How to buy a condo with confidence

Learn the homeowners association’s rules

Condo living means less control over your property and lifestyle. The homeowners association has a say.

Make sure you’ll be happy living by its rules before you buy.

"All too often you see someone buy a property that has strict pet rules, and buyers now have a huge problem on their hands when their pets are not allowed to move in with them," says Ed Kaminsky, CEO of the SportStar relocation firm in Manhattan Beach, Calif. "If you are a buyer and accept and sign those documents, you are accepting responsibility for what is in them."

In addition to pets, HOAs typically have rules about: exterior modifications and seasonal decorations; overnight guests; common area use and conduct; trash disposal; allowable vehicle types, on-site vehicle repairs and parking; use of private balconies; noise; repair and delivery hours; interior modifications and structural changes; unit maintenance and upkeep; window coverings; the HOA’s right to enter your unit; renting out your unit; and enforcement and penalties for rule violations.