5 Questions a First Time Home Buyer Should Ask the Homeowner Association

When purchasing a home for the first time, many homeowners often forget to ask the homeowner association very important questions. For those who are in the market to buy a home for the first time, here are five questions to consider asking the homeowner association so you can use the information to help you decide which condo to buy.

Is the Homeowner Association Financially Stable?

The financial stability of homeowner association is very important to the success of the condo unit, and the buyers need to know about it. There are several different documents available that will help the buyers determine the financial stability. To find out more about a specific homeowner association, ask for copies of the following documents:

  • Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, otherwise known as CC&R’s.
  • By-laws and Regulations
  • Last year’s Meeting Minutes
  • The Homeowner Association financial statement. 

Expect these documents to be 50 pages or more, and read them thoroughly to find out information about:

  • The amount of cash reserves the HOA has on hand. 
  • Whether or not the HOA has been sued recently or is the middle of a law suit. 
  • Assessments being conducted to address maintenance issues. 
  • Planned improvements.
  • History of dues and information on the likelihood of whether or not those dues will increase in the future.

What Does the Monthly Dues Cover?

Do the monthly dues cover:

  • Water?
  • Trash and sewer?
  • Cable TV? 
  • Insurance?
  • Parking? If so, how many assigned spaces are covered? What about the use of additional space for guests?
  • Pool, Spa and Fitness center amenities?
  • Gate access?

How much are the dues? Are they comparable to other complexes in the area? For instance, some older condos may have dues of $120 a month, whereas newer condos may have dues of $190 a month. The main difference between the two units is the appliances and countertops have been upgraded. No other utilities or features are covered in the more expensive units. For some buyers though, the newer appliances and nicer countertops are worth the $70 a month, and for others, it is not.

Who Manages the Complex?

If a larger professional company manages the complex, it is usually better than if a private individual manages them. It isn’t to say that the private person won’t do a good job, but the large company can usually negotiate better rates for services in terms of gardening, repair, and other things the residents may need.

How Many Units Are Rented?

Renters will likely not take care of the property like the owners would. Sometimes lenders will not finance a condo if a large portion of the units are rented. On the other hand, some of the HOA’s will not allow people to rent their condos and if they are rented, cannot be rented for more than two months.

What Is the Noise Level of the Units?

If you are concerned with noise, try visiting the complex on a Saturday to see what’s going on. Talk to the neighbors. If necessary, try to get a corner unit because there will not be as many walls to share with other units.