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10 Best Cities For Starting A New Career

“I wake up in the morning and am excited to go to work and do what I love.” “The work I do is challenging but it’s fulfilling and rewarding.” “I’m eager to grow and become better at what I do.”

If none of these statements resonate with you, you aren’t alone. The Conference Board’s consumer research center reported that only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. If you’re someone who falls into that other 55%, it might be time to consider making a career change.

While there are many elements that factor into the decision for a job switch, it comes down to what’s best for you and your family. It’s hard to thrive and be truly happy if you spend 40+ hours a week doing something that doesn’t excite and fulfill you.

If you’re in the market for a career shift or if you’re looking to start your own business, ask yourself this: Is the city you live in providing you with the best platform to do so? If that answer is no or if you’re unsure, take a look at our list of the best cities for a career change.

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In addition to our list of best cities for making a career change, we’ve provided some advice for making that transition as smooth as possible. The career change resources include info about the importance of finding your passion, risks and benefits of a career change, factors to consider and actionable tips to help you make it all happen.

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What Makes A City Great For A Career Change?

If you know that a career shift is in your future, a change of scenery might open up some new opportunities. Some factors to consider when looking at cities for possible relocation include:

  • Low unemployment rates and a high number of job openings in your field
  • Business growth and grant opportunities for aspiring business owners
  • Affordability and availability of housing
  • Potential for increased home value if you’re considering putting down permanent roots
  • Average pay for your desired field or job position versus the cost of living
  • If you’re planning to take an entry-level job, consider those salaries as well

Another important point to consider is the lifestyle in the location. Does this new area have things to do that align with your hobbies and interests? You wouldn’t want to put down roots somewhere for a job if it’s not going to be a great place for you after you’ve clocked out. This is something we kept in mind when selecting our top cities for restarting your career. In addition to the economic factors, we only considered cities that ranked highly for well-being and happiness by their residents from this study by Gallup-ShareCare.

See our methodology section below for the specifics of how we made our top picks.

 

The 10 Best Places To Restart Your Career

Peruse our selections for the best cities to reboot your career, and maybe even find your potential new home and launchpad for your career.

 

10. Austin, TX

Best cities for a career change visual of Austin, Texas' stats

Kicking off our list at number 10, Austin is a well-known state capitol, but its tech and real estate growth have changed its cultural and economic landscape dramatically over the past decade. According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, employment in the tech industry has grown by 24.9% over the past 5 years. This has brought opportunities in other fields to the area, as well as supported Austin incentives and grants. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, try taking it to the Lone Star State. Texas was also named the best state to start a business in 2019. Austin’s music and art scene has grown tremendously and is becoming a diverse destination with plenty of activities to keep you entertained on the weekends.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Average commute time: 24 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,635
  • Average salary: $49,532
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,513

 

9. Colorado Springs, CO

Best cities for a career change visual of Colorado Springs, Colorado's stats

Positioned against sweeping mountainscapes, Colorado Springs is full of beauty and opportunity. Some of their largest industries include scientific and technical services, health care and public administration. Check out their business resources for more insight into their economic development and opportunities. Colorado Springs is a great place for those who love the outdoors, as there are ample opportunities for camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Average commute time: 21.8 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $30,459
  • Average salary: $47,691
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,243

 

8. Aurora, CO

Best cities for a career change visual of Aurora, Colorado's stats

Aurora is the third-largest (and the safest) city in Colorado with booming business opportunities. It’s also close enough to Denver to access their job market while allowing for a lower cost of living. Aurora offers many business incentives for those looking to forge their own path. Since the city is steps away from the mountains with beautiful hiking and biking trails, there is a big fitness community present there as well. Don’t underestimate their food scene just because they’re health-conscious – there’s an abundance of delicious and diverse cuisine to enjoy after work.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average commute time: 29.3 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $32,101
  • Average salary: $50,262
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,313

 

