Moving to an active adult community is a dream for many adults. Yet making the dream a reality by choosing a community to live in can be fraught with indecision and self-doubt. By asking many questions you can avoid some potential problems, understand the role of the community’s homeowners' association (HOA) and know that you have made the best decision for your family.
1. What is the reputation of both the community and the builder?
While the community amenities and the house you intend to buy are likely to be your primary focus, you should take the time to learn more about the community’s builder. A builder such as Del Webb, who developed their first age-restricted community in 1960 and now has nearly 60 active adult communities across the United States, has the experience needed to run a successful community.
2. Are there a variety of floor plans available within the community?
Whether you are buying a new home or a resale unit, it helps to know about the variety within the community. Having several floor plans in a range of sizes will make the community more appealing to potential buyers and may help improve the resale value of the homes.
3. What activities and social clubs are available?
The types of activities and social clubs offered within the community will give you an idea about the general lifestyle of the current residents. Ask to see a list of activities and clubs as well as a current copy of the social calendar.
4. What are the clubhouse or community property rules and are there additional fees for classes or activities?
There are bound to be specific rules for community amenities such as fitness rooms, pools, and arts and crafts rooms. Seeing the rules upfront will let you know what to expect as a resident. Likewise, ask about the typical costs of classes or group events.
5. In an age-restricted community, what are the rules about younger visitors?
Even if a community is for residents aged 55+, you will still be able to have younger guests come to visit. Many age-restricted communities do have rules regarding how long guests under the age of 19 may visit you each year and the length of time can vary widely.
6. Can I review a copy of the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)?
This document outlines many of the community rules including restrictions for home improvements and daily living. The homeowners association (HOA) has the right to set many rules within the community and you should be aware of them before purchasing.
7. What is the HOA’s annual budget and do they have a reserve fund?
When looking over the HOA’s annual budget, you want to see that they have an ample reserve (or sinking) fund. This is used for future capital expenses, such as road resurfacing or major repairs to community property. An inadequate reserve fund could impact all residents.
8. Who governs the HOA?
Many HOAs are governed by a board of voluntary residents who are elected by the community. If the HOA board has a high turnover rate, with very few board members staying for more than one term, it might raise some questions about how effectively the HOA is being managed.
9. Does the community have any current issues such as foreclosures, litigation among residents or problems with delinquent dues?
Most HOAs disclose current troublesome issues either in a newsletter or in their board meeting minutes. If possible, ask to speak with the current HOA president and find out how these troublesome issues are usually resolved.
10. What other development is planned for the community or surrounding areas?
When choosing a lot or a resale home, you are purchasing it as it looks today. You don’t want to be surprised shortly after moving in to learn that the lovely mountain view from your backyard is about to be blocked by a new high rise building. No one can promise what will or will not happen on land you do not own, but you should be able to find out if any plans are currently in the works.