“In much of the rest of the world, rich people live in gated communities and drink bottled water… So that wealthy people in much of the world are insulated from the consequences of their actions.”
– Jared Diamond, Author and Pulitzer Prize Winner for “Guns, Germs and Steel”
Surely, not everyone is cut out to live in an exclusive or semi-exclusive subdivision that is governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA) with all its rules and regulations. There are pros and cons in living in a gated community – both, horizontal and vertical.
HOA-governed communities have mandatory dues and assessments which are oftentimes not commensurate to the level of service performed. Most of the time, the rules are too restrictive which create more hassle on the part of the member-homeowner.
On the other hand, HOA-governed communities are more secure, have generally better living environment and quality of life due to various amenities and recreational facilities. In addition, property values are maintained if not increase due to proper maintenance and enforcement of the rules.
Living in a gated community does not suit all types of personality. But, if you are convinced that living in a HOA-governed community is best suited for you, here are 5 steps to take to determine what community is best for you and your family.
First, when viewing a property to purchase in a gated community do request for a copy of the Deed Restrictions from your licensed broker or salesperson of the developer. Read and carefully examine the provisions of the Deed and determine if you can live with and abide by them.
Second, find out how much is the monthly dues to make sure that you can afford them. Third, if the first two steps are positive so far, it’s time to request for a copy of the most recent audited financial statements. If the HOA office will not provide it then you can visit the HLURB Regional Office and get a copy from them. Have these financial documents reviewed by your accountant or lawyer to determine if nothing is irregular.
If the development project is new then look into the financial statement of the developer and study its track record and accomplishments of other projects. Did the developer finish on time its previous project or projects?
Fourth, find out from HLURB if there is litigation pending against the HOA. If there is none then that is best. However, if there is pending litigation against the HOA get the details and consult a lawyer for a better understanding of the nature of the case.
Finally, interview a homeowner who has lived in the community for more than five years. Ask him or her how it is to live in the subdivision or condominium project. How are the neighbors? Are the amenities top-rated and properly maintained? How is the security situation? Are pets allowed in the individual unit, in case of condominium?
Carefully listen to the answers and if you are convinced that the community is an excellent place to live in for you and your family then you have found your new home.