No Comments

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, you’ll want to keep a pulse on what’s happening with mortgage rates. Rates have been climbing in recent months, especially since January of this year. And just a few weeks ago, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac approached 4% for the first time since May of 2019. But that climb has dropped slightly over the past few weeks (see graph below):

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

The recent decline in mortgage rates is primarily due to growing uncertainty around geopolitical tensions surrounding Russia and Ukraine. But experts say it’s to be expected.

Here’s a look at how industry leaders are explaining the impact global uncertainty has on mortgage rates:

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, says:

While mortgage rates trended upward in 2022, one unintended side effect of global uncertainty is that it often results in downward pressure on mortgage rates.”

In another interview, Kushi adds:

“Geopolitical events play an important role in impacting the long end of the yield curve and mortgage rates. For example, in the weeks following the ‘Brexit’ vote in 2016, the U.S. Treasury bond yield declined and led to a corresponding decline in mortgage rates.”

Kushi’s insights are a reminder that, historically, economic uncertainty can impact the 10-year treasury yield – which has a long-standing relationship with mortgage rates and is often considered a leading indicator of where rates are headed. Basically, events overseas can have an impact on mortgage rates here, and that’s what we’re seeing today.

Will Mortgage Rates Stay Down?

While no one has a crystal ball to predict exactly what will happen with rates in the future, experts agree this slight decline is temporary. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, echoes Kushi’s sentiment, but adds that the decline in rates won’t last:

“Geopolitical tensions caused U.S. Treasury yields to recede this week . . . leading to a drop in mortgage rates. While inflationary pressures remain, the cascading impacts of the war in Ukraine have created market uncertainty. Consequently, rates are expected to stay low in the short-term but will likely increase in the coming months.” 

Rates will likely fluctuate in the short-term based on what’s happening globally. But before long, experts project rates will renew their climb. If you’re in the market to buy a home, doing so before rates start to rise again may be your most affordable option.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are an important piece of the puzzle because they help determine how much you’ll owe on your monthly mortgage payment in your next home. Let’s connect so you have up-to-date information on rates and trusted advice on how to time your next move.

No Comments

Your Pipes Are Gross, but That’s OK

Plumbers do the dirtiest of work, but somehow the profession has garnered a reputation for rip-offs. But where would you be without them? Where would your bathroom be?

And let’s be honest. We don’t schedule plumbing appointments months in advance. Plumbers are the ones we frantically call at 2 a.m., with water pooling up around our ankles and stolen hotel monogrammed towels strewed across the floor. We call plumbers mid meltdown, and somehow they have to explain the inner workings of our pumps and valves in plain English and jump to action before more damage is done.

Just because it’s a dirty job doesn’t mean its practitioners don’t deserve our respect—or our understanding. Here are nine things plumbers wish you, their clients, knew to clear the air—or the drains, so to speak.

Your drains are dirty. Really dirty. But that doesn’t mean you are.

People have no concept of what they’re flushing down the toilet. You probably assumed that it’s pretty gross down there, but if you’ve never watched someone snake your toilet or shower, it may surprise you just how gross it is. But that’s normal. The amount of muck pulled out of your drains isn’t a reflection of your cleanliness—or of your plumber’s skill. The least helpful thing you can do is remark on how appalling the bathroom looks mid renovation. They know, and it will get better. There’s nothing sexy about sewer lines, but when they don’t work, you sure notice it.

They’ll clean up after themselves—but not after you.

Even though the process might be messy, good plumbers will leave your home exactly as they found it. They want it to look just like it did when they got there. But that doesn’t mean they’ll clean up your messes. If they walk into a bathroom and there’s already sewage all over the bathroom, they will get the clog undone, but they don’t carry a full line of janitorial supplies on the truck. Most plumbers try to go above and beyond, but sometimes it’s gonna take a coat of paint and new flooring, not just cleaning to fix the space.

Don’t feel bad for calling late at night.

Plumbing is a 24-hour-a-day job, so no reputable plumber will be miffed by a midnight emergency. Call and they’ll answer. They don’t get mad. Sometimes they get the better jobs that way because you  couldn’t get anybody else.

