When buying a condo or home with a Home Owners Association (HOA), the HOA documents and the "health" of the HOA can be very important to homebuyers (and to their lender).
Many homeowner associations throughout San Diego are experiencing difficult times. And I think it will only get worse if we continue to see inflation throughout our economy. Simply put, the money the HOA has in savings won't be enough to cover the rising costs of maintenance and repairs.
As a buyer, you may want to know about topics 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 (if you're lucky). Sometimes an HOA will even have a lot of information posted on their website (such as meeting minutes, etc.).
However, it's been my experience that a lot of HOAs are not as accommodating as others. If you are willing to pay for the information (typically $300-$700... to the HOA), you can normally get all of your questions answered, even before you write the offer. This may be a good option for some, but it can get costly (and time-consuming) if you're looking at multiple HOAs.
If you wait until after you write the offer to order the HOA documents, the seller will normally pay for it, saving you the money. The question is: How long are you willing to wait?
In many cases you may not actually receive the HOA docs for 1-3 weeks, so you shouldn't count on having a lot of extra time to read and re-read these documents during your transaction.
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, looking out 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.
Read Also: Buying a Condo in San Diego: 4 Tips That Will Save You Money
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.