Bob Hummer
May 2022

Daily News And Advice
Today's Feature Stories

What is a Co-Op in Real Estate Terms?

If you’re moving to an urban area, or you currently live in one, and you’re in the process of finding a new home, you’re likely to come across the term cooperative housing, or more frequently, co-op. A co-op is a type of homeownership structure that’s most common in large real estate markets.

There are similarities between co-ops and condos, but also some differences.

The Basics

A co-op is often a type of homeownership you’ll see in places like New York City, in apartment buildings. A co-op is a building jointly owned by a corporation, and when you buy into one, you’re not buying a piece of property. Instead, you’re buying shares in a non-profit corporation. That non-profit then lets you live in the building.

If you buy an apartment or condo, you can think of it as buying whatever lies behind your door. It’s one of many units of which you own one.  

A co-op has terms that say when you buy, you’re a shareholder. The size of your apartment determines how much of a stake you have in the building.

When you live on the premises of the co-op, you have access to common areas that the corporation owns.

Everyone in the co-op shares in the responsibilities and costs of maintaining the property.

A board of directors governs a co-op, and they set by-laws. Those by-laws indicate how you’re supposed to be a respectful inhabitant of the building, but since you’re a shareholder, you also have some say in the running of the building.

The Logistics of Living in a Co-Op

When you buy a condo, again, the difference is that you’re purchasing the ownership of an individual unit where you’re going to live.

If the property goes up in value, you benefit from that because you’re the deedholder. Condo residents tend to have a fair amount of autonomy about things like renovating and making upgrades.

Getting financing for a condo tends to be simpler than doing so for a co-op.

With a co-op, you’re paying for the rights to live in the building, but you don’t outright own it. That limits the changes you can make. There’s also a stringent application process that you have to go through when you buy a co-op, and you may have to do an interview with the board. They’ll also probably vet you financially.

The co-op as a nonprofit means the board governs your life within the building. For example, you might not be allowed to sublet your apartment.

When shared financial obligations arise, all the owners of the co-op are responsible.

How Do You Buy a Co-Op?

As you might imagine, buying a co-op can be a challenge because you’re not actually buying a home. It’s tough to finance a co-op since you’re buying shares in a corporation rather than going through a real estate transaction. In many big cities where co-ops are common, despite the complexities of buying, it can be a cheaper option.

Rather than getting a mortgage, you would get a loan to buy shares in the cooperative, known as a share loan or co-op loan.

When you apply for this type of financing, the lender will usually look to see the basic operations of the co-op and the underlying mortgage. The lender will go over how the board is run and check for major planned expenses.

Big co-ops in certain areas may have existing relationships with lenders, which can help someone as they’re buying in the building.

Co-ops often let residents sell their shares to another buyer at the current market price. The current market price is also known as a market-rate co-op, but others are more restrictive if you want to sell.

When you buy a condo, by contrast, you get a mortgage like you would buy a house. You’re buying physical property, and then you share the common areas and help pay for the costs of maintenance related to those.

Finally, a co-op board can require that someone has a particular net worth before they allow them to buy shares because they’re looking at the ongoing sustainable success of the corporation. A condo can’t put these types of financial requirements in place. If a condo buyer can get a mortgage and buy the unit, there’s nothing to stop them.


5 Outdoor Projects for a Beautiful and Fun Homecation Space

As the weather warms up, more families are starting to look forward to getting outside of the home to have some fun or just relax in the sun. And while a vacation may seem like the ultimate goal, most people find that by creating a better outdoor living area, they can have even more fun “homecationing” in their own yards. 

There are numerous projects that you can do to add some fun and recreation to your yard. The following 5 projects can help you maximize your space, improve your property, and increase your enjoyment of your space with the good weather.

Patio: Affordable and Versatile

When you think about your outdoor living area, your patio should be home base. Patios are one of the most versatile things to add to your yard in terms of enjoyment and use, as well as style and appearance. 

