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How to Request HOA Documents: 9 Steps for Escrow Officers

HOA Documents, Title & Escrow,
Published: Nov 30, 2023
Last Edited: Feb 26, 2024
by Editorial team
blog

One of the most important steps in the closing process is requesting the necessary HOA documents from the homeowner’s association (HOA).  And the role of an Escrow officer in the closing process is pivotal. 

As a trusted partner in the home closing process, an Escrow officer is responsible for verifying the presence of an HOA and acquiring and reviewing the HOA documents. The information an Escrow officer receives from the HOA establishes whether the Seller’s account is in good standing, whether there are no monthly fees due, or any other concerns regarding the HOA. 

The due diligence of the Escrow officer ensures that no unpaid balances are transferred to the Buyer and that the HOA’s rules and regulations will not cause future issues for the homeowner.

This article will go through the process of how to request and get access to HOA documents in a timely and efficient manner. 

Understanding the Importance of HOA Documents

hoa problems, hoa challenges, hoa documents

HOA documents serve as the legal foundation for any residential community. They set forth the rules, regulations, and responsibilities of homeowners and the HOA board.  These documents typically include the declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), bylaws, rules and regulations, financial reports, and meeting minutes.

Acquiring the necessary documents can differ from HOA to HOA. For Escrow teams, the process always involves manual and repetitive tasks. These may include multiple follow-ups, back-and-forth communication, and documents with a myriad of scanned and hard-to-read pages. Because of these difficulties, dealing with HOAs is one of the most bothersome and time-consuming tasks for Escrow.

What HOA Documents Should You Request?

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Different types of HOA documents might be needed depending on the specifics of the transaction and the community’s rules. Here are the most commonly requested HOA documents:

  • Governing documents: They include the CC&Rs, bylaws, and rules and regulations. These documents outline the community’s operations and the homeowners’ responsibilities.
  • Financial Records: These documents give insights into the HOA’s financial health. They include annual budgets, financial statements, records of receipts, and expenditures.
  • Meeting minutes: These are official records detailing the decisions and actions made during board meetings. They can provide valuable insights into the ongoing issues and future plans of the community.
  • Insurance policies: These documents detail the type of coverage the community has, which can impact the homeowners’ insurance needs.
  • Vendor contracts: These contracts show information about the services provided to the community and their costs.
  • Membership lists: These lists help identify other homeowners within the community.

It’s important to note that not all records are accessible to members or Escrow officers. There are some documents, such as those that contain personal or sensitive information, that the HOA keeps private.

9 Easy Steps on How to Request HOA Documents

The process of requesting HOA documents can vary depending on the HOA and the exact documents needed. However, there are a few steps that would make acquiring these documents easier:

1. Identify the HOA

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1.1 Research the legal description of your property by searching the property address on the local county’s Assessor’s website.

1.2 Find out if there is a governing HOA and property management company and identify the name(s). Homewisedocs.com is one of the websites that can help you find this information, but beware, you’ll have to double-check everything. Some realtors’ websites, such as Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com, may also have the needed information. Watch out for any additional community associations or Master HOAs related to the property. 

1.3 Identify whether HOA is self- or professionally managed. If you already know that the HOA is professionally managed, you can check with some of the management companies in town to find out if they manage it or if they may know who does. Many of them have a list of managed HOAs on their website.

1.4 Find the HOA contact information. Some resources to find HOA contacts are the Library of Country records related to the property, city maps, and CC&R documentation.

1.5 Confirm all documents needed. Make sure you have listed all the documents needed for the transaction before making your request.

2. Contact the HOA or Property Manager and Request the Needed Documents

man in white shirt dialing on a smart phone

Provide the necessary details, such as the property address, Seller info, and Buyer info, to request the HOA documents. Find out what you need to do, how to order docs, timeframes, etc.

3. HOA Document Request

This typically includes submitting a written request specifying the documents needed, such as bylaws, financial statements, meeting minutes, rules and regulations, and any special assessments or pending litigation. 

4. Cost Assessment

 The HOA or PM provides the Escrow Officer with the costs associated with obtaining the HOA documents. This may include fees for document production, processing, or rush orders. Then, you need to communicate these costs to the listing agent and Seller since it is the Seller who ultimately pays the fees.

