Beware of 'first-year-free' condo fees

There's likely a catch that no homeowners will like

DEAR BENNY: I am a real estate developer, homebuilder and property manager in California. The California Department of Real Estate requires extensive disclosure documents for the sale of property in all common-interest subdivisions. Those disclose great detail on the use of all funds collected from homeowners association dues. The DRE also requires that full HOA dues be paid for all units within a development (or a phase of that development if approved as a phased development) upon the sale of the first property (home or empty lot) within that development (or phase).

In fact, even the developer must begin to pay HOA dues on unsold homes or lots in the development (or phase) once the first property is sold. The DRE allows no distinction between whether or not the property is improved with a home. Once the first property is sold and the HOA is activated, all of the properties must pay the full HOA dues allocated per property. –William