When buying a home, condo or townhouse, you wouldn’t want to buy next door to where dogs are always barking, couples are always fighting, or neighbors are throwing parties all night long. But even after you’ve vetted the street and community several times before making an offer, there may be other silent issues to consider about your community.
In Orange County, there are many master-planned communities offering beautiful homes, wonderful aesthetics, and enjoyable amenities. Many of these communities belong to a Home Owners Association (HOA) that governs them. While they promise neighborhood upkeep, a community with an association may not be the right choice for you. Before you end up in conflict or possibly litigation, the lawyers at Heritage Law, LLP in Aliso Viejo want to share five tips to buying a home with an HOA.
When you buy a home with an HOA, you also agree to abide by a series of rules. In fact, many HOA packets are comprised of hundreds of pages of guidelines. If you have always dreamt of a pink home with a white picket fence, there may be rules against it. If you like to garden, there may be guidelines, not only as to what you can’t plant but what you must use. HOA rules can even forbid you from parking on your driveway. The rules can be very complex, so it is important you understand them before buying.
Homebuyers will no doubt see information regarding HOA fees on the MLS listing and like property taxes should be considered when discussing the home’s affordability. But there are questions regarding the history of the fees and the HOA that you will want to ask like:
- Will the fees increase, or when was the last increase.
- Is there a set amount of the next fee increase?
- Is the HOA being sued, and if so, will the outcome affect those fees?
By understanding the history of the HOA, and the way the fee structure has been established, you will have an idea whether to budget for increased fees. The last thing you’d want is a judgment against the HOA to cause a huge spike in monthly fees. Ask questions, as the budget will be a major indicator as to whether you purchase the home.
Having an HOA can provide peace of mind that your fees will go towards keeping the community well maintained. But there are questions you should ask the seller of the home, or other people living in the community. For example, if there is a community pool, what happens when the pool’s heater or pump breaks? Are repair crews fixing that promptly, or might you have to wait days or weeks to resume using these amenities? Remember, your fees not only go to the upkeep of the community but the management of it as well. If there are numerous dry patchy common areas of grass, or there are bushes and trees that are overgrown, will your HOA be receptive to your comments and concerns? When overall beautification projects are ordered, will you be financially responsible?
Heritage Law, LLP, are Aliso Viejo attorneys specializing in real estate law, construction law, and mortgage problems. HOA violations can be costly and put your home at risk. You are not helpless if you are in disagreement with your HOA, but make sure to understand their policies. Some disputes have resulted in liens, foreclosures, or sales of homes because of HOA violations. Help is available. The court may even overturn guidelines and judgments against homeowners who violate their CC&Rs. If you are having an issue with a dispute with your neighbor or HOA, please contact the team at Heritage Law, LLP.