What's an HOA?
So you just toured a home and your Realtor mentioned that the community has an HOA. Well what exactly does that mean? HOA stands for Homeowner’s Association and it usually comes with a fee to cover neighborhood amenities and ensure a certain level of standards in the community. The HOA fee is required for living in that community and being a part of the association. HOA fees are different based upon the neighborhood and can be collected monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Generally the more services or amenities offered, the higher the fee.
Some homeowners specifically search for communities that implement HOA fees as it often plays a role in maintaining the value of a home and community. Others would prefer to live in an area that does not provide a HOA as it can dictate some of the things you can and can’t do with your property which could be limiting if your goal is to do what you want with your home.
There are a number of things that an HOA can provide to a community, so make sure you research what will be covered if the home you are considering is part of an HOA.
Sets and controls community standards
An HOA will set a certain standard for the community and what is considered acceptable or not. For instance, you may not be permitted to keep a boat or RV in your driveway. The goal of this type of regulation is to make sure that homes don’t become cluttered and potentially unsightly for others living in the community.
Maintains common areas
Common areas are often covered under HOA fees and are maintained by a landscape contractor hired by the community. This ensures that things such as grass, landscaping, and overall maintenance of the community is regularly taken care of.
Individual property maintenance
Depending on the community HOA fees may cover the upkeep of your individual property. The extent of maintenance included in the fee will depend on the individual community but can range from lawn and landscape care to outdoor home care and trash/recycling pick up.
Physical features of a home
Some may not be aware that HOAs can also hold certain rules around physical features of your home. For instance, there may be colors that you must stay away from when painting your home, certain types of siding that are acceptable, or a particular style mailbox that you are required to use. Again, these guidelines are in place to help protect the overall appearance of the community and to make sure that individual properties maintain their value.
One of the main things that the HOA fee is applied towards is the community amenities. This would include anything such as a neighborhood pool, pool house, club house, gym, playground, biking/jogging trails, tennis courts, beach areas, etc.
It’s important to remember that HOAs are in place to help preserve the property value of the members and in some cases to help with routine maintenance. Everyone has a preference when it comes to their home and community and that is part of the reason why HOAs are important. It’s a good idea to consider what level of control over your property you are comfortable with and then make sure that any homes you consider fall into those guidelines.
Whether you want the peace of mind of having neighborhood covenants and standards and don’t mind the added cost or you would prefer ultimate freedom and not have to worry about extra fees, talk with your agent upfront about your concerns around HOAs. It could save you some headache down the road if you know what to expect.
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