Condominium Associations, Homeowners Associations, What To Look For


By: Karen Laurence Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Miami Dade and Palm Beach Counties have some of the highest HOA fees in the country. The average is $415, which ranks these counties in Florida, fifth in the nation. Going to back to 2015, prior to the Housing Crisis, the average monthly fee was $215.00. HOA fees have outpaced the rise in Home values at 32 percent,  while homes rose only 15 percent, in the last 10 years.

Home owners Associations and Condominium Owners Associations use this money to maintain the community’s common spaces, gym, pool, activity room, cable TV, landscaping, and sometimes master insurance, reserves and some utilities. They are usually mandatory and non-negotiable.

The fees vary depending on the amount of amenities that are offered. Amenities for your lifestyle such as shuttle service to groceries, no lawn maintenance and doctor visits are some of the reasons people move to a home with an association. The older the building, often means the higher the fees. The larger the home and the luxury lifestyle offered means greater fees. This helps protect the quality of life in the community. They can restrict painting the color of your home to assessing you in addition to your monthly fees, for such repairs as the roof, or the repaving of a parking lot.

What you need to know about associations:

  1. Learn the rules, which are often posted on line. Parking violations or fines and how the board governs. See if they fit with your personality as well as the amount of the fees. Are there pet restrictions and you have a dog? Is it the right breed and size?
  2. Make sure that the HOA or COA has enough reserves so that purchasers coming into the property will not be restricted and that the association is solvent. That is why you need to review the budgets and reserves. How often do fees increase and how often? Reserves must be a certain percentage in order for a purchaser to be able to obtain a loan.
  3. Assess the environmental practices of the companies they use to fertilize and control pests. Do they agree with your environmental views?
  4. How many renters do they have in relation to owners? What is the leasing policy?  In case you wish to rent for part of the year when you are not using the home.
  5. Try to get a copy of the last minutes of the meeting. Is the HOA being sued or is it suing someone else? Talk to some of the building owners and see how they feel about living there and the governing body. You should meet your neighbors prior to purchase if you can.
  6. Consider the catastrophe insurance that the HOA or COA has purchased and how does it pay out for a natural disaster?
  7. Consider how the fees that usually go up and assessments that can be levied, will affect your budget and if you are better off in a house.
  8. Home Owners or Condos Associations can be positive when it keeps your neighbor from painting their house purple or makes sure that you neighbor picks up after the dog. They can be negative if poorly run or too restrictive for your personality. Decide what is best for you.

Karen Laurence is a sales associate with The Keyes Company. She is a Technical Real Estate Instructor, Real Estate Agent and Certified Luxury Agent.