When buying a condo or home with a Home Owners Association (HOA), the HOA documents and "health" of the HOA can be very important to home buyers (and to their lender). Many condo and homeowner associations throughout San Diego are experiencing difficult times (financially and legally) as a result of the bursting housing bubble. As a buyer, you may want to know about items such as the owner-occupancy ratio, delinquency rate, the latest reserve study and reserve budget, meeting minutes, whether there is pending litigation concerning the HOA, etc. Homebuyers (and their agents) may be able to find out important information simply by calling the HOA. Sometimes HOAs even have a lot of information posted on their websites (such as meeting minutes, etc.). However, it's been my experience that some HOAs are not as accomodating as others. If you are willing to pay for the information (typically $100-$400... to the HOA), you can normally get any and all of your questions answered, even before you write the offer. This may be a good option for some, but it can start getting costly (and time-consuming) if you're looking at multiple HOAs. If you wait until you write the offer to order the HOA documents, the seller will often pay for it, saving you the money. The question is: How long are you willing to wait?
It's true that you typically have 17 days in CA before you may be required to remove contingencies, but in many cases you may not actually receive the HOA docs for 1-3 weeks, so you should not count on having a lot of extra time to read and re-read these documents. All homebuyers should discuss the importance of the HOA's health and design an HOA strategy with their exclusive buyer agent. If you take time to interview and hire the right exclusive buyer's agent, you will have an agent working on your side... for your best interests, doing the leg-work for you, and guiding/counseling you through the process.
Other suggestions include attending an HOA Meeting and talking to the Board of Directors and other homeowners as well as designing a specific HOA questionnaire with your agent to get all your questions answered.
Justin Gramm is the founder and principal broker of Globella Buyers Realty, your San Diego Exclusive Buyer Brokerage. He also writes this blog, "For San Diego Home Buyers."
Exclusive Buyer Agents do not list homes for sale and never represent sellers. They have no "inventory" to try to sell you. They can represent you in purchasing any home. They are specialists at representing buyers only on the buyers' side of the transaction. Exclusive Buyer Agents work to get buyers the best price and terms when they buy a home.
If you have excellent credit and plan to buy a home or condo in San Diego County within 90 days, contact Justin Gramm to hire an agent on your side of the transaction. Call Justin at (858) 437-2662 or E-mail.