Comparing HOA Fees in California

If you’re about to buy a house, condo or townhome near the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, you’d better brace yourself if the new place is part of an HOA.

A City Twig review of average HOA fees for 346 ZIP codes throughout California finds the 90024 ZIP code — home to UCLA and the Los Angeles Country Club — has the highest average HOA fee: $1,771.50 per month. To be clear, that amount is on top of your monthly mortgage payment.

Not surprisingly, the 90024 ZIP code is one of the wealthiest areas in Los Angeles. In 2010-14, average household income in 90024 was $120,091, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; by comparison, the average household income across California was $86,704 during that period.

HOA fees 90024

Arto Poladian, a Redfin real estate agent in the L.A. area, says HOA fees in the region can range from a voluntary $25-a-year contribution to cover the neighborhood’s annual block party to $1,000 a month or more for a swanky high-rise condo and its accompanying amenities, such as concierge services, valet parking, movie screening rooms and wine storage.

The fees depend, in part, on what type of property is involved, Poladian says.

For instance, HOA fees for a guard-gated, security-patrolled community in wealthy enclaves like Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Calabasas easily can exceed $300 a month, he says. Most of the HOA fees in the L.A. area are assessed by condo and townhouse developments, according to Poladian.

“Many newer condo and townhouse buildings offer a wide array of in-house conveniences, such as on-site, state-of-the-art gyms and exercise rooms,” Poladian says.

By the way, the average monthly HOA fee for all 346 ZIP codes in our review is $228.90 — considerably less than what you’d probably pay in Beverly Hills or Bel Air.

Where can you find that average HOA fee?

You’ll come closest to it in San Bernardino County’s 91708 ZIP code, where the average monthly HOA fee is $229.14. This area, in the town of Chino, is a little southwest of Ontario International Airport. In October 2016, the median home price in 91708 was $438,880, according to real estate website Zillow.

Generally speaking, HOA fees throughout California are among the highest in the U.S. A 2015 study by real estate website Trulia showed half of the 10 highest median HOA fees were in California: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario ($315), San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($300), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($290) and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim ($285). The Trulia study looked at median HOA fees in the country’s 100 largest metro areas.

If you’re going to be forking over money each month for HOA fees, what do you get in return?

As defined by Investopedia, an HOA (homeowners’ association) uses monthly fees to maintain and improve commonly owned areas within an HOA. This includes lobbies, patios, swimming pools and elevators. Other HOA-financed amenities might include tennis courts, a community clubhouse or neighborhood parks.

Investopedia says HOA fees vary based on what an HOA provides. “Generally, the more services and amenities, the higher the fees,” the website says.

According to FirstService Residential, a company that manages HOAs in California, HOA fees can cover expenses such as:

  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Snow removal
  • Water, plumbing and sewage systems
  • Air-conditioning and heating systems
  • Trash removal
  • Security systems
  • Cable TV and internet services

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In many cases, an HOA turns over management of a community to a company that oversees a number of HOAs. That’s the situation with Shady Canyon, a gated community in the Orange County city of Irvine. In November 2016, the Shady Canyon Community Association hired FirstService Residential to manage the HOA.

Shady Canyon consists of 400 custom-built, single-family homes, with some valued at more than $20 million. Amenities include a clubhouse, a pool, tennis courts, and a private club with a championship golf course and a full-service spa.

The average HOA fee for Shady Canyon was not available. However, both of the ZIP codes for Shady Canyon — 92603 and 92612 — have average HOA fees well above the overall average in our review. In fact, the average monthly HOA fee for 92612 is the third highest HOA in our review.

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In the end, why would you buy a property governed by an HOA and pay what could be sky-high fees? Among the benefits of living in an HOA-run community are recreational amenities, hands-off maintenance, high standards for neighborhood appearance and built-in management of disputes, according to Realtor.com.

However, one of the drawbacks is an HOA’s strict regulation of homeowners’ behavior.

“For some buyers, the idea that a management association can tell you when you can put out a decorative flag or that you can’t park your truck in front of your property is a deal-breaker,” Realtor.com says.

Data is based on daily active listings for January 2017.

John Egan is editor in chief at LawnStarter, an Austin, Texas-based startup that connects homeowners with lawn care professionals. A graduate of the University of Kansas, John has more than 25 years of experience in journalism, brand journalism, public relations and blogging.

