HOA Homefront: Boundary basics for HOA team members

For many years, advising associations was at times very stressful, as boards would sometimes disregard my best advice for them. However, a defining moment in my HOA law career came when I realized my role is to tell the board the truth and provide to them my best advice, but compelling the board to follow my advice was not my responsibility.

Once I had a better understanding of my role, things became less stressful. Each member of the HOA team has its own boundary, and each team member staying within that role helps the entire HOA team.

Managers: They take action managing the association, carrying out board directions and providing important advice helping boards operate within the Business Judgment Rule. Managers do not make decisions, except those specifically assigned to them by the board.

Boards: The board decides things but doesn’t implement its decisions. The board provides direction to management and approves contracts with other HOA vendors. Boards should not co-manage the HOA but should allow the manager to carry out the board’s directives. Boards normally don’t oversee vendors; that is what you pay management to do.

Vendors: Service providers (including managers) should perform their contracts and avoid HOA politics. Endorsing or opposing board candidates is outside their role and is unethical – they must stay neutral.

Officers: In HOAs, individual officers (even presidents) have little power. Everything they do is only upon the express authorization of the board. HOA officers occasionally confuse their limited nonprofit role with the more powerful role given officers in for-profit corporations.

Individual directors: A single director has no power except the power to cast a vote on board decisions. The real power rests with the whole board. Well-intentioned directors can usurp the board’s role by acting without board authority; usually justifying it by claiming the action was needed. But the well-intentioned director becomes a “renegade” by taking actions, which is reserved for the board, such as instructing the manager or other vendors or making contractual commitments for the association.

Committees: Except for architectural committees, most committees are advisory to the board and do not act.  Committees typically are assigned an ongoing important subject and advise the board by issuing “reports,” hopefully written, suggesting certain board actions.  Committees do not make commitments to association vendors, and their meetings are less formal.  Boards should avoid doing committee work in the board meetings, just as the committee avoids doing board work.

Committee members: A committee member should be part of a team. However, sometimes extremely interested and active committee members step outside their role by speaking for the committee when the committee has not met.  A committee of one is not a committee!

Homeowners: The governing documents list certain matters that are subject to membership vote where individual homeowners can participate. Beyond these, let the board handle things because they are legally responsible. Non-directors should not participate in board discussions except for open forum input. Another common homeowner boundary issue arises when homeowners instruct HOA vendors, but that is the manager’s role. One of the great benefits of association living is that the board, manager, and vendors handle many community matters – so let them!

Check YOUR boundaries, and stay within your proper role. When everyone does THEIR job and allows others to do theirs, the HOA wins.

Kelly G. Richardson CCAL is Partner of Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Send potential column questions to Kelly@rodllp.com

Real estate news: 30 Newport Beach condos to list between $2 million and $4 million

  • Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4. Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. The community has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses. (Courtesy of DBOX and Shopoff Realty Investments)

  • Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4. Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. The community has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses. (Courtesy of DBOX and Shopoff Realty Investments)

  • Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4. Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. The community has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses. (Courtesy of DBOX and Shopoff Realty Investments)

  • Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4. Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. The community has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses. (Courtesy of DBOX and Shopoff Realty Investments)

  • Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4. Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. The community has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses. (Courtesy of DBOX and Shopoff Realty Investments)

  • Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4. Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. The community has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses. (Courtesy of DBOX and Shopoff Realty Investments)

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Parkhouse Residences, a luxury condominium development in Newport Beach, opens for sales, beginning Oct. 4.

Prices will start at $2 million, rising to more than $4 million, according to developer Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine.

The condos are part of the $1.25 billion master-planned Uptown Newport community at Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard.

Parkhouse has five, five-story buildings with 30 homes ranging from 2,000-3,000 square feet in three-bedroom flats and two-story penthouses.

Read more: Orange County housing saw $100,000-plus price gains in 56 of 83 ZIPs

The homes were designed by Costa Mesa-based Blackband Design.