Your patio can be covered or open, have a fire pit or fireplace for gathering around in the evenings, host a grill and table, or be the base for a pool deck. You can even add bigger projects to the patio itself, like a hot tub, pergola, or outdoor kitchen. Basically, adding a patio adds a blank slate to your yard that can give you endless ways to customize it to your needs. Start with leveling and adding some pavers, then add furniture, lights, and a gathering place such as a fire pit or picnic table to start using the area right away. 

Project cost: Most homeowners spend around $4,000 for a living room-sized patio of 12 x 18 feet made of stamped pavers.

Pool: Perfect for Kids and Hot Climates

If you’re planning on staying home all summer, a swimming pool may be a good investment. Pools can be tricky, as a large, inground pool needs a lot of space while an above ground pool doesn’t add a lot to your home’s value. 

However, any pool can add a great way to cool off on a hot summer’s day, and can give you a way to relax and have some fun. Pools come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You can add an inflatable pool that’s big enough to cool off in just for the summer or you can go further and add a small inground pool like a plunge pool or an endless pool that will give you the chance to cool off without taking up your whole yard. 

Project cost: The cost of building a pool varies greatly depending on the type of pool you choose. Above-ground inflatable pools start at $200, while you would pay around $20,000 for a plunge pool and $29,000 for an endless pool.  

Court: for Sports Lovers

If you’re a sports-minded family and you want to use your yard to play regularly, consider adding a sports court to your yard. Many basketball court materials can be used to create a more generic sports court - you can install hoops for a true basketball court, or put up a volleyball net or other game materials to get more use out of the space. 

Sports courts don’t require landscaping or a lot of maintenance, which can be attractive for homeowners that want to use their space, but don’t want to spend a lot of time watering, fertilizing, and caring for it in the long term. 

Project cost: Installing a full-sized basketball court costs around $30,000. For a more affordable option, you can have a half-court over concrete for $15,000.

Deck: for Enjoyment and Increased Home Value

Decks are a great addition to any home. Decks give you a place to relax, gather, entertain, cook, eat, and more. Decks are also incredibly versatile - they can be a low wooden platform on a one-story home or an elevated backyard oasis on a larger property. Wood decks also have a fairly good ROI, so you’re not only increasing your enjoyment in your property, you’re also increasing its value at the same time. 

Think about what things you would do on the deck before building to get the most out of the project. A deck built for entertaining might include a gas fire pit, built in benches, and a bar, while a deck made for the family might include a table, shade, and some built in swings underneath. 

Project cost: Homeowners usually spend $17,200 to $19,000 for a 16' x 20' composite deck.

Front Porch: for Trendy Curb Appeal 

One of the biggest trends of the last few years has been the farmhouse. The modern farmhouse has commanded great prices at time of resale and has everyone clamoring for one. One of the things that every farmhouse needs and that helps make the style is the extra wide front porch. The front porch not only helps create the look of a farmhouse, it’s also practical and highly sought after for its use. The porch enhances your entry to the home, gives you a place to relax and unwind on beautiful spring mornings and long summer evenings, and is often big enough to fit the whole family along with furniture and a porch swing. Adding a front porch will add utility and enjoyment to any home, farmhouse or not. 

Project cost: Homeowners spend around $21,440 to build a porch.

Enhance Your Home and Your Enjoyment this Season

These outdoor projects will not only increase your property’s appearance and value, they’ll also increase your enjoyment in being at home. Whatever your family’s idea of a good time is, it’s possible to add things to your home that can help you achieve your goals. Consider tackling one of these 5 projects and get more from your homecation. 


Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen

Spring is officially here, which means you might be feeling a renewed sense of energy that’s leaving you ready to get your home a bit more organized.

The kitchen is a good place to start your spring cleaning. Your kitchen is likely where you spend most of your time. It’s functional but also a key gathering place. As a result, it also tends to get the messiest.

Spring clean your kitchen with these tips.