Don’t overestimate your DIY abilities.

Unless you’re seriously handy, leave plumbing to professionals. Know your limits. Some people  don’t need a plumber. Some get the wrong tool, taking a small problem and making it a big problem because you shouldn’t have pried. That turns what could have been a quick fix and an easy job into a strenuous ordeal that could involve pulling up floorboards or tearing into your walls. Yes, sometimes you can save money. But wouldn’t you rather spend a small amount of money now than a huge amount later? Plumbers may have to deal with waste, but that doesn’t mean they like wastefulness. If your mechanical abilities are low, leave it alone.

Stick around or leave during the job—it doesn’t matter to them.

Don’t feel bad about hanging around while your plumber is working. Unless you are really grumpy, they don’t mind you watching. In fact, many plumbers prefer it if you stay—that way you can answer questions about the home in case an emergency arises.

Maintain your appliances.

Your home does not take care of itself, even if it’s new. Most water heaters require yearly maintenance, like flushing them out and checking the anode rod for corrosion. You should regularly check your water shut-off valve for corrosion, too. Some retail stores will perform that for you, but if yours doesn’t, don’t ignore your duties. Instructions are in the owner’s manual, but a lot of people don’t maintain the plumbing in their home. That can cut down its lifespan and cause issues down the line.

Don’t wait for a crisis.

Hear a faucet dripping or a toilet running? Got a small leak in the basement? Call your plumber now, before it becomes a major emergency and your basement floods—or something equally tragic happens. If proper maintenance occurs or full attention is paid, the problem won’t rise to that level. Be aware. Fixing a small problem is far easier on your wallet—and won’t require a major renovation.

Know your home.

Quick: Where’s your shut-off valve? If you don’t know, go find out now—you’ll save your plumber precious time if something goes wrong (and save your house from further water damage). That way, if there’s a leak, or you notice water spraying or not turning off, you have the ability to turn it off at the source.

Plumbing can be expensive.

But just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s a rip-off. People don’t realize how expensive plumbing can be. It requires time, expertise, training, and materials to bring things up to code. While you should always get several estimates, don’t dismiss one just because it’s expensive. When you hire cheap plumbers, chances are good you’ll get what you pay for—and they won’t provide the same guaranteed service as pricier plumbers.

Not that price alone determines quality. Check reviews online and even the Better Business Bureau to make sure the plumber you’re hiring has the integrity and the ability to handle a situation if it escalates. In particular, make sure the plumber is licensed and insured. If uninsured plumbers were injured on your property they may be able to sue you for damages—and if they destroy your pipes while working on them, they could just skip town, leaving you to pay for yet another plumber to do the repairs.

No Comments

How to Protect Your Home From Severe Cold Weather

Homeowners in cold-weather climates face icy conditions, blizzards, and other cold-weather storms. Beyond barring you from being able to leave your home, severe cold weather can threaten your home’s structure and your safety. It’s important to take preparatory measures and invest in the resources you’ll need to deal effectively with winter’s challenges before it gets into full swing.

Understand the threats of severe cold weather

Blizzards: Storms with heavy winds and large amounts of snow accumulation can cause roof or other structural damage and leave you isolated.

Ice storms and ice dams: Ice storms coat structures, trees, power lines, cars, roads and virtually everything else with ice. As the ice melts, large chunks can fall and cause injury to anyone below. When ice melts during the day and then re-freezes at night, ice dams—which block water from flowing in the gutter—may form. This condition can force water back under the roof line and cause leaks.

Sleet or freezing rain: Combinations of snow and freezing rain may cause slippery conditions and coat roads, sidewalks and driveways with ice when temperatures drop.

Protect yourself from severe cold weather

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that homeowners have shovels on hand, as well as melting agents such as rock salt. Some of the new, more environmentally friendly deicers include calcium magnesium acetate and sand to improve traction. Be sure to stock up early in the season, as these agents tend to be in short supply during periods before a well-publicized storm.

