HOA’s – some people love them, some loathe them, and some have no idea what they even are, or why some communities have them and others don’t. We’re going to break down the pros and cons of living in a neighborhood with an HOA so you can make a decision about whether it might be right for you, and you’ll know what questions to ask BEFORE you buy your next home.
What is an HOA?
Depending on the community you’re moving to, they all function slightly differently, and with differing levels of success. But the point of a homeowner’s association is to maintain a safe and attractive community, to keep home values up, and to keep shared amenities like pools, parking structures, and common areas functioning.
If you live in a shared space like a townhome or a condo, it’s highly likely you’ll have an HOA. And each year it is increasingly likely that neighborhoods will be built with an existing HOA that the homeowners take over once all structure building is complete.
If you have shared amenities, it’s very likely you have an HOA which charges all homeowners dues to keep them maintained.
RULES, COSTS, and FEES
To many prospective homebuyers, these three words sound like they should be added to the “cons” list when considering the pros and cons of an HOA. However, the rules are generally initiated to make sure everybody maintains their home and follows regulations to make sure they aren’t impeding on other homeowner’s enjoyment of the neighborhood.
If you want to keep pet roosters in your backyard, add a third story to your home, and paint it purple, an HOA is probably not for you. But most rules are set to keep neighbors from having disputes over things like noise, sanitation, and curb appeal, as well as keep home values up by limiting the amount of homes that can be rented out, if any.
The costs depend on the size of your neighborhood, the value of your community, zoning laws, and the amount of extra amenities you have. For instance, if you have a pool, you will pay much more. Not just for the installation and maintenance. But for safety features like gates, security, insurance, and any additional equipment like fountains, umbrellas, and water slides. Those are continuing payments considered in your monthly or yearly dues.
Fees will start to rack up if you don’t pay your dues on time, or if you are breaking HOA Regulations or Bylaws. Some people find this frustrating, while others are relieved they don’t have to be the ones to hold their neighbors accountable for everybody pitching in to make the community run smoothly.
Connecting the Community
Many HOA’s have community events like picnics, holiday festivities, and charity drives and events. This can be a great way to connect the families in a neighborhood, and a great way for natural leaders to emerge and find a purpose.
However, if you are more the solitary type that wants to keep to yourself, this may not appeal to you and the costs may not feel worth it.
What you should do before moving into a community with an HOA.
- Ask for CC&Rs- That stands for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. This contains important information about whether you’ll be permitted to build that shed, paint your house, have certain plants, and even what kinds of pets you can have and how many.
- Find out the level of enforcement. Rules are only good if they are followed and only followed if they’re enforced. If the level of enforcement is too relaxed, or too severe for your liking, you may want to look elsewhere.
- Inquire about what services are included. You deserve to know exactly what you are paying for before you agree to that commitment.
- Learn how often HOA meetings are held. Many people even consider attending one before they start thinking about moving into the neighborhood. Regular meetings with good attendance usually indicate that the community runs more smoothly than if there is one meeting a year that nobody goes to
There’s no right answer for all homeowners. And every HOA and every community functions slightly differently. Know before you buy whether an HOA is a good fit for you, and if it is, do your research to find the right one.
When you’re ready to buy, EPM is ready for you.To learn more about this post or any other information shared on our blog, contact a mortgage expert at EPM today.