Home Buying in Fairfax>Question Details

Curious, Other/Just Looking in Chicago, IL

Buyers' agents: do you read the HOA docs along with your buyers (to help them if needed)? Or do you just say here are the HOA docs, let me know

Asked by Curious, Chicago, IL Wed Aug 18, 2010

if you have any questions without reading them?

Help the community by answering this question:


I look for hot spots as pertains to restrictions. Then we go over it together.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
It depends on the development. Many HOA docs are straight forward and reliably followed. Reviewing these with the client buyer is absolutely something we will do. Some communities have a large body of rule interpretations that make reading and blindly following the HOA docs a bit risky. In those cases we review the docs but caution the buyer to contact HOA management with questions before and after the sale.
Cornell Hopkins MBA Realtor Keller Williams Real Estate Doylestown PA 18901 267-261-4063
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
Hi Home Buyer,

The fees to produce the documents are paid by the seller. You will see this on the HUD. The HOA may also charge an admin or transfer fee to the buyer - usually a lot lower - like $50 or so. The documents should specify what this amount is or you can call the title company that is handling your closing and they will be able to answer this question for you.

I always look over the disclosure letter in the beginning of the HOA packet. By VA law, the HOA has to produce this letter - it has all of the most important information, like if there are any HOA violations that have to be corrected on the property, lawsuits against the HOA or assessments (extra amounts that homeowners must pay for a specific project). Then, I ask the buyer to review the meeting minutes because if there are assessments expected, etc, the clues will be in the meeting minutes. I also ask the buyer to look over the budget so the buyer can have a good idea of how the funds are used each year. Then, if there are any specific concerns about architectural guidelines, you can either try to find it in the docs or call the condo board or condo management company to clarify it.

Our regional NVAR contract actually says that the seller has to remediate any HOA violations that come up on the documents. But usually the seller doesn't know unless if it is brought to their attention. So your agent would need to tell them about any of these items that they would need to correct prior to closing.

Good luck with your purchase!

2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
I agree with Susan Isaacs that we are not attorneys or accountants and should not interpret the HOA documents. Having said that, if my client wanted to have an RV, I would definitely make sure that there are no restrictions on having an RV parked in the development in the HOA documents and let my client know if immediately, if that is the case. In Virginia, the purchaser has 3 days to rescind the contract once the HOA documents are received. I urge my clients to read the HOA packet in its entirety and that I will not be doing that for them. If they have questions, they usually call me. If I do not know the answer, I urge them to contact the association for clarification. In some localities, you cannot even change the color of your house without permission. It is important for the buyer to do their part and read those documents.

Brenda Feria
Real LIving Eudailey Real Estate VA
Real Living at the Beach SC
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 11, 2010
I do not read the HOA docs along with my Buyers for a couple reasons. First reason is we really only get one copy and they are expensive and very thick ( hard to duplicate). Second reason is that I feel it could be a liability for me. What if I miss something important? It's really for the Buyer to look over who is going to be living in that condominium. I always tell my Buyers to look out for certain things (like pet and rental policies, rules and regs etc.) and to read them carefully and recommend they hire an attorney if they want a professional to look them over.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
HOA docs can be hundreds of pages long and very difficult to understand. I look them over, highlight areas of potential concern and in some cases I reccommend that an atorney read them if there is an specific item that needs clarification .
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
When I give my client the documents, that will be including the Q and A , the latest financials, budget and the balance sheet.I advice to read it first and to visit a Florida real estate attorney and to visit his/her accountant if something is not clear or if they have any questions
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
In my neighborhood, I list and sell quite a few Condos and we have seen quite a few deals lose their steam due to the Corp Minutes and Amendments. We strongly recommend an attorney genuinely interested in their clients' interests to spend the time with reviewing and educating them. I have personally picked up the Rules and Regs Book and dropped it off at their attorney. We believe we are advocates for our clients and believe putting all the right professionals in place to create a seamless transaction. There should be Attorneys, Engineers and Lenders available to answer any and all questions our clients may have before moving forward in any situation. That is the bottom line.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
In our area, the attorney and the buyer get copies of the documents. If/when I get them, I always make a copy and try to read through them.

But keep in mind that something that seems "normal" to me, in rules and regulations, might seem a red-flag to a buyer who was less familiar with those types of documents. I like my buyers to read through them, and then talk to me or our attorney.

