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Old 08-08-2010, 02:42 PM
 
5 posts, read 18,345 times
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We are interested in the Lewes area for retirement. We've visited several communities in the process of being built. I'd like opinions as to what we should be asking the sales representatives about the Home Owner's Association.

One place did tell us that everything you do on your property, including any landscaping, had to be approved. At another place, the sales rep told us we could do anything we want on the property even though it had a HOA.

Those of you that live in communities with HOAs, did you get info about the HOA while you were first looking at the home? I'd like to know if there are certain things you like or dislike about an HOA.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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My experience in Delaware, the HOA process works like this:

1) Builder/Developer sets up a HOA (many in DE are referred to as Maintenance Corps.), complete with by-laws and deed restrictions. Any builder should be able to supply you with the exact written HOA deed restrictions, etc.

2) When the build-out of the development is complete the builder turns the HOA over to the community, normally with a Management Co and Lawyer in place, and the community elects a board to run things, such as ARC (Architectural Review Comm.) to approve fences, pool, etc.

This is the general way I've seen new developments work. Things get a bit more complicated when all lawn maintenance is taken care of by the community, rather than just the community common areas. The sales staff has copies of the HOA by-laws and deed restrictions available to them. They set the HOA up.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:59 PM
 
2,538 posts, read 4,019,216 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreambleever View Post
We are interested in the Lewes area for retirement. We've visited several communities in the process of being built. I'd like opinions as to what we should be asking the sales representatives about the Home Owner's Association.

One place did tell us that everything you do on your property, including any landscaping, had to be approved. At another place, the sales rep told us we could do anything we want on the property even though it had a HOA.

Those of you that live in communities with HOAs, did you get info about the HOA while you were first looking at the home? I'd like to know if there are certain things you like or dislike about an HOA.
Any HOA that requires approval for even minor changes such as flowers I would avoid like the plague. Are they going to pay your mortgage for you? If not, then tell them to shove there CC&Rs where the sun don't shine. Fortunately most are not this power hungry.

BTW, by law you are required to be given copies of the HOA and usually have right of refusal(ie. to walk away) if they are not acceptable. I know in PA it is seven days if a contract was already signed. Many builders do try and hide the HOAs, especially if they're extremely restricting(and will likely cost them sales). This is a weaselly tactic and illegal.
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:12 AM
 
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Thanks for the input. The sales rep that told us about the landscaping, was the one who actually initiated the conversation about the HOA and restrictions. When we went to the next place, which was our last stop, we asked about restrictions. That sales rep was the one that said there were no restrictions on what you could do on your property.

When we first started looking, we never gave it a thought about restrictions when looking at the communities. I was glad the sales rep did bring it up. Guess the others we saw first forgot to mention requirements, restrictions, etc.

From your responses, I gather the sales rep should be able to provide a copy of the HOA by laws when showing the homes.

Besides restrictions of what can be done, is there anything else I should be looking into HOA wise?
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:19 AM
 
2,538 posts, read 4,019,216 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreambleever View Post
Thanks for the input. The sales rep that told us about the landscaping, was the one who actually initiated the conversation about the HOA and restrictions. When we went to the next place, which was our last stop, we asked about restrictions. That sales rep was the one that said there were no restrictions on what you could do on your property.

When we first started looking, we never gave it a thought about restrictions when looking at the communities. I was glad the sales rep did bring it up. Guess the others we saw first forgot to mention requirements, restrictions, etc.

From your responses, I gather the sales rep should be able to provide a copy of the HOA by laws when showing the homes.

Besides restrictions of what can be done, is there anything else I should be looking into HOA wise?
Pay close attention to what services are included with the HOA and what the costs are. If your community has a pool and includes extras like lawn service/snow removal then expect your association fee to be high and keep getting higher. If the plan is new then take their quote with a grain of salt. Usually they have no idea what the final fee will be, as there is nothing in the law to prevent them from raising it. In my community, the only thing covered by the HOA is the maintenance of the entry sign and landscaping. What started out at $50 a year is now up to $75 four years later. 50% of that yearly fee goes to pay for the company that manages the HOA. So it is basically a scam. There is a plan about a mile away from mine, built by the same developer, includes a pool and yard maintenance. Their fee is $130 a month. So there can be quite a big difference. That fee is mandatory, and if you fall behind they can seize your property. So factor any HOA fees in to the purchase price.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Sunshine N'Blue Skies
13,320 posts, read 20,099,886 times
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Every HOA is different. Costs vary widely with each HOA development. Up North some include plowing your driveway, some don't. Many include mowing and maintaining the common grounds.
Almost all include the pool and club activities in their fees.
Be aware "special assessments" come up quite often. You can add that to your homeowners insurance and it will save you some headaches. This is an assessment of community improvements not covered by your monthly or yearly fees. Some I have known of personally are..new roads, a new sewer treatment update of the community, new roofs for all condo buildings, or even a new dam for one development.
One community I lived in you had to get permission for planting, sheds,replacement of windows, color of homes, placement of stone.....etc. And...yes, we owned the land.
Sometimes the HOA board members would float around the neighborhood and take pictures of those they thought were fixing without the proper ok's.
Our neighbor putting in an approved window was one of the people photographed.
HOA fees are raised each year, in most cases.
It pays to read all the rules and regulations so you can abide by all of them. It certainly makes life easier to just 'obey' and not be fined for working on your own land and home.
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Old 08-09-2010, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Sunshine N'Blue Skies
13,320 posts, read 20,099,886 times
Reputation: 11645
Keep in mind also they can tell you if you can have an above ground pool or not, a fence or not and even if you are allowed a shed.
One community I know of finally allowed the fence and shed after a long debate, but above ground pools are still a no-no.
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:35 PM
 
1,222 posts, read 1,544,203 times
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dreambleever,

You will not really appreciate HOAs until your neighbor decides he does not want to be bothered cutting his grass and he likes to leave three junk cars he is working on in the front yard. Some HOA's do go overboard as to what you can or can't do. You need to find one that is a happy medium between total control vs do anything you want.

Mary2014
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:50 PM
 
445 posts, read 1,285,726 times
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I'm not certain on Sussex or Kent, but New Castle Co code covers most outside maintenance issues; abandon vehicles, uncut grass and the like. The NCCo reporting system is very effect IMHO. Report violations online and they mail a letter with a 3 day window to correct the issue. Followup's are on in-person. Call Sussex or Kent offices if you live there, but for NCCo start here New Castle County -- Department of Land Use
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:23 PM
 
5 posts, read 18,345 times
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Thanks so much for the input everyone! I definitely have a better understanding of HOAs, and will be better prepared for our upcoming trip, to explore more homes in the Lewes area.
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