A Homeowners Association or HOA is an elected committee of homeowners from a housing development or complex that makes decisions and sets guidelines that apply to or manage the overall community and its amenities. Buying a home with an HOA comes with a number of considerations to keep in mind before you finalize the sale. We've compiled a handy list of the things you need to know before buying a home with an HOA.
1. HOA communities have a mandatory fee all homeowners must pay. Depending on the community, it could be either a yearly fee or a monthly fee. Failure to pay this fee could result in the HOA filing a lien on your home.
2. The primary objective of the HOA is to ensure the entire community maintains a set of standards intended to protect the home values within the community. These standards are meant to protect the community from one or more residents engaging in activities or practices that negatively impact the home value of others in the community. Conformity in the care, maintenance and appearance of every property in the community helps protect everyone's home values.
3. HOAs typically provide these standards and guidelines through a Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) document. The standards in the CC&R lay out what a homeowner can or cannot do, including what colors they can paint their home, what styles of mailboxes are allowed, what types of trees and landscaping is allowed or what structures are allowed to be built or installed on your property (such as swimming pools, kids play areas and even basketball hoops). The CC&Rs can even include rules about whether you can rent out part or all of your home, what types of pets you can have and even outright ban certain dog breeds.
4. HOAs are generally responsible for ensuring that shared facilities and amenities are maintained. For example, the HOA uses a portion of the fees they collect for the upkeep and care of swimming pools, tennis courts, walking trails, playgrounds and greenspaces throughout the community. In condominium communities with parking lots, the HOA is also responsible for the maintenance of the parking areas and roads within the complex.
5. HOAs can also step in on your behalf to deal with another neighbor who is violating the CC&Rs. For example, if a neighbor has a severely overgrown lawn, inoperable vehicles in various stages of repair in their yard or paints their driveway hot pink, the HOA will step in and deal with that neighbor. This helps avoid conflicts and confrontations between neighbors.
When buying a home with an HOA, it's important to get a copy of their CC&Rs and review them carefully to ensure you are comfortable living within the rules and standards of the community. While HOAs do exert quite a bit of control in many cases, they also protect your property value. HOAs also make sure amenities are maintained properly so they are in good condition for all homeowners to enjoy.