Check Homeowners Association Fees and Amenities Before Buying

Q: We just purchased and closed on a home with community pool/spa listed in the local multiple listing service (MLS) in a gated community.

As it turns out, the pool is not for this subdivision in the community but another one. Since it was on the MLS, do we have any recourse? It was a deciding factor in the purchase.

A: Just about every multiple listing service document we have ever seen will always have the disclaimer that the information has not been verified and is not guaranteed. Given what has occurred the last several years in the real estate market, we have always suggested our readers must take the next step to get all of the information required and make sure they are protected.

If the community pool/spa was so important to you, did you get copies of the documents that go with the property you purchased? Those documents would outline the association you belong to and would outline the expenses incurred by the association. As with any community amenity, those amenities cost money. That money needs to be collected from the homeowners in the form of monthly or yearly assessments.

If you reviewed the association documents, you would have seen no expenses for the pool and spa. You also might have seen that your assessments were considerably lower than the properties that actually get the use of the pool and spa.

You will have to talk to an attorney in your area further on this issue. If the real estate agent actually told you that the pool and spa was included and took you there, showed you the pool and spa, you might have a better case. But if the information was a mistake and the real estate agent relied on the seller for that information or he or she decided to include it, it might be harder for you to do anything about it.

One thing you can do is find out if you can join or pay a fee to use the pool and spa. If you can, you might find that the cost of using the facilities may be about the same as if you lived in the community that has the rights to use it. There are various options that you might have to satisfy your needs to use the facilities before trying to get an attorney involved or litigating this issue.

But if you find out that the seller actually knew that his home was not part of that association that gets the right to use the pool and spa and actively lied to get you to buy the home, you might have the right to go after the seller. And if the broker knew as well but went along with the lie, then that broker might have liability as well.

However, given your letter and indication that you only knew about the amenities from the multiple listing service and didn’t give any other information, it would seem that you have an uphill battle to fight. Keep us posted.


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