I love this time of the year.  I get a little bit of a reprieve from having to get the grass cut and I love the crunchy sound the leaves make as I walk across them.  As the leaves accumulate in my yard, as they have this past weekend, it is easy for me to understand why some prefer to own a condo or a townhome.  Condos and townhomes generally have a Homeowners Association (HOA) that is responsible for handling the exterior upkeep of the property, for a monthly or quarterly fee.  What this fee will cover can vary per association.  Some association fees, such as with condos, may include utility costs.  Some cover snow and trash removal; lawn maintenance for areas that can be easily accessed (if you block off the rear yard, then the maintenance crew can’t access it); common areas, such as the subdivision upkeep and recreational areas; and, making repairs to or replacing the roof, gutters, deteriorated wood trim, and siding.   

An HOA is only as effective as its residents allow it to be.  If most of the residents in a community do not pay their association fees, the HOA cannot perform routine property maintenance and upkeep properly (no money = no work).   To ensure that the subdivision of interest to you has a fully functioning association, contact the Homeowners Association to find out what the fee consists of, when the most recent improvements occurred and what it entailed, and when the next round of improvements are scheduled to be completed.  Also, talk with the neighbors to find out more about the HOA and how quickly they are to respond to needed repairs.  Doing this research ahead of time, will help ensure you are purchasing a condo or townhome, with an HOA that keeps your property’s exterior well-maintained.