FAQ: What Are Homeowner Associations (HOAs)?

FAQ: What Are Homeowner Associations (HOAs)?
 The Fairfield Team 1/31/2018 6:00 AM

Smart buyers are asking what the deal is with Homeowner Associations (HOAs) to determine if they’re buying a home in the right neighborhood.

What Is A Homeowner Association?

A Homeowner Association is a private association with the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling homes or property lots in residential subdivisions. Any person who wants to buy a home within the subdivision that an HOA governs will be subject to that HOA’s Articles of Incorporation, CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions), and By-Laws, which may limit the homeowner’s choices. HOA fees help to maintain the quality of life for that community’s residents and, overall, protect property values for all homeowners.

CC&Rs covers resident behaviors (like no glass bottles around the pool or in the park), architecture (no sheds in backyards or no fences over a certain height), and common responsibilities (fee schedules, fines for non-compliance, timelines to fix any problem areas). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the items that HOAs may regulate:

  • Shingles or exterior paint colors
  • Fences and hedges
  • Trees, lawn, & weeds
  • Pools
  • Swing sets, basketball hoops, trampolines
  • Garages and sheds
  • Mailboxes
  • Clotheslines, recycling bins, and garbage cans
  • Outdoor lights, satellite dishes, holiday decorations
  • Window coverings
  • Home businesses
  • Pets (size or acceptability)
  • Noises
  • View obstructions

What Are The Benefits To The Homeowner?

It’s common for HOAs to benefit the homeowners by providing maintenance and property management services, a common park / pool area, insurance coverage, and higher property values due to enforcement of community appearance standards.

What Are The Disadvantages To The Homeowner?

In order to belong to the HOA, there is the financial burden of association fees. In addition, there could be punitive fees if your property is not maintained correctly according to the HOA standards.

There may also be the costs of maintaining property appearance standards.

In addition to the financial disadvantages, there may also be restrictions on the homeowner’s property use or personal autonomy.

What Should Be Examined Before Buying A Home In An HOA-Governed Subdivision?

Before buying a home in an HOA-governed subdivision or planned community, a buyer should:

  • Learn the HOA’s rules.
  • Make sure the home you’re interested in is in compliance with HOA guidelines.
  • Make sure you can live with the HOA governance.
  • Get a comprehensive list of what amenities are included with your monthly or annual dues.
  • Find out the HOA fees. Pay special attention to fines that you may incur if you violate any of the HOA rules and when increases may occur.
  • In addition to fees that may incur if you violate any rules, find out how long you may have to fix any problems with your property.
  • Check into the governing board for ethics and good management skills.

There are clearly both advantages and disadvantages to Homeowner Associations, but the important thing to look at is knowing exactly what you’re getting into for the dues you’ll be paying.

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If you and your family are getting ready to start house-hunting for your new home or are preparing to sell your home, contact the Fairfield Team and we can help get you started or answer any questions you may have about the process!