7. Minneapolis, MN

Best cities for a career change visual of Minneapolis, Minnesota's stats

When making a career shift, don’t forget to consider this Twin City. Minneapolis has a great cost of living-to-income ratio and great average commute time for a bigger city. Small businesses can find ample support from the city as well as ongoing bids and Request for Proposals (RFPS) for funding from their procurement office. Located on the Mississippi River, Minneapolis has a great balance of urban and outdoor activities. Along with a great nightlife and bar scene, the city’s sprinkled with many lakes and parks, like the gorgeous Minnehaha Park.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Average commute time: 22.9 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $33,341
  • Average salary: $52,203
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,282

 

6. Scottsdale, AZ

Best cities for a career change visual of Scottsdale's stats

This desert city’s tech and software scene has been heating up in recent years. This has brought many jobs to Scottsdale and its sister cities of Tempe and Phoenix – this uptick in employment has been a big reason for its high job potential ranking. Scottsdale attracts entrepreneurs and skilled workers alike. Check out some tools and tips to help with relocation and getting started, and make note of this “Opportunity Zone” map and size-up business research tool. After hours, enjoy striking sunsets, golf at one of their numerous clubs, energetic nightlife or maybe a hike to explore interesting geological features at Papago Park.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Average commute time: 22.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,461
  • Average salary: $49,260
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,634

 

5. Burlington, VT

Best cities for a career change visual of Burlington, Vermont's stats

Home of the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. and the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters, Burlington is a sweet spot to reboot and start fresh. Some of their most common industries include education, health care, and accommodation and food services. There are also a ton of resources if you’re looking to start up a business in Burlington. Looking to unplug and disconnect? Explore the natural beauty in surrounding state parks and at Lake Champlain.

  • Unemployment rate: 1.8%
  • Average commute time: 18.5 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $32,056
  • Average salary: $50,191
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,449

 

4. Boston, MA

Best cities for a career change visual of Boston, Massachusetts' stats

Boston provides business startups with many exciting opportunities, including grants and loans ranging from $25,000 – $150,000, with some loans up to $250,000. There are also special initiatives to create lively main street districts enriched by a variety of businesses as well as state-provided grant matching to pay for employee training. Boston’s old port city background makes it a historical hotspot – check out the Freedom Trail route that takes you by important sites and museums.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $35,247
  • Average salary: $55,187
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,869

 

3. Washington, DC

Best cities for a career change visual of Washington DC's stats

Our nation’s capital isn’t all politics – it’s also brimming with ample opportunity for a career reset. According to the District of Columbia’s official job outlook, the top five fields with the most in-demand jobs are finance, law, PR/fundraising, computer systems and HR. If you’re looking to stay busy and explore outside of work, DC is full of attractions, museums, art, nightlife and places of historical significance.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Average commute time: 30 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $34,488
  • Average salary: $53,999
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,899

 

2. Emeryville, CA

Best cities for a career change visual of Emeryville California's stats

This city is prime for a career restart. It offers affordable housing while being close enough to other Bay Area cities like San Francisco and Oakland to enter those job markets as well. Take an easy 30-minute commute to potentially rake in an even higher salary. Emeryville offers a variety of small-business rebates and incentives to make it easier to turn dreams into reality. Emeryville is also a hop, skip and a jump away from other great destinations – take a ferry across the gorgeous bay to a hidden gem like Sausalito or take a scenic drive to Napa Valley or Lake Tahoe.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $36,405
  • Average salary: $57,002
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $2,184

 

1. Portland, ME

Best cities for a career change visual of Portland, Maine's stats

Nestled along a gorgeous New England peninsula, Portland, Maine, is not only beautiful, it’s also an ideal location to reboot your career. It boasts short commutes, the second-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. and low housing costs. The city offers loans as a resource for those looking to start their own businesses as well. Portland is known for its 19th-century architecture, scenic shore views and nightlife, so there’s a lot to enjoy outside of work hours.

