Many home buyers in Mammoth Lakes will be dealing with homeowners associations (HOAs). If you’re buying a condo, a townhouse or a single-family-home in a planned development, you’ll get familiar with the HOA: the governing body of the complex or neighborhood. Owners in an HOA might share fees to cover snow removal, trash services, water, upkeep of common areas and building exteriors and roofs, etc.
But not all HOAs are created equal. If you judge an HOA just by the amount of monthly dues, you’re not getting the full picture. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at HOA fees:
A low HOA cost usually means minimal services.
An HOA with the lowest dues might only include garbage, snow removal and water. Snow removal is a huge cost for owners of single-family homes in Mammoth Lakes, so having this covered is worth a good chunk of change, but if you’re looking for more amenities, a cheap HOA probably won’t deliver. If you’re looking to keep monthly costs low and amenities don’t matter, a low HOA is a great way to cut costs.
Consider San Joaquin Villas, Gray Eagle I & II and Tosca if you’re looking for a low HOA. These HOA dues just include snow removal, trash services and water. They don’t have any common area amenities like pools, spas or saunas.
There are some HOAs that have lower dues but still offer amenities like spas and pools, including Mountain Shadows and La Vista Blanc.
A high HOA cost can be totally worth it… depending on your situation.
High monthly HOA dues can lead to sticker shock… especially when you realize that monthly cost never ends like your mortgage does. But some high cost HOAs include things like cable, internet and propane. The biggest monthly costs in Mammoth Lakes are snow removal and propane or electricity for heat. If you like to keep your home warm or plan to spend significant time in Mammoth Lakes in the winter, having heating costs included can actually be a great deal. Not having to worry about internet and cable can be an added bonus.
Mammoth Green, The Village at Mammoth, Sunstone, Juniper Springs Lodge, The Westin Monache and The Summit are all complexes that include propane.
Once your offer is accepted, you can dig a little deeper.
Your real estate agent should know quite a bit about HOAs around town — what amenities are included, whether there’s an onsite manager or not, etc. — but they won’t know much about the financial side of the HOA. The standard contract in Mammoth Lakes requires the buyer of a home to receive the HOA documents from escrow. This will include financial documents, meeting minutes and the actual CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions).
This is where you can see the financial condition of the association. Is there a strong reserve account to address any issues that may arise? Is there a proactive schedule for building maintenance like roofs, common area amenities, siding/painting, etc.? Read through the meeting minutes too — they’ll give you an idea of the issues the HOA is dealing with and an overall feel for how things are managed.
Different people want different things in an HOA.
If you know someone who lives in the complex you’re considering, ask them their thoughts on the HOA. Existing residents are usually happy to share what they like and don’t like about where they live. But remember that your priorities are what matters. If you’d really like an onsite property manager, a hot tub, propane included, etc., be sure to let your real estate agent know so they can plan around your wishes.
Learn more about buying a home in Mammoth Lakes in my Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide. Contact me if you’d like to start your home search.
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When you buy a property in a common interest development (i.e. condo or townhome), you are not just buying your particular unit. You also are buying into a larger entity that typically owns the building structure, the roof, the parking garage, the clubhouse, the pools, etc. In these cases there is a HOA.
HOA’s are a part of life in the majority of Mammoth Lakes projects and the monthly dues are generally higher than those in other parts of the state. When I share the monthly HOA dues with potential buyers, they almost always respond by asking “per month?” Yes, the dues are monthly but keep in mind not all dues are created equal. For example, there are two-bedroom condos with dues of under $400/month and others with dues over $700/month.
Why the big difference? It all comes down to what is included and what are the project amenities. Most dues include snow removal, garbage, landscaping and exterior maintenance. Some also include water, cable, internet, electricity and sometimes even heating. Does the complex have a jacuzzi, pool, covered parking or tennis courts? If so, this will also impact monthly dues.
Some buyers want to avoid HOA’s all together. The only way to do this is to purchase a single family home. However it is important to remember although you will not have a monthly HOA payment, you will still incur the expenses and will need to manage the exterior maintenance, snow removal and bill paying yourself (or hire a management company to do this for you). Depending on the size, location, and efficiency of the home, the total monthly costs can be lower or higher than HOA’s.
If you’re buying a home in a Homeowners’ Association, always do your research first. Before signing the purchase agreement, you will receive personal copies of the rules, regulation, bylaws, budget and financial records. This will give you a better idea of how well the organization is run. Consider everything and then ask yourself: Is a home in an HOA right for you?