Word Wednesday: HOA

Homeowners Association (HOA)

An organization of homeowners of a particular subdivision, condominium or planned unit development. The purpose of a homeowners association is to provide a common basis for preserving maintaining and enhancing their homes and property.

(HOA Law and Legal Definition)


Homebuyers have wishlists…each has their own…

“big kitchen with an island that can fit six”

“three car garage, I have to have a three-car garage”

“a big backyard”

“no backyard”

“master bath with dual vanities and a big walk-in shower”

“southern exposure”

“close to my parents”

Buyers wishlists…those things that make the home search fun, those things that make their eyes light up when they find them.

I’ve been at this real estate thing for a pretty long time I’ve heard a bunch of wish lists but in all this time I’ve never had a buyer include…

“a super reasonable, financially stable homeowners association with enough money in reserves to pay for the big stuff without charging a monthly arm and a leg and an association with less than 20% of its residents behind on their dues.”

That ↑ is not nearly as fun as a backyard or as sexy as dual vanities and a big walk-in shower.

So…nope…never heard that one on a buyer’s wish list.

But when you’re considering purchasing a property with a Homeowners Association…it’s got to go on the list.

The HOA can make an impact a big impact on your enjoyment, finances and future value of the property you purchase. When you’ve found that perfect condo, or townhome, or home or any other “wishes come true” property with a HOA…you have to pause before you proceed.

Before you reach the “all my wishes have come true here” emotional point of no return, pause and get in the know:

Know the Rules

Can you have a grill on the balcony? Are pets ok? How big and how many? Can I rent my condo after I buy it? What happens if I break the rules?

The HOA has a list of rules and you’ll want to make sure you can live with them.

Know yourself

Do you hate being told what you can and cannot do? If so, you’ll have to reconcile your independent streak with the control the HOA maintains. Consider your own your desires and temperament.

Know what’s included and what isn’t (FEES)

Fees will differ from one community to the next and you’ll want to know the answers to the fees questions of each…What does the monthly fee cover? How often have fees increased and by how much? How large is the HOA’s reserve fund? Is a special assessment on the horizon? How do the fees compare to others in the area?

Know the Association 

Some associations are self-managed, others are managed by an outside company. Know how the association works…how are conflicts resolved? Is the association wrought with drama and silly politics? You’ll want to know what you’re getting into. Meeting minutes and talking with residents can be revealing.

Know you’re not alone 

If you’ll be getting a mortgage for your purchase, the mortgage company will be checking out the HOA as well to ensure their lending on a good bet. They won’t lend on an association that’s financially weak by their standards. The mortgage company doesn’t care about grilling on balconies, but they do care whether the association has enough money in reserves to handle those big-ticket items that are sure to come up.

Homebuyers have wishlists, each has their own…but an HOA you can live with merits being on all of them…put it on the list.






Word Wednesday: Turkey


Thanksgiving 2007.

Greg and Lisa, (my brother-in-law and sister) are hosting…as they most often do.

The usual suspects are gathered.

Like every Thanksgiving, there’s an extra someone joining us.

In 2007 that extra someone was Greg’s friend since childhood…Richie.

Thanksgiving 2007 was like nearly every other Thanksgiving…

The long tables stretching from the dining room into the living room…the mustard colored tablecloths neatly pressed, table set and homemade place tags set at each plate.


Thanksgiving dinner was delicious as it always is.



And we had our grab bag as we always do…

Thanksgiving 2007 was like every other wonderful Thanksgiving except…

It was when most everyone had gone home and there were just nine of us…sitting around the kitchen table…

Extra someone Richie says…

“Let’s play…who you are, to me.”

Who you are to me?

Maybe we agreed because we thought it was a game…but it wasn’t a game at all.

Who you are to me.

Who you are to me is each person present taking a turn as the “who” and the others gathered tell the who…” who you are…to me.”

There was something about looking across the table and seeing the people I’ve sat across the table from on countless occasions, the people I share nearly every Thanksgiving with and looking at them with the eyes of “who you are to me”…I saw each of them differently, saw their uniqueness, felt the importance of them and my love for them more deeply.

