The 'Couv'

The 'Couv'

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What about Condos?

Many retirees are looking for a smaller home and one with less maintenance. It is hard to get a house with less "maintenance" than a condominium. A condo differs from other forms of real property in that the owner has title to the interior space in fee simple (absolute sole ownership) and holds title to the whole complex with all other owners as tenants in common. By owning only the interior space, the owner need only keep that interior up. Should any problems occur with the structure such as the roof or the siding, he simply turns that over to the local HOA to deal with.

The HOA is the blessing and the curse of a condo. Yes it is this entity that keeps the roof and siding good, pays to maintain the grounds, parking, etc. But this HOA organization also must be responsible to provide these services. It must be run well. Furthermore, some HOAs can be very "gestapo" about rules and regulations.

Condo living is not for everyone. It is however great for many retirees that want a nice place to live and time to enjoy life outside of their home! The less time you have to work on your house, the more time you have for exciting and fun activities. Condos also often have amenities like a pool or work out area. For the modern retiree many condo complexes are designed for senior living with recreational activities that bring opportunity to socialize.

If a condo is something you might be interested in there are a few things to consider. First is the HOA; make sure it is well funded and managed. HOAs are required by law in most states to keep and provide for prospective buyers and existing owners a balance sheet and projections. Understand that you as an owner will have no discretion over the exterior of the building other than your HOA member vote. Talk to existing tenants to see if there are any annoying HOA-isms that might bother you in the future. If you have a pet or a boat or several cars, be certain the facility can accommodate your needs. Pets are sometimes limited in size or quantity in an HOA environment. Make sure the HOA dues are manageable in your budget. if you are borrowing to purchase the bank will qualify you including the HOA payment. This will lower the available funds you have to borrow.

There are some great condos out there and right now they are one of the few remaining values in the market place. Condos have yet to spike back up in price. The next year or so could prove to be the last of the screaming condo deals. If the care-free living style afforded by condos is your cup of tea then now is the time to act.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Retiring? Want a real winter but hate shoveling?

Real estate tends to perk up this time of year. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the temperature is warm. It is easy to get sucked into the greatest summer weather on this planet. But what about winter? Many retirees would love to have a little winter but hate the idea of shoveling snow. Here in Washington State we have options for your winter wonderland. There are places in the Evergreen State like Mount Baker, that have snow so heavy it rivals anywhere in the world. Fortunately those are places people visit rather than live. East of the Cascade Mountains delivers sunnier weather that is warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than this side here in the west. There are many areas that offer an in-between winter experience.

Here in America's Vancouver we have a very mild winter. It gets chilly but rarely gets truly cold. Heavy snow is a twice a decade event and light snow is sporadic every year throughout the winter from late November to early March. Not much shoveling here. As you move up in elevation so your shovel moves up in usage. Those gorgeous view homes up above 1000 feet will see on average double the snowfall down in the city. Move up another 1000 and it's triple.

West of the Cascades you will find the legendary Pacific Northwest clouds and showers. East of the Cascades is California Dry.

East of those mighty Cascade mountains the mercury will plunge down below zero at times and they tend to stay cold from December through February. The good news over there is that those same mountains that block the warm moist air of the Pacific Ocean also block allot of the clouds. Precipitaion on the eastside is dry, dry, dry. So it does snow often but in small doses. Again places like Ellensburg and the Tri-Cities don't have a heavy snow shovel workout.

Spokane will give you a healthy dose of snow with nearly 4 feet falling annually and that rivals Minneapolis. Spokane is not quite as bitter cold as Minnesota and has a shorter winter. If you hate the shovel stay out of the far eastern part of the state.

In case you are looking around in Washington State I have all these little charts for you to consider regarding snowfall and temps. Data was collected from the Western Climate Data Center.