Why Community Lens?

Community Lens helps you know your neighborhood.

Once you find a place to call home, the next step is learning the ins and outs of the neighborhood—what you can and can’t do. Sometimes it's difficult to get a full picture of the area before you move in. Community Lens is here to show you exactly where you're going before you get there. Our Chief Over Everything, Rex is the “paw-tner” you need.

Know Where You’re Going

Community Lens works hard to make sure you're familiar with your new neighborhood before you move in. While everyone's situation is different, we get a lot of the same questions regarding neighborhoods. 

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Already have your questions in mind? Check out our FAQ below.
Q: Are you moving into a covenant-controlled neighborhood?

A covenant controlled neighborhood is a contract-restricted community. The contract is created by the HOA, and states what homeowners can—and cannot—do with their property. It should also outline the protocols of any shared space within the community, such as pools or dog parks. A neighborhood may not charge assessments but may be covenant-controlled only. The contract is legally binding, and moving into a covenant neighborhood means signing into the contract. If buyers don't follow the obligations of the contract, there may be penalties. Understanding what you can and can’t do is an important factor in your home-buying decision.

Q: Does this home have a homeowners association (HOA)?

An HOA is a non-profit corporation that makes and enforces rules for a specific community; they may or may not charge assessments. HOAs are becoming more and more common. Whether you are an investor or a private owner, a home is likely one of the largest investments in your portfolio. It's important to consider the HOA in your investment decision—and the earlier the better.

 Q:  Is there an association cost?

Some HOAs require community members to pay dues. These fees are assessed on a given schedule (annually, bi-annually, quarterly, or monthly). HOA fees pay for the amenities and services the HOA provides, such as maintaining shared community spaces and services, like landscaping and utilities. These costs vary widely between neighborhoods—sometimes even from home to home—based on the services and amenities provided. The past management practices or unforeseen circumstances can cause these expenses to increase. Thoughtful, long-term planning and operating efficiencies can keep these costs steady. Understanding the financial profile of the association can help you predict this ongoing cost.

Q: What do I get for my money?

If you're paying HOA fees, you will want to know what the fees cover. Usual charges include common area landscaping and insurance. The association may provide shared personal services such as water, trash, or internet. Community Lens can help you find this information so you know what to expect.

Q: Could you encounter a special assessment?

A special assessment is an extra fee from an HOA. These fees are unlike regular HOA fees. Rather, they're for unusual expenses that affect the entire HOA community. A special assessment might happen when there are unexpected damages or emergency costs associated with a shared community area. These costs may also arise when operating expenses exceed expectations. Sometimes reserved funds may not cover necessary repairs to shared property, like streets, fences, sidewalks, necessitating a special assessment. Before moving into a community, it's good to know whether or not your HOA can charge a special assessment and under what conditions, and even the likelihood that a special assessment may be encountered.

Q: Is this neighborhood financially sound?

Not every home is going to be a forever home. A home is sometimes a financial investment toward something bigger or better. Nonetheless, a home investment is nearly always substantial to the homeowner. Understanding the financial position of the association before buying into a neighborhood can help you make a sound investment. Community Lens can provide the “full picture” view.

Q: Does the association have good governance?

Each state has unique laws that govern homeowner associations and set their requirements. The extent of these rules and regulations can vary widely. Some states are wide-reaching and thorough, whereas others are considerably lax in comparison. A solid, well-founded association, however, will have a series of basic operating standards in place, regardless of location. For example, they should have complete copies of their governing documents readily available. They will regularly publish financial statements and budgets as well. A well-managed association should have standard operating procedures for certain items, such as how they invest funds and manage conflicts. These are just a few examples, but they are important. Community Lens’ proprietary score can tell you if the association maintains good governance standards such as these, establishing the framework of a well-run association.

Q: What is the homeowner experience in this association?

As previous homeowner association managers, we know how hard it is to manage an association well. Addressing homeowner needs, facilitating property ownership changes, adhering to legal requirements, maintaining a congenial neighborhood—the demands for a manager are numerous. Community Lens wants you to know when an association’s management is fantastic! The resident experience score helps you rest easy knowing your HOA is communicative, safe, and enjoyable.

Q: What can I—and can’t I—do in this neighborhood?

Can all three of my dogs live happily ever after with me in my new home? Can my kid have a basketball hoop in the driveway? Can I build a shed, have chickens, and hang pink window coverings in my living room? Our prospective buyers and homeowners want to know what they can and can’t do in their community. Document packages can be confusing, with hundreds of pages and a string of amendments. Managers spend hours answering homeowner and prospective buyer questions. A proprietary Community Lens report can save everyone time with a summary of the rules and regulations.

Other Questions

Any and all questions are important to get answers to before moving into your new neighborhood. We can create custom research and reports at your request. Contact Community Lens about your neighborhood. All questions are welcome.

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Decide on the Best Home for Your Needs

Moving into a good community is just as important as moving into a good home. No matter what kind of neighborhood you're looking for, Community Lens can help. We can help you compare neighborhoods to make the best choice that is right for you.

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Community Lens Helps You Stand Out

Selling a home can be a stressful process. We can help you and your home stand out to potential buyers. With our listing report, you can provide potential buyers with confidence and knowledge about the neighborhood. Community Lens offers buyers interested in your property a unique vantage point. They can draw confident conclusions about whether the neighborhood is a good fit for them. We help remove the guesswork from the process, giving buyers greater confidence in the property, something a property without a listing report won’t have. Giving potential buyers this knowledge helps your property stand out among the others in your area. Community Lens wants your home to be the top choice for potential buyers.

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We Can Help You Understand Your Current HOA

If you moved into your current home without a lot of information, we're here to help! It can be hard to comprehend everything that comes with living in an HOA or managed community. Sometimes the documents and data are wordy and difficult to understand. Community Lens can help you know the ins and outs of your HOA. We will provide a concise summary of your association’s data.

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Investing in Rental Properties?

Seeing a neighborhood's potential for quality living is always a good thing. It can be super enticing to buy properties to rent without considering the association. Underestimating HOA costs can turn a good rental-property decision into a bad one. Rental restrictions and special investor requirements can add limits that are costly or prohibitive to investors. Community Lens can help you understand rental requirements and limits—before you buy. Keep track of your properties with our due diligence report. 

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