We all did.

It felt a bit strange…and you could almost see and feel the falling away from our collective protective armor…

I love my brother-in-law dearly but I don’t tell him so all the time. And I sure as heck hadn’t given much thought to who he was to me…let alone tell him. But on that night I did. We all did…We all told each other…who you are to me…

And it was squirmy and uncomfortable…there were nervous laughs and tearful answers but we gave into it. We all let ourselves be vulnerably naked and showed one another our hearts. There were words of appreciation and love…I don’t remember all of the words spoken but I can remember and feel vividly…the love.

It’s a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget.


There’s an expression…” talking turkey” and I’d heard it before but wasn’t sure what it meant, so I googled it. On the World Wide Words website this is what it had to say about “talking turkey”:

“…it meant to speak agreeably or to say pleasant things, nowadays it usually refers to speaking frankly, discussing hard facts or getting down to serious business.”

World Wide Words says the definition of ‘talking turkey” has changed over the years…gone from speaking agreeably to speaking frankly and getting down to serious business…

I think it’s both.

“Who you are to me” was just one Thanksgiving. It stands out in my memory because it was the Thanksgiving we ate turkey, and later around the kitchen table, vulnerably showed our hearts to one another…and on that one Thanksgiving night…we talked turkey.

Talking turkey should happen more often…

We don’t much get down to the serious business of letting people know who they are to us, how much they mean to us, the importance of their presence in our lives…

Our most important, deep, serious business and yet we spend more time with one another, speak with one another mostly of shallow. Why do we close ourselves off from so much good stuff? Why do we pick the safety of our hearts silence over the love and connection that comes when we let our hearts speak?

We really should try to talk more turkey.

It’s squirmy and uncomfortable to talk turkey…it means the armor comes off…it means being vulnerably naked and showing our hearts…but it is our most important business…it’s the good stuff.

Let’s talk turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends…







I’m in a little writing group. We met on Wednesday. And when we meet our group starts with a 10-minute free write, where you just put pen to paper and keep writing til the timer goes off.

Anyway, on Wednesday the prompt is about amnesia. Because it’s free write it’s not great writing, not even good writing…just writing what comes to mind. And writing on Wednesday about amnesia elicits this…

“And what of our identity? What state of amnesia do we exist in? Do we know ourselves beyond names and roles? Do we remember the little girls we were…would they know the women we’ve become? Does amnesia keep us from our true selves?”

So that’s Wednesday and on Thursday it’s still rolling around in my mind. And I remember the book “You Are A Badass”…that book makes the point that there’s no becoming a badass, you just are. By being you.

And then I start thinking about my own struggles with all of the same. 54 years old and I still struggle. Can I do this? Should I try that? Am I good enough? Smart enough? What will others think?

I’ve learned enough and know enough now to know I don’t need anything more…I don’t need another class, I don’t need to read one more thing, do one more thing, ask one more person…I am not inadequate. The only thing I need to do is remember who I am. Remember that I have gifts of greatness, remember that I am a badass. My own kind of badass.

I once knew this. But…amnesia.

Before I knew the rules and roles, before I learned what normal was supposed to be, before I was shushed, before I got the glasses I thought made me ugly…I was just me. And every fundamental gift I have now I already had then. It was in there.

Before I thought I wasn’t good enough…I knew that I was.

And in moments of doubt, I would do well to run towards the girl that knew…I need only dive deeper, remember and find more of her, embrace her…because she’s the badass.

And all of this has been bobbling around in my head…

Maybe much of self-doubt is amnesia. Forgetting what we at some point knew and believed about ourselves. Back when we didn’t even think about shit. Back when we just were…before amnesia.

In moments of self-doubt…moments when we’re not sure of what to do…or how to do it…maybe we just need to snap out of the amnesia…and find her. Remember her. Not doubt her. Empower her. She’s got this.