Start At the Top

You don’t want to start at the bottom of your kitchen with your spring cleaning. If you do, you’ll get dirt on the surfaces you’ve already cleaned. To prevent this, start up.

That means dusting off the tops of your cabinets, your ceiling fans, and your light fixtures.

You can also clean any windows in your kitchen, take off curtains, and wash them. Dust the top of the refrigerator, and dust anything decorating your walls.

Wipe Surfaces

Your goal when spring cleaning your kitchen is to get every surface. That means countertops, tables, chairs, and the fronts of your cabinets and your knobs. Wipe your drawers and their knobs and polish the sinks and faucets—clean your appliances' exterior surface, including the microwave, oven, and refrigerator.

Cabinets and Drawers

Our cabinets and drawers can become a catch-all in the kitchen throughout our daily lives.

Once you’ve cleaned the front surfaces of all your cabinets and drawers, you can work on the inside.

Work on one cabinet or drawer at a time. Remove everything in each. Clean the interior and use a degreaser, particularly on the ones around your range.

Throw away unneeded clutter.

Ensure you get the hinges because that’s an area where greasy dust tends to gather.

Counters and Small Appliances

Your countertops should already be fairly clean since you wiped down surfaces earlier.

You can remove everything from your countertops and give them a deeper clean using a microfiber cloth and soap water.

Before putting any of your small appliances back on the counter, like mixers or toasters, wipe them with warm, soapy water.

Add some baking soda to your sink to scour it, and buff it.

Big Appliances

If you have a microwave, one way to loosen up tough, stuck-on food is to boil a cup of water and then let it sit inside for a minute. Wipe it down with a damp cloth. Clean your oven and stovetop and the inside and outside of your dishwasher.

Your refrigerator can be a project in and of itself.

You need to take every single item from your fridge to get started. You should throw away anything old, expired, or that you don’t use.

Once everything is out, you can start cleaning every interior part, including the shelves, walls, and drawers. You can use soapy water made with dishwashing liquid.

Remove your drawers and shelves so you can clean those in the sink.

If you can, plan to do all this before your grocery shopping day.

When you add items back into the fridge, make sure that you’re grouping like items together.

Consider using storage or produce containers in your fridge because it will help you keep things more organized and keep your food fresh for longer. You can eliminate packaging that takes up unnecessary space.

As you add items back to the fridge for your spring-cleaning session, the bottom shelf or drawer is best for meat because it’s the coldest.

Put butter and soft cheeses on the doors, because it’s warmest here. The middle is good for eggs and dairy like yogurt and milk.

You should do a similar cleanout of your pantry if you have one. Empty everything, clean from top to bottom, and throw away what you don’t need. Then, you can start to reorganize the space with a clean slate.


Sweep and mop your floors, but make sure you’re not just doing the visible areas. You want to get under appliances, rugs, trash cans, and planters. Get into the corners and around the edges of cabinets.

Finally, if you use any linens in your kitchen, you can change them out for spring or maybe add a few seasonal dishtowels for a pop of fun and color.


What’s Homesteading?

You’ve likely heard the term homesteading. It’s something that’s growing in popularity not only among “normal” people but there are plenty of social media influencers touting their off-the-grid lifestyle.

So what does it mean, and how does one become a homesteader?

The Homesteading Philosophy

While everyone might vary in how they approach homesteading, the general idea is that you’re committed to being more self-sufficient. Depending on your goals, your home and living environment, and whether you’re in a country or urban area, this can take on a lot of meanings.

If you live in a rural area, maybe you go as far as providing your electricity using water, wind, or solar power. If you’re just getting started with becoming more self-sufficient, you might have a small garden and preserve some of your food.

Some homesteaders go completely toward the lifestyle, even bartering for everything they need rather than using money.

Urban and suburban homesteads are offshoots of the concept, which we’ll discuss more below.

The idea is that you’re becoming more self-sufficient wherever you live. It doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t use any modern technology or that you don’t have certain conveniences. You can do whatever works for you.

