If you’ve never purchased a home in a managed community (“managed” as in overseen by a homeowner association or HOA), you probably have no idea what will be included in the package of HOA documents you’ll be receiving.
That’s ok, at this point you’re not expected to. You are, however, expected to read and understand every word before you fully commit to the purchase.
HOA documents aren’t light reading. They’ve been prepared by lawyers, for lawyers so naturally they are filled with legalese. Understanding the lingo, however, is critical to the future enjoyment of your new home.
The Homeowners Association
Owning a home in a common interest community (CIC), such as a condo, townhome or even a single-family home, offers freedom from some of the day-to-day responsibilities of homeownership, such as landscape maintenance. On the flipside, the restrictions under which these features are made possible aren’t encountered by homeowners that live outside of a CIC.
The HOA is comprised of all of the homeowners in the community and its governing body is the board of directors ― typically a group of homeowners elected by the entire association. It is these folks that, among other duties, ensure the CIC’s rules and regulations, as laid out in the governing documents, are enforced.
Rules and Regulations
While the documents you’ll receive for review cover a variety of issues, pay close attention to the pages that restrict how you can use your new home. Let’s take a look at some of the more common rules and regulations you’ll find with homeownership in a CIC:
Purchasing a Home in a Common Interest Community
Soon after your offer is accepted, the HOA will send all the legally required disclosures and documents for your perusal. You will be given time to review the documents and cancel the purchase without penalty should you not like what you read.
If you decide to continue with the purchase it will be assumed by all parties that you read and understood every single word in the documents. This limits your remedies down the line should you discover a restriction you can’t live with.
Yes, the HOA documents are boring and yes, they may be challenging to interpret. To be absolutely sure you can live within the restrictions, have a real estate attorney review the documents and explain anything you don’t understand.
No matter how much you love that amazing townhome, it’s not worth purchasing if the regulations impact your lifestyle and restrict your freedom.