A homeowners association (HOA) can be as important to the enjoyment of your new home as your new neighborhood or commute. While some HOAs are very relaxed, others have strict requirements that you’ll be asked to follow.
What is an HOA?
A homeowners association is like a “collective” of houses in a neighborhood. It’s usually established as soon as the homes are built.
HOAs charge dues to handle things like landscaping, snow removal or pool maintenance. When you buy a home that’s part of an HOA, you automatically become a member of that HOA — and you are responsible for following its regulations.
Ask before you buy
- Is my new home part of a neighborhood homeowners association? Not every house belongs to an HOA. Know before you buy.
- How much are the dues? These could be monthly or yearly.
- Are there any back payments owed to the HOA for this home? If so, you’ll be responsible for paying them.
- What services does the HOA provide? These could be as complex as paving your driveway and replacing your roof every 10 years — or as simple as mowing the grass in the greenspace.
- How often have the fees increased over the last five years? And when will the next increase take place?
- Who manages the HOA? Typically, there is an “executive board” of neighbor volunteers. They may also be assisted by a professional management company.
- What are the rules? Ask your realtor to see a copy of the rules, which usually cover things like home maintenance, holiday decorating and landscaping. (Keep in mind that you’ll be expected to follow these rules, whether you agree with them or not.)
- Are there any current (or past) lawsuits against the HOA? Educate yourself about the issues other homeowners may be having with your new HOA.
- Can you ever rent (or sublease) your home? Someday, you may want to sublease your home and keep it as an investment if you move.
- Can you run a business from your home? If you are considering running a daycare or consulting business from your home one day, make sure that the HOA allows it.
- Does this HOA ever do special assessments? Some HOAs will occasionally charge one-time, flat-rate fees for extras — such as road maintenance, tree plantings or elevator replacements. Find out how often they’ve done it in the past five years and how much each homeowner was charged.
A ReeceNichols REALTOR can help you navigate the complexities of HOAs. Contact us today.