In a previous article, we talked about why it is important to Read the HOA documents before you sign a contract to purchase a new home. This article went over HOA or Condo documents and what is covered by law. No two communities are alike and the same is true of the association.
We maintain a detailed spreadsheet on almost every community in Delaware, especially the ones that are still selling to-be-built homes where there is a clubhouse and other amenities and services. The question always comes up –
What exactly is covered by the HOA or Condo fee?
Use of all of covered amenities which could include:
- Access to the clubhouse
- Outdoor and/or indoor pool if they exist
- Walking or biking trails if they exist
- Tennis courts if they exist
- Golf if it is a private course. If the course is public, golf is usually not included in the HOA fee.
In other words, there will be a detailed list of the covered amenities.
Does the HOA own the clubhouse?
Not always. In fact, the larger the clubhouse the less likely it is owned by the HOA. What does that mean? There are only two ways to cover the cost of construction:
- Hold off building the clubhouse, pool and other amenities until there are enough homes sold and sufficient HOA dues collected to pay for the construction of the amenities.
- Have a separate business build the clubhouse and amenities and operate the clubhouse. A portion of the HOA dues paid by homeowners is allocated to the clubhouse membership and covers use of the facilities included.
There is a third option and that is when the builder and/or developer has been able to fund the construction of the clubhouse early in the process. That has happened in a good many of the communities throughout Delaware, primarily those that were begun prior to the market crash. Most often, there is a pre-determined number of homes or a percentage of the community that must be sold before construction of the clubhouse will begin.
If the clubhouse is not owned by the HOA, it is not ever going to be “turned over to the HOA”. There may be provision for the HOA to purchase the clubhouse or the public golf course or other elements that may be available to residents but not owned by the residents.
Common Area Maintenance
Just what does common area maintenance include? Services like grass cutting, landscaping, mulching and similar services designed keep the common areas looking attractive at all times.
- The community entrance
- Any areas throughout the community referred to as “common areas”
- Areas around and inside the clubhouse and pool areas
- Snow removal on roads throughout the community (if the roads are private). If the roads are maintained by the county or state, snow removal may be covered by your taxes.
Grass Cutting and Landscape Maintenance
Do not assume that these services are included in all active adult communities. Some communities do include all exterior maintenance, others just cut the grass. In some cases, all landscaping maintenance, irrigation system and a community irrigation well are included. In others, the maintenance is included but you must dig your own irrigation well to provide the water or connect it to your metered water system.
Even in some 55+ active adult communities grass cutting is not included while in many all ages communities grass cutting is included.
Never assume that just because one community looks like another or was built by the same builder or features the same homes or is called an active adult community you can immediately know the rest of the story. Trust me it has taken us years to gather the facts and we are always adding to our knowledge base.
Read Part One: Why you should read those HOA documents in Delaware. Click Here.