If you’re in the process of house hunting you may have come across your dream home in a homeowners association community. But before you make a major purchase, are you informed about living in an HOA? If you aren’t familiar with how it works, there are some important questions to ask and a few actions to take before purchasing your new home.
1. What’s it like living in a homeowners association or condominium?
Ideally, you should ask your realtor this question and a good realtor will have an answer. If you have a particular image in mind of where you’d like to live, your realtor should know of the communities in your area, and the resale value of homes in those communities. All homeowners association are different, but your realtor should know the general advantages and disadvantages of the particular Associations you are looking at homes in.
2. What restrictions are there in the Association?
Each homeowners association has governing documents made up of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Bylaws, and general HOA rules and regulations. The CC&Rs state the restrictions in the Association, explain what the homeowners association is responsible for and what the homeowner is responsible for. The Bylaws dictate how the HOA operates as an organization.
These restrictions are put in place to protect the Association. You or your realtor are able to request a copy of the CC&Rs of an HOA so in essence you know what you're getting into before moving in. For example, are you an avid gardener or landscaper? Then any restrictions on your yard may not be easy for you to abide by. Once you understand the documents then ask yourself, “Can I live with those restrictions?”
3. What is the Association going to do for me?
Another way to ask this, is “How will my HOA fees be used?” Some HOAs might do things like:
- Pay for fire and hazard insurance
- Pay for water and landscaping
- Pay for garbage
Other things to look for are the amenities the Association offers, such as a swimming pool, fitness facility, or clubhouse.
4. What is my responsibility in the Association?
Knowing your responsibilities ahead of time will allow you to be informed and enter the community with open eyes. Again, your realtor should be educated about the particular HOA you are looking to live in, or willing to ask the property manager of the Association if they’re not.
*Note: From a professional standpoint, it’s common that a property manager may speak with a realtor, but not with the potential buyer just as a safe-keep.