4 Questions to Ask the HOA Before Buying a Home

So you’ve found your dream home in your dream  neighborhood, but there’s just one thing…there’s an HOA. Before you sign on the dotted line and purchase a home with an HOA, there are a few questions you should ask to ensure that you will be happy with the home and the HOA.

What rules are there?

Potential homeowners should request a recent copy of the HOA’s rules before deciding on moving to the neighborhood. You can ask your real estate agent to obtain a copy or you can contact the HOA directly. HOA’s can restrict your home’s paint colors, landscaping, and so on, so it’s important that you know the exact rules before purchasing the home to make sure that you are willing to abide by them.

When are payments due and what do they cover?

Homeowners who own homes with an HOA must pay dues, typically monthly, quarterly or annually. It’s wise to learn how often assessments can increase, by how much and how the organization collects delinquent assessments. HOA fees normally cover things such as trash collection, snow removal and maintenance in common areas such as playgrounds and pools. As a potential homebuyer, you’ll want to find out the specific details from the HOA before purchasing the home.

What is the HOA’s annual budget, does the community have a reserve fund and how does the budget compare to other communities?

HOAs need to set aside money for long-term maintenance, repairs and replacements. If the HOA doesn’t have an adequate reserve fund, then you may be charged extra dues or experience an increase in regular assessments when major projects are in the works. As a potential homebuyer, you’ll want to know what the HOA’s financial situation truly is.

What is the history and current state of the HOA?

Does the HOA have a history of litigation or charging special assessments? Do they have ongoing issues with residents? You should review minutes of previous HOA meetings and learn who runs the association as well as talk with current residents in the community to get a feel for the type of environment. Don’t just talk to one person – talk to as many residents as possible to make sure that you are moving into a great community that you can call home for a while.

Don’t make the mistake of purchasing a home without doing research on the HOA. If you blindly go into the home buying process and don’t do your research, you may find that you are drowning in HOA fees and that you are in a community that no one is happy in. Talk to residents to learn how they feel about the community to determine whether you would be happy living there and if the HOA fees are worth it.

If you have questions about buying or selling a home with an HOA, contact me for more information.

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
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