If you buy a unit in a condominium or
townhome development, you will most likely become a member of the
homeowners' association. The association will oversee the common
property, which is everything outside and beyond your immediate unit
and your neighbors'.
A homeowners' association generally
has a board of directors that the owners elect. The board will make
policy decisions and see to it that management tasks are tended to.
Some large associations contract this work with professional
Generally, the board is responsible
for the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and common areas and
facilities, the payment of taxes, the acquisition of insurance,
enforcing the bylaws of the community, and collecting and managing
monthly fees from the property owners.
Association fees can range from as
little as $10 a month to more than $300
per month. The money is used for cleaning the common areas,
maintaining the grounds and landscaping, common utilities, repairs,
taxes, insurance, and facilities maintenance. The association may
employ an on-site manager that is paid a salary, or they may pay a
professional management company. Association fees generally are
money well spent since they are used to maintain and enhance the
property. You'll enjoy this benefit while you live there, and you'll
garner the benefit if you decide to sell.
Hopefully, a homeowners' association
cultivates a feeling of belonging and one of community spirit.
Before you buy a condo or townhome, make sure you read and
understand the community's by-laws. These by-laws determine the sort
of atmosphere the owners want, and they are binding on other owners
who join the community later.
Since the by-laws are a legal
document and are often weighty and loaded with 'legalese', you
might want to engage your attorney to have a look. Some lawyers and
management firms specialize in these sorts of documents, too, so
that's an option as well. Be sure you allow sufficient time for this
task, as you don't want to make a hasty decision relative to a
purchase without being comfortable with the association by-laws.
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