  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Average commute time: 19.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,833
  • Average salary: $49,842
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,390

 

Additional Cities for Career Restarts

Below you’ll see some other options and honorable mentions. Do you think we missed a great city? Let us know in the comments below what makes your city an ideal option for a restart.

Rank City Unemployment Rate Commute Time (minutes) Entry-level Salary Average Salary Cost of Housing (per month)
11 San Diego, CA 3.6% 24 $33,288 $52,121 $1,940
12 Orlando, FL 3.2% 25.4 $30,152 $47,210 $1,295
13 Pittsburgh, PA 4.5% 23.8 $31,301 $49,009 $1,008
14 Madison, WI 2.6% 19.4 $31,735 $49,688 $1,338
15 West Palm Beach, FL 3.4% 22.7 $32,600 $51,043 $1,368
16 Dallas, TX 3.4% 26.8 $32,733 $51,252 $1,232
17 Nashua, NH 2.7% 26.9 $32,500 $50,886 $1,573
18 Sunnyvale, CA 2.8% 24.4 $37,691 $59,014 $2,591
19 Atlanta, GA 3.5% 26.3 $32,770 $51,309 $1,396
20 Tampla, FL 3.4% 24 $30,280 $47,411 $1,275

 

Tips to Restart Your Career

Making the decision to change or shift your career is exciting but can also be intimidating. See the visual below for actionable tips and insights you can use to help restart your career on the right foot. 

Visual with tips for making a career change. Including the importance of finding the right career, how to align your perspective, overcome obstacles and well as some inspirational words about career change.

At the end of the day, it’s in your hands to go after what inspires you and fulfills your goals. The thought of selling your home and moving somewhere new or entering a new field may seem daunting. Try to reduce that anxiety by considering the tips above, taking it step by step and keeping your sights set on the reward of doing what you love for a living.

 

Methodology

To select the cities that made this list, we cross-referenced the 181 cities in Wallethub’s 2018 study on the best cities for jobs and 186 cities from Gallup’s 2017 study on the communities with the best well-being. Selecting cities that were ranked in both studies, we completed a weighted average of each city’s ranking position. Job study rankings (X) were given a weight of 75 out of 100 while well-being rankings (Y) were given the weight of 25 points (weighted rating =((X*3+Y)/4)). These rankings are supported by and displayed with supplementary data from the US Census (2013–2018), ZipRecruiter’s Salary tool (2019) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) The average cost of housing was determined by averaging median mortgage costs with median gross rent.

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Blog

Top 5 Myths About By-Owner Home Sales

“If you can use an online service to file your taxes, you can use an online service to sell your home.”

Those reassuring words are from Derek Morgan, manager of broker relations at ForSaleByOwner.com, one of several online services that help homeowners bypass real estate agents as well as their 6 percent commissions.

“Our goal is to let buyers and sellers connect on their own,” Morgan explains. “You know, there was a time when real estate agents didn’t exist and people still managed to sell their homes. Online technology is changing the way we do things, so why not use those tools?” he asks.

“As powerful as real estate agents say they are, as a by-owner seller you have the same power,” Morgan notes.

All you need to do is overcome some common myths about selling a home yourself. “For by-owner sellers willing to invest the effort — and who treat selling their home as a professional business transaction — it really can become simple and worth the time.”

Here are the top five myths about by-owner home sales:

MYTH #1: By-owner sellers can’t price homes as well as agents can. Pricing is so difficult, only a real estate agent can do it.

REALITY CHECK: Agents have no gifted insight into how to price homes. They simply go online and check the selling history of similar homes in your neighborhood. That’s exactly what you’ll do as a by-owner seller. Some sites offer a step-by-step pricing guide to help you decide on a price.

MYTH #2: I could never market my home. Marketing requires specialized skills and access to a closed network of active buyers.