Fitness Studios Need a Strong Social Presence in California

Every day, exercisers flock to Instagram and Facebook as if these online spaces are their personal fitness journals. They take selfies in the weight-room mirror and post “fit-spirational” quotes on the most popular social media platforms. For the fitness consumer, social media has become an important support system for achieving their goals. But is the same true for the fitness studio business?

One thing is certain: all fitness studios are competing for the consumer’s time and money. This is no truer than in California, the most populous state and one with a large fitness-minded customer base. In fact, to serve its 38.1 million consumers, California offers over 9,000 fitness facilities (census.gov). The options range from independent studios to nationally recognized gyms.

The national gyms include LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Curves, Jazzercise, Orangetheory, Barre3, CorePower Yoga and CrossFit, among others. Regardless of the market’s concentration of gyms, independently owned studios have to compete with these name brands. One way they can compete is by using social media.

Social media’s impact on independent fitness studios

In markets where name-brand gyms are widely represented, social media presence is prominent. For instance, in Santa Barbara, there is a healthy mix of fitness options among the national gyms in that area. Niche fitness is covered by CoreFlow Yoga, Barre3, CrossFit, Curves and Jazzercise. However, if the Santa Barbara customer prefers a traditional gym format, they can choose from 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym. All of these brands utilize four or more social media channels. All of them have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as their own website from which customers can navigate to their social channels.

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The Santa Barbara market is one example of national brands setting a precedence that social media is an important factor for their success. For independent studios, this may help define how critical it is to create a similar social presence in order to adequately compete.

How fitness studios utilize social media matters

To help gauge a business’s social media efforts, City Twig created a social score scale that ranges from 300-850. The social score represents an analysis of several factors, including the number of social accounts a gym manages as well as the activity of those accounts.

Data suggests that when independent studios have a social presence, they tend to achieve a higher social score than the national gyms in their market.

This is true for areas with a high-concentration of gyms (30 or more) and with a lower concentration. For instance, in the highly concentrated city of Santa Barbara, Curves has a social score of 300 while the Santa Barbara Rock Gym scores an 820. The same can be said in Sherman Oaks (91403), which has 17 total fitness facilities in one zip code. The 24 Hour Fitness in Sherman Oaks scores 300, and Krav Maga Fitness scores 713 on the City Twig scale.

fitness studios comparison

Further analysis reveals national brands utilize social media differently than independent fitness studios. The corporate-run Facebook pages and Instagram feeds of LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and CorePower Yoga primarily feature membership promotions, shared blog content and graphics with motivational messages.

Independent studios, on the other hand, focus their social media efforts on their members using and interacting with their facility. The Facebook page for CrossFit Madera in Madera, CA, for example, is a long stream of member-featured content. They utilize Facebook Live for video content, which is the most effective way to demonstrate exercises. With a social score of 575, CrossFit Madera’s social efforts are proving to be successful for them.

National brands can still score high

Some national – and even global – brands have taken a cue from independent studios. Orangetheory Fitness, for one, is a franchise business that treats its social media efforts in the same fashion as independent studios. Each franchise manages its own Facebook and Instagram accounts.

“We will post top performers on social media to encourage and to recognize members,” says Barb Volk, Studio Manager of Orangetheory in Plantation, FL. When asked how important she thinks social media is for her studio, Volk responded, “Social media gets members involved. Involved members tend to attend more, see better results, and tell all their friends!”

Barry’s Bootcamp and Blast Fitness are other examples of national brands using social media independently by location. These brands hold a social score of 820 and 713, respectively. Again, their social efforts are focused on the members and trainers, thereby creating a lifestyle brand.

The takeaway for fitness studios big and small

In markets where national gyms are widely represented, independent studios should ensure their social media efforts are on par with those name brands. At the same time, national brands should take notice of how independent studios leverage social media and consider showcasing more of its member base to achieve more social engagement – and a higher social score.

That being said, utilize social media carefully, because it can deter people from joining your gym. Consider these scenarios:

  1. If you need to ask for consent to share a customer’s image on social media, this could become a barrier to join. Some consumers are leery of consent forms, while others simply prefer privacy. Be mindful and courteous of this when creating your social media strategy.
  1. If your fitness studio is slow to respond or fails to respond to customer questions and complaints via social media, this is considered poor customer service. You risk not only offending a current member but losing a potential buyer. Keep in mind: public conversations should always be positive, and don’t be afraid to take the conversation offline or to private messenger when necessary. You should have dedicated staff to field these questions and concerns.
  1. If your social media accounts are flooded with chiseled bodies, you may intimidate potential buyers. Someone who has never stepped foot in a gym will not likely respond warmly to idealistic images. Make sure your social media posts are in line with your brand identity and the type of fitness consumer you wish to target.

