You’ve found the perfect house in the perfect location, but there is a Home Owners’ Association (HOA) within the community. What does this mean for you and why is it important to understand everything that comes along with an HOA before you buy a home with one?
If this is your first time interacting with a Home Owners’ Association, you’re not alone. Only about 27% of homes today are a part of one, but they are becoming increasingly popular in new property developments. About 67% of new homes built in 2021 in the United States were a part of HOA communities. This means you are likely to come across several within your search for a new home.
So, what are HOAs? HOAs are a governing board of members that create rules and enforce them within their community. The homeowners (members) will pay a fee to the HOA and in return will receive certain perks and benefits that neighborhoods without one may not have. Oftentimes HOAs are found in planned communities of single-family homes, condos, and townhomes. There are many benefits of an HOA but depending on your lifestyle or future goals with your home, there may also be a few drawbacks.
To start, let’s examine some benefits of living in an HOA:
A Well-Kept Community: Many HOAs can have strict rules on how your property needs to look and be maintained. This means the community will likely keep a very clean and tidy image at all times.
Special Amenities: Every community is different, but some may have special amenities that only members can use. These could include swimming pools, tennis courts, walking trails, or other common areas.
Maintenance: HOA fees can go towards the maintenance and landscaping of public areas within the community. Depending on where you are located, this could also include snow removal.
Utilities: Again, all HOAs are different, but some have membership fees that cover the cost of certain utilities. This can include trash removal, internet, cable, and more.
Rules Enforced: HOAs usually have elected residents on a board who are there to put in place and enforce the rules within the community. This board can act as a mediator if you have complaints or concerns with any neighbors. It is also a way to be more involved in your community if you wanted to run for an elected position on the board.
Depending on your certain situation, there may be a few drawbacks as well to having an HOA, such as:
Additional Fees: HOAs do require a monthly or yearly fee to live in a community with one. If your monthly mortgage payment is already at the top of your budget, you may want to consider a home without an HOA. However, there can be communities with relatively low HOA fees, so don’t take homes with them off your list without checking first!
Restrictive Rules: If you have specific paint colors in mind for your house, you may not want to join an HOA, at least not without reading the rules and expectations first. Some associations have rules about how the exterior of the house looks, landscaping, and even what you can have placed in your front yard (decorations, large campers, etc..).
Potential Fines: Along with the restrictive rules, there may be fines that occur if you break any of them. If you want more flexibility with what you can do on your property, then you may want to consider a community without an HOA.
Before purchasing a home, it is up to you to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the HOA to see if it would fit well with your lifestyle and the future goals of your home. Make sure you can handle the monthly HOA fees within your budget and that you fully understand the rules and expectations of the community. You should also reach out to your real estate agent if you have any questions as they are a great resource and may already have experience with that specific HOA. Once you’ve completed your research and determined if an HOA is a right fit for you, then you can close on that perfect home!