5 Tips for Same Sex Couples and Home Owners Associations (HOA’s)

Home Owners Associations (HOA), is an organization of property owners in a subdivision, development or condominium complex that administers the rules and covenants of that neighborhood or community. Covenants are legal, contractual agreements that are said to run with the land, meaning that the covenant cannot be separated from the land and is transferred with it when the property is sold. They are used to enforce certain standards of the community to keep property values from falling and can prohibit a number of things, including the color you can paint the home, fences, landscaping and building materials.

imagesRules are made and enforced by the HOAs in relation to property owner conduct, common areas such as pools and other amenities and even how many pets you can have.

Following are 5 tips for same sex couples and Home Owners Associations.

1. Before purchasing a home governed by an HOA, ask to see the rules and regulations or Codes, Covenants and Restrictions, CCRs. Review those documents carefully to make sure that you are comfortable living by those rules. For example, if you have four pets but the rules only allow you to have two, are you willing to find other homes for two of your pets?

2. Ask to see the HOAs financial statements. They are generally not obligated by law to show them to you if you are not a homeowner. Many HOAs are nonprofits and, as such, you may find their statements from the Secretary of State or other government office, depending on the state that you live in, that maintains corporate nonprofit licenses and financial statements.

3. Read the board of directors meeting minutes to find out if any special assessments are coming up. Special assessments are funds that are needed by the HOA for unexpected expenses or extraordinary repairs. They get those funds by charging each homeowner with a portion of the cost. That assessment is in addition to your normal HOA dues. You may also find out about any bylaw or other changes in how the community will operate that may have a direct effect on you.

4. Talk to your potential neighbors. This is an excellent way to find out how the HOA is doing financially and whether the homeowners are happy with the current board of directors. In addition, you will get a feel for the type of people living in the neighborhood and may even make new friends. This is especially important for same sex couples so that they can avoid the frustration of not being welcomed into the community.

5. Find out if the home you are considering purchasing is in violation of HOA rules. If it is, you will be required to correct the problem to avoid being fined by the HOA. The rules of all HOA organizations allow fines, liens and other consequences for noncompliance with its rules. Note that some states have laws dictate how HOAs can operate along with the notice requirements for violations of the HOAs rules. You should check your state’s HOA laws so that you are aware of what an HOA can legally get away with.

Living in a community that is governed by an HOA can be great for maintaining your property values and having someone else take care of the community amenities. Problems arise when the HOA does not do a good job or overly restricts what you can do on your own property. The above 5 tips for same sex couples and home owners associations can help you avoid bad HOAs that can end up costing you a lot of money and stress. An experienced local LGBT real estate agent from GayRealEstate.com will also know the ins and outs involved in purchasing a home in an HOA community and can guide you through the process while looking out for your best interests.

Gay Realtor Warning on Buying Condominiums, Lofts or Townhomes

If you are purchasing a home then consider yourself likely to be among the 25% of individuals who purchase a property with a home owners association (HOA). Normally, all properties have issues, but HOAs have their own exclusive collection of additional operational, financial and legal issues that all buyers must analyze, review and consider in concurrence with their interest in buying a property.

Gay Realtor Warning on Buying Condominiums, Lofts or TownhomesMany people are reluctant to purchase an HOA because of horror stories that are linked to them, which of course can easily be understood (and prevented). This is one personal choice for any buyer to think about.

Below are some of the HOA horror stories. Some of the stories might never have happened if the buyer had reviewed properly the HOA documents, reserve studies, financial statements, CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) and demand statements.

The mentioned concerns offer an insight into some of the issues. Gay Realtor reminds us that it is your sole responsibility as a buyer to consider all factors to avoid making a purchase that will end up being a disaster to your financial future.

Ka-ching: $7,500 surprise three days after closing.

If you never heard, there is a true story about a couple that didn’t consider reading the condominium board meeting notes and minutes related to an $850,000 construction flaw that was supposed to be repaired, and the estimate cost for repairing each unit was $7,500 upon assessment. Well, this was noted down several months before the couple made the purchase but they never considered reading the pile of documents that were in relevance to their purchase that originated from the escrow. The couple was not aware about the assessment until three days after they closed on the unit.

NOTE: Always read the board of directors notes/meeting minutes to reveal potential assessments or emerging issues in relevance to the property.

Yikes! Purchasing rental property that can never be rented.

Sad as it may be, a big number of communities restrict the number of rental units in the property. This means that once the threshold value is reached (5 units as an example), there will be no other owner who can rent out their unit, and the only option they have is to let it remain vacant, or use it as their own personal residence.

NOTE: Make sure that you read the CC&Rs in order to fully grasp the restrictions such as the one mentioned above.

Astonished: The HOA fees are way beyond the mortgage fee.

The story here is about a buyer whose HOA fee gradually began exceeding his mortgage payments. For him, he lived on a restricted income. As years pass by, older buildings have items that need replacement, including expensive items like the boiler, the elevator and roof. Because of this, HOA fees can rise at alarming rates if the HOA Board has not budgeted in advance for these capitol replacements.

NOTE: Make sure you go through the Budget and Reserves information provided to you prior to purchase.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com ~ Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Should I volunteer to serve on my HOA board?

Home Owners Associations (HOA’s) are established to watch out for the interest of the property and individuals that live in the property the HOA oversees. Many smaller HOA’s are self-managed, meaning in addition to managing the HOA, they are actively involved in the daily management, maintenance, budgeting and capital improvements of the property.

HOA’s work to establish resident and property criteria that will insure that all residents continue to be satisfied with their living arrangements, that the value of the property is secure / maintained, and of course dealing with the occasional individual that doesn’t care how his or her behavior affects their neighbors or property values.

Volunteering time in these associations is critical if you are to take best advantage of the power of the association.

HOA’s are designed to be operated by a board of central people. While resident votes are sometimes collected on particular issues, dependent on its structure and the regulations governing it, the board can make decisions on its own without input from the larger body of residents.

Being a part of the board is thus critical if a homeowner wants to be involved in decisions affecting his or her community.

HOA’s are responsible for formulating and enforcing an overall set of rules about how residents must act, and units be maintained, commonly referred to as the “declarations and by-laws”. These rules can extend to minor items such as paint colors, window coverings and satellite dishes, to more major items like parking, pets allowed on the premises, visitors and extended guests, rental regulations, etc. 

Home owners associations can determine how lawns outside the condominium must be maintained and even the types of plants that are acceptable to grow there ~ including your balcony. They can decide whether common resource areas like recreation halls and swimming pools will continue to operate and under what stipulations.

While HOAs are typically put into place to protect the interests of all residents, unfortunately, they can evolve into cliques where the aesthetic choices of a few residents become rules for the residents as a whole ~ this is the importance of making your voice heard and having a balanced board.

More often than might be expected, HOA rules can border on the ridiculous. Who would want to be told, for example, that they are only allowed to paint their condominium using colors from the pastel color pallet? Who would appreciate being told that young children are no longer allowed in the common pool except for a one hour window in the afternoon because the remainder of the time it is being reserved for older residents? Who would enjoy waking up one morning to find that fifteen speed bumps have been installed between your condominium and the main highway one-quarter mile down the road?

Participating on HOA boards is one way to insure that your voice is always heard in their deliberations.

Participating is one way to insure that HOA associations do what they were designed to do, protect the interests of all residents.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of www.GayRealEstate.com and  www.CondoZing.com ~ Premium Service Condominium Sales at up to Half Off Traditional Commissions “More Zing ~ Less Commission Sting”.