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What Is An HOA And Do I Want To Live In One?

A homeowners association is an organization that makes and enforces rules about properties for its residents. While an HOA may not be a great fit for everyone, it does offer appealing benefits. Let’s walk through some common HOA questions together.

  1. What exactly is an HOA? A homeowners association is an organization that makes and enforces rules about properties for its residents. It can be formed within a community or neighborhood of single family homes or multiple unit dwellings. Most townhomes and condo’s are associated with an HOA. The HOA is made up of a board of members who reside in the community.

  2. Is an HOA optional? That depends, some communities have a mandatory HOA and some do not. If you move into a community with an existing HOA, chances are it’s mandatory. You have access to whether or not a home has an HOA before purchasing, so it is highly recommended to review the rules before proceeding with the home purchase. When you purchase the home, the HOA rules and regulations follow, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable as the rules can and will be enforced; they may also come with fees and fines. Now let’s talk about an optional HOA. This comes into play when you’ve already been living in the home for some time, and suddenly the community wants to form an HOA. At that point, you may be given the chance to opt-in or out because you were there first.

  3. Are there different types of HOAs or are they all the same? Yes they are different depending on the property type. For example, a condominium HOA (which applies to apartment buildings) would regulate all of the exterior and common areas. While you may own the apartment inside, they can regulate what type of window treatments you have, to how you display your holiday decorations. They’ll also be in charge of managing facilities, storage units and parking lots/garages. Condo HOAs are often the most restrictive. Townhome HOAs are similar to condos. With a townhome, you own both the exterior and interior of your home so this type of HOA has less of a say on what you can and can’t do. HOA rules may include what type of landscaping and mailbox color you’re allowed to have. Single Family HOAs are becoming more common. These typically cost less than townhome or condo HOAs because they cover less. While you own your home, they may restrict what you can plant in your yard or the color of your window panels.

  4. How much does an HOA cost? On average, they can cost anywhere from $200-$400 a month. You may find some for more, or less. Also keep in mind that if you break any of the rules or damage common areas, the homeowners association can hit you with some fines. If at any point you fail to pay the fines or monthly dues, they can place a lien on your property which can make it difficult if you plan to sell your home in the future.

  5. What does all of that money go towards? Think landscaping, parking lots, swimming pools and tennis courts, road maintenance and major renovations within the community. Really anything that adds value or keeps the community in good shape.

  6. What are the advantages of an HOA? There are a few actually! They exist with the goal of preserving and enhancing the community’s property values. That’s why they have rules to follow, so they can ensure no one can lower the home value of others. These rules ensure a uniform appearance from property to property. Other advantages include access to amenities such as landscaping, parking lots, swimming pools, tennis courts, or party spaces. An HOA typically has meetings so those living in the community can voice their opinions and find common ground.

  7. What are the disadvantages of an HOA? One of the biggest drawbacks is the high cost of the fees. While these fees normally go towards community amenities and services, some homeowners may feel they aren’t using the amenities enough to justify paying for them. The restrictive regulations can be an issue for people as well, that’s why its very important to review these before moving forward with purchasing a home in an HOA.

  8. What are some common restrictions with an HOA? Examples can include having pets to the breeds allowed, parking in your driveway vs parking in the street, whether you can hang your laundry out to dry, what color you can paint your house, to the color of your mailbox. While these may seem like simple every day things, these can be heavily regulated depending on the rules.

  9. How can I make sure an HOA is right for me? Do your due diligence and ask for a walk through of the home but also the common areas. Make sure to read carefully the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions so you can understand what you’re being asked to comply with. If any of the rules don’t seem like a good fit, it may be best to find a less restrictive HOA or find a home with non at all.

Final Thoughts: It’s very important to review the rules carefully to make sure an HOA is something you would be comfortable with. While there are benefits, there are also disadvantages, so it’s important to review all of the information to make sure you would be a good fit. Remember to keep in mind the additional costs that HOAs carry with them.


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