Watch Out For Special Assessments When Buying a Condo in Massachusetts

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Understanding Massachusets HOA Condo Special Assessments

Author Bill Gassett owns Maximum Real Estate Exposure.

After you considering buying a condo in Massachusetts? If so, I don't blame you. Condos can be an excellent type of housing for many people.

I currently own condos in multiple states and love it. They are the perfect choice for those who want less maintenance and a more manageable lifestyle.

However, when buying a condo, you must do more research and due diligence than buying a single-family home. Understanding the ins and outs of the homeowners association becomes critical, especially the financial health.

One of the first things any potential condo buyer should do is get a copy of the condo docs, including the rules and regulations, plus the most recent financial statements.

Ensuring the HOA is financially sound is critical. The reserve fund should have ample money to keep the neighborhood working properly. Prospective buyers should also find out if there are any upcoming special assessments.

Many buyers ask what a special assessment is and how they work. We will be examining what you need to know.

Special assessments can also occur in a townhouse as well. There are some differences between condos and townhouses, but a commonality is the occurrence of an assessment.

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What is a Special Assessment For a Condo?

A special assessment is an additional fee for all condo owners in a complex. In most cases, this fee is used to pay for a major project or repair for which the homeowners association is responsible.

Special assessments are typically one-time fees but can be paid in installments.

The amount of the special assessment is determined by the homeowners association and is divided equally among all the condo owners in the neighborhood. The amount can vary based on the size of the project, the estimated costs, and the number of units in the complex.

Once the special assessment is approved, each owner is notified and given a due date for payment. If a condo owner fails to pay the assessment, they will be subject to late fees and possible legal action from the HOA.

In some cases, a condo complex may offer special assessment financing. This allows the owner to spread the payment over a certain period. The interest rate will vary based on the lender and the borrower’s credit score.

It’s essential to note that special assessments are not tax deductible, so it’s important to factor this additional expense into your budget when considering purchasing a condo.

Examples of Special Assessments Found With an HOA

Replacing roofs and decks is a common example of special assessments with an HOA. It is essential to have a well-maintained roof and deck to protect the home from the elements and ensure the safety of the residents.

These projects can be expensive, and the HOA must assess all the owners to cover the cost when insufficient funds are in the reserve account.

Improving features such as a clubhouse or gym is another example of special assessments. These projects often improve the residents' quality of life and can be expensive. The HOA will need to assess the owners to cover the cost of these renovations.

Some other examples of special assessments could include painting the exteriors, replacing windows, and making other miscellaneous repairs.

These projects are often necessary to maintain the neighborhood's integrity and keep the residents safe.

How Are Special Assessments Paid on Massachusetts Condos?

The condominium association in Massachusetts typically pays special assessments on condos. The HOA will determine the amount needed to cover the expense and charge each unit owner accordingly.

Depending on the size of the project and the estimated costs, the assessment amount could vary.

Once the special assessment has been approved and determined, the HOA will notify each condo owner and provide a due date for payment. Sometimes the special assessment will be added to the normal condo fee for a specific time until the expense is paid.

Other times the fee is paid in one lump sum. Payment plans are often allowed when unit owners have difficulty generating money.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo in an HOA

When buying a condo in an HOA, it is essential to do financial due diligence before signing a contract. This will ensure that the property is a sound investment and that all associated costs are accounted for.

It is important to ask questions about the HOA finances to understand better what is included in the condo fee and if there are any special assessments.

Questions to ask when buying a condo include:

  • What is the amount of the condo fees?
  • Are there any upcoming projects that will require additional fees?
  • What is the HOA reserve fund balance, and what is it used for?
  • How are the HOA funds managed?
  • Are there any outstanding lawsuits or other legal issues that could affect the property's value?
  • Are there any restrictions or regulations on what you can do with the property?

Reviewing the association bylaws and other documents to understand how the HOA is managed. These documents will also explain how the HOA handles disputes.

It must be disclosed when homeowners are selling a condo and know there is an upcoming special assessment.

Final Thoughts on HOA Special Assessments

By asking the right questions and researching, you can better understand the HOA finances, the associated costs, and the restrictions or regulations that will apply to the property.

Not taking the research seriously could lead to a significant financial mistake. You could easily regret making your purchase.

Did you enjoy this advice on special assessments when buying a condo in Massachusetts? See other real estate articles on NewsBreak for more timely tips and advice. Bill often writes about general real estate, mortgages, finance, moving, and home improvement.

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Bill Gassett is an avid writer for numerous real estate topics including finance, mortgages, moving, home improvement, and general real estate. His work has been featured on numerous prestigious real estate publications.

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