I am looking for a condo and will be paying cash. What can I do to protect myself from an increase in HOA, maint or assessed fees?

Asked by Trying To Cover All The Bases, On Top Of The World, Clearwater, FL Tue Mar 8, 2011

I fear that a large increase could make it difficult to make the payments, as this condo will just be a vacation retreat and or property to rent weekly or monthly. I understand you can not count on renting it out to help cover cost so there my question has weight to it.

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John & Barbara Schinn’s answer
John & Barba…, , Clearwater, FL
Mon Apr 23, 2012
hello "trying to cover all the bases",

my wife and i have lived in On Top of the World for 12 years.

our monthly maintenance fee has gone up usually about 8 or 9 dollars each year. two years while we have lived in OTOW the monthly maintenance fee did not go up at all. the year after Florida experience 5 hurricanes the fee went up $24 per month.

there is no way to "protect yourself from an increase in the monthly maintenance fee. the association reps decide the increases after consulting with the owners and the management company.

There has never been a special assessment at On Top of the World, and the owner always assures us at annual meetings that there will never be one unless there is a catastophic disaster in the tampa bay area.

my wife and i are full-time real estate agents and our primary market is OTOW. we have sold HUNDREDS of condos in here.

have a pleasant day!
--john schinn
0 votes
Laudia, Home Owner, Annville, PA
Fri Jul 13, 2012
The OTOW Homeowners Association requires a six-month plus one week lease or a 12-month lease. There are no provisions for renting for other periods of time. The only way to get a Recreation (Activity) Card is to have a notarized lease for one of the above lease periods. In order to golf at OTOW or swim or lawn bowl, an Activity Card is a "must'. An Activity Card may be needed for other activities as well but golf and use of the pool absolutely require one.

As others have indicated, an occasional but reasonable increase in HOA fees is levied nearly every year. The HOA fees cover a lot of maintenance of each building to include roof replacement and many other items.

If a potential buyer can not afford an annual montly increase of for example, $12, he should not buy a unit at OTOW. If you can pay cash for a unit at OTOW, you should not find the annual monthly HOA fees too difficult to absorb in your budget.
0 votes
Bob Emerick, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Tue Mar 8, 2011
Between Daina and David, you've received excellent advice.

OTOW is about as stable an association as you'll find.....they have it down to a science. Short of some major disaster, I cannot imagine what would cause any large increase. When I last looked, their reserves were excellent. With their modest purchase cost, they don't have a significant foreclosure problem ....that might affect the your fees.

I would assume your rental income to be zero as you make your decision. (The best source of rentals for OTOW would be age qualifying relatives and friends...plus some home town entries for vacation resort on Craigslist.) Don't underestimate the added costs of cleaning the condo between guests if renters are other than trustworthy, clean relatives and close fiends.

As for maintenance, you alone would be responsible for air conditioning service, hot water heater, appliances, plumbing and electrical issues and floor coverings inside your unit. You should have a homeowners insurance policy not only to cover the condo contents but liability protection if a tenant were to be injured somehow.

Just a few more thoughts as you ponder your purchase.

Bob Emerick
FUTURE HOME REALTY, INC.
Clearwater/Palm Harbor/New Port Richey
Bob@ForTheHomeBuyer.com
727-781-3994
Web Reference:  http://ForTheHomeBuyer.com
0 votes
scott farmer, Agent, Scottsdale, AZ
Tue Mar 8, 2011
Diana has it right. It is a roll of the dice to a degree. Look at the big ticket items like roof replacement, parking lot resurfacing, swimming pool replastering and any other major items that may need to be overhauled or replaced after you move in. If a lot of these things have already been done then hopefully you won't see any special assessments if there are plenty of reserves and the property is being well maintained. Also, you may want to consider joining the board once you become an owner and become a part of the decision process for the future of your community.

Good luck,

Sandy Farmer
Realtor, GRI, CSSN
John Hall & Associates
homesales411.com
Web Reference:  http://homesales411.com
0 votes
David Kimpton, Agent, Safety Harbor, FL
Tue Mar 8, 2011
Also in the case of Top of the World it has strict leasing out requirements. Age appropriate and if you rent weekly in Clearwater you will have to have a license and that is subject to taxes. Many condos in our area do not allow for weekly or monthly rentals. It is ok to lease in Top of the World - but you have to be careful of the rules in our area for short term leasing of lease than 1 year.
As Daina already answered the HOA fee increases and speciall assessments can occur anytime. You should be aware that Top of the World in Clearwater is a land lease program. Since you are a cash buyer, the fees are monthly and they run around 320 a month plus property taxes. The monthly fees cover a lot of your basic services.
0 votes
Daina Burness, Agent, Burbank, CA
Tue Mar 8, 2011
You can't predict the future so there is no way of knowing that the HOA's will not go up eventually or a special assessment will not be necessary eventually.

However, part of buying a condo is to get the CC&R's, financial statements, budget, by-laws, pending assessments, minutes, etc from the HOA company. Ask for these documents prior to removing contingencies. Call the management company yourself and do your investigation by asking the questions you need answers to. Typically your agent should be able to get the HOA company name and number from the listing agent.
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