There are many things to consider when purchasing a home. Today, most communities have Home Owners Associations so it is essential that as a buyer you carefully consider what membership in the HOA means for you. Know the answer to these 10 questions before signing a purchase contract.
- What are the monthly/annual fees? This is the first question that should be on your mind when looking into buying a new home. The last thing you want to be blindsided by when purchasing a home are unexpected costs.
- What does my HOA fee cover? This goes hand in hand with the first question. What common area maintenance is included? Are there fees for the use of any of the amenities or are they included?
- How often do HOA fees increase? The average person buying a home wants to live in there for at least a few years, so it’s important to consider how often you’re HOA fees will increase. Ask for historical dues increase and if any increase are currently anticipated.
- By how much do HOA fees increase? Is there a limit to the amount that dues can increase incrementally? If the current HOA costs are already towards the top of your budget and they increase by a large amount annually, you may have to consider a different community.
- What are the HOA rules? This may seem straightforward on the surface, but you’d be surprised at how many lawsuits exist surrounding home owners violating various HOA rules by doing things like renovations and decorating in ways that are out of line. Look for tomorrow’s Blog which will identify some of the rules that you many not think about but can impact your life.
- What about insurance? What insurance does the HOA carry?
- 7. Is the HOA Financially sound? Ask to see the HOA budget? Are there reserves? Are the maintenance budget line items aligned with the actual maintenance costs? If not, this may mean that maintenance will not be adequate or that a special assessment will be needed to maintain the quality of the community.
- What is the history of Special Assessments? Have there been any special assessments in the community. If yes, when and how was the assessment used? Are there any assessments pending? What is the process for approving a special assessment?
- What legal power does the HOA have to collect dues? What is the maximum action can the association take to collect dues? Can they put a lien on your house or is foreclosure a possibility?
- What other fees can the HOA collect? What additional fees can the HOA collect? Most HOA’s are managed by a third party that generates income by charging fees. Ask about transfer fees, document preparation fees, collection fees, meeting fees etc.
Terry Roberts, Owner/Broker