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ZONING 101

            HOAs will most likely have an Architectural Review Committee
            that will need  to  approve improvements and changes to
            homeowners’ properties. This will include changes to the exterior
            of the property including additions, out buildings, fences, exterior
            color changes and often removal of trees. These committees help
            insure the standards of the community. It will keep your neighbor
            from painting their home Day-Glo Pink!

            In addition, there will be  HOA Covenants,  Conditions  and
            Restrictions  as well as  Bylaws,  Maintenance Obligations  and
            other pertinent rules and procedures. These  documents will be
            publically recorded and referenced on the recorded development
            plats and surveys. When there  is a conflict between local
            governing laws and the HOA covenants, the stricter of the two
            take precedent.

            The sidebar outlines some important points that real estate agents
            must understand. Every agent involved in selling or buying in a
            HOA community should familiarize themselves with the  HOA
            requirements and procedures in the community. The property
            owner will probably have a set of copies. Most HOAs will have a
            website which contains the documents as well. The sidebar refers
            to differences in  Zoning Regulations,  Deed Restrictions  and
            HOA Covenants and Restrictions. A real estate agent should be
            aware of any and all of these and how they impact the property,
            and what the consequences can be if they don’t.
            A HOA will have fees  or dues  and an agent should know what
            these are. Fees need to be considered when buyers  investigate
            purchasing, are they reasonable, how often,  if at all,  do they
            increase, etc. These fees or dues must be paid and if not, the HOA
            can place an assessment lien on the property which is also a cloud
            on the title and the house could not be sold until past dues are
            paid. The HOA can foreclose on the property as well. These things
            would need to be clarified by an attorney, but an agent should be
            generally aware.

            Fees will vary by the types of properties. For example, I live in a
            mixed use  community  with Single-family detached homes and
            Townhomes. The HOA  fees are higher for the townhomes than
            the single-family homes. More things are covered by the HOA for


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