Congratulations. If you're researching buying a home in St. Johns County, you're steps away from homeownership. The axiom that your home is the largest single expenditure of your life remains true and the good news is most experts still consider it a solid investment. And, because it tops the money investment chart, exploring options before you buy remains essential.While researching financial and lifestyle considerations in Florida, you're ultimately going to crash into the planet of what's the difference between an HOA, Condo Association, and a Community Development District (CDD). Don't panic, this article explains the differences of each to help you regain orbit. Plus, just for fun, I'll present the highs and lows of living in a gated community and hopefully land you in "I Get It World." Okay, no more aviation analogies, back to earth and serious considerations. If you're looking for specific information, please use links below to navigate through the article.

Homeowner Association (HOA)

If you're considering a home in an HOA, you're in good company. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 63 million people are residents of HOA communities and in Florida alone 9.57 million people live in covenant-controlled communities. HOAs are formed in communities or neighborhoods consisting of single-family homes or with multiple-unit buildings (such as condominiums and townhouses.) HOAs are established to make and enforce rules within their communities. These rules vary but, in general terms, they cover upkeep and preservation of homes and properties.

Another consideration when buying in a COA community is the type of loan you are trying to secure. FHA and VA loans are denied if the condo is not FHA and VA approved. The Florida Mortgage Brokerage website provides a in Florida, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website provides a search engine for locating . This is where a licensed real estate agent can reduce issues around getting a FHA or VA loan on a condo property. Keep in mind, these loans are denied based on many factors, but the most prevalent include:
  • 10% of the budget must be allocated to a reserve fund (aka, unfortunate events).
  • The development has too many tenant-occupied units compared to owner-occupied units. 
  • Too many condo owners are behind on their HOA fees. 
  • One person (or a single financial entity) owns too many units within the development.
  • The COA's budget is not HUD approved.

Community Development District (CDD)

, Chapter 190.
  • The purpose of a CDD is to serve the needs of a community by providing deferred costs for development of infrastructure and amenities.
  • Home prices are usually lower.
  • CDD fees vary and are typically based on lot size.
  • CDD Communities in St. Johns County, Florida

    1. Durbin Crossing Community Development District
    2. Trout Creek CDD
    3. Sampson Creek Community Development District
    4. World Commerce Community Development District
    5. Aberdeen CDD
    6. Johns Creek
    7. Indigo CDD
    8. Bartram Springs CDD
    9. Markland Community
    10. Marshall Creek CDD
    11. Markland
    12. St. Johns Forest Community
    13. Glen St. Johns by Richmond American Homes
    14. Treaty Oaks by Richmond American Homes
    15. Durbin Crossing Community Development District
    16. Trout Creek CDD
    17. River Glen Community Development District
    18. Sampson Creek Community Development District
    19. World Commerce Community Development District

    Gated Communities

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    Living in gated community has pluses and minuses.
    Buying a home in a gated community in St. Johns County offers many advantages, but like everything in home buying, there are pros and cons to living behind a gate. Along with higher home prices there will also be above average HOA fees, possible assessment fees, and yes fines if you cross the many barriers/rules inherent in gated living. In terms of HOA fees, they are higher because gated communities must maintain their roads, which include gutters and storm drains.

    Finally, always ask if gated means the entire perimeter of the community is enclosed. Just because a developer advertises as gated does not mean there aren't unsecured access points in the community. Also, ask what type of security (motion activated cameras, etc.) are in place throughout the community. Florida real estate law does not give a definition for what comprises a gated community. This often translates into calling a community gated, when only the front of the neighborhood has fencing and some type of entry security.

    As you contemplate the value of a super slide and weekly yoga classes, deciding if the added amenities are worth the costs, here's a list of gated community pros and cons: 


    • Increased security
    • Privacy
    • Higher home resale values
    • Safer for families                
    • Lower traffic levels                
    • Green spaces                
    • Superior amenities
    • Greater sense of community


    • Rules, rules — aka, extreme monitoring
    • Cost of homes
    • Higher HOA fees                
    • Sense of elitism
    • Gate challenges (receiving guests)

    Buying a home, although a joy-filled experience, is stressful. The team at wants to provide the most accurate information for new and potential future residents. Our goal is to give you everything you ever wanted to know, and maybe never knew you needed to know. And, with so many things to consider, rest assured if you have chosen St. Johns County to nest, then you are in a popular tree.