FEMA also advises you have enough fuel to maintain heat in your home, as well as a backup heating source: firewood if the home has a working fireplace or a generator to power heaters in case of power failure. However, use caution as these can represent fire hazards when not used correctly. Be sure to follow directions explicitly and keep a fire extinguisher. Some generators and fireplaces also require proper ventilation, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety—so follow directions carefully and keep them away from curtains or other flammable items.

Stock up on extra blankets, warm clothing and enough food/water to sustain your family in case of a few days of isolation. And a transistor radio with fresh batteries can help keep you updated on news and information in case of a power outage.

Protect your home from severe cold weather

Before winter, there are some precautions you can take to protect your home from the ravages of severe cold weather storms.

Winterize your home: Check shutters, siding and other exterior materials to ensure they’re secure, says retired contractor, home improvement expert and writer John Wilder of Jacksonville, FL. High winds, ice and moisture from winter storms can easily strip off such outside elements if they’re loose.

Be sure that gutters are clear of debris and walkways are even—and don’t represent tripping hazards that can be exacerbated with snow or ice. Caulk drafty windows and apply weather stripping to doors, both inexpensive strategies that can keep heat in your home. Air sealing can help you save about $350 in energy costs or one-third of your average annual heating and cooling costs. The average annual home energy bill is about $2,200, according to Energy Star—of which about $1,000 represents heating and cooling. An assortment of air sealing materials and tools—including silicone foam, caulk, aluminum flashing for flues and additional insulation—will run roughly $100 to $350.

Winterize pipes: Be sure your pipes, especially those exposed or in unheated areas like crawl spaces, are wrapped in insulation to prevent freezing and bursting. Also, learn where your water shut-off valves are so you can turn off the water supply in case of a leak. Six feet of insulation can cost anywhere from $7 to $17; it’s available at most home improvement stores.

Trim tree branches: Branches that overhang roofs or areas where you park your car—or which are simply overgrown—represent a risk to structures, vehicles and people. Keep trees trimmed and remove those that are weak or sickly to prevent them from falling on or near your home. Tree trimming and removal pricing varies greatly, and you may have additional restrictions if you live in an historic community—or if the trees are close to power lines.

Check with your municipality about any regulations and contact your local Chamber of Commerce, municipal offices or contractor rating sites like or to get the names of reputable pros. Tree trimming and removal can be dangerous, so don’t attempt it on your own unless you’re experienced.

By keeping your home in good repair and stocking up on the supplies you’ll need before the rush for rock salt and shovels begins, you’ll be as ready as possible to tough out the storm.

No Comments


For most people, retirement feels like a long way off. But, if you don’t start preparing as early as possible, you may find yourself in a place of financial insecurity when the time does come. To avoid this, consider implementing the following tips.

  1. Calculate your target savings. In general, it’s recommended that you save between 10 to 15 percent of your income for retirement. However, you can always use an online savings calculator to determine the amount you need to save for your specific needs and goals.
  2. Contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan. Does your job offer a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA? Sign up and start saving as soon as they allow you to. It’s recommended to set up automatic paycheck deductions and, once the money is in your retirement fund, don’t touch it.
  3. Take advantage of employee benefits. Many employers offer matching which generally requires you contribute a certain percentage of each paycheck and your company will then contribute a matching amount with funds of their own. They might also offer health savings or flexible savings account. By contributing to these accounts, you reduce your amount of taxable income, allowing you to save more money.
  4. Pay off your debts. Start by paying off any high-interest credit card debt first. Then look at other debts, such as student loans and car payments, and make a plan for paying those off incrementally.
  5. Reduce daily spending. Although this feels like a no-brainer, spending your money thoughtfully now can make a big impact later. Seek out areas of your life where you can cut back.
No Comments

Supply and Demand: What does that tell us about today’s market?

The law of supply and demand explains what’s happening with prices in the current real estate market. Put simply, when demand for an item is high, prices rise. When the supply of the item increases, prices fall. Of course, when demand is very high and supply is very low, prices can rise significantly.

Why Are Prices Rising?