So why do people do it?

There is a diverse range of reasons.

Some people might simply like the idea. For other people, it can feel like they’re prepared for anything, and some people do it because they’re interested in a more sustainable and eco-friendly life.

Some people get involved in this way of life to dig out of debt, avoid new debt, and build their savings. A goal of people who are homesteading primarily for financial reasons might do so because they want to stop spending money needlessly on things they could do without.

From a health perspective, you can eat more locally-grown food when you homestead, including things you grow yourself.  

It can also be a good way for families with kids to have them get involved in household chores.

How Can You Be a Suburban Homesteader?

The term homestead comes with connotations of having a sprawling farm-like property, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

You can homestead in the suburbs by making choices to be more self-sufficient.

Some people who participate in suburban homesteads find other people nearby who are interested so that they can form new friendships.

If you’re thinking about adding livestock into the mix, you have to figure out what your municipal code says about this.

What About Urban Homesteaders?

Because of your job or other commitments, you might not be able to move out of the city where you live, but you could still make some of your homestead dreams come true even in an urban area.

You can start by taking a minimalist approach to life. Maybe you declutter your home and focus on the essentials. Go shopping at stores only when you have to, and spend less time consuming media that might encourage you toward consumerism.

If you don’t have a lot of space to grow your own food, you can still have a container garden or grow your own herbs. You can learn how to make certain foods from scratch, like bread.

Urban homesteaders can make cleaners that aren’t toxic and hang their clothes to dry instead of using the machine.

Whatever your interests and goals, you can make the homesteading lifestyle one that appeals to you and also works with your current home and living environment.


Ask The HOA Expert: Manager Fees & Services, Quorum

Question: Our professional manager charges a 5% oversight fee for renovation and insurance repair projects that the homeowner association enters into. Is this common?

Answer: The manager should not be expected to work for nothing. Extra work justifies extra pay. It's common for an HOA manager to charge an hourly rate for project oversight. However, it's important to have someone that is knowledgeable about the particular work being done.

Oversight of straight forward projects FULL STORY->

Debt Avalanche vs. Snowball Method

When you’re getting ready to shop for a house, you need to be clear on your current financial situation and where you need to be ideally before you start trying to work with lenders.

The amount of existing debt in your name will play a big role in whether you’re approved for a mortgage and how much house you can buy.

Paying off as much debt as you can before you start shopping for a home loan is critical, but it’s not an easy undertaking.

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How to Choose the Perfect Cabinets for Kitchen Remodeling?

Many different models are available on the market, and deciding which one is best for your kitchen can be difficult. Color and style are two crucial factors to consider when choosing cabinetry.

In this post, there is a list of essential tips that you can follow to choose the best cabinets for your kitchen. While there are several options available in the market, choosing products from a reputed company benefits in many ways. So, if you are looking for cabinets San Diego, now you know FULL STORY->

How to Stock Your Airbnb

When you own a short-term rental, your ultimate goal is to increase the occupancy as much as possible, meaning more revenue. You need to build a strong reputation and have great guest reviews to do this.

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Impeccable guest reviews mean your listing is honest and transparent, so they know what to expect. You also want to go the extra mile to make their experience great.

While an Airbnb experience is different from staying in a hotel, you still FULL STORY->

How to Pay Down Debt When Preparing for a Mortgage

Think you might have trouble qualifying for a mortgage because your current credit load is a little on the high side? You'll want to speak directly with a loan officer to get a bit more specific but if you want or need to pay down debt before applying for a mortgage, there are some things you need to know.

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There are two classifications of monthly payments lenders pay attention to. The first compares the total monthly mortgage payment with gross FULL STORY->

Mortgage Rates
Averages as of May 2022:

30 yr. fixed: 5.1%
15 yr. fixed: 4.4%
5/1 yr. adj: 3.78%

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Woodbridge, VA 22192

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