A Condo Buyer’s Guide to HOAs

HOAs

Buying a condo involves a great deal of paperwork and a Homeowners Association (HOA). Let’s be honest, you hire a professional, experienced real estate agent so you don’t have to worry about the details. However, buying a condo requires not only a skilled agent but doing your homework as well. What’s in the fine print can affect your day-to-day life in your new home. Here’s a quick dive into HOAs and what you need to know about them before buying a condo.

Pros of Condos & HOAs

  • Security – most buildings have gated or locked entries, some even have professional security staff on site
  • Amenities – fitness center, pool, BBQ area, clubhouse, meeting rooms, tennis courts to name just a few
  • Maintenance – there are several people on-site to take care of the landscape, roof, pool, or even the furnace
  • Affordability – traditionally costs less than a single-family home, especially in highly desirable areas

Still haven’t found the right condo for you? Click the image above for what you need to know before buying a home.

Before you decide to purchase a condo, be sure to understand the rules. First, and maybe most importantly, you will be required to join the community homeowners association (HOA) and pay monthly or annual fees. A homeowner’s association is generally set up as a non-profit corporation. It is an organization established to manage a privately planned community. It is governed by elected board members and a set of rules called bylaws. Bylaws govern how the HOA operates and contains information needed to efficiently run the organization.

The great thing about HOAs is they can help manage legal concerns and the property. Furthermore, they help maintain order among the residents and protect the property.

HOA Rules

When buying a condo or townhome, as opposed to a single-family home, it’s important to remember there will be extra rules you have to follow. Below are some examples.

  • The color you can paint your front door
  • If you can BBQ on your balcony
  • If satellite dishes are permitted
  • Types and sizes of pets
  • If you can rent your unit to another person
  • Restriction on noise levels
  • If you can line dry clothes on your balcony
  • Your responsibility for maintaining balconies, porches, storage units, and parking spaces.
  • Recreation facility rules: hours of operation at the pool, tennis courts, clubhouse
  • How many guests you can have at these recreational facilities?

What are Bylaws?

Additionally, condos and townhomes also come with bylaws. These bylaws spell out the day-to-day operation of the HOA. These bylaws can cover things like how often the HOA holds meetings and how those meetings are conducted. They also regulate the number of people on the HOA board of directors and how many people can sit on it, as well as membership voting rights.

What are CC&Rs?

Furthermore, when buying a condo or townhome there are also CC&Rs. CC&R stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These are rules you must follow both inside and outside the building. They are recorded in the county records and are legally binding. Therefore, when you purchase a condo, you automatically become a member of the HOA. It is not only important to understand these rules, but also what happens when you violate them. Pay close attention to fines, how rules are added and changed, and when the meetings are held. Also, make sure the condo you are purchasing is in compliance with the HOA rules.

HOAs

What to look for in your HOA documents

As mentioned in the video above, when you first move in, you will get a huge packet of documents. It’s important you look through them thoroughly. Here are some things those documents will cover.

Fees

The fees differ depending on the amenities and services provided by the building. Listed below are questions to ask about monthly or annual fees.

  • How much are the fees?
  • How are the fees determined?
  • What do the fees include?
  • Will you pay for trash, water, and cable?
  • How often do the fees increase?

Ask for a history of fee increases for the past 10 years and look for patterns. Be sure to include those fees when creating your new home budget.

Reserve Fund

This fund is used to repair major projects or improvements to the building. Such repairs could include a new roof, elevator, boiler, painting, or garage maintenance. If there is not enough money in the reserve fund, then a “special assessment” will be charged to all the residents. Listed below are valuable factors to consider when reviewing the reserve fund.

  • How large is the reserve fund?
  • You can (and should) ask for a record of special assessments. This will give you an idea of what repairs have been completed.
  • Ask if there has been a study to determine if the reserve is adequate for future projects.
Insurance

Like purchasing a single-family home, you will be required by your lender to purchase homeowners insurance for your condo. However, it is just as important that you inquire about insurance on the building such as catastrophe and fire insurance.

HOAs

What documents to request?

Along with all the rules, regulations, bylaws, and fees, you have the right to ask to see the HOA’s financial statements and meeting minutes.

Financials Include
  • Balance sheet: see how the HOA fees are spent
  • Yearly revenue from fees
  • Reserve fund balance
  • Notice of any pending lawsuits
  • Information on recent assessments
  • Percentage of units behind on fees
Meeting Minutes
  • Understand current and past conflicts.
  • How conflicts were handled?
  • Has the HOA ever sued anyone and the results?
  • List of board members
  • Discussions of future special assessments for large projects
  • Any current or anticipated litigation
  • Is there an excessive amount of delinquent HOA dues?

HOA

Red Flags

Red flags are not always a deal-breaker. However, it will open the door for further conversations. Research all the details so you can make informed decisions.

  • Big yearly spikes and dips in spending – these are signs that the building could be in trouble.
  • Little or no reserve funds
  • Emergency borrowing by HOA
  • Frequent “special assessments”
  • Bank owned building
  • A building with a high percentage of renters (owners might not have the same level of commitment as you to maintain the building)
  • Keep an eye out for an undermanaged HOAs (this could mean the owners do not take an interest in the building)
  • Lack of people interested in sitting on the board (again, little interest in maintaining the building)

While a high percentage of renters may mean less commitment, that’s not the only thing you need to look out for. Additionally, a high percentage of non-owner-occupied units may mean it’s difficult for you to obtain financing for a purchase.