 

Liz Lotts is a personal-trainer-turned-triathlete who is admittedly addicted to long distances and wants to share her real-life lessons as an endurance athlete. Follow her adventures @lottsomiles

How Can a Small Business Succeed?

In a world where retail is dominated by big box stores, food chains and online shopping, consumers favor large retailers for their convenience and consistency. These large brands typically have a reputation that consumers feel they can consistently rely on. For example, Walmart is known for having low prices. When a consumer is shopping for products, they know that Walmart provides the most competitive prices. On the other hand, the Ritz-Carlton, is known for it’s quality. Nothing beats entering your hotel room to a fridge full of your favorite foods!

  • How can small businesses compete with such a strong reputation?
  • How can consumers identify small businesses that meet the same standards? 

At CityTwig.com, we have used proprietary data to develop trending scores for small businesses. These trending scores can be used to determine how a small business ranks compared to the overall industry.

What Is a Trending Score?

Trending scores are live ratings of local businesses based on a variety of factors. These factors include sector reports (eg. health violations, building inspections), reviews and social media. Using this data, our team at CityTwig.com has developed two scores for each business:

trending-scores-citytwig

  1. Confidence Score: This score reflects how reliable a business is. A high score indicates that there are many positive reviews for this business while a low score may indicate low reviews and/or business violations.
  1. Social Media Score: The social media score indicates how active a business is on social media and if information pertaining to the business can be found on social media. Many users rely on social media to find out if businesses are open during holidays or if they offer a particular service. A high social media score indicates that the business is responsive and active on social media.

A high rating in each industry and vertical varies due to the nature of the business. Here are some averages from industries in Newport Beach:

trending-scores-citytwig-industry

When looking for local businesses, businesses with trending scores higher than the average are considered above average.

 

trending-scores-example

There are many local pizza restaurants in Newport Beach. We’ve reviewed each establishment to provide consumers with trending scores for each business.

How Can I Improve My Trending Score?

As trending scores are live and updated regularly, businesses have the opportunity to increase their scores. On the other hand, businesses with high trending scores need to be consistently operating at that level to maintain their score. Here are some ways to improve or maintain your trending score:

  1. Maintain Consistency

Many consumers choose to use big box stores because they know the service or product will be consistent (either in quality or price) every time. Consumers have a level of expectations when making a purchase whether they are shopping for the best possible product or the cheapest on the market. Shopping local supports individuals and families in the local community. Maintaining consistency in your service or product allows consumers to feel confident in what they are purchasing.

  1. Online Presence

Maintaining an open channel between the business and target market is an effective way to communicate with consumers. An online presence allows consumers to interact with your business and shows that the business values each customer. Ensuring the business can be found online will also ensure the business has a high trending social media score.

How do consumers see your business? Find out at CityTwig.com.

 

How Social Media is Used in Newport Beach

Social media is making waves in how businesses and consumers engage with each other. Businesses may take to social media to post about sales, promote products, services and provide updates on accomplishments.

In Newport Beach, Retail, Tech and Food industries have the highest online presence. Surprisingly, Government and Not-for-Profit organizations also rank high in industries with social media presence. On the other hand, Financial Services, Education, Real Estate and Automotive industries rank the lowest when it comes to social media.

Marketing strategies differ across industries which may explain why retailers and food establishments are more likely to be on social media over financial and real estate firms. In addition to this, the target market of most retail, tech and food business are typically younger than those of financial services and real estate businesses. This may contribute to the low online rate of these industries.

Driving engagement through community

Using social media to create brand awareness and generate an online community is becoming more popular. From the successes of crowdfunding campaigns to the blow up of “insta-famous” celebrities, the power of social media in marketing and PR has proven to be tremendously effective. Many consumers now avidly search for reviews online prior to buying a product or using a service as they want to be informed consumers before making a purchase.

With the increase of income-earning millennials, businesses are looking for ways to connect with their market. More businesses are starting to develop social media strategies. In fact, many Fortune 500 companies are now shifting their marketing budgets from print ads to online promotion.

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How does this compare on the national scale? 
Nationally, 8 out of 10 businesses are using social media. In Newport Beach, 6.7 out of 10 businesses are using social media – this is slightly lower than the national average.

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Currently 7/10 Newport Beach businesses are on social media. This is slightly lower than the national average of 8/10.

