End of February 2013 Blog Update Comments53 Comments

Well this has been an eventful week, not all of it good. Despite that I’m rolling with the punches and staying positive.

I debated with myself about whether I should publicly talk about one of the bad things that happened. I’ll just be a bit vague about the details. You can e-mail me if you want to know more. Basically I had a bit of a problem with a certain search engine. Some of you may know what that problem is. I’ve kept the search engine traffic and rankings, but the problem still affects business.

Since I’ve experienced this kind of thing with a couple of my other websites before it wasn’t a total shock, but still quite frustrating. Due to some very supportive bloggers I may have learned how to address the problem too. Doing so long term is another story though. So I’ll need to think about things more and decide what direction I really want to go in. As a result you may see some changes with my blog in the coming weeks. Some of it will be long term changes and some may be temporary fixes to appease the search engine. If concerned about any of it, do get in touch with me.

Anyways….on the bright side my girlfriend and I checked out a condo for sale for the first time. I’m excited to be finally buying my first home. It’s definitely long overdue. The condo we viewed had a couple downsides, but overall it was pretty much what we are looking for. My heart wants to go ahead and make an offer, but my brain is saying to at least check out some other places first. I just hope that one isn’t sold by the time we look around and think about it more.

I’ll tell you more about the happenings this week tomorrow. It’s getting a little late and I’m exhausted. First here’s where Modest Money was mentioned this week:

Modest Money Around The Web

Mr.CBB’s Personal Finance Reading List #7 Air Fare Wars~ Air Canada Price Guarantee! on Canadian Budget Binder

The Saturday Weekend Review #7~ Return Fraud Costs Big Bucks! on Canadian Budget Binder

Beef Up Your Credit Card Rewards With This Technique on Critical Financial

Puppy Or Older Dog: Which Costs More? on Eyes On The Dollar

Eyes on the Dollar 20/20 Roundup #26-Germs Go Away on Eyes On The Dollar

Fearless Men’s Weekly Round-Up | Two Awesome Cash Giveaways on Fearless Men

Things You Shouldn’t Do On Impulse #2 ~ Buy A Smartphone on Money Bulldog

Friday recap, some sun and 7 random facts on Reach Financial Independence

Lent , Pope Out, the Senate, RRSP Time and Friday #Shoutouts on The Canadian Personal Finance Blog

Weekly Personal Finance Blog RoundUp – Some Changes Coming on Debt RoundUp

Global Gasoline Prices on Freedom Thirty Five

Frugal Friday: Blog Posts That Ruled This Week, More of the Same Edition on Frugal Rules

Weekly Wrap-Up, Mentions and Good Reads #31 on iHeart Budgets

10 Top Money Blogs of the Week on Money Wise Pastor

Weekend Reading – Nothing like being home, top blogs and many others on My Own Advisor

Internet, meet Copper. Copper, meet internet! on Nickel by Nickel

Dividend Cuts: Throwing A Wrench In The Gears Of Retirement on The Loonie Bin Blog

Thanks to everyone who mentioned my blog this past week. Much appreciated.

And since I really hate short generic comments, here’s a question…is there anything we should be watching out for with our first home purchase? Are there any mistakes you made that we should making too?

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This entry was posted in Blogging, and tagged , , , Comments53 Comments
By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 22 Feb 2013
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53 thoughts on “End of February 2013 Blog Update

  1. Pauline

    Watch the HOA accounts. They are tedious, min HOA was really in debt and we had to lend the money while they got it from other bad debtors (you always get your money back at the end because they can auction the property). They can also have expensive admin fees, once they charged me $50 for a key. Also, check the neighborhood at day/night and weekends, things may change greatly.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I’m not sure if there are HOA accounts here in Canada. $50 for a key is pretty brutal though. Checking the neighborhood at different times sounds pretty important. Sometimes a neighborhood can seem great until you experience it at a less optimal time.

      Reply
      1. jonny boy

        If you didn’t know there were HOA accounts in Canada, maybe you haven’t done enough research before your purchase? Managers looting funds, improperly run acounts etc. have all been in the news recently so making sure your HOA/POA/Board has their act together is really key when considering a condo buy in. You are buying in to the debt of the corporation, so if they owe, you owe!

