If you are walking around the property, maybe you can ask someone who lives there how they like it and if they think the management is good or not.
Dave Tap Tapper
Dave Tap Tapper
At Zephyr Real Estate, we ask our sellers to provide at least a year's worth of HOA minutes to prospective buyers. Keep in mind that not all HOA's will keep minutes, especially the smaller, self-managed condo buildings.
Some HOA's will have Yahoo Groups or some other way to keep in touch that are not official minutes. You should ask for that info as well.
In an ideal world, there is a full disclosure package for you to review prior to making an offer. If not, you should get these documents early in the escrow process and importantly, within your contingency period. There is a specific clause in the purchase contract regarding condo disclosures. Make sure you initial that line.
Of course, if you are working with an experienced and reliable real estate professional as your buyer's agent, she or he would be able to answer all of these questions and more to make sure you are properly informed and protected.
And, if you are not, go out and find yourself a great buyer's agent. Certainly, here at Trulia, there are many of us. :)
Danielle Lazier, Zephyr Real Estate
San Francisco Realtor
SF Real Estate Tips & Tricks: http://sfhotlist.com/blog/index.php
TRI Coldwell Banker, SF's #1 Office
In addition, depending on the size of the building there will often be a 'building maintenance report' that is maintained by the property management company and that will have more details about the care and state of the building and any planned routine repairs/improvements.
Since HOA docs are quite complicated as are the financials, I have Jacquie Berry as part of my team when representing clients for condo purchases or sales.
She provides analysis of all the docs including the financials & is able to determine the likelihood of future assessments & how well funded the property is. The value of a condo is directly related to the reserves. Her report results can be used as a tool for additional price negotiations.
For more information on her services you can visit her website:
The seller may not request the HOA docs before there is an accepted offer as there is a charge for this. Also, some HOA or Management companies do not provde them until the home is in contract. However, some seller's do request them when they list the property because it may take a long time to get them. So, bottom line is, selelr may have them or seller may not. How's that for a simple answer? You clearly have time to review them as long as you have this included in your contingency period. As far as red flags, some prior responses are valid. There are ways to "read between the lines" on these. Proper representation should be able to help you. Good luck.
A San Francisco Association of Realtor's Purchase Contract calls for one year's worth of HOA minutes. As mentioned, perhaps the Seller's agent does not yet have them. If this is the case, you do not have to remove the condo disclosure contingency (provided you initialed it) until you receive ALL of the paperwork for that. You no longer need to initial the Inspection contigency on our new contracts. If you are having a termite/pest inspection, you need to initial that paragraph and do this on the offer you are submitting.
How large is the condo complex? A two or three unit building? 50 units? If it is a two or three unit building, ask to meet the other owners. In a larger complex, there will always be owners or tenants of owners who you like and dislike. It comes with the territory.......
How much money is in the Reserve Fund? How often are dues raised? Has there been a Reserve Study? Look a the budget -- is it a real one or just something that says costs are shared? Your agent can walk you through ALL of this and point out potential red flags and/or problems that have shown up in the minutes. If you do not have an agent representing you, get one! That agent's fudiciary responsibility is to you - not the Seller. The Seller's agent fudiciary responsibility is to the Seller.
Interview a couple of agents and see who fits with you the best. Then go forward and make your offer. All of us would be pleased to help you. Good luck!
In San Francisco HOA meeting minutes should be part of the disclosure package, and you don't need to make an offer to see them. It sounds like you don't have an agent if you're asking that question. San Francisco is more complicated than other areas - we have our own contract, many forms and disclosures that are only applicable here, and other city requirements for sellers before selling that don't exist elsewhere, so you really need a good representative.
Obviously our firm would be glad to help you, but to satisfy yourself that you have a good rep I suggest you interview a few, ask the tough questions, and see who is the best fit. Remember, even though the seller pays the commissions a good agent can save you a LOT of money through skilled negotiations and helping you avoid problem buildings.
Lance King/Managing Broker
In our area it is not typical for the seller to provide this information before having an accepted offer. Reasons for this are (1) the seller does not have the information, or does not have the complete information or (2) the HOA charges a fee for the information so the seller wants to wait until there is an accepted offer.
If you have questions or concerns, maybe you could ask for the contact information for the HOA president or management company to be able to speak with them before writing an offer.
If you haven't hired a Buyer's Agent to help you deal with the Seller's agent, disclosures, evaluating the condo's value, writing & negotiating the offer, I strongly recommend it. An experienced agent may point out red flags you may miss just from having done it so many times before.