I have served on a number of homeowner’s associations and I am always surprised by neighbors who are not aware of existing legal restrictions on the use of their property. I have seen owners not knowing that there were homeowner’s restrictions on parking RVs, boats, or school buses in their front yards or that they could not enclose their entire front yard with a solid plastic fence.

Homeowner’s and Condo Associations develop and file documentation that clearly establishes rules and governance policies for oversight of your development.  You need to see and understand these when making an offer to purchase a new property in Orlando. Work closely with your Orlando Realtor to get a copy of these documents and be clear as to how long you have to review and how it can affect your offer and contract.

Here are a few key things you should be looking for and thinking about when buying a new home in Orlando:

  • You need to decide if you can live with the homeowner’s or condo association’s rules and restrictions.  A great example is a friend of mine bought a nice condo in a retirement community so he could spend more time with his grandchildren only to find out that there were major restrictions for the use of the common areas and pool facilities by children.

    The best way to think about these rules and restrictions is that each development is looking to maintain a certain look and feel that is in common with all its residents. Make sure your “vision” of your home matches where you are buying.

  • All developments have common areas that are generally the responsibility of the association. Obviously, the more common areas (nice entrances, communities pools, landscaping, etc.), the more maintenance and expense. Understand what your association’s dues are and when they are due.  Also understand when they can change and whether or not they are able to charge special assessments. This is another cost of homeownership that you need to be aware of.
  • Another key consideration in these tougher economic times is the financial solvency of the association. Many are in trouble with the high rate of foreclosures and short sales, where owners are not paying their association dues. Ask your Realtor for documentation as to the association’s financial status.  Another creative way to understand the issues and expenditures is to ask to see a copy of recent association and board minutes.
  • When buying a condo, you need to understand what should be insured and covered by you vs. the condo association. You (and your insurance agent) will need to understand exactly where your responsibility for the unit begins and ends. For instance, is it the inside of the interior drywall or the inside surface of the exterior wall? It may sound funny, but this becomes important in the event of a plumbing problem in the wall!

Being a better informed buyer makes for a happier homeowner! If you are thinking about buying a home in Orlando, now is an ideal time since long-term mortgage rates are at record lows. Contact our Orlando title insurance company for reliable Real Estate Agent referrals. We are ready to help you through the entire Florida real estate transaction process! Give us a call at 407-615-8550 today!