A homeowners association, or HOA, is a group of all the homeowners in a defined area. The HOA is run by a board of neighbor volunteers that oversees services such as the maintenance of common areas, regular trash pickup and snow removal, and it establishes and enforces the community rules.
If you are considering buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, joining the association is most likely mandatory–and so is obeying any rules that the association has already or will put into place in the future. This is the main reason some people are opposed to living in an HOA neighborhood. For many others, however, the benefits of an HOA outweigh the negatives. HOAs typically help keep the property values up in the neighborhood by enforcing rules about home upgrades, the appearance of the outside of the house, as well as strict guidelines for how each property is maintained.
Oftentimes, the associations also usually provide some sort of common good for the community such as pools, tennis courts or walking trails.
WHAT IS AN HOA AND HOW DOES IT WORK
Homeowner’s associations are like mini-governments in a lot of ways. They set rules for the community; arrange to fix things when needed, handle disputes, hire vendors and more.
In planned communities, the land developer outlines certain rules and restrictions concerning the use of the land and buildings. Then the developer turns over the operation and governance of the association to an elected board of homeowners (comprised of volunteers) whose job is to run the community and maintain its budget.
GET TO KNOW THE RULES
When considering a house within an HOA, be sure to ask for a copy of the covenants, conditions and restrictions to see if the regulations are a good fit for your family. Most HOAs have a website or social media page that allows you to learn more about the community. The covenants, conditions and restrictions are different for every community and understanding those differences before purchasing will make this process less stressful.
Some rules commonly seen in HOAs are in regard to the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood, which includes the appearances of houses and lawn maintenance. For example, if a homeowner wants to paint the house a new color, change the landscaping, or add on to the property, the owner has to submit the proposed changes to the HOA for review and approval. The committee will review the proposed changes to ensure they fall in line with the covenants of the neighborhood.
Some HOAs also have restrictions regarding how long trash cans can remain on the curb, street parking or where residents can park their boats and RVs. Others may deal more with coordinating neighborhood crime watches and block events. While many of these restrictions may seem rather burdensome or trivial, the HOA was designed to help maintain home values and the overall aesthetics of a neighborhood.
BENEFITS OF AN HOA
1. Well-maintained amenities – HOAs typically do an outstanding job of maintaining amenities such as manicured common area lawns, freshly painted walls, lighting that works and clean play areas, to name just a few.
2. Increased amenities – In addition to well-maintained amenities, you are likely to find a lot of them, including swimming pools, barbecue pits, neighborhood parks sport courts and walking trails.
3. Aesthetically pleasing homes – Most regulations include keeping the general outer appearance of the neighborhood up to standard, so it is unlikely that you will see an unkempt lawn, peeling paint or exposed wood on any home.
4. Deter nuisance activity – Common nuisances at homeowners associations include odors (cigarette smoke, pets or garbage), noise (loud music, yelling or loud conversations), visual issues (clutter on patios, unkempt lawns or trash cans left in sight) and health and safety issues (outdoor fires, pests/rodents or hoarding).
5. Added layer of support in dealing with neighborhood property issues – HOAs often partner with municipal code compliance departments to ensure adherence to the rules.
6. Community bonding among neighbors – Cookouts, garage sales, parades and ice cream socials are a great way to make new friends.
7. Protected property values – When everyone is held to the same standards AND those standards are enforced, property values are able to remain consistent and protected.
DOWNSIDE OF AN HOA
1. Fees – The fees will differ with each HOA based on the amenities and services the association will provide, but some HOAs can be pretty pricey. Be sure you will use the amenities before deciding if you are willing to pay the monthly dues.
2. Constant Maintenance – The rules and regulations are typically quite strict and require you to attend to the maintenance of your home almost constantly. If you don’t have a lot of time and are unable to hire someone to take care of it for you, the maintenance responsibilities alone may be enough to discourage you from a property with an HOA.
3. Can Discourage Renters – There are often restrictions on renting as well. Some may require a certain percentage of properties be owner occupied, while others will require that tenants go through a rigorous screening process and win board approval before you can rent to them.
5. Foreclosure Is Possible – Some HOAs actually have the power to foreclose on your home if you cannot pay the fees. Regulations vary from state to state, and though they will generally foreclose only in rare cases, it is still something to consider.
WHY CHOOSE CITRUS HERITAGE ESCROW?
Ultimately, homeowner’s associations can be extremely complex, with rules and regulations that vary greatly from group to group. With Citrus Heritage Escrow by your side, you can rest assured that our professional team will walk you through every step of your home sale or purchase.
Call us today with any questions or concerns. Our professional Escrow Agents will help you through this exciting yet confusing process. (951) 335-7200