For a while now I’ve kept this photo in the pocket of my bullet journal…pulled it out yesterday…hadn’t thought of it as such…but she’s my reminder.

Feels uncomfortable to write this…seems a little weird…but truth is, I am. She was too…she didn’t worry about that as much as I do. She was a badass. I am a badass.

You are too…




– [ ]

Word Wednesday…Comfort



  1. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint
  2. the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings grief or distress


  1. ease the grief of; console


When I get home at the end of the day, the first thing I do is go to my closet, take off my shoes and put my slippers on.  I take out my hoop earrings and hear the clank of the lid of the ceramic box as I return the earrings where I keep them…the earrings off and those slippers on announces…I’m home.

With the taking out my earrings and the slipping off my shoes I slip off the outside world and the day…the to-dos, those that got done and those that didn’t. I’m home and it feels so good.

My seat on the couch is easy to spot…the cushion’s sagged from my daily weight. But sinking into my spot feels like a restoring embrace. And when I peer out the big picture window or rest my feet on the worn leather hassock…I smile inside.


The aroma of a Yankee candle and the flickering light of its flame, my old dusty bookcases with my favorite books lining the shelves. My flower pot full of pens that sit on the end table with one random notebook or another. The light pouring across the dining room in the late afternoon…

Henry’s nails tapping on the kitchen floor as he makes his way to the back door…the annoying bang of the screen door announcing each’s arrival home…

IMG_4907 (1)

Each sight, smell, and touch of home is my comfort.

And it’s not that my world or life outside the door of my house is one of so much pain or constraint…it’s just that most everything about home feels as good as my slippers at the end of the day. Ease and freedom…the place that consoles…comfort. Home.

When buyers shop houses they shop features…bedrooms, baths, lot sizes and floor plans, casual great rooms or formal living areas, a finished basement, a three-car garage. When they find “the one” they know it.

Sometimes the house has all the things on their feature list, but more often it doesn’t. But still, it’s “the one”…

It’s that something that evokes “I could see myself here.”

Figuring out where the couch will go, finding the bedroom closet where the slippers will be kept, imagining the dog and everyone else in the kitchen…

That’s not the articulation of features…it’s the language of comfort.

It’s a knowing that this place, this house is and will be…comfort. Home.


Word Wednesday…Kitchen




  1. a room or area where food is prepared and cooked.


My mom painted the kitchen cabinets an antique red. She painted them decades before there was HGTV, decades before Martha Stewart was a household name. I can still see the counters…the blue swirly countertops with a stainless steel edge. And the wallpaper with the red and blue to pick up the colors of both those antique red cabinets and the swirly blue counters. I don’t think the kitchen would have made a Pinterest board, but it was her kitchen.

It was a little kitchen with just enough room for the small round maple table.

And the meals that woman prepared in that little kitchen. Beef roasts, tuna casseroles, out of this world soups, loaves of crusty bread, vegetables and salads. Delicious meals, all of them.



And each night at dinner time she’d set out the placemats and light the candles. And we’d share a meal and our day with one another.



I loved that kitchen. Loved those antique red cabinets and the ahead of her time woman that painted them. The aroma of each night’s deliciousness, the candlelight, and its comforting ambiance, and the good company in that kitchen, the days and the meals shared make for the fondest of memories.


I see lots of kitchens. I often have to break the news to my seller clients that buyers will perceive their little kitchens as cramped and outdated. Buyers want big open kitchens, islands with stools and appliances in stainless steel. So we work on the “outdates” and with some tweaks and staging we update as realistically as makes sense.

But I see those cramped little-outdated kitchens, their Formica counters, the wallpaper…and I think about the meals that may have been prepared, and wonder the day’s stories told, wonder if they lit candles at dinnertime too. I think about the sights and aromas and good company and memories those kitchens hold.

In real estate, “kitchen” is about updating and appliances, counter space and cabinets. And I know the value of and appreciate the beauty of an updated well-appointed kitchen. But in real life, a kitchen is one you make your own… kitchen is the people and the meals and the day’s stories shared. A kitchen is the memories made.