twelve.
So knowing when a company’s fiscal year ends could also help you negotiate a better deal in those months. Below is a small sample of popular builders in Dallas-Fort Worth and their fiscal year end months.
Fiscal Year Ends in December (matches Calendar Year)
Fiscal Year Does Not Correspond with Calendar Year
Most new communities built in the past 10 years are part of a Homeowners Association (HOA). While many people sigh when they hear HOA, it’s not all bad, and the newest communities in Dallas are trying to give you more for your HOA money.
HOAs are designed to share common costs for services that benefit the entire neighborhood. The community pool maintenance and things like the holiday lights and landscaping that you see in many master planned communities are paid for by HOA fees. HOAs also exist to protect the value of everyone’s properties by enforcing rules that are designed to maintain the marketability of the neighborhood based on it’s goals. If the goal of a neighborhood is for everyone to support breast cancer awareness by painting their houses pink, an HOA can actually help make that happen. Many people think that HOAs are designed to make everything cookie cutter and boring, but the creativity and variability of what is allowed is really up to the HOA.
A few communities in the Dallas area are now offering additional amenities for your HOA money. Mustang Lakes in Celina and Windsong Ranch in Prosper are both including front-yard maintenance in their HOA dues. And for an additional fee the contracted company can cut your backyard. This perk eliminates one of the hurdles for people who may not want a single-family home due to yard maintenance. At the very least it saves a couple of hours each month on yard work.
The blog for everything about buying new home construction (and resale homes).