Introduction to Home Owner and Condo Owner Associations

By:  Debbie Harris-Caldwell, Dale Sorensen Real Estate Brevard

There are a list of questions I ask a buyer when I first speak with them. The expected questions are how many bedrooms, how many baths, price range, ect. Those are important. Equally important is whether the buyer wishes to be in an Home or Condo Owner Association commonly referred to as HOA and COA. IF you are looking at a condo or townhouse it is a given that there is an association. With single family homes, there are more options.

Condo Associations take care of the maintenance common areas such as roofs, building exterior, pools, clubhouse, landscaping, and garages. Depending on the neighborhood, your water, sewer, garbage, and even cable can be included. For busy professionals and retirees looking for maintenance free living condos and townhouse can be ideal.

Home Owner Associations vary depending on the neighborhood. There are neighborhoods that offer volunteer associations which collect dues to cover the cost of neighborhood socials. However, many association are not voluntary. The associations responsibilities vary depending on the rules. There are associations that cover nothing more than the neighborhood park, and one in our community that takes care of everything including gated security. The level of association is something that every buyer must consider.

I spoke briefly of the rules. Upon getting a contract in a community with an association, the seller is required to provide the buyer a copy of the associations rules and dues. The buyer must then read through the documents within a certain period time and decide if they can live with the associations rules. This can include where are when you can park your car, what color you can paint the exterior of your home, how often your home can be rented, what size and how many pets you can own, and some govern the age of people living in the neighborhood. More than contract has been cancelled because buyers couldn’t accept the amount of control the association had over their lives. For example a buyer with a German Sheppard looking at a neighborhood that only allowed dogs under 25 pounds or a buyer who wanted to paint their front door red when the association only allowed blue doors.

For many people living in an associations isn’t a problem. For others seemingly minor things can be a deal breaker. Which is the reason why I ask if a buyer wants to live in an association. It is important. My job is to help buyers find their dream home. However, if that home is in a strict association, it can quickly become a nightmare situation, where the buyer finds them stressed out over constantly fighting with the association. I want every buyer I work with to be happy with their purchase for years to come.

If your are thinking about purchasing a home in an association, I will be happy to walk you through the process and explain unfamiliar terms in association documents.

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