My buyers called me all excited about a home listed in a certain area they want that didn't have the usual HOA fees. I read the listing sheet and sure enough no where on the listing is a monthly fee mentioned. Now I'm very familiar with this area and I know the homeowners pay $142 a month which includes their water fee and access to a recreational center that is managed by the district.
My first call is to the agent to find out if maybe they have won the lottery and managed to list a home exempt from the fees in this area. Sure enough they claim there is no HOA, and no fee that they are aware of. Now some buyer's agents might stop there and take the word of the listing agent. But I go with my gut and my gut instinct told me to dig deeper.
The next call was to the water management company to find out if indeed this home is exempt from the HOA. They referred me to the HOA management company (not listed on MLS) After researching from the tax records as to which zone they were in we could therefore establish that they were outside the HOA parameter. OK so does that mean they don't pay any fees attached to the land? No it just means they are not inside the HOA boundary-back to the water district to clarify.
After clarifying that this property indeed is not part of an active HOA, I inquire as to any and all fees that go with the property for the community. "Oh, there is the water and rec center fee that is governed by the district." Now we are getting somewhere. So let me understand, "A buyer purchasing this property has to pay the 142.00 per month fee required as a property owner in this district even though they are outside the HOA?" "Yes."
Now this may not seem like a significant dollar amount to many and it does include the water bill for the property (with limitations on gallons used and penalties for going over), but some buyers are not prepared nor desire to have a set fixed additional charge on top of their monthly mortgage. This is a non negotiable fee for this area and should be disclosed somewhere on the listing. Whether it is put under HOA fees or in the Agent notes there is an obligation to DISCLOSE. Taking the time to investigate potential pitfalls on the front end and to get clarification for buyers is just one more way to prevent misunderstandings that can lead to significant deal breakers later on.