        I suggest an emergency fund of absolute minimum of $2000 per unit with no additional assessments in last 5 years. If your potential complex has 100 units, you should see a reserve of 200k in their status certificate. That should keep you out of serious trouble.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy

          No it was just a case of different terminology here. In Canada it is referred to as strata. The condo we’re considering does seem to be really well run, but we’ll have a better idea after seeing their strata meeting minutes. With their low monthly strata fee, they must not be in any kind of rush to fund any major repairs.

          Reply
  2. Grayson @ Debt RoundUp

    I hope you got everything figured out Jeremy. My offer still stands if you need help with you know what. Thanks for the mention.

    Buying a first place is time consuming and nerve racking. Though I got a home inspection, I wish I would have done a couple more or even brought another builder in to see the quality. There were a lot of let downs in our house, especially once we got settled. One thing I wish we would have done was check the water pressure. Ours is terrible.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I probably will hit you up for that ‘help’ but I think not for at least a few weeks.

      Something like water pressure is something I probably wouldn’t think to check. This condo that we’re interested in is built by the builder with the best reputation in town. So much so that any realty listings in their buildings always boasts who built it. The actual suite could still have all kinds of problems that built up over the years though.

      Reply
  3. TB at BlueCollarWorkman

    Always check out the basement. If they’re stuff is up on tables and lifted from teh floor, then you know they have a leaky basement (or if their stuff on the floor is full of water marks). Also check out the HOA situation, or whatever the equivalent is in a condo. What’re the fees? And are they ba$tards?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      You must know all kinds of stuff to check with the work you do. Since we’re getting a condo there won’t be a basement, but there is bound to be a lot of stuff we should be checking. The place we like seems to be really well run and the building was built by the top builder in town. So we’re pretty optimistic about it.

      Reply
  4. The Happy Homeowner

    Make sure to do at least 4 visits to the neighborhood and meet your potential new neighbors!!

    You should visit on a weekday at daytime, weekday at nighttime, weekend day at daytime and weekend day at nighttime. It’s amazing how much the same area can change over the course of a week!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Meeting new neighbors is a good idea. It would suck to move into a place with straight up crazy neighbors. That could end up being a real nightmare. I have high hopes for this neighborhood, but since we’d be walking to the train downtown, the safety of the area will be a big concern.

      Reply
  5. Jose

    Jeremy, good luck with the Condo. A first time buy is always the most exciting. I was going to say the most exhausting as well but truth be told, anytime you buy or sell can be exhausting. I’ll be writing to find out what happened with the search engine. My curiosity is almost overwhelming!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It hasn’t been too exhausting yet, but we’ve only looked at one place. We’ll see if we still feel that way as we get out there more and actually get into the whole offer/buying process.

      Reply
  6. PK

    Anything older than 30 years, get a plumber to snake a camera down the sewer line and look for root intrusion. I’m happy about our clean bill of health, heh.

    Reply
  7. John S @ Frugal Rules

    I would agree with Jen about checking out the neighborhoods at different times of the day as you’d be amazed how different it can be at various points of the day. If you’re also still on the fence it never hurts to look at a few more places to see if you truly do like the one you’re leaning towards.

    I sent you an email about a separate issue, though I do hope you get the other issue fixed quick enough.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      The neighborhood is actually one thing I have slight concerns about. At night it might not be the best area to walk around, but I haven’t walked around there in quite some time. Really we don’t walk around in the evenings much anyway.

      Reply
  8. Kris

    Sorry to hear you’re having a hard time of it. I would reiterate the neighborhood visits. Our townhouse, when we bought it, was great and all, but not until we moved in did we know we lived down the street from a halfway house. The people are harmless but still it was a shock to realize that was located at the end of a residential neighborhood street.
    Also, is there any way you can not buy a condo and buy something without HOA fees? I try to avoid those at all costs.
    Good luck!!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      No there isn’t much chance of us buying something without condo fees. Housing here is very expensive. Even a condo here is more expensive than a full house in many areas. So not much choice there. The one we’re interested in does have low condo fees yet it has a pool, hot tub, sauna and gym.