REALITY CHECK: When you sell FSBO (that’s industry-speak for “for sale by owner”), online resources give you more power than you realize. Turns out buyers, like sellers, are taking home ownership into their own hands. More than 50 percent of all buyers started the house hunt online, where 43 percent said they first found the home they bought, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Beyond that, many by-owner sites offer the same exposure, if not more, than agents do.

MYTH #3: All of my friends say that real estate agents provide useful services and a level of exposure that FSBO sellers can’t achieve on their own. Besides, as a by-owner seller, I won’t be able to reach buyers through multiple listing services.

REALITY CHECK: Absolutely untrue. Nine out of 10 buyers use the Internet during their home search, according to the 2013 NAR report. Through online services, by-owner sellers benefit from the same exposure agents provide on the Web. For example, for a flat, one-time fee, discount brokers and websites will put a by-owner seller’s home on the local MLS. As an added bonus, the flat fee you pay for MLS access is thousands of dollars less than an agent’s commission.

MYTH #4: It will be easier for me to schedule an open house or showing if I have a real estate agent.

REALITY CHECK: In fact, it’s harder. When you add an agent to the mix, any showings need to accommodate the schedules of three people: the seller, the buyer and the agent. And even if a prospective buyer has an agent, most by-owner sellers welcome the chance to speak with buyers directly to ensure that accurate information is being conveyed.

MYTH #5: I’ll need to use an agent or broker to coordinate and prepare a transaction for closing. All those forms are too complicated.

REALITY CHECK: Most agents actually outsource this work to lawyers. Any credible by-owner service will insist that you engage an attorney for this important part of the sale. Some by-owner sites offer a network of real estate attorneys along with state-specific contracts and disclosures you’ll need to seal the deal.

Tackle these tasks and pay yourself the 3-6 percent you’d typically pay in agent commission fees. Just think of what you could do with that money instead.

Tell us in the comments: How would you spend the money you save selling your home by owner?

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Blog

Why Selling a Home By Owner Makes Sense in a Digital World

From foreheads offered as advertising space to Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten French toast, in today’s digitally driven world, it’s obvious that you can buy just about anything online. And with the rise of sell-it-yourself sites like Craigslist and eBay, sellers can post items day and night, and negotiate the best offer.

So why ­— especially with our Internet obsession — do most home sellers still use real-estate agents? Good question, given that by-owner websites offer all the same digital tools that agents use. In many cases both home buyers and sellers are finding they can save time and money by going straightfrom the Internet to each other, negotiating a price and sale directly — without an agent.

Use of the Internet in the home-search process has increased to 92 percent (from 90 percent in 2012), according to the 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Of the buyers who used the Internet to search for homes, almost 50 percent first found their new home online.

These Internet-savvy buyers are viewing by-owner listings alongside agent listings, because sites like ForSaleByOwner.com offer sellers the opportunity to use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), as well as automatically advertise their listing on Trulia and Zillow and other popular real estate sites. That way, their homes will get the same sort of exposure as those represented by a real estate agent.

As the real estate market continues to recover, home sellers reported that they typically sold their home for $25,000 more than they paid or it (up from $20,000 in 2012), according to the NAR report. Yet agent commission fees are still a considerable chunk of the seller’s price gain. As an example, on a $300,000 home a seller can owe up to $18,000 in agent fees. By-owner sales costs amount to a fraction of agent fees. By-owner listing costs amount to a fraction of what traditional sellers end up spending. For comparison, a ForSaleByOwner.com seller may pay as little as $80 to list their home and never owe an agent commission fee.

While NAR claims that “as the market changes and evolves, the need for a professional to help with the transaction has increased,” heavy use of the Internet by consumers suggests just the opposite. As buyers and sellers become more tech savvy, they want more control over the experience and are adept at using online home-selling tools to do it themselves.

Google and NAR recently did a joint study entitled “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate” that concluded:

In today’s complex, rapidly changing and digitally driven media environment,
capturing a home shopper’s attention in order to build a real estate business
and personal REALTOR brand is tougher than ever.

