New vs Existing House, Planned/HOA communities | The Boneyard

New vs Existing House, Planned/HOA communities

HuskyHawk

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Since the Boneyard is an endless fountain of unfiltered opinions and occasionally, actual knowledge, I thought I'd toss this out for consideration. Wife and I are thinking of moving. We've got a single family home in the Boston 495 suburbs that is a bigger than we need, on an acre lot requiring a fair amount of work. We do have friends in the area, but some have moved and others likely will soon. Been here 19 years, came with a 1 year old and now she's about to finish sophomore year of college. Wife has family in the South Shore area of MA. Options in no order.

Option A: We find a house on the lower part of Cape Cod, Falmouth, Sandwich, or Plymouth, Wareham or similar on the other side of the bridge. Have some friends in Falmouth, enjoy the area. Problem is the cost on the Cape side is crazy, and the homes under $1M almost all need major renovations. At our age, not sure we want that project, minor stuff is fine. This was always the plan, but we are seeing homes at almost double what they were in 2018-19. Maybe they will drop, but so far, even with rates up, they have not. There's also upkeep and maintenance, which would be more than a new house at the least.

Option B: Buy a brand new house in a planned development. Namely Redbrook in Plymouth. Home quality seems good. Community is appealing and the location is good, close to the Cape bridges, the South Shore and via 495, not too far from our friends here. The big question is about a planned community with an HOA. Have never dealt with that. I'm concerned about losing the ability to paint my house as I want, or modify it, or add a shed or whatever. The lots are smaller than I'm used to as well. With my hearing impairment, I like the idea of a pickleball group, kayaking group and the various events they put on. Plus a ton of walking trails etc. But I also value my independence.

Any opinions on these kinds of communities vs buying a standard house? Pros and cons? Things to look out for in an HOA? Positive or negative experiences? Oddly, I tend to think of these places as existing in Florida or SC or similar, and if I moved there, I think I'd expect it. New England is always a little more unique.
 
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Since the Boneyard is an endless fountain of unfiltered opinions and occasionally, actual knowledge, I thought I'd toss this out for consideration. Wife and I are thinking of moving. We've got a single family home in the Boston 495 suburbs that is a bigger than we need, on an acre lot requiring a fair amount of work. We do have friends in the area, but some have moved and others likely will soon. Been here 19 years, came with a 1 year old and now she's about to finish sophomore year of college. Wife has family in the South Shore area of MA. Options in no order.

Option A: We find a house on the lower part of Cape Cod, Falmouth, Sandwich, or Plymouth, Wareham or similar on the other side of the bridge. Have some friends in Falmouth, enjoy the area. Problem is the cost on the Cape side is crazy, and the homes under $1M almost all need major renovations. At our age, not sure we want that project, minor stuff is fine. This was always the plan, but we are seeing homes at almost double what they were in 2018-19. Maybe they will drop, but so far, even with rates up, they have not. There's also upkeep and maintenance, which would be more than a new house at the least.

Option B: Buy a brand new house in a planned development. Namely Redbrook in Plymouth. Home quality seems good. Community is appealing and the location is good, close to the Cape bridges, the South Shore and via 495, not too far from our friends here. The big question is about a planned community with an HOA. Have never dealt with that. I'm concerned about losing the ability to paint my house as I want, or modify it, or add a shed or whatever. The lots are smaller than I'm used to as well. With my hearing impairment, I like the idea of a pickleball group, kayaking group and the various events they put on. Plus a ton of walking trails etc. But I also value my independence.

Any opinions on these kinds of communities vs buying a standard house? Pros and cons? Things to look out for in an HOA? Positive or negative experiences? Oddly, I tend to think of these places as existing in Florida or SC or similar, and if I moved there, I think I'd expect it. New England is always a little more unique.
Not sure if you are a John Oliver fan, but he had an interesting segment on HOAs a few weeks back. From crazy rules to power-tripping leaders. I'm sure for the purposes of segment, they picked extreme cases, but an HOA can actually foreclose on your home for unpaid fees and purchase it from the bank without you even knowing it.
 