      Reply
  9. AverageJoe

    My home advice: don’t skimp on the inspection, AND make sure you don’t just get the inspector’s notes, but go with him/her. I found that the inspector would tell me a ton of points to look out for that didn’t appear in writing.

    Reply
  10. Liquid

    Darn those search engines making life hard for us bloggers. Glad your condo shopping is going well so far though. It’s a buyer’s market because there is a whole lot of inventory :D Some places are selling for lower than government assessed so that’s good. It doesn’t hurt to make a low offer just to test the market in that neighborhood. If they counter offer you don’t have to accept. Make sure you have subject to financing and to reviewing the strata minutes on any offers you make. It will give you the chance to back out if you come across a better home later on or just simply don’t want to go through with the purchase anymore :0) If you want to know about the condition of a building, see if you can catch the caretaker/janitor. They know about all the leaks and stuff. Just mention you guys are thinking of moving to the area. To save money I didn’t do a proper inspection for my home before buying it. Between an experienced realtor, and some research on Youtube and Google you can check most of the things yourself like plumbing, heating, and mold. Or just get a friend with renovation experience. The bigger things like roofing, leaky membranes, toxic fumes in the basement, previous flooding, etc are all taken care of by the strata council anyway, and all those details should be in the AGM or minutes for you to read. If you were buying a house it’s a whole different matter though and I would definitely hire a legitimate inspector for that. And personally speaking I tend to stay way from units on the ground level. Statistically more likely to get broken into, more noisy, and builds up more humidity in the winter which sometimes creates grunge around the window frames. Thanks for the link back :0)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks for all that advice. I was planning on avoiding ground floor units for some of those very reasons. I like to have the window open when I sleep and I’d hate for that to be an invitation to break in. Also I’m not sure how much to trust my cats running around outside. One is used to that but the other is a little ‘slow’.

      Perhaps we will go ahead and put a low-ball offer on the place just to test the waters. They’ll almost definitely counter, but maybe their counter would be lower than expected or maybe they’d budge if we sat on their counter offer for a while.

      I’m surprised you didn’t pay for an inspection. I think I’d pay for that even if everything seemed good. I wouldn’t want any surprises down the road.

      And great tip about trying to talk to the care taker or janitor. They really would have the inside scoop on everything.

      Reply
  11. Jacob @ iHeartBudgets

    Sorry to hear about that search engine, but I know you’ll bounce back, not worried about that in the slightest.

    For the home, I agree with Joe, get a REALLY GOOD INSPECTOR! And go out there with them if possible. And have the seller fix ALL the issues before you purchase, or have them accomodate by lowering the price. We had windows replaced, electrical wiring fixed, and some other things finished which would have really annoyed us and cost us thousands.

    Also, if you can get the seller to pay all closing costs, that’s cool too. ALSO! Make sure you look into the tax implications and get a good tax guy for your 2013 taxes :)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Eww I’m not looking forward to 2012 taxes, nevermind 2013 when there is a house purchase thrown in the mix. If only you weren’t in the US Jake ;)
      I had thought a bit about potential things I could get them to fix as a sale condition, but for some of that stuff I’d rather take the discount and fix it myself later. That way I can ensure it is fixed well and is how I want it. Like the place we were interested in needs new blinds, but do I really want them cheaping out on some blinds that might not last or might not look very good?

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I’m definitely at peace about it now. The first night was a bit of a shock, but now that I’ve had time to talk to others about it and examine my options, I’m not too worried.

      Reply
  12. Edward Antrobus

    Echo what Pauline said about HOAs. My goal for the future is to never live in another HOA-controled property again. Aside from the ridiculous extra fees and the restrictive covenants (I have an endless list of stories on that topic), all you are doing is paying rent on the land and at best getting access to a pool, your grass cut, and walls painted for twice as much as you cost to have that done on your own.
    On that vein, get reviews on the management. Management was the entire reason we sold our trailer 10 months after we bought it and lost money on it.
    Dark or yellow spots on the ceiling or walls mean a leak somewhere and possibly mold. Check windows, doors and corners for drafts. Drafts mean your basically throwing money away on heat. Depending on the space, it may be worth it to pay for an energy audit in addition to the home inspection.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Doesn’t sound like you had a very good experience with HOAs. I could see how it could be a terrible experience to be in a poorly managed HOA controlled property. The place we are considering doesn’t have any grass to cut and limited common areas. I’m sure that keeps the monthly fees low. Still we’ll want to look into what kind of money they have saved up and when major repairs will be due. Luckily it was built by a very reputable builder which probably means that there shouldn’t be any major surprises.

