Unless you are an all cash home buyer, you’ll complete an application for a home loan and begin your search for a home.
If you purchase a home in a condo complex, cooperative or HOA, you become a member of the condominium or homeowners association. As a member of the association, you are required to pay association fees and abide by the rules created by the association.
How Does A Condo Association Work?
In a condo association, you are the sole owner of the unit's interior and a member of the association.
The association is usually run by an elected board of directors. The board is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the association, like setting the budget, hiring repair specialists, contractors, landscapers and more. The board will also enforce the rules and regulations.
The board members are elected to office and usually unpaid. They will serve for a term of one or two years. If the condo association is large, there may also be committees of condo owners who volunteer to help manage events, landscaping, clean ups and social events.
When you purchase a condominium, you will receive the condo documents for review. These documents should be delivered well before settlement. The seller pays for the documents (200-400 dollars).
Condos and HOAs in Maryland
In Maryland, the condo buyer has 7 calendar days to review the condo information.
Condo documents in Maryland are legal documents that govern the ownership and management of condominiums. Read the documents carefully as they are legally binding and owners are required to follow the rules or face fines or other negative consequences. These documents typically include:
- A declaration: the basic rules and regulations for the condominium community, including the rights and responsibilities of owners and the condominium association.
- Bylaws: The outline of how the condominium association is governed, including contact information for board members, meetings, how and when to vote, and any important details specific to the association.
- Articles of Incorporation: A legal document created when the association began. It states the association is a nonprofit corporation.
- List of the rules: parking restrictions, noise regulations, and other community-specific rules each owner agrees to abide by.
- Resale Package: A very important package as it shows the financial health of the organization. The resale package will include the insurance policies, special assessments (projects planned for the association), any legal issues current or past
- Meeting Minutes: These notes may be included as part of the bylaws but are important to review as it shows what is being discussed by members. Here’s where you learn if there is a rodent problem or noise issue or whatever is happening that members want to address.
For HOA documents, Maryland law requires that the seller provide the buyer with a copy of the HOA governing documents at least 21 days before the settlement date.
The buyer is given 5 calendar days to review the HOA documents. If for any reason the buyer doesn't want to move ahead with the purchase of the condo or house in an HOA, they can void their offer during the review period but not after!
Recently, Maryland updated their law and now requires all condos, housing cooperatives and HOA's in Montgomery and Prince Georges County to have a reserve study done every 5 years and include funds for recommended repairs in the annual association budget. This is welcome news for condo buyers as it provides more information about the financial health of the condo or homeowners association. Finally, some condo and homeowner associations refer to the documents for review as CC&R’s or Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.
Condo and HOAs in Virginia
In Virginia, all purchasers of a condo or property within an HOA have a right to review the governing documents prior to buying a home.
For condo documents, Virginia law requires that the seller give the buyer a resale certificate. This package includes the rules, bylaws and other important documents about the association.
If a condo buyer requests the resale certificate, Virginia law states the seller must deliver the certificate within 14 days of receiving a written request. Once delivered, the buyer has 3 calendar days to review the documents.
If for any reason the buyer is not comfortable moving forward with the purchase of the property, the buyer has the right to void the contract based on the condo review during the review period.
It’s critical that buyers carefully review all association documents.
Just like in Maryland and the District of Columbia, a Virginia buyer of a condo may want to have a lawyer review the documents in the resale package.
In Washington DC, the review period for HOA and condo documents is also governed by law. Homeowners who are purchasing property in an HOA or condominium community have a right to review the governing documents before completing the purchase.
For HOA documents, the District of Columbia Condominium Act requires that the seller provide the buyer with a copy of the HOA governing documents at least 15 days before the settlement date. This gives the buyer ample time to review and understand the documents before completing the purchase.
For condo documents, the District of Columbia Condominium Act requires that the seller provide the buyer with a resale package that includes the governing documents and other important information about the condominium association. The seller must provide the resale package to the buyer within 10 days of receiving a written request for the package. The buyer then has a 3-day review period to review the documents before completing the purchase.
It is important for buyers to carefully review these documents during the review period, as they provide important information about the rights and responsibilities of owning property in an HOA or condominium community.
Review Period for Condo Documents
Washington D.C. 3 Business Days
Virginia 3 Calendar Days
Maryland 7 Calendar Days for Condos, 5 Calendar Days for HOAs
Condos and HOAs in Washington DC
In Washington DC, the review period for condo documents is 3 business days. This built in review period gives the condo or home buyer the opportunity to examine the health of the organization they will be joining. governed by the District of Columbia Condominium Act. Homeowners who are purchasing property in an HOA or condominium community have a right to review the governing documents before completing the purchase.
If you are purchasing a condo in Washington DC as an investment property you’ll need to understand the tenant opportunity to purchase act (TOPA). This law gives tenants of rental properties the right to purchase the unit when it goes on the market for sale. This law is protection for renters who could be pushed out by new owners or the sale of the building.
If the owner of a building with five or more units has to give tenants written notice of their intention to sell the property. At that point, the tenant has a period of time to either decline the opportunity to buy or negotiate to buy the property.
There are other tenant rights that apply to the renewal of leases or evictions. For a full description of TOPA and all the legal requirements, go to the Department of Housing and Community Development website.