You may have heard the term HOA before but what does it really entail? HOA stands for homeowner’s association which are private associations that provide structure, oversee and manage a neighborhood and it’s amenities as well as provide certain rules that must be followed if you are a part of the community. In summary, the HOA wants to maintain a structured and cohesive community in the neighborhood.
Sometimes when you move into a certain area, whether it be condominium, townhouse of a free-standing home, especially ones that have shared amenities like a community pool or security gates, you will become part of an HOA and that requires fees. The fees that you pay vary in prices (monthly and yearly) but are all used towards the same common things like property and community maintenance, repairs and other real estate property issues. Your fees are put into monthly expenses and also a reserved fund that acts as a safety net for when emergencies hit unexpectedly (like earthquakes and wildfires). If something extreme does happen and requires maintenance expenses like a flood or a bursted pipe, the HOA will cover whatever homeowners insurance does not from the reserved fund. However, when the reserved fund runs out, it is up to the members to pay their shared dues in order to cover whether they’ve been affected or not.
You may be thinking, well who runs this association for the community? All HOAs will have a board of homeowners in the complex or community who have been elected by all the homeowners. The members set up meetings to discuss community issues, expenses and ensuring all members are following the rules. This is where CC&Rs come into play. CC&Rs or “covenants, conditions and restrictions”, are the rules that homeowners must follow in the community. They are established by the HOAs in order to maintain a cohesiveness among all properties. Examples of some rules may be, allowed exterior house paint colors, permissible fencing or window treatments, minimum standards on landscaping, the installing of equipment like a basketball hoop in your driveway, vehicle parking and even rules for commercial businesses and their use of community property. If there ever does become a conflict when it comes to these CC&Rs, they can be overruled and changed with a majority vote between all the neighbors in the community.
There are both pros and cons to living in an HOA neighborhood and for some, it can make or break the deal. Sometimes the rules that must be followed could get owners in trouble, are too overbearing and create aggravating restrictions on homeowners personal wants and choices (imagine having to get HOA approval for that bonus room extension you want to put in), there are fees and sometimes, you have no control over how much you will have to put forward. However, they do come with major benefits as well. They maintain all common areas, ensure uniformity throughout the neighborhood and ensures that it is always in the best conditions, and heightens the value of homes.
If you are interested in a home with an HOA, it is important to consider what will be expected of you and if it is something you would be willing to be a part of!