In other words, even NAR acknowledges that these days it’s hard to establish a real-estate practice amid the increased online expertise of the buyers and sellers. The importance of Internet home shopping is illustrated by a whopper of a statistic in the report: Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253 percent over the past four years.

By-owner sellers are feeling the effects of house hunters searching the Internet. After selling her Newport News, VA, home for $282,000 using ForSaleByOwner.com, Donna Smith said: “The listing on the Internet also produced a lot of ‘hits’ from people looking to buy a house. The buyers that ask for a tour are more serious than ones led by a real estate salesperson.”

The speed of the digital marketplace also impresses by-owner sellers. They no longer have to wait days for their ads to appear in the newspaper; online listings reach motivated home buyers immediately. Azad Yepremian sold a house in Westchester, PA, this year for $260,000: “We listed it with little expectation of it selling quickly and were thrilled when we received an offer within five days of listing!”

Eliminating the middleman can provide intangible benefits as well, including more direct communication between the buyer and seller. That’s a very good thing. After all, no one knows your home and your neighborhood better than you do. A real estate agent might not know that there’s a great dog walker just around the corner, or where to take your dry cleaning, or who’s the favorite kindergarten teacher at the local elementary school. Buyers value this insider information.

In addition, if both sides forego a traditional real estate agent, there’s a chance for the home buyer and seller to negotiate a home price directly without the added costs.

The Internet has helped make many things easier and streamlined many processes. It connects people as never before and opens up a world of choices–and savings.

All that power can be yours when selling your home by owner.

We want to know: What digital solutions have made your life easier?

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The Home Search

New Florida Laws Can Make Renters Pay Homeowner Association Fees

Donna Collins, who pays rent on the Kissimmee home she shares with her elderly mom, faces a new threat of eviction starting next week when Florida law allows homeowner associations to pursue renters, not just landlords, for overdue fees.

If the owner falls behind and the renter doesn’t cover the deficit, the renter faces eviction under the new statute, which takes effect July 1.

“What it boils down to is that we’ve got the homeowner association on one side saying, ‘If you don’t pay us for the fees, we’re going to evict you,’ ” said Collins, whose landlord owes thousands in back fees. “And on the other side you’ve got a landlord saying, ‘If you don’t pay me the rent, then I’m going to evict you.’ What’s a tenant to do?”

The issue of delinquent homeowner fees has become pervasive in Metro Orlando, which led the nation in rental and homeowner vacancies during the first quarter, according to U.S. census figures. The census reported that 8.9 percent of all homes and condos were unoccupied and 20.6 percent of all rentals were empty — the highest vacancy rates among the nation’s 75 largest metro areas.

In the past, tenants paid only rent to their landlords, who were supposed to pay any community fees associated with the house or condo unit. If a landlord failed to pay the fees, a homeowner or condo association could file a lien or ask a judge for title to the property. But both options took time and came with legal fees that were tough for cash-starved associations to pay.

The new law allows associations to collect fees directly from renters if the owner-landlords don’t pay up.

“I feel bad for the tenants. They’re being put in the middle of the situation,” said Frayda Morris, owner Central Association Management of Kissimmee, which has sent notices to Collins and other renters. “But the big picture is that they are in the home paying rent, and the investor, he’s collecting rent but he’s not paying assessments, not paying the mortgage.”

Collins said her adult son, who also lives with her, was renting in Tampa but was booted from his home when the bank foreclosed on it. So before renting the Kissimmee house, she said, they checked with the property-management company that was showing the rental to make sure the owner wasn’t late on association payments.

But after signing the lease, they discovered that the property was headed to foreclosure. And now Collins has learned that her landlord wasn’t paying the association fees either.

Investor-owners whose reaction to the housing slump has been a “strategic default” — walking away from the mortgage on a devalued home or condo even though they can afford to pay — also stop paying their association fees. That trend, combined with an increase in the number of unemployed residents who can’t afford fees, have made it difficult for homeowner and condo associations to maintain pools, roofs and sidewalks. And the resident-owners who continue to pay resent covering for absentee owners who don’t.

