Florida West Coast
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Looking for A New Home on Florida’s West Coast? Be Sure to Check Out The HOA Before You Buy
Whether you've been here in Florida for a while, or you are brand-new to our beautiful state you may be looking for a new home. A lot of existing homes and almost every new construction in Florida are built in communities where the builder or developer has established a Homeowners Association.
You can Google Florida Homeowners Association and just get a litany of horror stories about how they're run, how they operate, and how they can make homeowner's lives miserable.
If you live here or are visiting it doesn't matter who you ask, if they live in a gated community, a community with a homeowners Association, a manufactured housing development with a homeowners Association, or a condo with the condo owners Association, you're going to hear some pretty ugly stories.
In case you want to do a little research and especially if you're new to Florida, you might want to go online and Google Florida Statute 720. Look that up, check it out, and be sure you read the document. It doesn't take long and may make you rethink wanting to buy a new home.
Homeowners associations or some form of property management company is almost impossible to avoid in the purchase of Florida residential real estate. The subject rarely comes up by a real estate agent or a developer's sales agent other than to say, “Oh, and we have a wonderful Homeowners Association here who does a magnificent job of taking care of the clubhouse and making sure all is perfect in our development.”
So here are a couple of suggestions as you are doing your home shopping:
1. Ask your real estate agent or the development sales agent to set up a meeting with the homeowners Association president. Don't be too surprised if there is a lot of backpedaling and excuse making about why that can't be done and if that's the case, my advice would be move on to a new development or look for a different house.
2. If you get that meeting with the homeowner's president and the individual, you meet with has piercing eyes and looks like an eagle that's just getting ready to swoop in on its prey you might want to move on.
3. If the individual, you meet with looks like he might have been a former storm trooper you might want to give some thought to your purchase.
4. If the development is large and there's a club house, and a golf course and all those other wonderful amenities that look so inviting but which, in reality, you will probably use very little, just remember the Homeowners Association pays for that, and they get the money to pay for it from your Homeowner Association dues. So, if you are not going to use it, I wouldn't buy a house there because you're going to pay for it one way or the other.
5. You should also get a copy of the Homeowners Association or Condo Association Declarations and Bylaws. Read through these documents very carefully they have stood the test of time under Florida law, and it is almost impossible to get around them.
6. And oh, by the way, just in case you were thinking well I just won't join, think again. Go back up and read Florida Statute 720. If you are going to buy in a development where there is a Homeowners Association you will be a member period end of discussion.
You might want to check out my Post Florida’s Feudal Kingdom Law.
Make Sure your real estate agent knows your position on homeowners’ associations.
And make a note of this, the more your real estate agent tries to paint a pretty picture of the HOA that controls the property you are thinking about buying, the more suspect you should be about how it's going to go.
In fact, I recommend if you found a home in a managed development or a condo you might want, you should wander around a bit on a Saturday afternoon and chat with a few people who are out working in their yard and get their view of their Homeowners Association.
It will be time well spent and probably very enlightening.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Please comment below.