buying a condo November 2,2016 | By Paul Johnson | Buyer Tips

5 Things You Need to Know About HOAs Before Buying a Condo

When you start perusing desirable Portland neighborhoods with the intention of buying a condo, you’re sure to discover that some communities are governed by homeowner’s associations, or HOAs. If you’ve only lived in apartments or single family homes, you might not have the first idea what to expect from an HOA.

Before you sign on the dotted line, you need to understand the pros and cons of purchasing Portland condos that come with HOAs. What can you expect to gain? What are your requirements as a member of the HOA? Here are a few things you need to know.

1. What are the Fees?

Fees will differ by HOA, so you need to make sure you know what the HOA fees are for any community were you might buy. You’ll want to factor these fees in with your mortgage and other monthly payments to ensure you can afford them.

2. What Do HOA Fees Cover?

Again, this will vary by association. Most HOAs are responsible for maintaining common areas, at the very least.  These might include community landscaping, pools, club houses, gyms, and so on.

Some also cover exterior concerns for the Portland lofts and condos, including roofing, building maintenance, decking, and such. HOAs often have insurance policies for potential issues like mold or natural disasters. It’s important to understand where your money is going when you pay HOA fees, so ask about what expenses your HOA covers.

3. What are Your Responsibilities?

Obviously, you’re responsible for paying your monthly assessments, but you may have other duties, as well. You may need to pay a special assessment in the event the community experiences major expenses that deplete funding reserves.

You’ll also be responsible for following all community rules laid out in the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions).  You will want to review a copy before you buy a condo.

4. What are the Rules?

Every community will have their own CC&Rs. In some cases, state laws govern these rules. In other cases, the community itself adopts their own rules. They generally pertain to how homeowners can use common areas (such as hours of operation for a community pool or club house), as well as restrictions on the cosmetic appearance of your condo exterior.

For example, your HOA may allow you to put up holiday decorations only during the month of the holiday, they may only allow you to smoke in common areas, or possibly forbid you from hanging laundry on your deck. Generally, these rules are intended to protect the health and safety of all residents, preserve the appearance and property values in the community, and ensure that all residents can enjoy their homes and the community at large.

5. How is the HOA Managed?

HOAs may be managed by the HOA board (i.e. elected residents), a paid management company, or the state, in some cases. Each option can have an impact on how the association is managed and you need to understand the differences before you sign on.