Home Owner’s Associations have a variety of different functions. They may collect fees that are collected monthly, quarterly or yearly and cover anything from gates to the community, buildings, landscaping and general maintenance of the common areas. There are also rules, or covenants, that must be followed.
These covenants can be quite restrictive, but with the right HOA rules not only will your neighborhood remain beautiful and functioning well, your property value will not be diminished due to neighbors untidy keeping of their homes. Understanding these rules before you buy is crucial because once you agree to them, changing the ones you cannot live with can be quite difficult.
First, read the HOA documents thoroughly. Then think about how the rules will affect your way of life. To put is plainly, if you own a boat and large trucks, you may want to reconsider the condo where the HOA prevents you from owning a vehicle larger than mid-sized SUVs. If something isn’t clear, ask your realtor for clarification. After all, a professional realtor will know or find the answers for you.
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Also, double check to see if the home you fell in love with isn’t already out of compliance with the current HOA rules. Otherwise that’s an extra expense you may have to deal with, or rely on the seller to fix which can delay closing. Something as small as an unapproved paint color can be a major pain if you’re not expecting it.
Finally, double check that there aren’t any major assessments coming up. (This is something your realtor should ask, too.) Sometimes condo buildings and communities will have assessments to make major changes, improvements or repairs to the community. This means each resident is charged a fee to cover these costs. While you’re at it, check to see what kind of insurance the HOA has. Especially in St. Pete where (knock on wood) we are vulnerable to flooding and hurricanes.