Leonard Baron, an SDSU real estate prof, local real estate investor and our first guest host for Savvy & Sage blog series, appeared in the Wall Street Journal this weekend.

Baron shared some tips on buying a condo in this climate, where the purchase prices look attractive but the homeowners association’s budgets may be pinched by delinquent payments. (I’ve written about some of that HOA trouble locally.)

Baron recommends would-be buyers do a bit of reading before buying, including asking for a document from the homeowners association called the reserve study. Here’s why, from the WSJ:

Not every state requires these, but they are becoming more common. For such a study, the association will hire an outside firm that will look at all long-term anticipated repairs and replacements over a period of 30 years, add up the costs, and put together a payment and maintenance schedule. The monthly dues you’re charged should reflect the amount of money that needs to be put away to pay for these necessities, but you shouldn’t simply assume that’s happening. “Many times the boards, under pressure by the owners, will hold the line on raising fees, to the long-term detriment of the property,” he says.

You can read the rest of Baron’s tips here. Have you recently bought, or considered buying, a home in a community with a homeowners association? Leave a comment below with your own tips. (If you’re not reading this in Survival, head there now.)


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