The attorney is scanning the documents for legal issues... the buyer should be scanning the docs for issues that might be important to them... such as "can we grill on the balconies"... "can owners hang laundry out the windows"... "do we have to all have the same window treatments"... that sort of thing.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Dear Seeking Home,

Thanks for your kind words. I have bailed out many buyers and sellers in situations like this. Unfortunately many of these times it is without compensation other than the feel good for helping others and the complete disgust for helping a non professional inept agent receive compensation.

In any event, should you have ANY questions...you can obviously post them here or if you feel you need more explanation etc. feel free to contact me directly. I am sincere in wishing you well and apologetic that my profession is not shall we say more professional. Unfortunately many buyers and sellers think an agent is an agent and they really don't know what they are missing (or spending) by not using an experienced professional who takes their job seriously.

Kind Regards,

Erik J. Weisskopf, ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
(C) 703.216.1222
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
Seeking Home,

At least you are doing your homework! You should give yourself a pat on the back. It does however often puzzle me why a buyer or seller for that matter...gets this sense of obligation. It's a big purchase..often the biggest of ones life..and they trust it to some inexperienced clown. Same for sellers...when a suggested price is given only to be followed by several (often substantial) price adjustments.

Please do not be afraid ever...to get the service you deserve..and pay for. You owe it to yourself! Best of luck..sounds like you are in the home stretch. Don't forget to ask your agent to see if he can obtain the owners title policy to possibly get you a re-issue rate..This can save you up to several hundred dollars. You can also get the survey re-certified..saving you a few $$ as well!

Kind Regards,

Erik J. Weisskopf, ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
Dear SeekingHome,

One would assume you have switched agents based on your previous posts. However your current post seems like maybe you have not since you write (choose your agent carefully) The HOA Docs..if "hard copy" typically go directly to the purchaser. If soft copy (electronic) delivery then both the purchaser and the agent can review them (usually).

If the agent accepts the hard copy..it is the same as you accepting it..so..it is not recommended since delays may occur in getting it to you. Like Jay..and others..I Do take the time to point out what to look for and what questions should be asked and understood.

If you do not like the docs..or anything else for that matter...you still have (in VA) 3 days to void the contract from receipt of the docs. Sonal also makes a good point about remediation of any violations...this indeed is contractual..however, enforcement of such can sometimes be difficult. Never assume that because it's in the contract means it will happen. Enforcement is key and many times that means walkaway power.

Excellent answers by the way by Andy, Esther, Jay, Vicky and others.

Please be careful in your review especially with condominium ownership! Best of luck to you and I do hope things work out to your satisfaction.

Kind Regards,

Erik J. Weisskopf, ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
Having worked with sales and marketing for developers for the past 5 years, I learned
that there are a lot of "clues" that are in the condo docs that can be seriously important not
to miss. It amazes me that client/agents don't sit down and go over the information, since it is so incredibly important!

Some things to look for are adequate reserves, status of operating systems, etc. I hire a lawyer at my expense
to double check everything after I look at. Its the single most important purchase that your Buyer is likely to make. They deserve it.


Fritz Hubig | NAR GREEN® Realtor® DC/MD/VA
Phoenix Real Estate Solutions
p. 202.907.3733 | e. info@collectivespace.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
I understand that it's frustrating, but it really is the buyer's responsibility to read the HOA docs thoroughly.

I've built and developed condos, and while I feel comfortable reviewing HOA docs with clients, they need to acknowledge that I'm not warranting that they'll never have a problem with the HOA.

I have found that it works best if I review them first and make notes of things that stand out to me. Then, I pass them on to you, have you read them, find out what questions you have and tell you what I've found to be noteworthy. Then, I figure out how to get answers to your questions.

I don't think an agent is worthy of derision, however, if they simply pass the HOAs on to the client.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
I ask you what is the real issue here?

Frequently, items that go with buying a home boil down to one simple question. Do you want to live there?
I am just being practical. Most of the HOA rules are just about the same, and deal with restrictions and other rules to keep the community value up. If you do not like following these kind of rules, then HOA life is truly not for you. A home purchase is not the time to do battle with an HOA guideline.

I do help all of my buyers after qualifying if they understand HOA's in general. Those who feel adverse to HOA control are asked to commit or kick out the deal. After that, those who still want to move forward will discuss
any outstanding financial issues the HOA has. Like a pending blanket assessment, or hole in the bottom of their pool.

The seller pays for the HOA docs unless you have a contract that states otherwise.

Web Reference: http://McLeanTownhouse.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
Every agent does business a bit different. Normally with first time homebuyers, I hold their hands more so then someone that has been through the process before. The scenario you painted is what happens the vast majority of the time.

