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I am currently looking for a condominium and would like to ask the residents within the HOA (Home Owner Association) building about their experiences with said HOA. This most likely involves knocking on their doors. How can I ask about their experiences without making them feel uncomfortable?

This is in the United States and it’s becoming less popular for anyone (even neighbors) to knock on doors; hence my caution.

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    Hello! And welcome to IPS.SE. I added the meaning of HOA as I believe that people outside the US (like me!) may not know it but may be able to answer your question. Feel free to revert the edit if it changes the question. – Taladris Dec 10 '18 at 5:50
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I agree that it's become rare for anyone to knock other than salespeople, political canvassers, delivery guys, or missionaries, so definitely expect people to be a little wary when answering (if they even answer at all). However, I think once you mention the HOA, they're likely to talk your ear off.

Try something like this:

"Hi, I'm sorry to bother you but I was thinking of moving into unit [123], just down the hall from you, and I'd like to know how you feel about your HOA? The dues seem pretty OK, but you know how it is -- you never know if you're going to get what you pay for with these things."

Some people might say they don't have time, and others might be too suspicious to give an honest response, but I think any truly negative responses will be rare. Instead you'll find people enjoy giving you their opinion, once you reassure them that there is no other agenda. There seems to be this basic human need to be listened to and validated, even if only by a complete stranger.

On top of this, I think one hallmark of a good community is a willingness to answer the door and talk with (potential) neighbors. If you find most people aren't willing to chat at all, then that's already a pretty obvious red flag.

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I think the best approach would be to find out when the next HOA meeting is being held and attend the meeting. Sitting in the meeting will give you some insight on how this specific HOA functions and afterwards you can introduce yourself to the other members and inquire about their experiences.

  • I really like this answer. That’s something I hadn’t considered and it’s a clever idea I may very well try out. I will mark the first answer as accepted because it’s more aligned to how I phrased the question. Thank you! – Anilla Dec 11 '18 at 1:51
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I've owned Condos and been on Boards. I wouldn't worry so much about asking, most owners will tell you more than you probably want to know are the Association.

Where you're considering asking is where I would take issue. Don't knock on doors, that would be, well, weird. If you can access the property, visit some common areas, ask them about there. Or attend a meeting, usually monthly, and talk to some owners there.

Now, be careful. If you talk to someone, first try to find out if they own or rent. You don't need to talk to renters. Then, ask if they're on the Board, you'll get a totally different story talking to Board Members vs. regular owners.

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