Are you house hunting and not sure if you want to live in a Homeowners Association (HOA)? A Homeowners Association is an organization that governs a housing community where fees are collected to cover neighborhood maintenance costs. The HOA also drives communication between the members of the neighborhood. When purchasing a home with an HOA, consider the following:
Homeowners Associations typically provide several amenities specific to each community, ranging from tennis courts and parks to community centers and hired neighborhood security. The HOA may also manage landscaping, maintenance and repairs, snow removal, trash removal, and fire safety systems just to name a few. These do come at a cost…your HOA fees. Weigh the pros and cons of the benefits the HOA offers to consider if this is valuable to you.
With amenities come dues! Some people might find they do not want to pay an additional fee to live in a Homeowners Association, but there are plenty of perks that can come with it. Depending on your comfort, HOA fees might be something you can plan into your budget when setting money aside to pay your monthly and annual bills. Annual HOA dues are based on the property and the amenities provided within your community.
HOA dues are collected to offset the cost of the community’s perks (see above). Every property is different. Speak with your real estate agent to understand the monthly or annual cost of the HOA. Keep in mind, that the dues can increase over time.
Additionally, homeowners might be subjected to fines for not complying to the HOA’s policies. For example, certain HOA’s do not allow homeowners to change their mailboxes at the end of their driveways or park a boat that they own on their own property. If a member does not follow the HOA’s policies, they can be subject to a fine that the HOA has in place.
Some of these policies may fall within the Homeowners Association’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Common CC&Rs pertain to your home’s exterior appeal and include regulations on what your property may or may not look like. The following may fall within your HOAs CC&Rs: lawn care, upkeep of exterior paint, certain exterior color schemes, prohibiting parking cars on your street, and keeping trash receptacles out of site. Some of these regulations might seem silly, but they usually are in the interest of keeping the community’s standards to a high level which can add value to your property.
If you don’t comply to your neighborhood’s CC&Rs, you may subject to fines, suspension of common areas/facilities use, or even a lawsuit. If you do not pay the fine that the HOA ordered, the HOA could place a lien on your property (the right for the HOA to keep possession of your property until the debt of the fine is paid). This will only happen if the HOA files a lawsuit and gains approval by the state.
Even though there may be fees and regulations in place for a Homeowners Association, the goal of an HOA is to add value to the properties and neighborhood which can be appealing to homebuyers. The HOA may also deal with communication between neighbors whenever issues arise.
Before you decide to live in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association, be sure to do your research and see if it best suits your lifestyle. If you have any questions about the home buying journey, contact one of our team members today!