You bought a condo and you couldn’t be more excited. The last thing you probably do is look at the stack of paperwork handed over to you. Of course, you want to dive right into your new home! However, before you do, we suggest at the very least that you read your HOA docs. We know it’s not exciting reading, but it includes important information for you.
You Need to Know the Rules
You may know the basic rules of the HOA if the realtor or seller filled you in, but they may have missed some. Rather than just assuming you know what you can and can’t do – read about it. The Rules and Regulations document lets you know what rules the association has. It tells you:
- What you can keep on your property and what you can’t
- They dictate what you can do to the exterior of your property or even have on your porch
- Some associations dictate what type or size of pets you can have
Each association is different, so it’s important to read the fine print and always keep up with the latest changes.
You’ll Know the Bylaws
The bylaws may seem boring and you may think you have no use for them, but you do. The bylaws declare the positions, terms, and responsibilities of the board members. You’ll understand voting rights, the various committees that make up the Board of Directions. You’ll have a thorough understanding of the inner workings of the association. Even if you don’t see yourself joining the board, it’s good to know the policies and procedures.
You’ll Understand the Amendments
Associations make bylaws, rules and restrictions based on what they think it should be. As life happens, though, things change. The seller or realtor may not know of the latest changes. Whether they were alerted or just didn’t know about them, they may pass along incorrect information. Taking the time to read the amendments helps you understand the latest rules. It also gives you a good idea of how often the association changes the rules they already have in place.
You’ll Know the Association’s Financials
The association plays a large role in your homeownership. They are in charge of the exterior of your property and all common areas. If the association is in trouble, you can expect higher association dues, special assessments, or lackluster upkeep of the common areas and even the exterior of your home.
You’ll see How Meetings are Run
It probably doesn’t get much less exciting than reading meeting minutes, but it will give you insight as to how the association is run. Read through the minutes and see what goes on – do members get along? Is there a lot of conflict? Is the board receptive to the community’s ideas? What are the topics that come up often? You’d be surprised to learn how much you can get just from reading the minutes even if you aren’t actually at the meeting.
If you buy a condo or even a house in an association, it’s important to read the HOA documents. We know it’s not exciting and some of it may not even make sense, but getting the gist of what’s happening overall will help you know where the association stands and what role you should play in it.