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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As we celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends and visit the graves of those we have lost in duty to the Military this weekend, many homeowners want to put the American flag outside their homes in a show of patriotism. But is it allowed? Depending on where you live, you might be told you can’t fly the American flag by your local homeowner’s association.
Is that legal? Can they really say who can and who cannot fly the American flag outside their home? To avoid being involved in legal action, many homeowners’ associations have decided to ban any individual display observable from outside the building.
According to the federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, no condo, co-op or homeowners’ association can restrict owners from displaying the flag on their property. However, they are permitted to place “reasonable restrictions” on the time, place and manner of display to protect the ‘substantial’ interest of the association.
Some state laws also govern homeowners’ associations’ rules on flag displays. The specific California Homeowners Association policy can be found here. So, if you live in California, feel free to fly your American flag proudly, as long as you follow the rules on displaying properly outlined below.
If you rent your property, you will need to review your lease for any language restricting flag flying just so you cover your bases.
To display the American flag properly, Title 4 of the United States Code outlines how to do it properly:
- The flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset
- It may be displayed at night if it’s illuminated
- When hung horizontally from a flagpole, windowsill, balcony or building, the field of stars must be at the highest point
- When hung vertically from a building or window, the stars should be on the left when looking at the flag from the street
- The American flag should be higher than any other flags flown with it
- All other flags should be the same height, with none higher than the other
As we approach the 4th of July, you’ll now know the rules to display the American flag if you live in California. If you live elsewhere, please be sure to look up your own state and HOA’s rules.