Newsletter (April 30, 2021)
Getting Ready for That Move!
6 Tips For Unpacking In Your New Home
That feeling when you first step into your new home, after you've signed the paperwork and it's officially yours—it's an incredible feeling. There you are, standing in your new, pristine space, with its freshly painted walls and cleaned carpets and glimmering hardwood floors.
And then the moving van arrives, and you're suddenly surrounded by boxes. It can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, The Spruce shared some tried-and-true practices for making unpacking less stressful and more efficient.
1. Start with your essentials—those items you packed in your overnight bag (a few changes of clothes, toiletries, medications, a shower curtain and towels, phone charger, etc.). Make sure you have everything you need to keep yourself feeling human that first night in your new home.
2. The first room to focus on is the kitchen. Hook up any major appliances you brought with you. If you have time, go ahead and install your shelf liner before you start filling the cabinets with dishes and cookware. If you’re short on time, just unpack what you’ll need for the new few days. Because you’ll want to make sure you get to this very important next step...
3. The bedrooms! Because you’ll need a place to lay your weary head after a long day of moving in. Assemble the beds and unpack the linens. “Decide on furniture placement and closet organization before you unpack boxed items, if at all possible," writes moving expert Diane Schmidt. "Installing shelving and closet organization units first will make unpacking more productive and save you future work.”
4. Bathrooms are next. Hang the shower curtain, unpack the towels, and stock the bathroom with all of the essential toiletries you packed in your overnight bag. “Nothing makes a house feel like a home more than having a comfortable, fully stocked bathroom," says Schmidt.
5. Set up furniture. Once you’ve got the kitchen, bedrooms, and bathroom set up with their essentials, it’s time to start assembling and arranging furniture. Go ahead and set up a few tabletop framed family photos, while you’re at it. It’ll make the place start to feel like home.
6. Once you’ve unpacked the essentials, take your time unpacking everything else as you set up your new home. Think about how you want each room to function and how you want your items to be organized.
And in the midst of all of this unpacking and moving in, be sure to take some time to explore your new neighborhood and enjoy this new adventure with your family.
Is An HOA Neighborhood Right For You?
If you’re looking to buy a condo, a townhome, or a house in a planned community or subdivision, you’ll likely be required to pay homeowners association (HOA) fees.
“An HOA is a resident-run private organization that governs a neighborhood, primarily to set up and enforce rules that are aimed at keeping the neighborhood’s appearance consistent,” explains Forbes contributor Bob Musinski and Forbes editor Mike Cetera. “HOAs also provide upkeep of common spaces and sometimes the property surrounding individual homes.”
You’ll love living in an HOA-run community if:
You love a neighborhood with a consistent look—every yard neatly manicured and kept tidy, paint colors limited to a specified palette, and landscaping that complies to rules set by the HOA.
You’re not a fan of yard work, and your HOA will do it for you.
You want amenities: a neighborhood pool, a fitness center, a community park, etc.
You want the security of a gated community.
An HOA might not be for you if:
You don’t want the restrictions. If you want the freedom to paint your front door yellow, build a vegetable garden, and adopt a Saint Bernard, an HOA might not be for you. But check the regulations of an HOA before you make your decision—some homeowners associations are stricter than others.
The fees put you over your budget. “HOA fees can vary quite a bit—from a couple hundred dollars a month to a few thousand—depending on the type of development," Musinski and Cetera point out.
How to research an HOA:
In another article, Musinski and Cetera share some tips for checking out an HOA before putting an offer on the property. They say you should ask to see these documents:
Association bylaws: These will explain your rights as a member, what the board of directors has the power to do, how often the board meets, the budget, and assessment methods.
Financial documents: Ask your real estate attorney to look these over to make sure the fees seem reasonable, and to make sure the HOA has enough cash in reserve to pay for major repairs and projects.
CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions): Make sure none of the rules are deal breakers for you.
Board meeting records: The meeting minutes will reveal any major disputes between the board and residents, upcoming projects to improve the community, and potential financial issues that could lead to additional fees.
If you have additional questions about the HOA, reach out to the community association manager or even any residents you happen to meet. You could also search review sites like Yelp or ask questions in a local Facebook group—there might even be a group specifically for that neighborhood or development.
5 Gardening Experts To Follow On Instagram
Attention all gardeners and plant parents! If you're on Instagram, these 5 accounts are must-follows:
@bigcitygardener: Timothy Hammond shares his seemingly endless knowledge of gardening and growing. Whether you're looking for vegetable garden basics, more detailed starting-from-seed instructions, or even ways to start a garden without spending a fortune, this is an account you'll want to follow!
@theplanthunter: Australia-based Georgina Reid is the editor and publisher of online magazine The Planthunter. This account is focused on the more spiritual side of gardening—not how to garden, but why we garden. And the photos—natural, rugged, wild—are gorgeous.
@thehappygardeninglife: Jason Miles started this Instagram account in 2015 with a simple mission—to celebrate the joy of gardening. The Happy Gardening Life also runs 3 Esthers Farm to support the more than 1,5000 children at the Needs Care School in Lusaka, Zambia. If you love gardening, this account will bring you joy.
@houseplantjournal: Beautiful photography + a detailed description of each houseplant's light levels and watering/fertilizing schedule. That's what you'll get when you follow Darryl Cheng's account, and it's utter perfection.
@66squarefeet: Marie Viljoen lives in Brooklyn, but she sneaks off to the woods often enough to include "forager" in her bio. She shares snapshots of the edible plants she forages, tips for container gardening, and the delicious meals she makes with the plants she finds and grows.
Housing Market Update: Still competitive for buyers, but an increase in listings could be coming
Recent data from the National Association of Realtors showed that housing affordability declined in February as home prices surged:
At the national level, housing affordability declined from January to February as monthly mortgage payments increased by 5% and median family income rose by only 3.5%.
As of February 2021, the most affordable region was the Midwest. The least affordable was the West. Over the last year, the Northeast experienced the largest decline in housing affordability as prices grew 23.1%.
The month of February also experienced a 10% decline in signed contracts on existing homes, compared to January.
But Zillow President Susan Daimler called the February decline in home sales a “blip rather than a trend, attributing the decrease to a persistent housing shortage and bad weather that rocked the country that month.”
Daimler expects that more homes will be put up for sale as more people receive their Covid-19 vaccines. She also noted that many workers are waiting to see if their companies will require them to come back into the office, or if they’ll continue to have more freedom in where they call home.