February 13, 2014
When you buy a property in a common interest development (i.e. condo or townhome), you are not just buying your particular unit. You also are buying into a larger entity that typically owns the building structure, the roof, the parking garage, the clubhouse, the pools, etc. In these cases there is a HOA.
HOA’s are a part of life in the majority of Mammoth Lakes projects and the monthly dues are generally higher than those in other parts of the state. When I share the monthly HOA dues with potential buyers, they almost always respond by asking “per month?” Yes, the dues are monthly but keep in mind not all dues are created equal. For example, there are two-bedroom condos with dues of under $400/month and others with dues over $700/month.
Why the big difference? It all comes down to what is included and what are the project amenities. Most dues include snow removal, garbage, landscaping and exterior maintenance. Some also include water, cable, internet, electricity and sometimes even heating. Does the complex have a jacuzzi, pool, covered parking or tennis courts? If so, this will also impact monthly dues.
Some buyers want to avoid HOA’s all together. The only way to do this is to purchase a single family home. However it is important to remember although you will not have a monthly HOA payment, you will still incur the expenses and will need to manage the exterior maintenance, snow removal and bill paying yourself (or hire a management company to do this for you). Depending on the size, location, and efficiency of the home, the total monthly costs can be lower or higher than HOA’s.
If you’re buying a home in a Homeowners’ Association, always do your research first. Before signing the purchase agreement, you will receive personal copies of the rules, regulation, bylaws, budget and financial records. This will give you a better idea of how well the organization is run. Consider everything and then ask yourself: Is a home in an HOA right for you?
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