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Old 11-16-2009, 10:16 PM
 
Location: In the Moment
23 posts, read 46,739 times
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Post 55+Communities and HOA Fee's

Hi everyone, I'm a newbie to the Jersey Forum and have a few questions about a possible move to the South Jersey area. I am currently retired and considering a move to either So. Jersey (shore towns) or South West Florida Area. I have read a few post's for info but was hoping to find more detailed info from members of this forum. I have looked into 55+ communities , but I am NOT locked into living in one. That is where I was hoping to get some insight on this forum. How often can an HOA raise there rates?, and in what time frame/reasons can they do so? I would be living on a so-called fixed retirement budget and just want to know what to expect$$$ if living in one of these communities and if it's a good move or not? And how much can HOA Fee's possibly go UP and how OFTEN and put a drain on my Cost of living budget? Or am I better off not living in one of these communities because of the "uncertainty" of HOA Fee Cost's and Increase's?

Thanks to all that reply and any question/consideration NOT covered in the above would also be appreciated.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:47 AM
 
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HOA's typically raise their rates only once per year, and the amount can vary. The bigger concern is "special assessments", which occur when a large, unbudgeted issue needs to be addressed, such as repaving streets, or replastering the pools. A good HOA will keep adequate reserves to cover such events, but it's not always the case.
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:18 AM
 
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HOAs can technically do whatever they want in terms of fees (with good reason of course). There is no law capping how much the rates can rise per year. The bigger risk, in my opinion, is one-time assessments. These would be one-time charges for a big project (repaving the roads, renovating the pool, that kind of thing).

I don't think it means you should shy away from HOAs entirely. A 55 and over in NJ usually has much lower property taxes.

However, you do want to do your due diligence. Here are the documents I would want to see:

  • You want to obtain a copy of the most recent financial statements for the year. Just like a for-profit corporation, HOAs have to have their financials reviewed and presented in a statement by an outside auditor. This statement will have revenues, expenses, and the most important, the reserves.
  • You will also want to obtain copies of the current year budget (and future year if they have one).
  • Another good thing to do is ask for the Board meeting minutes for the past year. That will usually give you hints as to big projects that might be coming up.

It's best that you ask any potential seller to obtain this packet of information for you. You can also ask to review a copy of the by-laws, although you probably won't be able to keep that book as they usually cost money.

I personally believe that anyone selling a property in an HOA should have to have this information available at the home when the potential buyers come to see a property (not to take, but even just left on the dining room table to review). It amazes me that people just buy into an HOA without reviewing this stuff. More importantly, not informing potential buyers that they should review this information borders on real estate malpractice in my opinion, on the part of the professionals who broker these sales.

Be careful with realtors too. Example, "Are there any upcoming assessments?" could be met with the answer, "No." This could technically be true. As long as the assessment has not been officially passed yet, a realtor can honestly answer No and not be lying. However, it doesn't mean there isn't one in the air. You get the idea. If there is anything that is really important to you, get it in writing.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:38 AM
 
Location: In the Moment
23 posts, read 46,739 times
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I'm really not "keen" on the idea of HOA's, with a retirement budget to consider. I'd rather not deal with the idea of "increases" added to my monthly/yearly living cost's. I guess I must have a misconception about them? I thought that for a "reasonable cost" that the upkeep of the 55+community would be more affordable in an older aged community considering most are on fixed incomes??? It kind of sounds like a landlord type scenario with increases that can eventually become unaffordable for some in over time. Am I wrong about this assumption and it may not be as bad as it sounds and I would be better off in my own home? My main concerns are the mowing of my lawn and a good neighborhood/community, any other amenities are really not a factor for me.(pool, clubhouse etc.) I really just looking for an affordable home, decent taxes , nice neighborhood, low crime in the southern Jersey Shore area's. What towns or communities would you suggest that may fit the above requirements for someone looking to retire

Thanks
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:43 AM
 
56 posts, read 110,921 times
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Default We are looking too...

