While in management, I had a few people phone or contact me, frustrated with their agent over one issue in particular after moving into their new Condo, Townhouse or Single Family home. The issue usually evolved from a misunderstanding; sometimes from not even knowing a particular rule existed in the Association where they had recently chosen to live.
The callers (previous clients) frustration was demonstrated in a variety of areas or concerns. Concerns like the HOA Fees, when to pay them, or, why have our fees gone up one month after moving into our new residence? On other occasions the confusion was about length of grass and even getting written up or fined for not properly caring for their lawn or leaving their trash container out all night. Still other times frustration evolved from having to be restricted in the color of paint that could be used on a mailbox, door or overhang on the house. Some people complained to me about how board members are elected and the list goes on and on and on. Some home purchasers were shocked to receive a fine for disobeying the rules and didn't even understand that unpaid fines can actually be placed against their house as a lien.
My point for this writing is simple. Associations are generally a very positive thing for home owners. The Association can and does help to protect you and the entire community in a variety of ways which in most cases is extremely accommodating! On the other hand, most confusion develops for a new home owner in an Association, because the new owner failed to read the documents while under contract and waiting for their closing. I can assure you as a Realtor® and one who has been a board member/treasurer of a rather large Association in the past, that the Association in all probability will not change their long standing rules just for you. Now that you are the new owner of that condo, townhouse or single family home, you will have to live with whatever you don't like or appreciate or even failed to have clarified before your purchase.
So what is the solution? It is so, so simple. In many states, the law provides a certain amount of days for you to read the Association Documents and with no questions asked, you can rescind your offer. If your offer to purchase does not contain such a provision of rescission, then have your Realtor® write the rescission contingency into your offer. When you receive the documents, ask your Attorney to review them with you before your contingency runs out. A few hundred dollars for this service is trivial in comparison to having to live with something you utterly dislike or didn't know existed in an Association. Additionally, you should feel free to phone the President of the Board or even the Management Company so that more information can be gleamed and understood! It is far better to know what is real about what your prospective purchase before all contingencies are met than to have to endure years of unhappiness because you failed to gain a proper understanding of the docs.
Finally remember, if you don't like the rules up front, they are not just simply going to go away when you move in. What the documents say before your purchase will be the same as what they say after you move in. As a former Board Member I can assure you, most Associations truly play by the rules.
David L. Burrows, Realtor®
Envirian of Warrenton
Warrenton, Virginia 20186
Phone: 703.391.9200 x9119
Your Buying Thought for the Day: Your HOA is most often a very positive ingredient in Home Ownership. A good association helps to protect your investment in a variety of ways while providing you the home owner with some great amenities.
Interested in Some Great Reading on selling your home? Take a look at these articles on my website: Selling Your Home: Where do you begin?
Seller Guidance: I would encourage you to employ a Realtor® to help you sell your home. When your agent or another agent is showing your house, go away and let them do your work for you. I also urge you to utilize my FREE SELLERS TOOLKIT before selling your house.
Buyer Guidance: I would encourage you to really check out anything and everything you are told by a well meaning seller. Employ the services of a Buyer's Agent to help you discern what you read and listen to about the area you are thinking of calling home. I would also urge you to get my FREE BUYERS TOOLKIT before heading out on the journey to find your new house.
Try this powerful link to help you find your next home: Fairfax Homes For Sale
The search engine on my site will allow you to find a house by Mapping, County, Subdivision, Zip Code, Address or City. I encourage you to try the Fairfax MLS and in fact, search the entire Northern VA Real Estate area.
Northern Virginia Information - Here you will find answers to your questions about schools, auto registration, taxes, things to do this weekend, popular destinations. It only takes a moment to look and it is free with no registration required!
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