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Buying a Home Governed by a Homeowners Association - Do Your Homework

It can be you dream home or a house of horrors

Many Town home PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) have completely different lists of what the HOA is responsible for repairing as well as the individual home owner's repair responsibility. 

Some descriptions for repairs are ambiguous and confusing. At an HOA meeting a property manager informed home owners that they are responsible for the exterior maintenance of their unit, however in the written report that was given, it stated "Damage occurring by normal wear and use will be repaired by HOA" The Property manage skirted the question "Who determines Normal Wear and Use?"

I also recently discovered that the home owner is responsible for chimney repairs. Some are cracked and in need of repair. Oddly, I remember a property manager several years ago telling me that chimneys in this complex are the HOA's responsibility, are you confused yet?

The best solution is to thoroughly read everything in the HOA documents. Question everything. 

Ask These Questions:

  • Who is responsible for the exterior siding and potential dry-rot?
  • How often are the town homes painted?
  • Does the HOA have enough $ in their reserves for normal maintenance?
  • Who is responsible for roof/chimney/window frames?
  • Get all of your answers in writing or keep documentation from your homeowner documents that indicates the above questions

Something else to consider is this: When procuring a loan for a PUD/Condo your mortgage person will want what's called a "Condo Certs" (Condo Certification) Keep in mind that a bank often will not lend on a troubled HOA. 

Your Mortgage person will want to know how many owner occupied units, what % of homeowners are in arrears, insurance info, and financial statements, and quite a bit more....

Seven years ago I had the experience of listing a town-home for sale that had special assessments looming in the near future. What are "Special Assessments?" It simply means that the homeowners association didn't have enough money/reserves to conduct much needed repairs. Somewhere along the way repairs and maintenance were not done in a timely manner and the HOA needed extra funds. The HOA sent out a 48,000. assessment to each homeowner! Needless to say it was devastating. It's taken as many years for this complex to recover it's reputation.

Now for great news! I recently had an offer accepted in a PUD and found that the management company and the Homeowners Association is one of the best on the Peninsula! When I called the Property Manager, he actually picked up the phone!!! Although the town home needed some cosmetics and upgrades it was a far better investment for my clients than if they purchased a completely remodeled home in an unhealthy HOA.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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