HuskyHawk

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Not sure if you are a John Oliver fan, but he had an interesting segment on HOAs a few weeks back. From crazy rules to power-tripping leaders. I'm sure for the purposes of segment, they picked extreme cases, but an HOA can actually foreclose on your home for unpaid fees and purchase it from the bank without you even knowing it.

Thanks. I know it's a weird question, but I have no experience with HOAs. John Olver certainly pointed out the many drawbacks. I need to get a copy of the HOA Agreement. Certainly wouldn't buy without it. It would be great if there was some forum where you could see th experiences people have with different communities and HOA management companies.
 

HuskyHawk

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Read the HOA rules and covenants. Pretty much as expected. Not seeing any big red flags.
 

Chin Diesel

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The people who are willing to be on an HOA board are the exact people who should never be on an HOA board.

Groucho said something about that many years ago.

99% of the time it's nothing at all. You pay dues and the HOA takes care of the mundane stuff.

It's the 1% of them time with something which wasn't explicitly allowed or exicitly banned comes up and no one wants to compromise.

HOA developments are about conformity and uniformity not individualism.
 

dvegas

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I will tell you this about Connecticut law (from a real estate professional and owner of 2 properties in common interest communities, a condo and a PUD) - the laws in CT completely favor the HOA. The can pretty much lie, and commit what amounts to fraud vs an owner, and get away with it. Only thing they might get caught with is embezzlement. Unjust enrichment, no problem. Promissory estopple, who cares? And they only have to keep records for 1 or 2 years (3 for financials), so if you don't act ASAP, they will pull that BS in an arbitration, mediation or court, and the homeowner is screwed, the court will accept that "you snooze you lose," even if it was the association holding up the proceedings :eek:

And good luck trying to find an attorney to sue an association, it's a complete racket. And all the management companies are complete 5cum. Do your research, buyer beware!
 

HuskyHawk

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The people who are willing to be on an HOA board are the exact people who should never be on an HOA board.

Groucho said something about that many years ago.

99% of the time it's nothing at all. You pay dues and the HOA takes care of the mundane stuff.

It's the 1% of them time with something which wasn't explicitly allowed or exicitly banned comes up and no one wants to compromise.

HOA developments are about conformity and uniformity not individualism.
Yeah, in my younger days I would have said no way. The place we are looking at is still being built. I've been through the slightly older sections and see some individuality, so that's good. Another factor is that it isn't targeted at over 55. Lots of families with little kids. That means they can't be too restrictive.

@dvegas Thanks. This is Mass, and I checked and like CT there is no real legislation on HOAs. I suspect that both states are behind the curve b/c HOAs are fairly uncommon compared to the rest of the country. If it comes to suing them I'd represent myself. Unfortunately, to get what appeals to us about this place, it's HOA or nothing. I couldn't find it otherwise.

I don't love the "cookie cutter" approach to things, but I do like the idea of a new house with fewer issues. From a value perspective, many of the existing homes are a horrible value in the area where I'm looking.
 

dvegas

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Plenty of legislation in CT - Chapter 828 §47. Just not much to protect homeowners that can actually be enforced, and shyster attorneys and property management companies that know there is more money to be made from associations than homeowners who actually need protection.
 

Chin Diesel

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An HOA is never an issue until it's an issue.
Plus you can buy a home when HOA is perfectly normal and then new members come in and it goes nuts.
 

HuskyHawk

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An HOA is never an issue until it's an issue.
Plus you can buy a home when HOA is perfectly normal and then new members come in and it goes nuts.
I get it. But given the situation, I'm guessing it won't be a problem. If it is, I'll just move. I'm not one of these people who aren't going to be able to pay a $100 fine and have them take my house. Not sure what people in Florida do, almost everything I saw down there had an HOA. I think we see them in Plymouth, MA, because the town is so huge (geographically) it can't build out the infrastructure itself for new development. This place has its own water source for example.

It's a mixed use project. So some apartments, some town homes and the rest single family. That helps keep the average age a bit younger, which should limit this type of person. I am looking around for other options. Not seeing much.

Grampa Simpson Meme GIF by MOODMAN
 

huskeynut

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We moved from CT to Florida in 2016. We purchased a home in a 55+ community. We have an HOA. At the time we purchased the HOA was controlled by the builder. Just about every community in FL has an HOA.

