Home Owners Association (HOA) regulations can cover everything from what color you can paint your home to whether or not your neighbor can display their garden gnome collection. Before purchasing a home in a community with an HOA, make sure the rules are compatible with your lifestyle by investigating the following:

1. Any fees you’ll pay
How does this HOA monthly rate compare to others in similar developments nearby?

2. Where your money is going
Many HOAs maintain common amenities, such as pools, gym areas and outdoor landscaping. Check to see what’s included and what’s not.

3. Recent hikes in fees
Get a history of how much and how often the rates have risen over the past ten years. Ask also for a record of additional fees charged to homeowners when the HOA lacks the reserves to cover a big improvement, also known as “special assessments.”

4. Community priorities
Take a look at the minutes from the last few HOA board meetings. What topics keep appearing? Do they seem reasonable, or are they minor items that distract from bigger issues?

5. The Fine Print
Carefully examine all covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs). Don’t wait to move in to find out your kids can’t have a basketball hoop, or that you won’t be able to park an extra car in the street overnight.

6. Penalties
What happens if you break a rule? Fines? Social isolation?

A Realtor can help you get the inside scoop of an HOA and assist with interpreting the fine print. Find a RE/MAX agent here: www.remax.com/officeagentsearch/.