What Is A Homeowner’s Association?

A homeowner’s association (HOA) is a legal entity that manages shared space. This shared space can be a condo’s roof and hallways, a townhome’s lawn and clubhouse, or a housing development’s playground and swimming pool. The HOA collects money each month in the form of dues.

If you have an HOA, you can assume that everything within the walls of your home is your responsibility. For townhomes and detached homes, your exterior and yard are also your responsibility. Everything that is held in common will be the responsibility of the HOA.

If you move into an area with an HOA, you are obligated to join the HOA and pay the monthly or annual dues.

HOA Fees

HOA fees vary from association to association. It depends upon what the fees cover and how upscale the community is.

Dues help to pay for the upkeep of the common areas. Such upkeep can include things like::

  • Roofing issues
  • Landscaping
  • Snow removal
  • Leaf blowing
  • Shared fencing
  • Shared mailbox facilities
  • Entry area
  • Security
  • Swimming pool maintenance
  • Tennis court maintenance
  • Playground maintenance
  • Septic system maintenance
  • Property insurance for common areas
  • Liability insurance for common areas
  • Shared garage facilities
  • Clubhouse
  • Fitness facilities
  • Elevators
  • Sidewalks
  • Parking lots and/or roads
  • Building exterior

In addition to monthly or yearly dues, you may also be charged with an extra assessment. Assessments are charged when a major renovation is needed and there are not enough HOA funds to cover it. For instance, perhaps a new roof is needed, or as in the case of a condo in Florida, an assessment was charged when a pool had to be replaced after a hurricane.

Dues are a known upfront. You can find out what HOA dues are per year. However, assessments are not known upfront and can cost as much as several thousand dollars.

HOA Rules And Regulations

HOAs do more than maintain common areas. They also create rules, also known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) that residents must abide by. Depending upon the HOA and the type of residence, HOA rules can include such things as:

  • What color your exterior can be
  • What color your front door can be
  • Whether you can have a clothes line
  • Whether you can have a satellite dish
  • Size and type of pets you may have
  • What type of landscaping you may do
  • Whether RVs or other non-traditional vehicles are allowed to be parked in your yard
  • Fencing restrictions
  • Window coverings for windows facing the street
  • Flying flags
  • Keeping your garage door open during the day
  • How high your grass can be before having to mow

HOAs are known for enforcing the rules. Since rules and regulations vary by association, it is important that if a home you are considering has an HOA, that you look at all the rules first.

Deciding If An HOA Is Right For You

Before deciding to buy a home with an HOA, you should do your homework. Here are some things you need to do before buying.

  1. Know the rules: Look up the rules of the HOA. Most can now be found online. Be sure that you understand the rules and understand the penalties for not following the rules. If you can’t find this information, ask your real estate agent to get it for you. Note that some HOAs have the ability to foreclose on your home if you do not pay the HOA dues, violation penalties, or assessments.
  2. Check for compliance: Be sure the home you want to buy is currently in compliance with the rules. If it isn’t, you will have immediate work to make it comply.
  3. Check the fees: Find out what the current fees are and what they have been over the past 10 years. This will help you see how stable the fees are. Then be sure to ask what the fees cover. You will want to know if the fees cover trash pickup or cable, or whether this will be a bill you have to pay on your own. Once you understand the current fees, ask how they determine how and when to raise the fees.
  4. Check out the reserve fund: This is the fund that will fix large issues. If the fund is too small, assessments from homeowners will be due to fix the issue. Be sure to ask to see assessments made over the past 10 years and ask if there are any assessments planned for the near future.
  5. Check out the amenities: When you pay your HOA dues, you are paying for the amenities whether you use them or not. So, look carefully at the amenities offered and determine if they meet your needs. Does the schedule for the fitness room fit your work schedule? Are the pool hours good for you? Can you bring guests or have pool parties?
  6. Go to an HOA meeting: If there is a lot of drama involved in the meeting, then the HOA may not be right for you. See how they resolve issues.
  7. Think about your personality: Finally, think about yourself. If you do not like others telling you what you can and can’t do on your own property, then an HOA might not be for you.

Benefits Of Living In An HOA Community

Although some people don’t like to live with an HOA, there are many benefits to doing so. The first is that your community will look nice. Since the HOA sets standards, you can rest assured that your neighbor will have nice landscaping and that junk won’t be sitting in the front yard. This is great for the resale value of your home. Another benefit to HOA living, especially if you live in a condo or townhome, is low maintenance. Someone else will be responsible for trash pick up and shoveling the snow. You don’t have to worry about keeping up the appearances of the outside areas.

Most people love an HOA for their amenities since most homeowners can’t afford their own pool and don’t have space for their own tennis court. Buying into an HOA community with amenities you will use can make a lot of sense. Finally, an HOA is a great go-between when you have an issue with a neighbor. Rather than confront your neighbor about their loud party, barking dog, or unkempt yard, you can take the complaint to your HOA and let them handle the problem.

Call Regina Ambrose 678-613-5636, Chapman Hall Realtors for further information about Home Association Community or  visit www.Homes4SaleInAtlanta.com to view thousand of homes for sale in Atlanta, Georgia

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