Looking for a new home can be both exciting and daunting. There are so many things to consider beyond the actual home. School districts, your commute to work and proximity to local markets and restaurants may all come into play when choosing the location. Homeowners associations are an important aspect to consider during any home purchase.
Homeowners associations offer many perks. There are unquestionably many positives to choosing a home in a neighborhood with an HOA. However, along with the perks of homeowners associations come a few things to keep in mind.
1. You must pay regular fees
Monthly or quarterly fees cover the costs of several things for the benefit of all community members. Fees cover regular maintenance of common areas including streetlamps, exterior painting or siding, parking lots, gutters and roofs. Upkeep and improvements to amenities like pools, meeting rooms and gyms are often included depending on what is available in your community. Regular fees often cover the cost of lawn care and outdoor pest prevention. Fees are not optional. Once the HOA determines the amounts, the fees are non-negotiable. Not paying fees can result in a lien on your property preventing you from selling.
2. Membership is mandatory
When you choose to purchase a home in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, you are part of the association and are bound to obey the rules. By purchasing the home, you create a contract with the HOA. The board of directors creates the rules and governs over the community. There are regular elections and every homeowner has the right to run for a seat on the board when they become available. You are not required to join the board, but you must join the association.
3. There are a lot of rules to follow
This is true of any homeowners association in any community. Those in power create the rules. This starts with the amount of the fees collected and can cover everything from the color of your front door to the time of day you may put your garbage bin out for collection. Homeowners associations can dictate the types of flowers in your garden and the length of your hedges. Many of these rules may seem unnecessary, but the intention is to maintain a uniform, cohesive look to the community.
When considering the purchase of a home in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, ask to review the fees for the past few years so you have an idea of the possible increases you will face. Also, review the rules and regulations that you will follow as a member. Never enter into a contract without reading it. Never join a homeowners association without knowing what you are agreeing to.