Ways Homeowners Associations Can Trigger Unexpected Headaches
HOA stands for Homeowners Association — a group of people who act on behalf of a subdivision or planned community. HOAs manage things such as the enforcement of community rules, management of shared amenities, and upkeep of common areas and landscaping, among other things. Often HOAs are mandatory, and you must join if you want to be part of the community.
Here are some of the more frustrating aspects that you should know about buying a home with an HOA.
HOA = Fees
Homeowner associations charge fees that help them cover the cost of community needs, such as landscaping and events. HOA fees vary widely, depending on the type of amenities your community has and can be anywhere from under $100 a month to several hundred dollars a month. If you’re considering purchasing a home in a community that has many amenities, such as a community pool, gym, or recreation areas, you can expect to pay more.
You must budget for HOA fees when deciding whether you can afford your home, as defaulting on HOA fees can cause you to lose your home.
Sometimes HOAs have to impose special assessments, for large jobs such as resurfacing roads or replacing roods. A special assessment is an additional fee on top of the standard HOA fees. When deciding whether to purchase a home with an HOA, ask to see any previous special assessments that have been wagered, as well as asking about any future ones which may be coming up.
As is common in communities that have a HOA, parking spaces often cost money. If you are in a busy city, parking options may be particularly limited. Be sure to find out how much parking space is, and how the HOA decides who gets the available spaces.
Homeowner Associations often have strict covenants regarding how homeowners change their landscaping and the exterior of their home, some down to the paint color you decide! If you’re a free spirit who doesn’t appreciate someone telling you that you can’t put a fence up around your yard, you may not enjoy living under the rules of an HOA.
Disagreements with HOA policy
HOAs are governed by elected board members, and these board members tend to be volunteer residents who own their own property in the condo or community. This means that sometimes disagreements can occur, due to the HOA board members being inexperienced at handling negotiations, or unwilling to compromise and represent the majority of homeowners in the community. If you’re unsure about how well the association is handling the communities business, speak to a resident who has first-hand knowledge, they may be able to shed some light on the situation. Alternatively, you could arrange a meeting with the HOA president and ask them directly.
Buying a home that is governed by an HOA is much different from purchasing one without. It’s crucial that you read all of the HOAs covenants and understand your responsibilities as a homeowner. If you’re unsure about how to find the HOA documents, ask your real estate agent or contact the community manager for your new home.