Are you trying to decide if a community with an HOA is right for you? Learning what an HOA is and how it will affect your day-to-day life is important before committing to an HOA community. With some community rules and regulations being stricter than others, it is wise to look at each individual community to ensure it’s a good match for you.
What is an HOA?
An HOA (Homeowners’ Association) is a governing body within a housing community, in which community members must abide by a set of rules, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Homeowners pay a set amount each month (or annually) in exchange for services, amenities, and shared community spaces, including pools, fitness centers, or playgrounds. HOA fees can also go towards services like grounds maintenance and repairs to shared exteriors, i.e., roofing in condo associations.
There are a number of advantages to an HOA. However, these advantages largely depend on your family’s needs and what you expect from your neighbors and surrounding community. Here are some pros to living in an HOA community:
- Well-maintained homes: Homes with HOAs often maintain high property values due to the well-manicured aesthetic of HOA neighborhoods. Oftentimes, there are rules regarding things such as trash, car/RV/boat parking, paint colors, and lawn maintenance. Having rules in place help to keep the whole community looking its best. If someone is in violation of community standards, the HOA will be the one to enforce and correct any issues.
- Abundant amenities: HOA communities are best known for their perk of shared spaces, including fitness centers, dog parks, playgrounds, pools, and more. If you plan to use these amenities, it can be well worth the cost. You can also be sure these spaces will be maintained, and you won’t have to lift a finger!
- Save on utilities: Some HOAs cover the cost of certain utilities like trash, water, and sewer. In some cases, even pest control is covered. These services can add up, so having someone else take care of them is an added convenience.
For some, an HOA community may not be the best decision. Violations within HOA communities can have severe consequences if not addressed. Some possible downsides of joining a community with an HOA include:
- Unused amenities: Don’t like the pool? Don’t have kids? No pets? If you don’t see yourself taking advantage of shared community spaces, an HOA community may not be worth the cost for you. A large portion of the annual fees go towards the upkeep of these areas, and you may not want to pay more for something you won’t use.
- Violation fines: If you are someone with little time or attention to detail, you may incur violation fines from the HOA for minor infractions that are against community guidelines. Not having your yard cut, parking on the road, or not moving your garbage are all things that may seem unimportant to some, but are often part of the responsibilities in an HOA community. These fines are required to be paid along with dues. In some situations, refusal to pay fines can result in liens or even foreclosure.
- Assessments: HOAs take on various projects and renovations over time that better the community. If the community has an expenditure that costs more than what is available in the cash reserves, an HOA may call for a special assessment, which is a one-time fee to help cover costs. There is no cost limit for special assessments unless noted in community covenants, therefore it is best to have personal reserves for this kind of situation.
Each HOA community’s CC&Rs are unique to that specific community, so it is important to read these documents carefully before making a final purchase decision and agreeing to them. Talk with a lender at Coastal Custom Mortgage today to see how purchasing in an HOA community can affect your mortgage!