“What we get is: ‘Why do we have to pay for people who don’t pay?’ ” said Morris, who has worked in property management for 29 years.

The new law may ease financial problems for homeowner and condo associations, but questions remain about how it will be put into effect.

For starters, it’s not entirely clear how much of a rental’s delinquent-fee bill a tenant will be expected to pay, said David Muller, a Sarasota lawyer who specializes in association law.

And many associations may have trouble assessing tenants, Muller said, because no one necessarily tracks which properties in a community or complex are rentals, who is renting them and how much they are paying.

“There are some questions about exactly how this is going to work,” he said. “The good news about this is that it’s going to give associations another mechanism to get paid on these unpaid assessments. But it does provide a host of questions, with issues not addressed in the statutes, and it will invariably be challenged in the courts.”

One of legislation’s co-authors, state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, said the law was intended to ensure that everyone pays a fair share. He noted that renters have always faced eviction when their landlords fail to pay fees or mortgages; this measure just makes the system more efficient by giving associations an option other than filing a lien or going to court.

“If a renter isn’t paying their maintenance fees, they should be offered no protections because they’re harming every unit owner,” Ring said Thursday.

In terms of actually putting the law to work, Ring said the measure was “admittedly gray” in determining how much renters should owe of the back fees that accrue while they are living in a particular house or condo. He said that “loophole” may need to be addressed by the courts.

Collins said she likes the layout of the four-bedroom house she’s renting and has even tried to buy it from the owner. So far, that hasn’t happened.

And now, she said, the owner has made it clear that he’ll move to evict her if she pays the association fee instead of his rent.

This story was first published by the Orlando Sentinel on June 28, 2010.

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The Home Search

Federal Rules Wreak Havoc on Condo Sales

FHA loans are proving to be the bright spot of the housing industry, enabling many first-time buyers to enter the market at a time when tighter lending requirements otherwise would not allow them.

That is, unless they’re in the market for a condominium.

Unlike Federal Home Administration-insured mortgages for single-family homes, FHA loans for condos are more complicated, and here’s the biggest difference: You can’t just buy any condo you want. Either the unit itself or the entire building has to be FHA approved.

Such wrinkles have slowed and made condo shopping more difficult and sent property owners scrambling for FHA approvals.

The rules are being dusted off after more than a decade of non-use as lenders, borrowers and developers flock to FHA loans, which require down payments of as little as 3 percent of the purchase price.

“They’re not new rules, just no one cared about them before,” said Michelle Collins, senior vice president of mortgage lending at ShoreBank. “FHA is the old game that is the new game in town. This is a brand-new problem. I think this is going to be a huge problem in the condo market specifically.”

Lenders and real estate agents say transactions involving FHA-insured mortgages appear to have tripled, based on anecdotal evidence. For the month of June, FHA-insured new and refinanced loans totaled 4,066 in the 19 Northern Illinois counties served by the Chicago office of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s up from June 2007’s 1,347 loan total. Condo numbers weren’t broken out.

FHA rules wreaking the most havoc locally are a requirement that a building must have four or more units. That means buyers of a condo in a three-flat need not apply. There’s also a rule that a building’s condo association cannot have a “right of first refusal” as part of its declarations of covenants and restrictions. Frequently in place but seldom used, right of first refusal enables an association to turn down a prospective buyer and then buy a unit from a seller.

HUD won’t allow the term because it might limit the agency’s ability to resell a condo in its possession, and it could be perceived as discriminatory.

Some 15 years ago, the FHA wasn’t such a stickler on this rule. It would accept a condo association letter saying it would waive the right of first refusal, said Judith Heaney, supervisory operations officer of HUD’s Chicago office. Now declarations have to be formally changed, an expense not all condo associations may be willing to make.

“We’ve been telling the Realtors to go talk with associations about removing it from the [declarations],” said Steve Molitor, vice president of PHH Home Loans in Evanston.

