Home Buying in Hercules>Question Details

Claire Morris…, Home Buyer in Martinez, CA

Why do some condos list HOAs and others don't? I tend to pass by those that don't because I figure they're so high, they don't

Asked by Claire Morris Dobie, Martinez, CA Sun Jul 8, 2012

want to say? I'm also interested to know how a buyer can tell if the HOAs are going to increase and if there are "caps" on how high they can raise them. I saw one property that would only be $800 a month mortgage but the HOA was $1200!

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You know what they say when you assume something . . .

Your assumption is wrong.

First of all, there's a big difference between a CONDO fee and an HOA fee. A condo could have both, or it could simply have a condo fee. So if you're seeing condos with no HOA fees, it could simply be because there is no HOA fee.

Second, depending on the MLS, it may be easier or more difficult to list a condo fee or an HOA fee. Some make it very difficult, so you'll see the fee put in under "utilities," for instance. Sometimes it'll be mentioned in the "Comments" section. It's not necessarily a deliberate decision by the agent or owner to hide anything.

How can a buyer tell if the fees are going to increase? Generally, that's pretty simple. Look at the HOA's financials from the past 3 years. See what the pattern has been. See if the fees are covering the expenses. See if sufficient money is going into any needed reserve funds. (That more often comes up with condo fees, with reserve funds for building boilers, roofs, elevators, etc.) And watch for this trick: Some associations keep their fees relatively low or stable, but every year do a special assessment. You need to know whether, and how often, special assessments ahve been done.

How can a buyer tell if there are caps? Usually, there aren't any. But it's very simple to tell: Read the condo or HOA documents and see if it addresses caps. If not, then there are no caps.

As for the amount of the condo fee or HOA, you also have to take into consideration what it's covering. Swimming pool? Club house? Tennis courts? A security gate with guard? Common area maintenance. And so on.

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
Thanks. This is a big help.
Flag Sun Jul 8, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
MVP'08
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When you said "condos list HOAs..." presumably you're talking about listings on the MLS?

Sometimes, it's simply a matter of omission, or mistake on the part of the listing agent.

For the most part, realtors know which condo complexes will have high HOA fees due to the number of amenities and the age of the property. So even if this info isn't on the MLS, many of us will have an idea, and have a way to find out.

Until one sees the CCRs, articles, and other HOA documents, one can't know how often or high the HOA can be raised.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
I wouldn't assume they are high because not listing. Although it could be because they're high, some agents are lazy and some probably forget
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
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