We are currently looking in the So Jersey area at 55+ communities. We looked in DE and PA at some communities, as well. DE taxes are extremely low and we could definitely have a nice lifestyle there, but it just so far away from family. I didn't find the taxes in PA to be all that much lower than in So Jersey. I am more concerned with tax increases in NJ than I am with HOA fees. My parents lived in a 55+ in Brick and their fees went up very little during the 16 years they lived there. The reason we want a 55+ is so that the maintenance is done for you. I figure if we are currently paying $120/month - $200/month for lawn maintenance and leaf raking; the HOA fees are a bargain. We don't even get the fertilizer anymore because it became too cost prohibitive. PLUS, my husband is still shoveling snow every winter!! Some of the homes also cover outside maintenance (roofing, driveways, etc.).
I spent my summers as a kid along the Jersey shore and just love that area of the state.
My parents also had a condo in Naples, FL and were on a golf course. They were required to belong to the golf club whether they played or not. Also, many of the year-round residents seemed to run the Association and their fees went up A LOT every year. I think that they were paying around $500/month by the time they sold their place.
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:01 PM
 
Location: In the Moment
23 posts, read 46,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rorys View Post
We are currently looking in the So Jersey area at 55+ communities. We looked in DE and PA at some communities, as well. DE taxes are extremely low and we could definitely have a nice lifestyle there, but it just so far away from family. I didn't find the taxes in PA to be all that much lower than in So Jersey. I am more concerned with tax increases in NJ than I am with HOA fees. My parents lived in a 55+ in Brick and their fees went up very little during the 16 years they lived there. The reason we want a 55+ is so that the maintenance is done for you. I figure if we are currently paying $120/month - $200/month for lawn maintenance and leaf raking; the HOA fees are a bargain. We don't even get the fertilizer anymore because it became too cost prohibitive. PLUS, my husband is still shoveling snow every winter!! Some of the homes also cover outside maintenance (roofing, driveways, etc.).
I spent my summers as a kid along the Jersey shore and just love that area of the state.
My parents also had a condo in Naples, FL and were on a golf course. They were required to belong to the golf club whether they played or not. Also, many of the year-round residents seemed to run the Association and their fees went up A LOT every year. I think that they were paying around $500/month by the time they sold their place.
Very interesting and similar concerns. I too have had it with all the yard work...especially when I spend 3-4 hrs. each time I rake(and use a blower) the leaves and I do it at least 3 to 4 times before all are down. And my NEW neighbor doesn't do his at all and I have to watch his blow gently onto my "just cleaned" property I'm glad to hear how little your parents in Brick, NJ held nicely in price increase's... that's encouraging I was told that maybe taxes in a 55+ community may not be as much as living in an individual home.... any info on this? What community in Brick did your parents live? How far to get to a beach area form there? Funny thing I've also been looking into the Sarasota/Venice area at 55+ homes and yes there seems to be a LOT of concerns in that area...not quite sure about that possibility How long ago did they sell out of Naples, $500/month would not even be a possibility for me? What 55+ communities have you looked into in New Jersey? Maybe we can share some info...DM me if you ok with that. Thanks for the reply and hope to hear more
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:13 AM
 
1,235 posts, read 2,308,506 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8art View Post
I'm really not "keen" on the idea of HOA's, with a retirement budget to consider. I'd rather not deal with the idea of "increases" added to my monthly/yearly living cost's. I guess I must have a misconception about them? I thought that for a "reasonable cost" that the upkeep of the 55+community would be more affordable in an older aged community considering most are on fixed incomes??? It kind of sounds like a landlord type scenario with increases that can eventually become unaffordable for some in over time. Am I wrong about this assumption and it may not be as bad as it sounds and I would be better off in my own home? My main concerns are the mowing of my lawn and a good neighborhood/community, any other amenities are really not a factor for me.(pool, clubhouse etc.) I really just looking for an affordable home, decent taxes , nice neighborhood, low crime in the southern Jersey Shore area's. What towns or communities would you suggest that may fit the above requirements for someone looking to retire

Thanks
No, it's not a landlord situation (and you might still have to mow your own lawn). It could go for different things depending on the community (clubhouse, landscaping of common areas, pool, etc).

I wouldn't be too scared off! Just do your research and make sure you know what you're buying. Get those documents I mentioned above. Just try to get the scoop if there is a major assessment for something coming up. To be honest, if you're buying in a single family community that has an HOA, there is probably less of a risk. It's the condos that usually have the bigger risk of major assessments because then you are sharing everything (the roof, the siding, etc).

