An HOA can provide convenience and valuable amenities to homeowners, but it is important you are aware of your specific HOAs regulations and benefits.
Research Your Potential HOA
Even when you have people on the HOA board who have allowed their small amount of power to make them a little crazy, HOAs are nothing to be wary of at all. All you have to do is research any HOA in a neighborhood you are considering buying into. Each one has its own unique rules and regulations. Only buy into one with rules (also known as covenants) you are comfortable with, and you will be happy with your new home. When it comes to HOAs, the only guideline is a simple one....don't buy in a neighborhood with rules you do not want to follow.
What is an HOA?
When a developer builds a condo or a planned community, it establishes a legal entity that is known as a homeowners association. This association lets the developer transfer ownership of the community to the homeowners. The management of the community is also transferred to the homeowners. This is done after a predetermined number of homes, condo units, or lots for homes to be built upon have been sold.
The HOA, once it assumes management and ownership of the community, is in charge of common areas and community amenities. It must maintain and keep these things up. It must also enforce the rules of the community with all homeowners in the community. These rules are called covenants or deed restrictions. While all people who own property, such as a condo or a house in a managed community, are technically members of the HOA, there is usually an elected HOA board whose members are in charge of making the decisions, enacting new rules, collecting HOA dues, and enforcing the existing rules.
Things to Consider Before Buying in an HOA Community
Before you buy in any HOA community, you will want to take some things into consideration. These things are the rules of the community. Therefore, be sure to read them before making an offer on a home there, or closing on a mortgage or signing a deed in the community. Some of the more important things you will want to consider about the rules of the HOA include:
- What type of improvements you can make on your house or unit (or alterations)
- How many pets you are allowed to own
- HOA dues (these are the dues you pay either monthly or yearly that give the HOA the money it needs to operate) and whether you can afford them
- HOA bylaws (these are the rules of how the HOA is supposed to operate)
- Meeting Minutes (look at the minutes of the past few HOA meetings to find out what the community is working on or doing)
In addition to looking at the rules and operations of the HOA itself, you will want to look at what amenities you’re provided when buying into a particular community. These are the things that your HOA dues are used to pay for (or, at least, are supposed to be used to pay for). Dues go to upkeep of common areas, maintaining and improving amenities, and repairs on any of these items. The number and quality of amenities you receive in any given managed community will influence the cost of your HOA dues.
In fact, it is the amenities of a community that is the most attractive reason for buying into an HOA for most people. An HOA provides luxuries to its residents they likely would not be able to afford on their own, but can afford together as a community. Some common HOA amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, community parks with walking trails, fitness centers, clubhouses, golf courses, lakes with boat access and community entertainment events.
When you find a home in an HOA community with rules you can live with, and amenities you love, at a price you can afford, it may be a smart option to buy a home there.