Confusion for buyers

Chicago Ridge resident Jennifer Yaeger has been browsing for a condominium in the south suburbs for more than a year with plans to seek an FHA loan. But it wasn’t until she sat down with a lender and was told the rules, and then went online, that she learned none of the buildings she had been eyeing qualified.

“I honestly didn’t think there was anything different in buying a condo with an FHA loan than a single-family home,” said Yaeger, 33. “The process of buying a home, it’s so strenuous. Finding out that I had just another thing that could work against me and narrow my choices even further was intimidating.”

Using HUD’s online search engine two weeks ago, she compiled a list of 70 condo buildings that qualified for FHA loans and e-mailed it to her real estate agent, although she didn’t know which, if any, of the buildings have units available and were in her price range and to her liking.

“A buyer will look at stuff on the Web, see all this great selection and not necessarily understand that this isn’t all available to them,” said Jane McClelland, an owner of Re/Max in the Village Realtors in Oak Park. “When we take listings, we ask [sellers] for all their declarations, but most of the time they look back at us with blank stares.”

Rarely considered

For the past 10 years, building development and management companies rarely considered getting properties FHA approved because they didn’t need the extra paperwork when buyers lined up outside their doors and other low-cost financing options were available.

The sluggish market, along with the FHA’s recently raised loan limit ceiling of $410,000, is causing some sellers to reconsider.

But it’s not an overnight process. Approvals for Chicago-area FHA-insured mortgages, processed in Atlanta, currently take eight to 10 weeks, twice the normal processing time, Heaney said.

The fact that a property is FHA approved is even popping up in marketing material.

When developer Mike Fox began converting an Oak Park apartment building into condos, he had little intention of seeking FHA approval for the building. But now that the development is a year old and half of the units are sold, he got notice last week that his Lions Gate is FHA-qualified. He plans to include the designation in his marketing materials and hopes it will end a recent spate of canceled deals.

“It will help me with that unpredictability on the lender side of life,” he said.

via Chicago Tribune
Syndicated with Permission

 

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The Home Search

Some Disputes Need Board Intervention, Others to be Settled By Owners

What happens when your neighbor blasts his music too loud? Complains about your trees covering his yard and cuts down branches? Fills his garage with fireworks for Fourth of July? Or gets mad at you and dumps garbage on your lawn?

When neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts occur in shared communities, who is responsible for settling them — the owners, the association or both?

Case in point: At the Crescent Lakes of Boca Raton homeowners community, two neighbors, Paul Sivo and Gail Porczyk, have engaged in a war of words and alleged angry actions for up to a decade.

Sivo claims Porczyk has “tormented” his wife, Doris, dumped debris in his yard and once, while he and his wife were on vacation, turned on an outside water faucet and left it running, wasting water and ringing up an extra $12 on his water bill before a neighbor came across it, according to Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reports. Porczyk, on the other hand, has also complained of being mistreated repeatedly by Sivo over the years, according to attorneys representing the homeowners association.

Such alleged actions may appear petty. But they can be very troublesome for those involved, their neighbors and even board directors. Police reports reveal at least one of Sivo and Porczyk’s neighbors has become a potential witness.

And just like the conflicts themselves, the question of how to resolve them — and who’s responsible — is often complex.

In general, when it comes to living in condominium and homeowner communities, the answer to resolving neighbor-to-neighbor disputes sometimes lies in the details of the governing documents. But unless specific powers are provided by the rules and restrictions for the association board to intervene, conflicts are typically up to neighbors to resolve, by working things out between themselves or battling it out in the courts, experts say.

Both Sivo and Porczyk declined to comment about the dispute, but said they were consulting their private attorneys in their pursuit of a resolution. Through her attorney, Porczyk denied all of the allegations against her.

Irwin York, president of the Crescent Lakes of Boca Raton Homeowners Association referred calls to the association’s law firm. MaryAnn Chandler, a partner at Katzman, Garfinkel and Berger, which represents the community, said at this point it is not certain whether the association has the authority to step in.

