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pinkhouseNot every real estate deed gives you carte blanche to do whatever you want. In some cases, buying property comes with certain conditions that prohibit you from doing certain things.

These stipulations are known as real estate deed restrictions, and this is how they work.

Why they’re there

Real estate deed restrictions are written into a property’s deed and can take the form of conditions, covenants, and restrictions (sometimes called “CC&Rs”). The property’s past or present owner, developer, builder, neighborhood, or homeowners association usually imposes them.

Deed restrictions are usually aimed at ensuring that there is an aesthetic uniformity between your property and neighboring properties and that certain other activities are limited. Reasons for including these restrictions may be to maintain the value of a property or to promote good relations within a residential community.

Deed restrictions vary widely and usually depend on the community the property is in and the type of property it is. Some common building and renovation deed restrictions can prohibit or limit the following:

  • The size and number of additional rooms and structures
  • What materials the structures can be made of
  • Proximity to other structures, properties, or streets
  • The density of buildings per acre
  • Style of homes allowed
  • Landscaping
  • Exterior paint colors

Here are some other common deed restrictions:

  • Rules about pets (such as how many you can keep and under what conditions)
  • Fees for road maintenance or amenities
  • How or if you can run a business from home
  • How or if you can rent out your home
  • No outdoor storage
  • Rules for maintaining your yard

These are just a few examples—you should carefully review all of the restrictions before signing anything.

How they’re enforced

The people who are likely to enforce any deed restrictions are those who originally imposed them. For example, a developer would want to enforce any building or renovation restrictions while it is finishing building the complex in which you purchased a unit.

Neighborhood and homeowners associations are likely to enforce deed restrictions with fees for properties such as townhouses or condos. In the absence of such associations, neighbors can seek to enforce the restrictions by means of lawsuits.

Researching deed restrictions

To find out whether the property you are hoping to buy has any restrictions, ask the owner or agent to provide you with the details. You can also check with the local county clerk. Go over the title abstract, which shows details of deeds for the past 50 years, ensuring that any restrictions haven’t been left off the current deed. If you’re buying a homeowners association property, it should be able to tell you about rules and restrictions.

If you are pressed to make an offer on the property before you have had a chance to read the deed restrictions, insert a contingency clause in your offer stating that you are to be given time to read the conditions and have the ability to back out of the contract if you disapprove.



mortgageIn terms of your mortgage, a point is an additional loan fee that is paid to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. It’s called “buying down,” and it allows you to reduce your rate for the life of the loan.

Let’s say you secured a mortgage loan for $500,000 without points, at 4.6% on a 30-year mortgage, your payment would be approximately $2,560 a month. If you paid two points ($10,000), the interest rate would go down to 4.1% and the monthly payment would decrease to around $2,415, a savings of $145 a month.

It would take you about eight years to recoup the money you paid up front. If you are planning on staying in your home a while, this will save you money in the long-run. Before deciding, ask yourself:

  • How long will I keep the home?
  • Do I have extra money to pay points?
  • Could that money be better used for something else?

Some may suggest that a smarter option is to invest that $10,000 because you could do much better than your $140 savings, but you have to weigh the variables.*

Here are three simple rules of thumb in determining your particular course of action:

  • If you plan to stay in the house for less than three years, do not pay points
  • If you plan to stay in the house for more than five years, pay 1 to 2 points
  • If you’ll be in the house for three to five years, paying points doesn’t make a significant difference

Since points are interest-payment related, they may be deductible on your taxes in the year that you close. See your tax advisor for details.

Mortgage points can add up to valuable savings over the course of your loan, but the future isn’t always predictable. Even if you “plan” on staying in your home for 20 years, changes in your career or family life could alter that plan.

* The above example is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to check with your financial or tax advisor regarding your particular situation.



Home-inspectBefore buying a home, one of the things you should do is to have the home checked up by a licensed, professional home inspector. Purchasing a home is often the largest investment you will ever make, so why not spend the money to make sure the home is in “working order” and know exactly what you are buying?

A licensed home inspector is a professional who will conduct an inspection of the general condition of the home.  A good home inspector will assist a buyer in understanding exactly what they are about to acquire.  In addition, the home inspector will give the buyer an education on how the systems of the house actually operate.  The inspector will cover features of the house such as electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation, as well as structural aspects of the home and may reveal issues that are not noticeable to the buyer’s eye.

A home inspection will cost you a little bit of time and money, but in the long run, you’ll be glad you did it.  After closing, you do not want to find yourself saddled with costly repairs that could have been exposed by a home inspector and taken care of by the home seller prior to transferring title.  In addition to exposing possible needed repairs, an inspection can give you a crash course on home maintenance and a checklist of items that need attention to make your home as safe and sound as possible. Don’t skip this important step in the home-buying process – it’s worth every penny.