Amenities include a lap pool and hot tub, fitness center, private garages, direct elevator entry and a 1-acre green space called Uptown Park.

The community’s sales and design gallery at 4440 Von Karman Ave, Suite 240, in Newport Beach opens for private appointments beginning Oct. 4.

  • The 11-floor, 253 suites Costa Mesa Marriott has completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that updated its suites and amenities, including the M Club for the hotel’s Bonvoy members. (Courtesy of Costa Mesa Marriott)

  • The Costa Mesa Marriott has completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that updated its suites and amenities, including the M Club for the hotel’s Bonvoy members. A redesigned lobby will showcase works by local artists. The new aMuse bar and restaurant will serve American cuisine for breakfast, dinner and happy hour daily. The 11-floor hotel has 253 suites. (Courrtesy of Costa Mesa Marriott)

  • The Costa Mesa Marriott has completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that updated its suites and amenities, including the M Club for the hotel’s Bonvoy members. A redesigned lobby will showcase works by local artists. The new aMuse bar and restaurant will serve American cuisine for breakfast, dinner and happy hour daily. The 11-floor hotel has 253 suites. (Courrtesy of Costa Mesa Marriott)

  • The Costa Mesa Marriott has completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that updated its suites and amenities, including the M Club for the hotel’s Bonvoy members. A redesigned lobby will showcase works by local artists. The new aMuse bar and restaurant will serve American cuisine for breakfast, dinner and happy hour daily. The 11-floor hotel has 253 suites. (Courrtesy of Costa Mesa Marriott)

  • The Costa Mesa Marriott has completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that updated its suites and amenities, including the M Club for the hotel’s Bonvoy members. A redesigned lobby will showcase works by local artists. The new aMuse bar and restaurant will serve American cuisine for breakfast, dinner and happy hour daily. The 11-floor hotel has 253 suites. (Courrtesy of Costa Mesa Marriott)

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Hotel renovation complete

The Costa Mesa Marriott has completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that updated its suites and amenities, including the M Club for the hotel’s Bonvoy members.

A redesigned lobby will showcase works by local artists. The new aMuse bar and restaurant will serve American cuisine for breakfast, dinner and happy hour daily.

The 11-floor hotel has 253 suites that feature two flat-screen televisions, a desk and chair, full-sized sleeper sofa, mini-refrigerator, and bathrooms that convert from bathtubs to showers.

The pool area also got a facelift, including a new pool bar and deck. An outdoor gazebo is available for weddings with up to 120 guests.

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

  • LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

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HQ design complete for Traffik

LPA Design Studios recently completed work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik.

The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace is part of an outdoor shopping center. LPA designed the space with something of a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. A glass-enclosed podcast studio and main conference room are part of the workspace. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.”

“Traffik wanted to bring back the ambiance of an old-school advertising agency,” LPA said in a statement. The design emphasized simple metal frames, brick, wood floors and leather furniture.

To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs.

“Our goal with Traffik was to create an interactive design that informs the way the user thinks, socializes, works and collaborates,” said Rick D’Amato, workplace design director at LPA.

LPA Design Studios recently completed its work on the Irvine headquarters for the marketing firm Traffik. The two-story, 22,000-square-foot workplace was designed with a “hospitality” vibe, the firm said. The entry and reception area, LPA said, “are meant to feel like a hip, urban hotel, with a check-in concierge, lounge waiting area and luggage carts.” To inspire collaboration, the space includes a barbershop design, including vintage barber chairs. (Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

New tenants for South Coast Metro

South Coast Metro’s Harbor Gateway Business Center in Costa Mesa has leased more than 209,000 square feet during the pandemic.

Tenants include:

Mission Critical Electronics,a clean-energy firm, leased 51,900 square feet. Z Supply LLC, a women’s casual-wear clothing company, leased 24,021 square feet. L Space, a swim and lifestyle apparel brand leased 16,142 square feet. All were represented by Steve Card and Chris O’Connor of Savills.

