Robert Zahn

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Be sure to learn all you can about your HOA.

May 18th, 2019

This article was originally published in The Galveston County Daily News on 5/18 as part of my weekly 2019 column.

As many of us are aging and considering “downsizing” I think we all consider the possibility of a condo as an option. There really is not a wide number of options in the Galveston market so it is wise to learn as much as you can about a property when you first start looking.

Let's consider the complexity of owning this sort or property.

Make sure you review:

HOA dues: How much are your monthly dues and what all do the cover? Buildings in the Galveston area typically include building management, exterior maintenance, insurances, and even water and trash collection. Frequently basic cable is provided as well. Some buildings, though few, include all utilities, which can be a huge issue. Is the monthly amount in line with comparable buildings in the area?

HOA reserves: This is not always immediately available, but it is very important to learn. How much does the HOA have on hand in the event a major part of the building needs repair or replacement.

Restrictions: What are the rules regarding renting your unit, should you decide to move and not sell? How many units are currently owner-occupied? That can have an impact on both your comfort as well as your ability to borrow money to purchase a unit. Your Galveston lender will often know a great deal about this. Many complexes allow only long term rentals, so if your plan is to be a vacation rental be sure to ask!

Pending litigation: Is the HOA involved in any lawsuits?

Special Assessments: What sort of history has the complex had with special assessments or are there any expected per unit charges in addition to the existing monthly fees?

Parking: Is the parking space deeded with the unit or is it only open parking? How many spaces are you allowed?

Pets: What pet restrictions are there? Are pets restricted by weight, number, or breed? Often owners are allowed pets but tenants are not. Is there an outdoor pet area nearby?

Insurance: Are the insurance policies current? Are they all included in the monthly fee or are they variable and charged separately annually?

Renovations: What is the process required for remodeling any part of your unit? Also, were any recent renovations by the prior owner and were they done with the correct permits?

Amenities: Is the lobby attended? Is there a fitness center or pool? Outdoor space to sun or cook? Check out every aspect of the complex from trash handling to exterior maintenance. Sometimes just a walk around the grounds will tell you much of how well run the condominium is.

Your Galveston Realtor will be your best source for initial information regarding what a building will or will not allow.

Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®

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