According to CoreLogic, home prices have risen 18% since this time last year. But what’s driving the increase? When we take NAR’s buyer activity data and compare it to the seller traffic during the same timeframe, we can see buyer demand continues to outpace seller activity by a wide margin. In other words, the demand for homes is significantly greater than the current supply that’s available to buy.

Where Are Prices Headed?

Many experts forecast prices will continue to increase, but they’ll likely appreciate at a slower rate. Buyers hoping to purchase the home of their dreams may see this as welcome news. In this case, perspective is important: a slight moderation of home prices does not mean prices will depreciate or fall. Price increases may occur at a slower pace, but experts still expect them to rise.

What Does This Mean for Homebuyers?

If you’re waiting to enter the market because you’re expecting prices to drop, you may end up paying more in the long run. Even if price increases occur at a slower rate next year, prices are still projected to rise. That means the home of your dreams will likely cost even more in 2022.

While prices may increase at a slower pace in the coming months, experts still expect them to rise. If you’re a potential homebuyer, message me today to discuss what that could mean for you if you wait even longer to buy.

No Comments

8 Tips for Achieving Maximum Coziness

As winter moves along, you may want to just hibernate until spring — and that may be more true than ever this year. But there are some simple ways to find joy in the quieter months of the year.

While the trend may have come and gone in the US, the art of hygge, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark. The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they’re the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?

When it’s cold and rainy out, and you’ve been stuck inside for who knows how long, binging the next series on your “recommended” list might feel like the most appealing option. But if you’d like to mix things up, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.


Set the mood

Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, but they also add warmth and scent to your space.

Tip: Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.

Bake something

Comfort food is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn’t just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) — it begins when you imagine the creation. Flip through your favorite cookbooks or browse some eye-candy baking sites, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It’s just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells — and taste good too.

Tip: Reach out to a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. You can set up a video call if you’re not able to meet in person.

Add texture

Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more inviting space. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.

Tip: Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.

Get out the board games

Pull your partner or kids away from their screens and gather around the table for some old-fashioned fun. Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.

Tip: Looking for remote gaming options? There are many online group gaming apps, and many people have come up with creative ways to play the classics via Zoom as well. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!

Perfect your hot drink game

Hot cocoa, hot coffee or tea, apple cider, mulled wine — pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can’t wait to show it off. Host a virtual happy hour and share it with family and friends.

Tip: Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it’s usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for those who don’t partake.

Embrace sweater weather

If you don’t already have a favorite sweater, it’s time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair — anything will do. Whatever you choose pair it with thick socks!

Tip: Find some beginner books or tutorials and try your hand at knitting, crocheting or weaving, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. Find an online knitting circle for tips and encouragement.

Curate your cold-outside playlist

Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.

Tip: Instrumentals are classics for a reason — they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have pre-made playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.

Do seasonal activities

Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year’s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!

Tip: Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen — put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an “accountability partner” (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.

No Comments

Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

If you’re living on your own and looking to buy a home, know that you can make your dream a reality with thoughtful planning and the right team of experts. Research from Freddie Mac shows 28% of all households (36.1 million) are sole-person, and that number is growing. Over the past 40 years, the number of sole-person households has nearly doubled, and that’s a trend that’s expected to continue. According to Freddie Mac:

Our calculation suggests that there will be an additional 5 million sole-person households in the United States by the next decade. This means 42% of the household growth will be contributed by sole-person households, . . .”

If you fall into this category, here are three tips to help you achieve your homeownership goals.

1. Know Your Credit Score

When you buy a home on your own, you have to qualify for your loan based solely on your own finances and credit history. Investopedia says:

“. . . lenders will be looking at just one credit profile: yours. Needless to say, it has to be in great shape. It is always a good idea to review your credit report beforehand, and this is especially true of solo buyers.”

It’s important to find out your score so you know where it falls. If you’re not sure if it’s strong enough or where to focus your energy to improve it, meet with a professional for expert advice on your individual situation.

2. Explore Down Payment Options

Next, look into down payment programs so you can get a feel for what you’ll need to save to buy a home. Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resourceexplains:

“Buyers should discuss their program options with their loan officer and real estate agent to make sure they choose the program best suited to their personal needs.”