All About HOAs

Is a condo right for you? Maybe the video below will help! Want more videos on buying a home? CLICK HERE to see the rest of our series.

Buying a condo is a bit more complex than buying a single-family home. It is important you take the time to get to know and understand your HOA. Besides reading and understanding all the documents, it is extremely important that you talk to other residents. They will give you first-hand information about living in the building and the homeowners association. You should also talk to the board members and get a feel for their different personalities. Lastly, do not forget to walk around the building and inspect all the public areas. Make sure it meets your standards and quality of life.

If you’re considering buying a condo in Long Beach or surrounding communities, we’d be happy to help! The Shannon Jones Team has helped a number of clients buy and sell condos. To get you started, we’ve included a list of condos that are currently for sale in Long Beach below. However, even if you don’t see something you like yet, it’s never too early to start your home buying process! For more information on HOAs and condos, please give us a call at 562.896.2456. Thank you and we look forward to serving you!

Condos for Sale in Long Beach

New Listing - 3 weeks online
$2,699,000
Condo For Sale
Active
5
BEDS
5
TOTAL BATHS
4,300
SQFT
11 Temple Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90803
 
New Listing - 2 weeks online
$2,625,000
Condo For Sale
Active
4
BEDS
5
TOTAL BATHS
3,900
SQFT
9 Temple Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90803
 
$2,300,000
Condo For Sale
Active
3
BEDS
3
TOTAL BATHS
2,777
SQFT
850 E Ocean Boulevard #1503
Long Beach, CA 90802
Alamitos Beach (Ab) Subdivision
Price Change - a week ago
$1,750,000
Condo For Sale
Active
3
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,794
SQFT
1400 E Ocean Boulevard #1201
Long Beach, CA 90802
Ocean Terrace (Oct) Subdivision
Price Change - 3 weeks ago
$1,374,011
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,540
SQFT
1310 E Ocean Boulevard #1506
Long Beach, CA 90802
Alamitos Beach (Ab) Subdivision
$1,250,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,540
SQFT
1310 E Ocean Boulevard #507
Long Beach, CA 90802
 
Price Change - yesterday
$1,149,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,557
SQFT
1310 E Ocean Boulevard #606
Long Beach, CA 90802
Other (Othr) Subdivision
Price Change - 3 weeks ago
$1,069,000
Condo For Sale
Active
3
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,429
SQFT
359 Termino Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90814
 
Price Change - 4 weeks ago
$1,049,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,290
SQFT
1310 E Ocean Boulevard #701
Long Beach, CA 90802
Other (Othr) Subdivision
$995,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,012
SQFT
2601 E Ocean Boulevard #809
Long Beach, CA 90803
Belmont Heights (Bh) Subdivision
New Listing - 3 weeks online
$995,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,593
SQFT
850 E Ocean Boulevard #901
Long Beach, CA 90802
Alamitos Beach (Ab) Subdivision
$975,000
Condo For Sale
Active
3
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
2,147
SQFT
100 W 5th Street #3C
Long Beach, CA 90802
 
$950,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,403
SQFT
140 Linden Avenue #PH801
Long Beach, CA 90802
Lafayette Building (Lf) Subdivision
New Listing - 3 days online
$950,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
4
TOTAL BATHS
1,750
SQFT
251 Elm Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
 
New Listing - 2 weeks online
$919,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,431
SQFT
1174 Ocean Blvd. #10
Long Beach, CA 90802
Alamitos Beach (Ab) Subdivision
$899,900
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,104
SQFT
16 36th Place #F
Long Beach, CA 90803
Belmont Heights (Bh) Subdivision
New Listing - yesterday
$899,900
Condo For Sale
Active
3
BEDS
3
TOTAL BATHS
2,180
SQFT
150 The Promenade #506
Long Beach, CA 90802
 
New Listing - 2 weeks online
$829,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,786
SQFT
835 Locust Avenue #611
Long Beach, CA 90813
 
New Listing - a week online
$775,000
Condo For Sale
Active
2
BEDS
2
TOTAL BATHS
1,080
SQFT
700 1606 E Ocean Boulevard #1606
Long Beach, CA 90802
International Towers (Itt) Subdivision
New Listing - 4 weeks online
$759,000
Condo For Sale
Active
1
BED
1
TOTAL BATH
853
SQFT
1750 E Ocean Boulevard #1207
Long Beach, CA 90802
Alamitos Beach (Ab) Subdivision
About the Author

Shannon Jones has been selling real estate since 1998 and specializes in listing and marketing homes. She has consistently been one of the top Realtors in the Long Beach area. Prior to her award-winning career in real estate with the Shannon jones Team, Shannon has had successful careers in journalism and public relations. She holds a bachelors degree from UC Irvine and a masters degree from UC Berkeley. Shannon holds E-Pro, CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert), and PSC (Pre-Foreclosure Specialist) certifications. Shannon is very personable and maintains a very strong moral compass, always putting the best interest of home buyers/sellers above monetary goals. A California native, Shannon enjoys gardening, travel, reading, cooking and poker when she’s not selling homes MY DESIGNATIONS Lic# 01247705 | CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) | E-Pro | PSC (Pre-Foreclosure Specialist) MY SERVICE AREAS Anaheim Bellflower Buena Park Carson Cerritos Cypress Downey Fountain Valley Garden Grove Huntington Beach La Palma Lakewood Long Beach Los Alamitos Los Angeles County Norwalk Orange County Rossmoor San Pedro Seal Beach Signal Hill South Bay Westminster

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