As a Realtor it is always important as a Buyer to pay attention to overly high HOA fees. This is be a sign that there is a special assessment that is causing the fee to keep going up. Pay attention if the HOA is over $280 no matter what. You’re right to take homeowner’s association fees into account when buying a property. They represent the ongoing obligation you’ll have as an owner to pitch in on the costs of building and maintaining common areas and in some cases parts of your own property, such as a shared roof or walls.
The possibility exists that these fees will rise. The trouble is, that possibility exists whether the fees are high now or not. In fact, unusually low fees are sometimes a sign that the association hasn’t been able to talk the owners into paying for needed maintenance, repairs, and improvements. The day will come when they can’t put this off any longer, and you may have to pay some whopping special assessments along with the usual fees.
Too-high fees can also be a problem, of course, particularly if they exceed some owners’ ability to pay, resulting in disputes and foreclosures.
You’ll definitely want to do more than take the existing monthly fees at face value when considering buying a home in an HOA. Check out:
1. Whether the HOA is embroiled in any financial or legal disputes – or soon to be. This means they are being sued. Be cautious of this. Check the title work correctly.
2. The dollar amount that the HOA has in reserve (it needs money to draw on if a sudden repair or emergency arises)
3. Under what circumstances the HOA can impose special assessments or other fees, and whether it has done so recently, and
4. The number of owners who are paying the fees that they owe (if more than 15% of them aren’t complying, the HOA may be in trouble already)
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