In this step, lean on the pros to determine what you’re eligible for and what’s right for you.

3. Think About Your Future Home and Your Needs

You should also spend time thinking about what you want. What type of home do you picture yourself in? To answer that question, Quicken Loans shares this advice:

Think about your lifestyle, what you want out of your home and your needs. Is being close to work important? Do you need a lot of yard space? Do you want an extra bedroom that you can transform into a home office? Condo or detached home? Lots of space for entertaining? It’s all up to you (and your budget).”

Again, a professional can help you balance what you want and how much you should spend on your monthly housing costs to determine what type of home is right for you.

While buying a home solo can feel like a big challenge, it doesn’t have to be. If you lean on the professionals, they can help you navigate these waters and make sure you’re able to take advantage of the great opportunities in today’s housing market (like low mortgage rates) to buy your dream home.

Bottom Line

The share of sole-person households is growing. If you’re looking to buy a home on your own, be confident that the dream is achievable. When you’re ready to begin your search, let’s connect so you have expert advice each step of the way.

No Comments

Dream Home Checklist

Pre-approved? Know what you can afford? That means it is time to start house hunting! The hunt for your dream home can stall quickly if you aren’t sure what your “dream” looks like.

It’s easy to talk in generalities about wanting a “big” house or an “older” home, but in order to have a more specific real estate search, you must think specifically about the features you want or need. Will your “big” house be 2,400 square feet or 5,000? When you say “older” home, do you mean one built pre-1950, or pre-2000?

Before continuing on the search, sit down and make a list of your needs and wants — and yes, those are two different things. Think about the things that are needed (amount of bedrooms, yard space, garage, etc.) and the rest of the things that would be nice, but you probably could live without it (pool, etc.)

It is important to note that your lists will most likely change as you learn more about your housing options. Location, such as proximity to the beach, may start as a priority, but once you see the size of ocean-front homes in your price range, the drive to the beach may be more reasonable. Unless you have an unlimited or extremely flexible budget, there will probably need to be compromises along the way.

Below are tips and questions to help you figure out what you do and don’t like about your current home, so that you can find more comfort and pleasure in your dream home. Take the time to rank specific home features in lists such as “Must Have,” “Like to Have,” and “Don’t Care.”

Know your finances

Having your finances in order before house-hunting can make all the difference in a competitive market. Determining your budget and how much financial wiggle room you have can help clarify your must-haves.Ask yourself:

  • Are you pre-approved for a mortgage?

  • What’s your price range?

  • How much do you have saved for a down payment? What about future repairs?

  • Are you willing to do extra renovations or do you want a turnkey property?

Consider your current lifestyle and plan for the future

You may have the perfect home in mind, or you may not even know where to start when imagining your future place to live. It can help to consider your basic needs and non-negotiables in a home. Consider where you live now and what your favorite things are and what you need to change. Think about the following:

  • You need space for a future nursery or a home office

  • You need any special features for your pets like a fenced-in yard

  • You need wheelchair access or limited stairs

  • You need a space for a car or is street parking sufficient

  • Walkability is important to you

  • You plan on changing jobs in the next 1-2 years

Pick your preferred home style and type

Once the basics are figured out, the groundwork for determining what features you want in a house is easier. Consider the different types of houses on the market, the neighborhoods you would like, and think of keywords that can help narrow your search. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many stories do you want?

  • Do you want to live in a townhouse, condo or single-family house?

  • Could you live in a historic home?

  • How many bedrooms?

  • How many bathrooms?

  • Want a guest room?

  • What type of flooring do you like?

  • What architectural styles do you like best?

  • What’s your favorite room, and what makes spending time there enjoyable?

  • If you have an outdoor space, do you enjoy spending time there?

  • Do you enjoy taking care of a yard or feel burdened by it?

Choose a location

Keep in mind that paint colors to refresh the home can be changed, extensions to increase your square footage can be added, but the location of the home can’t be altered.

When finding your dream home, it’s easy to get caught up in its features, but you should also consider your surroundings:

  • Do you prefer urban, suburban or rural?

