Should Possible HOA Assessments Alarm you? Not really… as long as you know they are coming.

Most Homeowner associations in Summit County are well run, but buyers still need to investigate and satisfy themselves that the one they are considering is in good shape.  Realtors in Colorado use the Colorado Real Estate Commission approved contract that included an absolute right to terminate if a buyer finds the HOA unacceptable for any reason.
Here’s an article from the September 2015 National Association of Realtors Magazine by Jill Schweitzer, associate broker at RE/MAX Fine Properties in Scottsdale, Ariz.,  author of “Buying Into an HOA With Your Eyes Wide Open!”
“What’s the difference between a good, mediocre, and downright bad homeowner association? It’s not entirely a matter of opinion. There are specific items to look at and questions to ask that can tell you whether you’re buying into an HOA that will only give you headaches. This information is particularly important in condominiums, where the HOA usually is responsible for maintaining the exterior of the buildings.
While this isn’t intended to be legal advice and there may be other items to look at other than those mentioned in this article, this should give you ideas for what to pay attention to when dealing with HOAs.4 O'clock sign
Look at the Community as a Whole
Is it run-down? Don’t solely focus on the one property you are purchasing. When the HOA is responsible for maintaining the buildings, check out neighboring units and common spaces along with the home you are purchasing. Here are some telltale signs of an HOA that isn’t on top of its responsibilities:
•    Are the building signs in disrepair?
•    Does the asphalt look like gravel?
•    Are the pool and other amenities clean and in good working order?
•    What is the age and condition of the roofs?
•    Do the buildings need to be painted?
•    Are there staircases and balconies in poor shape that the HOA is responsible for maintaining?
•    Are there problems with siding?
•    Are there grading issues causing flooding?
Look at the Reserve Study
First of all, make sure you know what this is. A reserve study details an HOA’s long-term funding plan, showing, most important, how much it currently has to offset maintenance costs. It’s the most important tool to determine the financial health of the HOA.
•    What is the percent funded? Zero percent to 30 percent means it’s at high risk of a special assessment; 31 percent to 70 percent is a medium risk; 71 percent to 100 percent is low risk.
•    How much does the reserve study recommend the HOA saves each year, and how much is the HOA actually saving?
•    Has the HOA been following the reserve study and making capital improvements?
•    How much money can you foresee being needed compared to what the HOA has saved?
Proactively Ask Questions
Call and ask the HOA management company or Officers of the HOA Board questions.  Keep these questions in mind:
•    Have there been any special assessments before? Get the details and ask if there is discussion about having another one.
•    Have there been any lawsuits or are any expected? Check court records.
•    How many insurance claims has the HOA had?
•    If roofs are an HOA responsibility, are there plans to transfer the burden to the owner? How many roof repairs have there been in the last couple years?
•    Are there plans to change the HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions?
•    Have there been any repairs from extensive water damage in the last couple years?
You must review the HOA’s covenants, rules, meeting minutes, violation policy, collection policy, and other aspects.
Any HOA problems are not going away by keeping our eyes closed. The first step in improving HOAs is having real estate professionals who will educate buyers on how an HOA should operate.
Buyers need to be involved and concerned with the HOA business that they are becoming a part of before closing — and they need to stay involved after closing.”
Lots of good points here.   But remember that all of these properties are aging.  While most HOA’s keep adequate reserves for roof, heat system or other large capital expenses, no HOA has planned ahead 40 years for exterior redesign or renovation.
Eventually every one of them has to assess for modernization and this has generally run to $20,000 or so per unit in Summit County properties that have done this.  But it usually results in sale prices increasing  by about what the assessment cost.  
Talk to the HOA officers. They won’t pull any punches and you’ll find out what’s in the works pretty quickly.

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