Everything You Need to Know About Homeowners Associations
Updated: Jan 5
When you buy a property within certain planned developments or gated communities, you will be obligated to join that community’s homeowners association (HOA). A homeowners association is an organization in a subdivision, planned community or condominium that makes and enforces rules for the properties within its jurisdiction. Those who purchase property within a HOA automatically become members and are required to pay dues, known as HOA fees.
A simple way to think about a HOA is that while you are responsible for taking care of the interior of your home, the association is typically taking care of most things on the exterior of your home. Here’s what to expect when you join a homeowners association.
What do HOA Fees Cover?
In general, the following are some of the areas that can be covered by HOA fees:
City services: Services such as trash removal, water and sewage
Insurance: Exclusively covers damage to the outside of the building and the property around it. You still need an individual insurance policy to cover everything inside the condo
Lawn care: This usually includes snow removal, gardening and general lawn maintenance.
Exterior maintenance and repairs: This includes things such as roof leaks, exterior painting, and driveway pavement repairs. It also covers the cost of tennis courts, gym or pool maintenance, if applicable
Pest control: Many HOAs schedule a monthly inspection from a pest control company in order to avoid pest infestations
Cost of a Homeowners Association
Generally, fees range from between $200 to $400 per month, with the low end falling to under $100 and the high end exceeding $10,000 in upscale communities. HOA fees often contribute to the association's reserve fund, which is set aside for major renovation projects or emergency use. An HOA's board of governors is usually responsible for the organization's finances, including the management of these funds.
Note that HOA fees will typically cover the cost of minor renovations and structural repairs, however, residents may be required to pay extra if fees do not cover the total cost of repairs.
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions
An HOA will typically describe its rules in a document called the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), which set certain conditions on owners and their properties. An HOA has a board of directors that is elected to enforce and oversee the HOA's governing documents.
These conditions can, but not always, include the following:
The color you can paint your home
The types of landscaping you’re permitted to create
The height of your fences
The types of vehicles you may park in your driveway
The types of window coverings facing the street
Typically, these are architectural guidelines that are intended to maintain a uniform appearance to the property and support stable property values.
Upsides of a Homeowners Association
A highly functional HOA can considerably increase the value of the homes within the neighborhood. The rules and regulations of the HOA guarantee protection of the value of each property. No one individual can negatively impact the market values of the homes in the neighborhood.
Homeowners associations will also typically provide additional amenities paid for using the membership fees. You may have access to things like a pool, golf courses, tennis courts, and even a protective gate.
Within a HOA, conflicts between neighbors can also be resolved by a mediator, usually provided by the HOA. This helps prevent problems in the community from festering and gives everyone a pathway for resolving disputes.
Downsides of a Homeowners Association
The primary negative of being a HOA member usually comes down to the cost of the association fees. Also, HOAs may feel restrictive for homeowners who are looking to customize their home. Because HOAs must reach a consensus regarding common property decisions such as maintenance and upgrades, there can sometimes be conflicts to resolve among HOA members.
These are all things to consider before purchasing a home in a homeowners association. Thinking of buying a condo or townhouse in the area? Contact me today! I’d love to hear from you.