Alabama is a dangerous place to purchase real estate. Is your REALTOR® well trained.
The mission and vision of the Alabama Real Estate Commission is to "protect the public through the licensing & regulating of Real Estate licensees and insure public confidence in real estate transactions". But, this is not the case when it comes to community associations and the hazards buyers face when purchasing.
Many properties are subject to Community Covenants and Restrictions (CCR 's). CCR's are recorded at the respective county seat and are private agreements establishing a compulsory legal obligation for the owner over their property and common area. They cover (but are not limited to) such things as permitted use of property (per the CCR's), repair, modification, dues, debt and much more. For instance, an association may attempt to regulate parking on a city owned street though they have no jurisdiction over non-owned property. The only jurisdiction an association generally has is over common property and within the lot lines of an owners property within the boundaries of the association. A lot generally stops just inside the front sidewalk, where present. CCR's often conflict with local, state and federal law so it is important for you, as the licensee, to know the difference and adequately represent your client. Of course, there can be grey areas and it can be as simple as saying, "I don't know", and encouraging them to seek counsel. Document. Document. Document!
Just because you did not know there was an active association, or the existence of such documents that could result in a future assessment of dues and enforcement of covenants, does not relieve you from your obligation to appropriately advise a Buyer or for the purchaser to follow them. Beware: Although the MLS listing may reflect a no, indicated as “N” in the association field, one may be formed in the future if the nonprofit association was appropriately filed in advance of the property sale. This is easily checked with the Secretary of State. Some communities have active Homeowners Associations and, as previously mentioned, others may have had the appropriate documents filed creating the option to establish an Association subsequent to purchase or after completion of any number of homes in the community.
Just because something is stated in the CCR's it doesn't necessarily make it LEGAL OR ENFORSABLE. When in doubt, consult an EXPERIANCED community association attorney.
Realtors® are a licensed professional and are held to a higher standard. Don’t wait on your Board or MLS to provide training. Mitigate risk yourself; serve your clients.
Insist that your Board and MLS provide adequate training, forms, and other tools to serve you as a member. They represent you!