Buying a house is one of the most significant decisions you can make. As such, looking into every aspect of the process is essential. This is particularly true if the upcoming purchase means you’ll be a homeowner’s association (HOA) member.
If you’re new to HOAs, you probably have a lot of questions in your mind. This post shares the basics of HOA and essential things you need to know. Keep on reading to learn more.
HOA: What Is It?
HOA refers to the governing body of a community or neighborhood. Such communities typically include home subdivisions, planned unit development, and condominium complexes. Generally, HOAs are run by resident homeowners elected as boards of directors, overseeing the association’s management. Yet some HOA communities may employ expert property managers to handle daily activities and/or provide consulting services.
How Does It Work?
Not all HOA are the same. Each association varies in its responsibilities. That said, HOAs are mainly established to create and enforce rules and regulations regarding the properties within their jurisdiction. They often manage the development and maintenance of public spaces, collect fees, and oversee neighborhood finances, solving community issues and complaints and other activities to help keep property values high and ensure a peaceful and harmonious community.
HOA Fees Are Mandatory
As with any governing body, HOAs can only thrive if members contribute. As such, being a member of an HOA community requires you to pay regular fees. These payments go into the HOA’s account and are used to fund the cost of maintaining the neighborhood or set aside to build reserve funds.
The board of directors creates an annual budget and calculates how much to charge each homeowner. Generally, HOA fees can vary. Factors such as the community’s size, location, and amenities can influence the cost.
For instance, if the community has several public amenities like a park, fitness facilities, pools, clubhouses, and more, HOA will naturally need more money to maintain these public spaces.
In addition to the monthly or annual fees, some communities may incur an HOA special assessment, which is an additional one-time payment on top of regular fees. Usually, this type of fee comes in response to emergencies, such as repairing large-scale damage due to natural disasters or replenishing reserve funds after significant expenses.
HOA Rules And Regulations
HOAs have rules which they call ‘restrictive covenants.’ HOAs enumerate these covenants in their Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) document or handbook.
As with fees, HOA rules and regulations varies too. Some HOAs have relaxed rules for common courtesy, such as ‘Clean as you go’ in parks or ‘No loud parties past 11 PM’. Others will have lots of rules, which can sometimes annoy members due to some regulations’ restrictive and controlling nature.
In such HOAs, CC&Rs documents may be as thick as a novel and cover everything from the flowers you can plant to the materials and color of your roof to the type of pets you can have.
Can You Ignore HOAs?
No. If you buy a property within an HOA-managed community, you must follow their rules and pay the fees. In fact, before you can even close the deal on a home, you may be required to review and agree to the rules and regulations set by the HOA board of directors.
If you fail to follow their rules, you will face the consequences. For instance, if you miss a payment, the HOA will charge you late fees and even interest. Some may forbid you from using common areas until you pay up. If that doesn’t work, they will also file a lawsuit against you and may even foreclose your house. This is particularly true if your payments continue to be delinquent and accumulate a considerable amount.
Benefits Of Living In A HOA-Managed Community
Although HOAs may seem scary, living in an HOA-managed community has many perks. For instance, HOAs can help increase your property value by up to 4.2% or USD$10,000 more. Additionally, most HOA rules and regulations are implemented to help maintain shared spaces allowing you to enjoy neat neighborhoods all the time. Some HOAs may also offer home maintenance services such as lawn upkeep.
Most HOAs aim to offer great amenities and convenient services, from swimming pools and fitness centers to better security and snow removal. So, even if you have to pay fees, it can be well worth the cost if you can access amazing features or enjoy convenient maintenance.
Moving to a home governed by HOAs may seem daunting. Understanding these associations can become quite complicated, and some may find it a bit imposing. Nevertheless, if properly used and accepted, HOAs can help foster a sense of belonging.
Hopefully, this post has provided you with basic insights about HOA-managed communities and what to expect when moving into one. While it may reduce control over your home, you may enjoy a comfortable trade on reduced responsibilities in maintaining the overall community and enjoying shared security and amenities.