Lee Springmeyer300


Lee Springmeyer
Abbott & Caserta Realtors
201-447-6600 (office)



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neighborhood (1)When you are in the market for a new place to live, it helps to remember the golden rule of real estate: You’re not just buying or renting a home — you are also buying into and becoming a part of a neighborhood

As anyone who’s moved a few times knows, not all neighborhoods are created equal. There is no such thing as the perfect neighborhood, because not all areas are going to be truly a perfect fit for everyone and their unique needs.

Although a cookie-cutter neighborhood isn’t a reality, there are components common to ALL great neighborhoods. As you evaluate the best aspects of a prospective neighborhood, you’ll want to match them to your needs at this point in your life.

Lifestyle match

A truly great neighborhood is one in sync with your current lifestyle. Both renters and homebuyers tend to gravitate to areas with similar demographics. Just as a fantastic suburban neighborhood in a gated community may not be right for a young single professional, a family with three small children would likely be miserable living in a small condo in a hip downtown neighborhood.

Pride in ownership

All great neighborhoods have this in common. Pride in ownership is obvious when the residents, whether renters or owners, maintain their homes and care about their neighborhood. Neighbors participate to connect and create local groups that bring the residents together for the betterment of the area.

Low crime rate

Low crime rates give a neighborhood a sense of ease and calm. As safety and security are everyone’s concern, crime is a quick way to tell if a neighborhood is improving or not. You can usually spot a transitional and improving neighborhood by the improvement or decline in its crime rates.

An easy way to check this is to utilize Trulia’s Crime Maps, where you can see the types and frequency of crime in the area and determine if it’s the right place for you.

Great schools

For homeowners and renters with children, great schools top their list of what makes a great neighborhood. Trulia shows school ratings using data from Great Schools. Integrating the data into map views lets house hunters see which schools are highly rated and also read reviews from actual parents of students in that district. Not only are great schools important for families with children, they also make the surrounding neighborhoods more valuable and more sought after, keeping property values strong.

Outdoor activities abound

Being close to the outdoor adventures you love can sweeten the appeal of your neighborhood. Being superclose (or within a reasonable drive) to places to jog, sail, or pedal can keep you riding high about your home. Proximity and access to tennis courts and golf courses are also qualities that keep your neighborhood on par.

Stepping back in time

One thing I always look for in a neighborhood are tree-lined streets; the feel of an older, established neighborhood makes it truly great for me. There is something about an area with history that makes it very desirable.

New developments are wonderful and newly built homes are truly to die for, but I love the charm of older, established neighborhoods. These are usually very stable, with longtime residents and community support, which also help encourage safety and low crime rates.

Access to medical care

This is important for all residents, but especially for seniors and retirees looking to find that perfect place to retire and for families with young children. Being close enough to get to a hospital or doctor’s office quickly is key for many people in various stages of their lives.

Family friendly

Lots of other families in the neighborhood are a real draw for buyers with children. There are more opportunities for children to play, socialize, and make lifelong friends. Carpooling groups and other children’s programs are much more accessible when the neighborhood is overflowing with kiddos.

Close to public transportation

Easy access to public transportation is a fantastic plus for a neighborhood and an amenity for almost any lifestyle. From a commuting millennial to a retiree who wants to keep the car at home, public transit is a solid upgrade to any neighborhood.

Nearby shopping and restaurants

If you want to be part of the hustle and bustle (and don’t want to cook dinner every night), having great restaurants, shopping, and markets in proximity is a must!

Nightlife and entertainment

Is there a nearby town center or downtown with movies, theaters, bars, and nightlife? This could be the one thing that makes your neighborhood come alive. This is a priority for anyone who is young and single, but everyone appreciates a neighborhood where the hot spots are within walking distance, or a short cab ride away.


Being able to leave the car keys at home and hit the pavement to walk to markets, shopping, restaurants, parks, and all the other amenities your neighborhood has to offer can alleviate a lot of road rage  and make you fall even deeper in love with your neighborhood.




Excerpted from

house-snow-globe-Summer may be real estate’s busy season, but winter offers great opportunities for buying a house, especially for renters looking to become homeowners, growing families trading up to larger houses and baby boomers seeking homes to fit their evolving lifestyles.

Generally speaking, your housing choices during the late fall are still healthy. October and November are great months to go house hunting. December is usually sparse, market-wise, but if that fits your timeline, you could luck out.

The benefits to buying a house at the end of the year include the following:

1. Tax savings

If you close by December 31, you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, points on your loan and interest costs. These deductions are significant, especially in the early years of your loan when you’re paying off a lot of interest.

2. Motivated sellers

Many sellers want to enjoy tax savings on the next home they purchase. They may accept lower bids in order to meet Uncle Sam’s deadlines. However, if you’re in a strong seller’s market, you’ll want to be conservative and heed advice from your real estate professional.

3. Builder incentives

If you’re buying a house that is brand new, there’s a good chance builders may push to close the books on their year—and meet quotas. They may offer upgrades or little extras to sell houses before the calendar turns.

4. Available movers

Many moving companies are booked six weeks or more in advance during the busy summer months. In the fall and winter, it’s normally easier to secure the services of a moving company or rental equipment on shorter notice.