HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS — What are they and what you need to know.
A Homeowners Association is an organization in a planned community or complex, generally made up of resident homeowners. The HOA’s job is to make sure common area maintenance occurs and problems are taken care of, as well as making sure rules and regulations are enforced.
If you’re considering buying a home and are looking at a planned neighborhood, condo or townhouse, there’s an HOA (Homeowners Association) and when you buy in that neighborhood or building you automatically become part of it. This means that you agree to obey all HOA rules and regulations and pay regular dues and any special assessments.
The rules and regulations established by the homeowners association are called CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions). CC&Rs are put in place to maintain the aesthetic of the neighborhood/complex. So, you won’t have to worry about the house next to you being painted day-glow orange or the house across the street starting a compost pile in the front yard. However, if you are the kind of person who rebels when being told what to do you may want to reconsider buying somewhere without a homeowners association.
GET A COPY OF THE CC&RS!
Find out if you can live with the rules- if you have had your heart set on a 6 foot fence and the HOA only allows 4 foot fences you will want to know before you buy the house. CC&Rs- can include anything from whether you can park your boat in front of your house, to noise restrictions or door color.
Dues and Special Assessments –
HOA dues are most often paid monthly or yearly, their primary purpose is to pay for common area maintenance. The amount you pay can vary depending upon what amenities are offered. It takes more money to maintain a full clubhouse, pool and gym then sidewalks and common area landscaping. If your HOA is planning for their future your dues will probably be slightly more than it cost to maintain common areas, the extra money will be put in reserve for large projects such as a new pool pump or roof on the complex. If the HOA does not have enough money in their reserves when a large project comes up you will have a special assessment.
A special assessment – covers the expense of the project not covered by the HOA’s reserves.
FIND OUT –
- What do the monthly dues cover?
- How are HOA fee increases decided upon & how often can they occur?
- What kind of special assesments were made in the past?
- How much does the HOA have in their reserve fund?
- Will the HOA fees fit into my budget?
GET A FEEL FOR THE HOA
Some HOA’s are to lax, some HOA’s are to strict and SOME HOA’s ARE JUST RIGHT. Talk to the HOA president, talk to other homeowners you may know and ask your realtor questions. You’ll be living with this HOA try to find out what you’re getting yourself into.
A homeowner’s association can be a wonderful thing, especially while your strolling down the garden lined sidewalks, jumping in the pool or enjoying the extra security of a gated community. HOA’s can help to keep property values up by maintaining a set standard for the neighborhood. Just make sure that the HOA that your buying into is JUST RIGHT FOR YOU.