  • What city do you want to live in?

  • Do you want easy access to highways or public transportation?

  • How important is the view?

  • Can you sleep easily with traffic noise?

  • Do you want to be involved in community activities?

  • Are there parks within walking or biking distance?

  • Do the property taxes and/or HOA fees fit your budget?

Get to know the neighborhood

Think you’ve found the perfect home in the perfect area? Before buying, it’s still always a good idea to explore the neighborhood and ask yourself the following:

  • Are you happy with your neighborhood?

  • Are there enough activities going on around you — or too many?

  • Are you happy with your commute?

  • Do you have to travel far for basics such as groceries or a doctor’s appointment?

Document your visit

When it’s time to take your home tour, check the features against the checklist you made. Do you need to re-evaluate any of your must-haves? Get a feel for the home and consider anything you may have left off of your list. Remember, paint can be replaced and staged furniture will change, but there are aspects that can’t change so easily.

  • Is there enough space or too much space?

  • Where could you use more space?

  • How would you describe the layout?

  • Do you like the fixtures and finishes?

  • Are you happy with the windows (enough natural light, well-placed, too sunny)?

  • Does the home have curb appeal?

  • Does the home have adequate parking?

Once you know what you’re looking for in a home, you’ll be ready to find the right agent to partner with for your search. Identifying your priorities will help you find the perfect property. Happy house hunting!

No Comments

Buying a Townhome? Ask These Questions!

If you want to buy a house but worry about keeping up with a big yard, you may have thought about buying a townhome. Townhomes, like condos and co-ops, are CIDs, or common interest developments. In a CID, neighbors share more than just a street name – their properties are entwined as well. But unlike the more strictly governed condos and co-ops, the word “townhome” denotes more of an architectural style than anything else.

That architectural style can manifest in a few different ways depending on the region you live in, but the most common physical feature associated with townhomes, also frequently referred to as townhouses or row houses, is that they share a common wall – but not ceilings and floors – with neighboring dwellings. Instead of side yards, townhomes have what is commonly called a “party wall” that runs the length of the house. They also often share a stretch of rooftop with adjacent properties.

Like condos, townhomes are generally owned, not rented. And those owners are typically bound by some basic agreements. For example, if someone owns a unit smack in the middle of a row of townhouses, they can’t simply raze the residence and rebuild a smaller, detached house that better strikes their fancy. The owners of the adjacent townhomes have what are known as easement rights. That means that while they don’t own their neighbor’s half of the party wall, they do have certain rights where it’s concerned – and that includes its demolition, which would damage the integrity of their own portion of the wall. The same often goes for stuff like fences and driveways. But unlike condo owners, whose property maintenance is usually covered by association fees, owners of townhomes are obliged to care for the upkeep of the exterior of their homes. So in a way, living in a townhome combines condo living with single dwelling living.

If you’re thinking of buying a townhome, you’ll need to get a good gauge of the neighborhood, taking a look at everything from crime statistics to tax rates, from schools to accessibility to public transportation, just like you would with any other property. But there are also a few questions specific to townhomes that you should ask before buying one.

1: What’s the HOA Like?

Homeowners associations (HOAs) can really change the tempo of a neighborhood. If a townhome community has communal areas, say a park, parking lot or recreation center, those are probably regulated and controlled by the HOA. Front and back lawns, on the other hand, are typically your prerogative and responsibility. Rooftop maintenance may also be your concern. Under the wrong circumstances, they can be serious overhead. Find out before you buy whether that’s the case.

And while you might want to paint your townhouse in DayGlo shades, chances are about 120 percent that you’d have a homeowners association rep knocking on your door and telling you to tone it down, pronto, if you did. On the other hand, an HOA will also stop your neighbor from stealing your idea to go neon before you get the chance to.

But then there are the dues. Fees – sometimes hefty fees – might be required to fund holiday bashes (whether or not you plan on attending) and other community wants. Perhaps those common areas need regular maintenance; you’ll be pulling out your wallet yet again. Find out if there are any add-on costs to living in your intended townhome, and whether or not they’re something you feel like paying for. You’ve got a mortgage, after all. Can you afford a bunch of other bills on top of that?