“It might come down to a case of he said, she said,” Chandler said. “The bottom line is the association may only intervene when the issue impacts the community as a whole, or the dispute involves a violation of the governing documents.”

Sometimes a community’s governing documents offer a solution, said Ellen Hirsch de Haan, a partner with Becker & Poliakoff, which represents shared communities across Florida.

For instance, if a condo owner complains that an upstairs neighbor has installed a new tile floor without sound-proofing, as required by condo documents, the association may step in, de Haan said. If the association has the power to fine, they could do so.

Florida law stipulates that associations do have a legal duty to address nuisance issues that affect “the quiet enjoyment” of more than one neighbor, de Haan said. That could include an owner playing loud music late at night or the incessant barking of a dog that disturbs a number of neighbors.

But complaints from a single owner about an ongoing matter “may not rise to the level of a nuisance that must be addressed by the association,” de Haan explained.

De Haan recommends the following tips, if you are engaged in a neighborhood dispute and believe your board should get involved:

Verify complaints: Owners in a dispute should provide evidence to support their case, including obtaining witness statements, photographic or video evidence. Sivo reportedly installed cameras around his home to capture evidence. Board members should also document complaints as much as possible.

Send a warning letter: Ask the board to send a letter to your offending neighbor, detailing times and dates of the complaints and the governing documents violations at issue. If appropriate, that letter should warn about possible fines, suspension of privileges and legal action.

Seek legal advice: When all else fails, consider hiring an attorney, and ask your board to consult the association attorney about other possible action and potential liabilities on the behalf of the community.

This article was first published by the Sun-Sentinel on Oct. 26, 2010.

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5 Big Insights on Selling a Home in 2014

Whether you’ve already put your home on the market or are just considering it, navigating the selling process can be daunting. A handful of key insights into today’s market will help you feel more confident and may increase your chances for a successful outcome.

1. The value of a real estate agent has changed. Why? Because most buyers find homes online without the help of an agent. In 2013, nine in 10 buyers used the Internet at some point during their home search, and more than half of buyers started their home search online, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Additionally, nearly half of recent buyers said they found the home they purchased online, a statistic that has been rising steadily each year since 2001.

2. The average sale price of homes sold by ForSaleByOwner.com sellers is higher. According to NAR, the median sale price of agent-assisted home sales in 2013 was $230,000, while ForSaleByOwner.com’s average sale price was nearly $20k more. Imagine what you could do with all that extra money in your pocket.

3. More direct communication = better home sales. Because inventory of homes is down nationwide, “by owner” home sellers are more likely to be contacted directly by potential buyers, resulting in simpler negotiations and lower costs. Plus, asking prices are typically reduced fewer times on “by owner” listings, thanks to the direct communication between buyers and sellers.

4. The savings potential is huge. Sellers typically pay agent commission fees that can reach up to 6 percent of their final sale price. If you sell a $300,000 home by owner, you could save $18,000 on agent commission fees. Boom! There’s your new bathroom or fancy deck (patio furniture and gas grill included). Online listing services give “by owner” sellers access to the same tools agents use, including the Multiple Listing Service, at a fraction of the price. Beyond that, NAR reports that only 15 percent of “by owner” sellers said they used incentives to attract buyers versus 36 percent of agent-assisted transactions. Trust us, your bank account will thank you.

5. “By owner” sellers are just like you. In fact, customers on ForSaleByOwner.com are tech savvy, well educated, middle class and comfortable using a wide variety of resources and tools, including social media. Sound familiar?

Selling your home on your own doesn’t mean you’re all alone. We’re all about finding new ways to help buyers and sellers connect. If this is your first visit to our blog, welcome! We hope you’ll jump in on the conversation. If there’s one thing we’ve got, it’s opinions, and we back them up with statistics, studies and research. So stay tuned!

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