WHAT IN THE WORLD IS AN HOA FEE?

HOA Fees…What the f**k are they? Why do I have to pay them? Don’t feel bad, I get asked this all the time!

First off, HOA is an abbreviation for Homeowner’s Association.

So, if you’re buying a condo, townhouse, or even an actual home that’s in a neighborhood with shared common areas like a swimming pool, parking garage, and security gates, odds are these are maintained by a homeowner’s association, or best known as HOA.

WHAT IS AN HOA? HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?

Basically, the HOA ensures your community looks great and functions with no problems. For example, if the shared pool’s pump breaks down, the HOA gets the job done fast so the pool doesn’t turn green. People living in HOA developments have grown from being only 1% in 1970 to 1 in 4 Americans today.

WHAT’S THE COST?

To cover the maintenance and expenses, the homeowners association collect fees (monthly or yearly) from all community members. Typically, it’s around $200-$500 per month, although it can be lower or higher depending on location and the size of your unit and services provided. Just remember, the larger the home, the higher the HOA fee. They base this on the idea that a family living in a 3 bedroom are going to use the majority of the common facilities than a single person living in a studio.

Sometimes, HOAs charge more to accumulate savings for emergencies or big-ticket items like repairing the roof or water heaters. If they don’t have enough money to cover a big item cost, they will ask all of its community to pitch up to make up the difference on top of your monthly or yearly share.

WHAT ARE THE RULES?

HOAs have a board, who are made up of homeowners in the complex who are typically elected by other owners. They have regular meetings to discuss major decisions and issues within the community. They also are responsible for seeing that its community members follow the rules. Every homeowner will receive a copy of the rules known as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs), when they move in and required to sign a contract saying they’ll abide by them…it’s serious.

WHAT’S COVERED IN CC&RS?

Basically, everything from your type of mailbox size, parked cars in the front yard, and breeds of your dogs. Some HOAs have rules like making you buy insurance if you have a Pitbull and some just forbid certain breeds. They also regulate what color you paint your front door. Remember they want to keep the community looking nice. Sometimes they go as far as telling you what kind of curtains you can hang in your unit that faces the street. Again, all for achieving and maintaining an aesthetic. So, if you don’t like being told what to do, HOA may not be for you.

WHAT IF I BREAK THE RULES?

Every place varies, but normally if you break the rules or fall behind in paying your HOA dues, the consequences are not pretty. You could get evicted, or worse. Some HOAs have the right to foreclose on your property so make sure to read your CC&Rs carefully and thoroughly. That way, you know what to expect and make a list of the pros and cons before you buy.

SO, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LIVING IN AN HOA COMMUNITY?

There are several reasons people prefer to live in an HOA development, here are a few:

COMMUNITY APPEARANCE:

Like I mentioned, they care about their aesthetic. So, it’s a good thing they won’t let you or your neighbors have a brown lawn or peeling paint. Another plus is they sometimes regulate the type of car that can be parked in the street, they may restrict commercial vans or RVs.

LOW MAINTENANCE:

Depending on the HOA, typically trash, snow removal, lawn care, and common areas are handled by the association. Leaving less work for the homeowner.

RECREATIONAL AMENITIES:

Not all HOAs have swimming pools and tennis courts, many offer other amenities such as community centers, walking trails, sports courts and playing fields reserved for residents.

ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT:

If you have problems with your neighbors barking dog, loud parties, or a dispute over a tree, you can ask the management to handle the issue rather than getting into it with your neighborhood. Makes things less complicated.

So like I said, it may not be for everyone, sit down and think carefully what you are willing to give up or not. Then give me a call to schedule a viewing, I typically have my phone in hand  🙂 Have a good one, thanks for reading.

-Damaris S.

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