NationsBenefits, a provider in supplemental benefit solutions, leased 40,744 sq. ft. and was represented by Ryan Nunes and Rustin Mork of JLL.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries, a rare coin auction house, leased 23,793 square feet and was represented by Peter Joyce and Brett Kluewer of Stream Realty.

KONE, in the elevator and escalator industry, leased 21,517 square feet and was represented by Steve Wagner of JLL.

Geosyntec Consultants, a consulting and engineering firm, leased 14,916 square feet and was represented by Mike Lewis of Hughes Marino.

AccuMedical, a provider of healthcare products, leased 8,007 square feet and was represented by Matt Peters of Voit Commercial.

Komputer King, a web hosting company, leased 4,650 square feet and was represented by Gary Chen and Gaylyn Barnes of Barnes CRE Group/KW Commercial.

Visible Intellect, building automation and commercial surveillance systems, leased 3,512 square feet.

  • Blair Ruffner has been appointed senior development manager at Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. (Courtesy of Shopoff Realty Investments)

  • Kate Lyle has been promoted to director of industrial cold and food in Ware Malcomb’s Irvine headquarters. (Courtesy of Ware Malcomb)

  • Chad Neubecker is the new executive vice president and director of real estate lending at Irvine-based Sunwest Bank, a privately held business bank serving the Western U.S. (Courtesy of Sunwest Bank)

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People in real estate

Blair Ruffner has been appointed senior development manager at Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine. He is responsible for managing entitlement and land development projects from acquisition through entitlement approvals. He will also provide input on predevelopment and entitlement budgets, financial models and land development pro-forma models. Ruffner has 15 years of experience in real estate development and previously spent time as senior development manager at JPI, a developer, builder and investment manager.

Kate Lyle has been promoted to director of industrial cold and food in Ware Malcomb’s Irvine headquarters. She joined Ware Malcomb in 2019 as senior project architect and was promoted to studio manager of Industrial Cold & Food in 2020. As director, Lyle will lead the design firm’s growth in its Industrial Cold & Food Studio across North America. Lyle is a licensed architect with 16 years of experience and specializes in cold storage, food processing and manufacturing.

Chad Neubecker is the new executive vice president and director of real estate lending at Irvine-based Sunwest Bank, a privately held business bank serving the Western U.S. He is responsible for leading the commercial real estate lending teams focusing on investors, developers, private equity firms and real estate investment trusts in the bank’s footprint of California, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. Neubecker will oversee financing for office, industrial, retail, multi-family, and self-storage, in addition to Sunwest Bank’s specialty financing lines including hotel and manufactured housing.

Real estate transactions, leases and new projects, industry hires, new ventures and upcoming events are compiled from press releases by contributing writer Karen Levin. Submit items and high-resolution photos via email to Business Editor Samantha Gowen at sgowen@scng.com. Please allow at least a week for publication. All items are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Household net worth in U.S. hits record on surging home values

Household net worth increased by $5.8 trillion, or 4.3%, to $141.7 trillion in the second quarter, a Federal Reserve report out Thursday showed. (iStockphoto)

By Reade Pickert | Bloomberg

U.S. household net worth surged to a fresh record in the second quarter as Americans enjoyed an ebullient stock market and the largest-ever increase in the value of their real estate holdings.

Household net worth increased by $5.8 trillion, or 4.3%, to $141.7 trillion in the second quarter, a Federal Reserve report out Thursday showed. The advance included a $3.5 trillion gain in the value of equities and a $1.2 trillion improvement in real estate held by households.

Stocks have surged to record highs, and low borrowing costs have supported a flurry of home buying — and ultimately home price appreciation. The figures highlight how the massive support provided by the government and the Fed has bolstered Americans’ wealth.

Equity shares as a percent of total household assets rose in the second quarter to almost 29.5%, up from 25.6% in 2019, the Fed’s report showed.

But not everyone is benefiting from those wealth gains. A large share of Americans are not invested in the stock market, and for many renters, the sharp rise in housing prices pushed the reality of owning a home further out of reach.

