Moving into a new home that has a HOA

Hello everyone:

Are you thinking about buying a new home, perhaps in Florida? The property you have picked out  looks like a lovely place and has all the amenities you could hope for but, wait, it also has a HOA. If you have never dealt with a Home Owners’ Association, you need to be aware of a couple of things.

You will need permission from the HOA to do almost anything on the outside of your house. If you want to paint, the color will have to be approved. If you need a tree cut down, you will need to get a green light from the HOA. If you have work done, you will have to do it within the time frame that the HOA documents state.  That is actually good news, since it prevents your neighbors from painting their house purple with orange spots, keeps them from cutting down a historic tree, and stops them from taking five years to re-side the house.

Now for the bad news: when I worked for a builder in South Jersey, the HOA monthly fee was a pretty reasonable $25 a month. But that was because the builder supplemented the HOA fee of every homeowner. As soon as the builder moved out and moved on, the HOA fee was going to double or possibly triple. While $25 times whatever does not seem like much, what if the monthly fee had been several hundred dollars?

Before you buy that perfect new home, check into the track record of HOA fees for the property and the builder. What is the actual expected monthly fee? Can you afford it? Do you want to pay that much? It might be better to purchase a slightly-older home with few or no amenities, rather than pay an exorbitant monthly fee for as long as you own the house. Do you really need a shuffleboard court? Will you ever use the tennis courts? Do you even LIKE saunas?

Let’s do the math here- get a new house in a brand new subdivision, pay $1000 a month (or more) forever to have a pool that the HOA owns and everyone in the area uses, or buy an older house and get a pool installed that you will own, once you pay for it.  Food for thought.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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