One nice community is Leisuretown in Southampton. It's not quite the shore, but it's not too far from the shore, and it's very reasonably priced, both the home and the taxes/HOA fees.

http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...0-200000?sby=1
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:47 AM
 
46 posts, read 53,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8art View Post
Hi everyone, I'm a newbie to the Jersey Forum and have a few questions about a possible move to the South Jersey area. I am currently retired and considering a move to either So. Jersey (shore towns) or South West Florida Area. I have read a few post's for info but was hoping to find more detailed info from members of this forum. I have looked into 55+ communities , but I am NOT locked into living in one. That is where I was hoping to get some insight on this forum. How often can an HOA raise there rates?, and in what time frame/reasons can they do so? I would be living on a so-called fixed retirement budget and just want to know what to expect$$$ if living in one of these communities and if it's a good move or not? And how much can HOA Fee's possibly go UP and how OFTEN and put a drain on my Cost of living budget? Or am I better off not living in one of these communities because of the "uncertainty" of HOA Fee Cost's and Increase's?

Thanks to all that reply and any question/consideration NOT covered in the above would also be appreciated.
My advice to you is DONT move into a community with an HOA. I've lived in Jersey all my life, and a few years ago bought a home in FL as well. I didn't know much about HOA's then, but boy I do now. If the NJ HOAs are the same as the ones in FL, then heres what can happen:

They can raise your fees anytime and as much as they want. They have the power to fine you, and the power to foreclose on your house if you don't pay the fees. They can bill you for special assessments at any time. You have no say or choice in the matter.

Here are some examples: A friend of mine had his fees go from $100 per month to $350 per month in just a few years.

One year, I was assessed a special $220 fee (over and above dues, with 1 month notice, due in January) for improvements to the common areas of the community. It didn't matter that in my opinion the improvements were not necessary. For example, they decided to change the sand surface of the children's playground to a special expensive kind of mulch, among other projects.

Sometimes the HOA's mishandle and waste the money, and you'll end up with higher dues as a result (think government waste, same idea). We paid for someone choosing the wrong shrubs for the climate in the landcaping, the shrubs died and needed replacing.

They will send you notices of violations that will make you crazy:
for a small patch of dead grass, for a small dent in your mailbox, for a real estate sign, for parking in your driveway with your car slightly over the sidewalk. It goes on & on.

You will pay for those who have foreclosures and don't pay dues anymore. You will pay for things like community Christmas lights, and advertising for community garage sales, whether you want them or not. You will pay for the taxes of the HOA-owned part of the community (the common areas.) You will not be able to choose your own mailbox, paint, or fencing without board approval.

All of the above examples are ones I have personally experienced. You can find many HOA horror stories on the internet as well, like the one about the guy who was fined for dead grass because he didn't water, and how he didn't water because the county imposed watering bans due to drought. Or the guy who was fined for flying a US flag.

Once the HOA gets in power, they have no problem spending your money. Its like a second set of taxes, and you pay, or they can take your house. The majority of money collected via dues goes to pay for the management of the HOA...whats wrong with THAT picture??

I've lived in non-HOA neighborhoods all of my life in NJ, never had any problem with a "purple house" or "junk in the neighbor's yards."
Besides the county has ordinances to protect you from that, without the extra dues.

My advice, and I can't say it enough times... DON'T buy in an HOA neighborhood. You will regret it.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:57 AM
 
1,235 posts, read 2,308,506 times
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It really depends on the HOA. The thing is, in NJ, you're not going to be able to find a 55 and over that isn't an HOA, and the 55 and overs have lower property taxes, which helps retired people. It's a balancing act.
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Old 11-19-2009, 11:15 PM
 
Location: In the Moment
23 posts, read 46,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luckyshoes View Post
It really depends on the HOA. The thing is, in NJ, you're not going to be able to find a 55 and over that isn't an HOA, and the 55 and overs have lower property taxes, which helps retired people. It's a balancing act.
I've heard that taxes are cheaper in 55+ communities, but is it substantial enough to balance out HOA fee's.(any idea how much$$) Some Posters say they haven't see the Fee's go up in 5yrs??? and others having quite a different experience(much Higher$ and outrageous living experiences!), there seems to be such BIG discrepancies that one doesn't know what to think Is it the area(region,state) you live in, the total size of the community, the way the boards are actually run and by whom. Or is it just "Pot Luck"... my gut tells me to be "verrrry" cautious, if at all about moving into one. I just thought(and I'm probably crazy for thinking it) that the 55+ communities would be more affordable and built with the consideration of costs for those on a more "fixed" income (retirement) situation.

Last edited by cre8art; 11-19-2009 at 11:18 PM.. Reason: mispelling
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