Don’t fear the HOA


By Susana Alvarez Davis, CPA 

When looking to buy a home, there are three letters that bring fear to the minds of many: H-O-A. 

An HOA, or homeowners’ association, is the organization that makes and enforces rules for a subdivision, planned community or condominium building; its members are the community’s residents. 

An HOA is typically the entity that maintains and pays for the maintenance of common areas and community amenities. The cost of this maintenance is recouped through fees collected by the HOA from the residents. 

These fees are in addition to what the homeowner’s monthly mortgage would be.  

To protect your investment and peace of mind, here’s what you need to look for before signing those closing papers: 

  • Talk to your real estate agent first and get a sense of the HOA’s powers, finances and history. 
  • Ask for the latest documents, which should come directly from the HOA and include its covenants, bylaws, minutes from recent meetings, any community rules, the HOA financials, and the resale certificate. 
  • Be sure to understand how the HOA collects the fees from each homeowner, i.e. does each homeowner pay the same amount or is it assessed by square footage? 
  • Take the investigation a step further if you really want to be careful and search public court records for lawsuits or other legal issues. 
  • Review the governance documents to determine if there are any restrictions that the HOA places on homeowners, such as pet ownership, holiday decorations or the owner’s ability to rent out a house. 
  • Be sure to find out if you’ll be required to contribute additional fees in the future for big- ticket items like a new roof on the clubhouse or resealing the community pool deck.  
  • Here in Florida, with our severe summer weather, you’ll want to know about catastrophe insurance coverage. Confirm your responsibilities as a homeowner and what the HOA covers. 
  • Immersing yourself in the documents about the HOA is a great idea, but to get a true sense of the community you’ll want to get boots on the ground. Take a walk through the neighborhood and ask residents how they like living there, then ask if they know of any projects in the works for the community. 
  • Even if you’re well-versed in contracts, consider having a local real estate attorney do a deep dive on any prospective HOA from an in-state legal perspective. 

By thoroughly vetting the HOA before buying a property, you can avoid potential pitfalls and ensure a positive living experience within the community. Remember, joining an HOA involves a commitment to abide by its rules and regulations, so it’s essential to choose wisely. 

Susana Alvarez Davis, CPA

About the Author

Susana Alvarez Davis, CPA, is a seasoned real estate professional and a proud owner of Worthington Realty, Inc, a boutique real estate company specializing in residential sales, rentals and development across Southwest Florida. For more information, call 239-437-3334, email or visit 


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About Worthington Realty

Founded in 1989, Worthington Realty is a boutique real estate company specializing in residential sales, rentals and development, predominantly within Lexington Country Club in Fort

Myers and surrounding communities. For more information, please call 239-437-3334 or email