Net private savings grew at an annualized pace of almost $2.9 trillion in the second quarter after a $4.8 trillion surge in the prior quarter — a product of federal stimulus efforts. Excess savings have been a key driver of consumer spending, including last quarter, where consumer outlays jumped at one of the fastest paces on record.

Business debt outstanding increased by $63.2 billion from the prior quarter, or at an 1.4% annualized rate, in the April to June period to a total of nearly $18 trillion.

Federal debt outstanding increased $578.8 billion, or an annualized 9.6%, to $24.7 trillion. Government debt has swelled during the pandemic, as policy makers stepped in to ease the economic impact of the health crisis on people and businesses with trillions of dollars of support.

The government is currently on track to default on its financial obligations without congressional approval to raise the statutory limit on U.S. debt.Consumer credit outstanding not including mortgage debt rose by $91.2 billion in the second quarter.

4 signs that buying a home now could sow regret

By Elizabeth Renter | Nerdwallet

It’s a tough time to be a homebuying hopeful. Sellers rule this market, and potential buyers are battling with one another over a high-priced handful of homes. Buying a home is a weighty, long-term decision, and buying right now could lead to long-term regrets.

Roughly two-thirds (67%) of Americans who recently purchased their home say they have regrets, according to an August NerdWallet survey conducted online by The Harris Poll among 450 homeowners who bought their home in the past five years.

There are many reasons a buyer might regret their home purchase or aspects of it. And in 2021, even more than in the past five years as a whole, the risk of buyer’s remorse is high. The heavily tilted seller’s market means most buyers are making sacrifices in order to successfully close on a home. Understanding the risks inherent in buying now can help either avoid future regrets or postpone the purchase until the stakes are lower.

Here are four potential regret traps of the current market and how to guard against them.

1. Rushing decisions in a frenetic real estate market

Homebuying shouldn’t be rushed. But buying a house now is a frantic endeavor. Buyers are seeing homes hit the market and go under contract before they can even schedule a showing. Over the past five years, homes have typically been on the market for 41 days. As of July 2021, they’re available for 18 days, according to data from real estate brokerage Redfin, which measures days on market as the time between a home being listed and it moving to pending or off-market. The speed at which homes enter and exit the market has been accelerating since June 2020.

Regret-busting tip: Potential buyers must act fast, but when the pressure is on to move quickly in a decision as weighty as homebuying, you need a game plan. Before jumping into the market, organize your budget and your wish list. Get specific: Know which features you’re willing to compromise on and what’s out of bounds in regards to sales price. Making decisions such as “Do we really need a third bedroom?” or “Can we afford another $50,000?” on the fly is risky, at best. Know how you’ll answer those questions before you begin.

2. Sacrificing big just to snap up something

The supply of homes being offered for sale is paltry, so buyers are unlikely to find one that satisfies their wish list. Being flexible is a must in this market, but sacrificing too much could leave you with a home that’s a far cry from the one you envisioned.

The number of homes on the market has fallen by about 55% from September 2019, when it last peaked, according to residential listing data from Realtor.com. In March and April this year, inventory fell below half a million active listings after a three-year average of 1.3 million from 2017 through the end of 2019.

Regret-busting tip: What’s more important to you: buying a home or buying a home that checks off most items on your wish list? If the former, you may be successful in this market. However, if you have your heart set on a specific home type in a specific neighborhood, you may want to wait until there are more listings to choose from.

3. Competing with a win-at-all-costs attitude

Competition is brutal for the limited number of homes, and sellers are fielding multiple attractive offers. The average number of offers on sold homes peaked at just over 5 in April this year, and while it has fallen back down to 4.5, that’s still two more offers than homeowners typically saw in the pre-pandemic market, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

Waiving contingencies, upping their offer price, writing love letters to sellers — buyers are having to work harder than ever to make their offer stand out from the rest. And even when they do all these things, they may be up against an unusual number of potential buyers making all-cash offers.

