What You Should Know About Condo Associations Before Buying Your Next Property

Our office is located in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida. Kira Doyle Law has been Florida based since its inception, so we understand St. Pete. We understand that the weather, the eateries and the proximity to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are all enticing, and all of the reasons you may have for wanting to live and work in our wonderful city. 

Look around and notice all of the condos, and all of the ones currently being built. Condo living draws its own group of fans who want to downsize, retire here, purchase winter homes, or even couples who are making a condo their first purchase before a larger property. 

As we mentioned in our homeowners’ association (HOA) blog post, the Florida housing market is on the rise. Forecasts predict that 2019 will continue to bring a rise in real estate prices and a growth in inventory. One analyst noted that this means real estate investment opportunities have a great value proposition for any group of individuals and families. Historically, one may expect sale prices for single-family homes to increase at a more exponential rate than condo or townhouse properties, however, studies are showing that the condo market is holding its own. 

Have you been considering purchasing a condo in St. Petersburg or the surrounding areas? Condo living definitely has its perks, such as not having traditional property ownership responsibilities, like lawn care and other repairs. We are here to make sure you are aware of all the details in purchasing a property of this kind.  

Here is what you need to know about condo associations: how they differ from homeowners’ associations, what you can expect, what is covered and more. 

How does a condo association work? 

The biggest difference between a HOA and a condo association is the ownership of the property and surrounding common areas. In a condo, each unit is owned individually, and the actual building that holds the condos and the grounds of the neighborhood are under joint ownership among residents. 

What can I expect to pay in condo association fees and assessments? 

Just like you would expect from an HOA, a condo association’s fees and dues will vary depending on what repairs are needed, how much upkeep costs for the building and other common areas such as a pool, park, parking lots, etc.  

Condo association fees are typically higher than HOA fees because the condo association is involved with maintaining items such as the roof and gardening areas around the buildings, whereas this maintenance responsibility in a HOA falls to the homeowner of the single-family home and therefore is not rolled into the HOA dues. 

Condo owners may also be assessed differently than their neighbors. In an HOA, fees tend to be more uniform, but in a condo association, fees are dependent on the percentage of ownership interest one has in the building. In simple terms, if you own a larger unit, you can expect to have a larger share of ownership and therefore be responsible for larger dues. 

Are there rules I must follow as a resident? 

Yes! Members of a condo association must follow rules, which may be called bylaws, rules and regulations, covenants, conditions, and/or restrictions (CC&Rs).  

The members of the association are regulated by the bylaws which can include: 

•    How repairs, maintenance and any replacements of common area amenities are paid for;

•    How administrative rules and regulations are adopted and amended; and

•    How expenses and dues will be collected from unit owners. 

There are other rules to follow as part of a condo association and it is important to request a copy of the CC&Rs of a community before making a purchasing decision. The consequences associated with violating a rule or failing to pay dues can vary between communities.  

Restrictions can include: the breed and size of dogs allowed in the neighborhood, the kind of vehicle that maybe parked in the parking lot, and even noise restrictions. 

What rights do I have as a member of a condo association? 

Before moving forward with a purchase, request to view the association’s budget sheets so you can get a better sense of where money is being allocated. You will also be able to view any outstanding debt owed to the association. It is also a good sign if the condo association has a reserve fund to cover major repairs and expenses that can unexpectedly come up. You always have the right to view these documents, even after you have become a member of the association through the purchase of your unit. 

It is recommended that you review the insurance policy to see what is and is not covered from building to building. These documents will give you a better sense of what you are responsible for. 

You have the right to attend association meetings. At these meetings, the rules are discussed, updates are made, and everyone has a voice. 

You also have the right to conflict resolution via the condominium association’s board of directors. The owners of the units vote for the board of directors, who usually serve on a yearly basis before a new election takes place.  

Now that you have a better understanding of condo association details, go forth and find that perfect property for you! 

 

Ask a Florida Real Estate Attorney for Assistance! 

The questions about associations, or any home purchase, may not end after reading this post. That is why the experienced real estate attorneys at Kira Doyle Law are here to guide you during your important real estate purchase by reviewing documents and checking contracts. Contact our St. Petersburg office by calling us at 727-537-6818 or completing the form to schedule an appointment today.

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