I always tell my buyers what to be looking for specifically (violations, lawsuits or judgements, rules and regulations, and reserve funds in the budget). If my buyer has been asking a lot of questions through the process, I'll often schedule time with them on day 3 of the review period to answer any questions they may have.

Good luck and congratulations on your purchase.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
I scan the docs, but I am not an attorney. I stress to the buyer to review the docs and if there are any questions they really need to consult an attorney regarding concerns with the HOA docs. I also recommend they speak to the president of the HOA or the management company so that the buyer is clear regarding any covenants or regulations of the HOA. Remember what might be acceptable to me might not be acceptable to the buyer. Example the size of a dog, there could be a maximum weight of 25 lbs and the buyer might love large dogs and that might not be acceptable but since I don't own a dog don't see it as a problem.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
I am always available to help my buyers and answer any questions I can, however, I urge my clients to contact the HOA directly whenever possible to answer questions or address concerns regarding HOA docs and to also consult a real estate attorney if they feel it's necessary. Usually the closing attorneys I recommend do not charge my buyers to clarify language or answer specific questions regarding HOA documents. Remember, as Realtors we have to be careful not to overstep our area of expertise and should direct our clients to the proper professionals when needed.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
In our standard contract, it specifies delivery, which needs to be directly to the buyer. Often times buyers agents don't have the option to review them. I do, however, give a checklist to my buyer clients and tell them to look for each of those components in the package; and tell them to pay particular attention to violations, etc. Like Glenda, an electronic copy is preferred so I can review them myself for those things. HOWEVER, unless the buyer has specifically told me they plan to paint the house purple or rip up all the grass and replace it with stone, I'd have no way to know if things like the architectural guidelines are an issue for the buyers....so the responsibility for review really does need to be with the buyers.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
Whenever possible, I review the HOA docs for anything that I feel I should bring to the buyers' attention. However, since the buyers only have 3 days to review the docs, this isn't always possible. That's why I prefer to get an electronic version so we can both review them at the same time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
Given there are only 72 hours to review them and many are the size of phone books, it's almost impossible for two different people to read through them. I try to scan the covenants and financials before given them to buyers.
Web Reference: http://www.jimmccowan.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
I help my buyers if needed, especially check together the violations in the 1st pages if any.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
Real estate agents are not attorneys or accountants and thus are not allowed to interpret documents. We must always suggest that buyers/sellers ask a real estate attorney or CPA,and/ or address the question to the board, management co., lender, or lister. That said, I try to point my buyers in the right direction, requesting the most current information (not "providing" which is the job of the HOA representative), send them with "what to look for" publications and encourage them to present any questions they might have to the appropriate parties. It is the responsibility of the buyer to interpret, understand and accept documents. It's part of due diligence. HOA and condo docs can also be subjective and what matters to one person may not matter to another. I assist as much as I am legally able, then point them toward the legal/financial experts.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 11, 2010
I thouroughly go thru the HOA with my buyers so if there are any issues prior to writing up the purchase agreement we can address them at that time. Otherwise the buyer is locked into a contract without their much needed info.
Web Reference: http://www.tracyandrews.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 26, 2010
Sometimes HOA Docs would be almost impossible to completely read in one sitting - therefore, I always go over the most recent, if any changes, but particularly the budget for their understanding -- I usually go through the Table of Contents with them to see if there would be any questions they might have
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
I always ask buyer to get a lawyer to represent them and I give all documents to them.
Mariel Castaneda, Lic. Real Estate Broker
Key Biscayne, Florida
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 25, 2010
Recently we could not find answers to questions he had regarding the condition of the condo building in the HOA minutes. My buyer began asking current homeowners if they were aware of any mulfunctions due to the condition of the building. Well, he got the answers he was looking for. Current owners had stories about plumbing problems due to the building's foundation problems. These issues never show up in the minutes or any other HOA documents. So you really have to do your own investigation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 24, 2010
We definitely review the financials and the HOA meeting minutes.
if they have specific questions that pertain to the CCR's we review the section that pertains to their question
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 24, 2010
What are you finding out, SeekingHome, that you wish your agent had discovered for you?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
Hi SeekingHome - make sure to provide your agent with feedback when the process is complete. It helps the real estate industry when agents can learn how to better serve their clients.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
As a buyer and in order to best protect yourself, if help is needed in understanding the docs--consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in real estate--that way an informed determination to buy, or not, in any specific complex can be made.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
No the seller pays the HOA fee. You will see that on the HUD-1 or they have paid it upfront.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 18, 2010
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