When pitted against an all-cash offer for asking price or above, buyers who must borrow might try to entice the seller by taking dangerous risks, like forgoing a home inspection. But 10% of homeowners who have purchased in the past five years regret not getting a pre-purchase home inspection, and 13% of these recent buyers say they regret discovering their home had significant problems in need of repair, according to the new NerdWallet survey.

Regret-busting tip: Winning isn’t everything. Don’t let the competition pressure you into forgoing important protections or going over budget. Know before you make an offer how far you’re willing to take it. Make an agreement with yourself, your partner or your real estate agent that you’ll be willing to walk away at a certain threshold — whether it’s a dollar amount in a bidding war or problems uncovered at inspection — and then get used to the idea that you may have to walk away from several homes before you ultimately close on one.

4. Stretching the budget to the breaking point

While low mortgage rates save buyers considerably over the life of a home loan, they can’t always make up for a too-high sales price. Hot competition on a limited supply is propelling prices up, which is bound to push some buyers past a reasonable budget.

Five years ago, in July 2016, homes were selling for $245,100, or $278,100 in today’s dollars, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. Now, the typical sales price is $360,000, nearly $82,000 more. Incomes have not kept up.

What this means is a buyer’s money won’t go as far today. Add to that the ongoing costs of homeownership, and it’s clear how quickly home buyers can get in over their heads.

Regret-busting tip: Your money won’t go as far in the current high-priced market, and that’s important to understand before you begin house hunting. But don’t let sticker shock distract you from other cost considerations. Mortgage payments (including interest and taxes), homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues and repair and maintenance expenses all play into the total cost of homeownership — and 15% of homeowners who purchased within the past five years say they regret underestimating these costs, according to the survey. When settling on a budget for the purchase price of your new home, factor in ongoing homeownership costs so you’re not caught off guard once you’ve moved in. Struggling to keep up with these persistent financial obligations can stifle the initial joy of your new purchase.

Survey methodology and additional graphic available in the original article, published at NerdWallet.

More From NerdWallet

Elizabeth Renter writes for NerdWallet. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com.

Wait or buy? What to do when home prices rise faster than down payment fund

By Zach Wichter | Bankrate.com

If you’re trying to break into the housing market right now, you may find that your down payment fund isn’t going as far as you thought it would. Record-breaking rises in home prices mean the targets you set to save, say, 20 percent of your expected home purchase price may no longer cut it.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on in the housing market and what your options are for how to proceed.

Why home prices are likely rising faster than your down payment savings

It all comes down to a few factors: limited housing supply and a huge number of motivated buyers are putting pressure on housing prices. Low mortgage rates mean most buyers can afford to borrow more than they otherwise would, which is turning up the pressure even more, and inflation is pushing buying costs up for pretty much everything across the board.

Sellers are rejoicing, but for buyers (low mortgage rates aside) it can be tough terrain to navigate.

“This last year has been brutal, particularly for the first-time homebuyer market,” says Matt Woods, co-founder and CEO of SOLD.com.

Most experts agree that the pandemic has led to a tough market for buyers, but there are signs that things may finally be cooling off. At any rate, this nearly straight-up trajectory for home prices seems fairly unsustainable.

“I think about my four kids, how on earth will my four kids ever be homeowners if this is the conundrum they’re dealing with?” Woods says.

What you can do if your down payment savings aren’t keeping up

There are essentially three ways you can respond if your dream home — or even a barely adequate home — is out of reach.

1. Wait out the home sale market, beef up your down payment

Probably the easiest option — because it’s essentially passive — is to just wait for the market to cool down more. Doing that can give you the opportunity to boost your savings, and you may even see home prices come down a little in your area, which means your funds will go farther.

Keep in mind, there are no absolute guarantees in real estate because market conditions are always changing, but if you can’t afford to buy now, it’s probably not a good time to dive in.