      Reply
  13. Nick @ ayoungpro.com

    Between my wife and I, we have owned our condo for 10 years. The number one problem we have had is working with the HOA. If your condo has an HOA, make sure to read all of the rules to make sure they jive with you. One thing in particular I would pay attention to is their rental policy. Some HOAs have rules about the percentage of condos in the community that must be owner occupied: this is a good thing. More owner occupied units generally means the units are better maintained and your home value will be in better shape.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That’s actually one thing we were very concerned with but from the opposite perspective. I do see how it is a positive to limit the potentially less respectful neighbors you get when they are renters. On the other hand, if we want to move without having to sell, it is a hassle to not be able to rent out your unit. It could lead to a situation where we are stuck living there due to a weak market.

      Reply
  14. Money Bulldog

    I’ve often wondered what a condo actually is? I’ve heard the term on the movies a few times and I know it’s a home but what makes it a condo? Sure you’ll get your problems sorted mate.

    Reply
    1. Edward Antrobus

      My understanding is that a condo is basically an apartment that is owned in parts. One owner (or consortium of owners) usually owns an apartment building, but each individual “apartment” is owned separately when it comes to condos.

      Reply
  15. Canadianbudgetbinder

    Hey great news about the condo search. We looked at so many houses it was crazy but I’m glad we did. We ended up with a house we still love although the home inspector missed a few things. He was the guy to call apparently.. ya! You will know when you find the right one.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      What if you think you’ve found the right one on the first shot? I know we should go look at other places, but it’s tough when your heart is with that first place. I know if I look at something more expensive I won’t be able to justify the difference. Or if I look at something similarly priced, I’ll find some reason why it’s not as good a fit.

      Reply
  16. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies

    We’re very anti-condo and HOA, so I would have an accountant or someone who understands finances review the HOA’s books. Delinquencies and reserve funds are two things that you want your HOA to be prepared for, because by buying into a condo, you are tying your finances to all the other owners in the building. If they make stupid decisions, those could eventually hit your wallet. That’s why we don’t like HOAs.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes that could lead to some big problems. I think my girlfriend might have a pretty good idea how to judge the condo’s books as she works for a condo development company. I’ll also get someone else to check over it though. If we go with the condo we’re leaning towards it does seem to be run well.

      Reply
  17. Alex

    I would check out the condo board. We lucked out in our current condo. The board is excellent, and despite a few bad events (broken water main, etc), they managed everything without needing to raise maintenance fees.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That’s good to hear. Sometimes those bad events are unavoidable. So the condo board does have to be financially prepared for it. I’ll have to figure out how much is a good amount of cash for them to have available for stuff like that.

      Reply
  18. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    My advice regarding the home purchase:

    -Be sure to view a few houses….don’t just take the first one.
    -There are plenty of houses for sale, it’s OK if you miss out on it.
    -Visit the neighborhood at various times. When I was looking at a house, it was nice and quiet on the weekends. But during rush hour, the main road in front was a parking lot. Also, in the development, there were virtually no parking spaces on Friday and Saturday nights.
    -Talk to the neighbors to see what they like about the area and to vet them to see if there is an “annoying” neighbor.

    Those are just a few. Congrats and good luck on the search!!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Talking to neighbors is probably one of the more important things to do. You can only notice so much on short visits to the neighborhood. Sometimes you need the inside scoop of what it’s really like to live there. Thanks for the advice Jon.

      Reply
  19. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    I don’t know that I have anything else o add that others didn’t cover, but when you find the right place, it’s like finding a spouse, quit looking. Good luck. I love house hunting stories, so I hope to hear more.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      lol about the analogy. Well we think we found the perfect one for us on the first viewing, but that would be like marrying your high school sweetheart. If we jump the gun, we might not know what else we could be missing out on elsewhere.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Well I don’t think I’ll be sharing much more about it here. There are reasons why I chose to be vague. You’re welcome to e-mail me for a more open run down.

      Reply

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