We purchased a house that was built in 2014. My mother-in-law was in real estate for well over 30 years in CT and RI. Her advice was always purchase an existing home versus new, unless you have the time to follow the entire building process with the contractor. Better buy. In our community, we saw the model homes and were advised that a new build was at least 7 months. Plus we found out that certain items like ceiling fans, appliances, AC and lighting fixtures were extra. Since it Florida, the lanai was not included. Landscaping was minimal. But plenty of upgrades were available.

As to the HOA, 2 plus years ago the HOA board was turned over to the residents. The builder gave a 3 month transistion which was no were near enough time. According to the by-laws, the first resident board was limited to 3 people. Elections went smoothly despite some complainers. A year later, elections were held again but this time for a 5 member board. The first board president did not run again. The present board works well together. I know 2 of them personally - good people. So far the board has addressed issues such as contracts well. We have just sign a contract with a new cable/ internet provider. Out cable costs are included in our HOA fees. This one has been a doozy!!!!!!! The board sub-committee charged with reviewing the old cable contract was extremely specific in what the cable company must provide. Board did an excellent job but the complainers are out in force.

We have HOA documents that spell out outside painting. Ours is every 7 years. There are specific colors you can choose. Painting requires paperwork. The companies that paint do the paperwork. Additions such as lanai construction/ expansion all need paperwork for community approval and county approval. Anything done on the inside of the house does not need paperwork.

So far we have had no problems with the HOA. Of course we read the documents and asked tons of questions for clarification.
 

HuskyHawk

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We moved from CT to Florida in 2016. We purchased a home in a 55+ community. We have an HOA. At the time we purchased the HOA was controlled by the builder. Just about every community in FL has an HOA.

We purchased a house that was built in 2014. My mother-in-law was in real estate for well over 30 years in CT and RI. Her advice was always purchase an existing home versus new, unless you have the time to follow the entire building process with the contractor. Better buy. In our community, we saw the model homes and were advised that a new build was at least 7 months. Plus we found out that certain items like ceiling fans, appliances, AC and lighting fixtures were extra. Since it Florida, the lanai was not included. Landscaping was minimal. But plenty of upgrades were available.

As to the HOA, 2 plus years ago the HOA board was turned over to the residents. The builder gave a 3 month transistion which was no were near enough time. According to the by-laws, the first resident board was limited to 3 people. Elections went smoothly despite some complainers. A year later, elections were held again but this time for a 5 member board. The first board president did not run again. The present board works well together. I know 2 of them personally - good people. So far the board has addressed issues such as contracts well. We have just sign a contract with a new cable/ internet provider. Out cable costs are included in our HOA fees. This one has been a doozy!!!!!!! The board sub-committee charged with reviewing the old cable contract was extremely specific in what the cable company must provide. Board did an excellent job but the complainers are out in force.

We have HOA documents that spell out outside painting. Ours is every 7 years. There are specific colors you can choose. Painting requires paperwork. The companies that paint do the paperwork. Additions such as lanai construction/ expansion all need paperwork for community approval and county approval. Anything done on the inside of the house does not need paperwork.

So far we have had no problems with the HOA. Of course we read the documents and asked tons of questions for clarification.
Thanks. Helpful stuff. The place I'm looking is similar in that the board is controlled by the developer until everything is built/done. The only things in the HOA are maintenance of common areas, water/sewer and trash pickup. We've got Verizon/Comcast for cable. I hate towns or HOAs that limit cable options.

We'd be working with the builder from the start, choosing what model house, what extras and upgrades etc. I've looked over the details of what's included and what isn't. I'm sure there will be some unexpected expense. It will be 7-9 months to build, but I'm in no rush at all. I need to decide if I want a bridge loan or just a straight mortgage until we sell our house. My mortgage now is effectively paid off so I can manage another. Same thing on colors, but it's the whole Ben Moore Historical collection, so that's where we'd choose from anyway. My current house color is on that list. The appeal is in setting up the house the way we want from the jump. No cabinet colors or floors, or light fixtures that you hate and want to swap out. We went to an open house of an existing home Sunday and could see things we would have done differently.
 

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