According to CityTwig.com, in Newport Beach, there are 1378 (and growing!) businesses ranging from food to engineering to healthcare verticals. Of these small businesses,

  • 932 has at least one type of social media – that represents 67% of all businesses.
  • 51% of businesses in Newport Beach uses two or more channels of social media
  • 35% use three or more
  • 20% use four or more channels
  • only 8% uses five channels of social media

Facebook is the most popular social media platform with 96% of all online businesses in Newport Beach. On average, businesses in Newport Beach are using 1.8 channels of social media meaning most businesses in Newport Beach has a social media presence and interact with customers.

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What does this mean and why is it important?

On average, there are fewer Newport Beach businesses on social media than the national average. Many businesses – especially small businesses – will argue that their clientele is a niche group that finds out about businesses through word-of-mouth. Though this may be the case, here are some reasons being online is important to small businesses:

  1. Finding your business: 97% of consumers search for local businesses online
  2. Connecting with Niche Markets: There are many online communities that bond over a niche product or activity. Having an online presence will allow brand exposure to target markets all over the world.
  3. Monitoring Discussion: It is very common for consumers to post reviews about stores or products. Having an online presence allows businesses to monitor what is being said about their brand online and respond if necessary.

I am already online, how can I improve my presence?

Stay active: In a world where consumers are saturated with advertising, it is important to consistently be active on social media whether it be posting a feature on a product or providing updates on accomplishments. Do not be forgotten.

Be responsive: Social media can be a very powerful tool for businesses but on the flip side, it can also be a powerful tool for consumers. Very often, unsatisfied consumers will use social media to report a complaint or comment on a dissatisfaction. It is important that feedback from consumers, especially dissatisfied customers, be addressed. The best response to an unsatisfied customer is to request to resolve the complaint offline.  This is because the negativity can be taken offline and also the concern appears to be heard.

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Sources: http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Marketers-Expected-Shift-More-Dollars-Toward-Desktop-Mobile-Video-Ads/1013959

https://www.cmocouncil.org/facts-stats-categories.php view=all&category=marketing-spend http://fortune.com/2012/02/13/nikes-new-marketing-mojo/

Healthcare Providers: The Need for Social Media

Unlike other businesses, healthcare is not a predominately profit-driven business. Since profit-generation is not a main focus of healthcare, why is it important that healthcare practitioners and providers should be connecting with patients online?

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According to research through CityTwig.com, only 5 in 10 healthcare providers in Newport Beach are online. That is significantly lower than the national average of 8 in 10.

In America, healthcare is operated on a FFS (fee-for-service) model. Practitioners and healthcare providers are given budgets by the government or insurance company based on the number of patients they have and the complexity of services they provide to patients.

Healthcare providers are also evaluated on the quality of services provided and the effectiveness of the service. This means that the level of service and the volume of patients per provider affects the amount of funding provided to the provider.

When servicing a generation that is more likely to turn to online resources rather than physically go to the doctor’s office, it is important for healthcare providers to be equally present on social media. Online presence is important because 45% of Americans use the internet to find physicians and health-related services. This allows a healthcare provider to be accessible to potential patients.

Patients will also turn to websites such as G+ to find out more information about a practice such as

  • “Does this physician provide vaccinations?”
  • “What hours is the provider open?”
  • “Open on Sundays?”
  • “Does this clinic provide quality service?”

The basic information easily found online decreases the amount of redundant phone calls a practice may receive. It also allows for potential patients to get more information about specific services provided.  Shockingly, only 13% of Newport Beach healthcare providers have information on G+.

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Facebook is the most commonly used channel of social media among Newport Beach practices.

As a healthcare provider, having an online presence allows the practice to be approachable. It also adds value to a patient to be able to interact and inquire about services easily.

At minimum, it is recommended that healthcare providers and practitioners:

  1. Start a Facebook Page: Having a Facebook page allows practices to share their achievements and health-related communication (ie. “Closed for the Holiday” or “Flu Season Best Practices”) to patients. Healthcare offices can list their hours on their Facebook page; and when open, the patient can directly contact the provider’s office. This adds value to a patient and gives exposure to the practice.
  2. Add their business, location and hours on G+: Having a business on G+ will give the local business an option to add themselves to Google Maps. This will ensure that the business is included in any searches within a specific geo-targeted area.

Patients are using social media for healthcare every day. For a doctor’s practice to increase patients and build solid rapport, it is recommended for businesses to have an online presence.

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