Friday, December 5, 2014

Homeowner Associations - Everyone has an opinion!

Opinions about homeowner associations run the entire spectrum from praise worthy to being cursed.   Believe me, I have heard them all!

Some view HOAs as oppressive with rules that serve only to frustrate the home owners.  Some want the freedom to do as they please without regard to anyone's approval. 
Others see HOAs as necessary to make sure things stay pretty much the way the neighborhood looks today. 

In the Viera and Suntree areas of Brevard County there is no escape from HOA rules.   Both of these areas are planned unit developments consisting of many newer (and some older) developments with lots of rules.

But the rules can vary from one subdivision to another.  I know of areas where one is restricted from leaving a pickup truck in the driveway over night.  Some prohibit commercial vehicles (including a vehicle with a magnetic sign) from being visible.   

Most have rules covering changing paint colors, having a fence including type/height.  Some will not allow a boat or an RV to be parked overnight.

HOA rules exist to promote uniformity and consistency in the homes.   I can understand the rules.  Likewise I can understand when buyers do not want the rules!

When one is looking buy a home in Florida one of the documents provided is the HOA disclosure. 

If you are the buyer - read the HOA disclosure and the documents.  I would go a step further. These documents are written by lawyers. If you have concerns get an attorney to review them for you. Don't accept the sellers interpretation of what you can or can't do.  

Go a step further and review the association meeting minutes including the financial statements.  Find out how many owners are delinquent with their dues.  What are the restrictions on rentals?   What does your association fees cover?  Are there any pending assessments?

Know what you are getting into before proceeding.   

You know your lifestyle.   Don't purchase a home only to find the association rules and deed restrictions are an obstacle to your lifestyle.

What about the areas where there are no association rules?   

There are some things the code enforcement folks will find find and issue citations requiring corrective actions.   But that may not stop the neighbor from painting his house pink and placing pink plastic flamingos in the front yard.  

Associations exist in single family, town house and condo communities.  One of the earliest questions to ask yourself when considering buying a home in Brevard County, Florida, is whether you want to live in a community requiring association membership.