In other words, if these sorts of neighborly obligations chafe you, you might want to consider another set of townhouses, or just a neighborhood unconstrained by an HOA. If you like the idea of a little order being imposed and don’t mind paying for it, an HOA might be just the thing you’re looking for.

2: What’s the Privacy Like?

In a townhouse, you’ll typically only have neighbors on either side, as opposed to on all sides if you live in a condo. But that doesn’t mean you want an amateur heavy metal band practicing in a room adjacent to your own at 2 a.m. – especially if they’re absolutely terrible. So you’ll want to explore how easily noise travels through the set of townhomes you’re considering cuddling up into. The so-called party wall doesn’t mean you’re interested in joining the party, after all.

You can do a little research – and potential future-neighbor-friendship-building – by asking others in the row how well their townhomes are soundproofed and what the tone of the neighborhood is. Do they hear others’ TVs better than they hear their own? Are transportation sounds an issue? Or is noise pollution at a minimum? If you fall into a sleeping state that others would equate to being a plank of wood, you’re good; if you’re a super light sleeper and your community is a loud one, you’ll regret this decision the first day you show up to work and people think the zombie apocalypse has begun.

3: How’s the Natural Ambiance?

Even small touches of nature can enhance an urban townhome, and those can come in a couple of forms. End units often have a little more outdoor space, like extra elbow room in the yard or an added porch or patio. But if a townhome you’re considering is sandwiched between two others instead of being the slice of bread on either end, then having a little outdoor haven is a great plus. Your yard will, however, probably have to be sparingly luxurious given that townhouses don’t tend to have much real estate beyond the building’s footprint.

Look for a nice solid fence out back – make sure it’s good and sturdy. Ask about any encroaching hedges and overhanging trees: Whose responsibility are they? A nicely landscaped setting is a plus, unless gardening is one of your primary hobbies, in which case an unfinished yard can provide you with plenty of pleasant afternoons over the next couple of years while you beautify it.

Thanks to their shared walls, most townhomes have windows only in the front and back, not on the sides, so overhead skylights are another great way to welcome the natural world into your future home. If the unit doesn’t have any, find out if you can install some. Be wary of potential neighbors who have a complete disregard for light pollution, though. In close quarters like these, anyone who likes to crank the watts late at night could do some serious damage to your sleep cycle.

4: What’s the Insurance Situation?

In some sets of townhouses, the HOA takes care of a portion of the insurance. In others, you’re on your own. So it’s important to ask what the policies are and what you’ll need to do to insure your stuff should the worst happen. Whether they’re covering it or you are, you want to make sure your belongings and your dwelling are protected should something awful occur.

Look into what types of disastrous situations are covered. Is flood damage on the list? How about harm from earthquakes? If the tectonics or the water table in your area are a bit fussy, you’ll want to be protected, and those sorts of policies are often above and beyond the standard coverage. It’s worth consulting your insurance agency to find out the specifics on your policy and beefing it up if you need to.

5: What’s in the CC&R?

Covenants, conditions and restrictions (commonly referred to as CC&Rs) are rules that come along with living in certain communities. If you’re looking at a townhome, there’s almost certainly one for the property. It’s not just the parts of the home that your neighbors can see – a CC&R can specify who can live in your home, whether you have pets, what you’re obligated to do if there’s a pest infestation, whether you can hang a clothesline outside, and other aspects of your day-to-day life.

While they can limit what you can do with your property, CC&Rs usually have benefits as well. Because of them, condominium complexes and rows of townhouses often look nicer, are safer and maintain higher property values. They can also prevent common neighborhood annoyances. The CC&R can keep your neighbors from blocking your parking space with a dumpster during a months-long construction project, digging a pool that encroaches on your patch of yard or adopting an army of noisy puppies (and then leaving their messes in the landscaping). In other words, pretty much nothing is off the table; it simply depends on the local standards. Read the CC&R documents all the way through before you sign on the dotted line.