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Sharon, Home Buyer in Morrisville, PA

We are purchasing a condo in Florida. The realtor is vague when I ask about the Association and ask why has

Asked by Sharon, Morrisville, PA Fri Oct 19, 2007

the fee doubled in a year. I want to insure there are no 'surprises' so I would like to find out for myself. How would I go about getting information from the association - short of knocking on doors.

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Sharon,

As a Realtor and the Treasurer on my Home Owners Association I would say look deeply into all of the information you can find. If you feel like your Realtor is hiding something from you, look deeper into the situation for yourself. You can find a lot of information that you will want to be aware of. Title companies deal with Home Owner Associations every time a property in the community sells, so they should be able to give you any information as far as who to contact.

Now for the hard part. Many home owner associations aren't run properly, so it may be like pulling teeth to find the information you need. Here are a few things you should ask about when your looking a little deeper:

1. Ask to see their financials. Where are your HOA dues going and what are they paying for.
2. Ask about the insurance policy for the Association. What does it cover? How many claims have been made?
3. What policies are/aren't enforced? (ie: parking, garbage cans, housing modifications, etc.)
4. How many units are owned by the same owner? (This can affect some types of lending products).
5. How many units are rented? (This can also affect some types of lending products).
6. How much money is in reserves? (ie: money for new roofs, exteriors, damage not covered by insurance, etc.)
7. What do the current dues cover?
8. Are there any special assessments?
9. How much is the transfer fee?
10. Are there any pending lawsuits or judgments against the community?

A home owners association is one of the most vital parts to a neighborhood. It can make or break it. Don't let your Realtor, or anyone else for that matter get away with being vague. This is your due diligence to find out this information, take it upon yourself to know what your getting into. Laws vary from state to state so you may want to talk to a real estate attorney as well.

I hope this helps, feel free to email or call if you have any questions.

Bryan Maynes - Realtor
Dwellings Real Estate
801.631.7530 - Phone
maybry@wfrmls.com - Email
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
The Realtor may not be hiding things from you. He/she might not know the answers or may not be very experienced in condo resales.

In Florida, the seller of a resale unit must provide documents on the HOA including the CCRs (conditions, covenants and restrictions), and the by-laws/rules to the buyer. The buyer has 3 days from the receipt of these documents to rescind his/her offer without penalty. (BTW< it is longer for new construction.)

Bryan and Ian have provided you the right questions. Provide your Realtor w/ a list and ask them to go get the answers for you. Although your Realtor should get this info for you, if they fail to follow through or succeed, do take it upon yourself to find the answers.

Good Luck.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
You have received EXCELLENT answers!!! I would knock on doors and talk to the neighbors.
Ruth
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Hi Sharon,
I recently purchased a condo in FL and the association fees there had doubled in the last 2 years. The reason for this development was the insurance. Insurance rates have skyrocketed in FL in the last 2 years due to the year of hurricanes.
This may not be your reason, but most likely is. Be sure to find out before you buy. If you are in a contract to purchase, you can add an addendum that you reserve your right to hold back any additional moneys until you receive the POS from the association and any additional information you need to get an answer to your question.
Web Reference: http://www.dianeglander.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
Ask for the minutes of the HOA meetings for the past two years. You should be able to find out most everything you need to know about their financial status. Good luck.
Web Reference: http://www.cindihagley.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
Cindi Hagley, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
MVP'08
Contact
There should be no surprises....if the Realtor is vague, run don't walk away...there may be issues with money in/not in reserves, and a multitude of issues, or it could just be an ill informed Realtor...either way, be very cautious.

For a checklist of what to look for when buying a condo, look on my website, at the "condominiums considered" page.
Web Reference: http://www.iansellsnola.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
Hello Sharon! Florida law requires that each prospective purchaser who has entered into a contract for the purchase of a condominium unit is entitled, at the seller's expense, to a current copy of the declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation of the association, bylaws and rules of the association, financial information required by Florida statute 718.111, and the document entitled "Frequently Asked Questions and Answers" required by Florida statute 718.504. These documents MUST be provided to the Buyer within a specific period of time depending on whether you are purchasing from a developer or a nondeveloper. The contract is VOIDABLE by the BUYER by delivering written notice after the receipt of these documents. Again, the time frame that the written notice must be delivered to the Seller according to the Florida Statutes varies according to whether the Seller is a developer or nondeveloper. My advice would be to interview real estate professionals and find a realtor that you feel you would be comfortable working with. This person will be able to guide you along and will be familiar with Florida law regarding the disclosure process. I am available to work throughout the entire state of Florida, as are all realtors licensed in our state, and I would love to help you; or if you prefer to work with someone in your immediate area, I would be happy to find a professional realtor to refer you to. Location is not as important as finding a competent individual who is both professional and experienced. Best of luck to you Sharon! Please e-mail me at Lorraine@MyHappyRealtor.com or call me at 813-716-3997 if I can help.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 11, 2007
Have your Real Estate agent get the Budget for the Association and to see if there are any assessments in the future. Make sure the Association has money on the bottom line. When you put an offer in you have days to review documents of the Association. Three days for new and 14 days fro resale condo. It would not hurt to talk with some of the neighbors to see if you like the people in the building.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 21, 2007
I read everyone's answers and those who said get all the docs on the HOA from the association is correct and is a contingency in your offer to purchase. Perhaps the problem is not with your agent being vague, but that you have not made an offer yet?

A lot of associations charge money for copies of these docs, so the listing agent or buyers agent are not likely to want to pay those fees if you are not going to make an offer. You can do so if you'd like, but if you like the community, you will be protected when making an offer by the clause in the contract that covers these fees.

I like the idea of knocking on doors too though - it's a good idea to see who your neighbors would be and what they think of how things are being run by the community. Ask if they go to the meetings though, usually the ones who complain the most are those who don't bother to go to the meetings and cast a vote.

Good luck!!
Web Reference: http://www.HomeOrlando.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
All assocations have different rules and the Condominium documents have to be read for each individual ones. Their associations fees are all differnt. Many single family homes are maintained also, and have different rules, even though they are attached villa's.

Mary Samples
Michael Saunders & Co.
Venice, FL 34285
941-416-1591
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
The seller has to provide you with the documents and minutes of meetings of the association. You also are entitled to the financial information and any special assessments that may be ongoing or forthcoming. You have 3 days from the receipt of these documents to cancel the contract if you don't like what you read. Make sure your requests are in writing and within the allotted time frame--this is absolutely essential. You have protections if you use them properly. Be sure to work closely with your realtor in all these matters so that you can have a successful transaction. Best of luck to you.
Web Reference: http://www.myketriebold.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
Hi Sharon, you can ask the neighbors for information. Now, I don't know how things are done in Florida, but when escrow is opened, the association is contacted and HOA documents are ordered and also monthly meeting reports and any assessments which will take place. You want to be well informed. Maybe the neighbor will have it all handy and you will know whats going on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
Ask your realtor to order a copy of the condo association documents and current budgets. He/she can get these from the property management company handling the condo association. If the association is run by the condo residents, I'd recommend checking with the treasurer/secretary. If your agent can't locate who handles the association, I'd recommend checking with https://www.condocerts.com/home.html. This is a website where your agent or the title company handling your closing can probably order the documents you need to complete your research. Best of luck to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
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