“The biggest thing to start with is just to make the decision on whether now is the right decision in terms of buying the home,” says Robert Heck, vice president of mortgage at Morty. “If you have flexibility and time, the options there are a bit more widespread.”

Focus your affordability calculations on your monthly expenses, not necessarily the overall sale price, he says.

“This home appreciation phase is waning,” Woods added. If you choose to wait it out you can use the time to invest money in higher-yield — and, admittedly, higher risk — funds to boost your savings more quickly.

“Putting money under your mattress isn’t going to help,” he says. “If you’re parking it in the safest place, you can count on it not helping and not growing. If you’re leveraging the investment opportunities that are out there, the market’s been kind.”

“The biggest thing to start with is just to make the decision on whether now is the right decision in terms of buying the home,” says Robert Heck, vice president of mortgage at Morty. “If you have flexibility and time, the options there are a bit more widespread.” (iStockphoto)

Because the investment market is so hot right now, you may even be able to boost your savings quickly with some higher-risk options. But let’s be clear that money you need in one to three years is not best-suited for riskier investments. That said, if you can stand more risk, consider investing some of your down payment money in:

—Stocks, which are arguably the most traditional investment tool and can produce big yields quickly if you buy the right ones at the right time.

—Cryptocurrency, which is kind of having a moment in the investment sphere right now. Keep in mind that crypto valuations have been a bit of a rollercoaster, so you could majorly boost your savings, or lose your shirt.

You should speak to your financial advisor about your investment options. Other short-term, high yield products may be available, but you’ll want to decide what works for you with someone who really knows your situation.

2. Alter your home search punch list

Another option is to change your housing wish list. Everyone wants to get the best possible house in the nicest and most convenient neighborhood they can afford, but if you can be a little more flexible about exactly where to land, it could help you get into a home faster and more affordably.

“The American dream is this grandiose, ‘got to go own my forever home right now,’ ” Woods says. “My advice is starter homes are great and maybe you need to be as humble as you can possibly swallow just to get into the game.”

Being comfortable with a starter home, or agreeing to look in a broader geographical area will open up more options and may let you look at places where your savings will perform a little better.

“Trying not to get caught up in the exuberance of buying the home, chasing the offer,” Heck says. “Slowing down is important here.”

3. Tap a housing assistance program or go for a nontraditional approach

You might be able to benefit from homebuyer assistance grants or some upstart companies that offer novel ways of getting you into a mortgage.

Woods says companies like Unison help folks get into homes by essentially paying all-cash on their behalf and working out the mortgage once the person has moved in. Others strike up equity-sharing arrangements where they contribute to your down payment and then take a larger percentage than a traditional lender when you eventually refinance or sell.

Plus, Woods added, you can always go the “strike a deal with your rich uncle” route, if it’s available to you.

“There are so many different paths you can go down, so try to verse yourself in as many of those as possible,” Heck says. Doing your research will help you chart the best course for your own situation.

More traditional routes for down payment assistance include:

—FHA loans, which can be secured with as little as 3.5 percent down.

—VA loans, which can be a great deal for active or retired members of the military and their families

—Local and national first-time homebuyer programs

Also keep in mind that many lenders will allow you to secure a loan with less than 20 percent down. You may have to pay for private mortgage insurance until you build up more equity, but if you can afford the extra monthly cost you’ll still be able to get into a home if your offer is competitive.

Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent remains crucial

In this ultra-competitive market, having a knowledgeable agent as a guide is key. Most sellers receive multiple offers, many of which may be above the asking price, so it’s important to make sure you work with someone who really understands the market where you’re looking and can help you make your offer as strong as possible, even if prices are higher than you were expecting.

A good buyer’s agent will also be able to help you figure out how to tailor your search and will be able to adapt if you change what you’re looking for as you rationalize your budget.

Bottom line

With home prices being pushed up rapidly by multiple compounding factors, it’s a tough market for buyers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible to buy; it just may take a little extra strategizing. Or, you could take a pause and come back when the market has cooled down a bit more.