5. Ask the Seller to Approve and Pay to Obtain the HOA Documents

Fees can be exorbitant, so be prepared for some pushback. We collected expert tips to help you explain HOA and other closing costs to clients.

6. Collect payments from the Seller

This could be done through wire transfer, certified check, or other agreed-upon payment methods. 

7. Make the payment to the HOA 

black business credit card on a white background

Once you collect the fees from the seller, make sure the payment to the HOA is done in a timely manner so there are no delays in receiving the documents. It’s worth considering a transfer through a secure payment provider to prevent any fraud attempts. 

8. Verify your ordering requirements

Make sure to check the order details and turnaround time ETA, which are state-specific. Ask for a copy of the application if Buyer Approval is required.

9. Track, Receive, and Review the documents 

It is best to order the HOA documents as early as possible in the transaction, as it can take several days or even weeks to obtain them. This will help avoid delays in closing. 

Specific steps and the timeline may vary depending on the HOA, the management company, and local regulations. If the documents are not readily available from the HOA or the management company, public records can be another valuable resource for finding them.

Another thing to remember is that the association may charge a fee for preparing and providing the documents. However, some states limit the amount that can be charged for this service.

State laws play a critical role in the process of requesting and accessing HOA documents. The laws can dictate what documents are available, how they can be requested, and what fees can be charged. Therefore, it’s essential to understand and comply with these laws to ensure a smooth closing process.

Making the HOA Document Request/Access Easier 

colorful houses in line, suburbs

To make the process of accessing HOA documents easier for Escrow officers and other interested parties, many communities are moving towards digital document storage platforms. These platforms allow for easy ordering and access to necessary documents. They make it less time-consuming and reduce related costs. Don’t forget digital information can be accessed from anywhere.

The Benefits of Using HOA Doc Acquisition Platforms 

What makes an HOA doc acquisition platform a useful and reliable tool is the combination of operations, technology, and customer service. To be truly helpful, the platform should account for the smooth running of all 3: 

1. Operations 

To take full advantage of document acquisition automation, an HOA documents acquisition platform should employ the expertise of an operations team. Those professionals are ideally service-obsessed problem-solvers who meet your deadlines, no matter what obstacles arise. They are the people who find, contact, order, pay for, track, receive, and process your HOA docs. At InspectHOA, we rely on 250 HOA-skilled professionals to be the relentless support your business needs. If we’re having trouble getting HOAs to reply, we’ll go personally to request the necessary information. 

2. Technology

Keeping your HOA data digitized is the best gift you can give your business. However, not all digital solutions are created equal. It’s one thing to get the HOA documents and another to have to decipher them. InspectHOA takes that into account. Our proprietary technology analyzes and simplifies large sets of lengthy HOA documents. All key insights are in an easy-to-read format so that you don’t have to sift through scattered data.

3. Customer Service

Last but most certainly not least, an HOA doc acquisition solution should be backed with supreme customer service. The service team should grasp the challenges you face, the urgency your transactions require, and the perfectionism needed to stay on top. At InspectHOA, we meet these challenges by guaranteeing you an under-30-minute initial response to all your inquiries, under-2-hour resolution timelines, and full transparency.

how to request hoa documents, process comparison inspecthoa vs manual/internally

To Wrap Up

HOA documents are part of the closing package. They offer vital information on the financial and community obligations a homeowner should follow. As invaluable assistants to the home-closing transaction, Escrow officers have the responsibility to obtain and attach HOA-related documents like CC&Rs, bylaws, financial statements, and insurance policies to the closing docs package. 

HOAs, however, are far from easy to deal with, and agents often spend weeks corresponding with an HOA when requesting documents. A lot of miscommunication and errors can happen within that time. 

The steps we offer in this article aim to ease the process of requesting HOA documents for every Escrow officer. If you’d like to take advantage of automating your HOA doc acquisition, you can always talk to our team, who will get you started on the hassle-free process. 

Want to keep this guide handy? Download our HOA documents for closing checklist.

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