When you are searching for a new home, chances are you have been to at least a few that are a part of a homeowners association or more commonly known as an HOA.  HOA’s may offer great amenities; community pool, children’s playground, fitness center, etc., so it is easy to gloss over the realities of living within the guidelines of the HOA.

What is a Homeowners Association?  A homeowners association is an organization founded by a real estate developer in order to manage a community of houses, townhouses or condominiums.  According to the New York State Attorney General’s website, this association “is given the authority to enforce the covenants, conditions, and restrictions as well as manage the common elements of the development.” In order to belong to a homeowners association (and, subsequently, live in the community it oversees), you pay dues.  Depending on the community, the dues can range from $100 a year to over a $1,000 a month or more.  You need to consider if the amenities and benefits are of value to you and whether you are comfortable with the rules associated with that particular development. 

The association fees are included in the mortgage lender’s assessment of your monthly mortgage payment, so it is important to confirm that your credit score and debt-to-income ration will support the home development that you choose.  Credit scores can be checked for free at credit.com.  

Why pay a monthly association fee to abide by rules that potentially do not support your lifestyle or support the cost of the amenities you are unlikely to use?  Listed below are some advantages and disadvantages of homeowners associations.

Pros:

  • The HOA maintains the landscape in the common areas as well as community pools, tennis courts, fitness areas, etc.
  • The HOA can be utilized to help with conflicts between neighbors such as unwanted vehicles parked in front of your house or unkempt landscaping. 
  • The HOA can reduce your responsibilities such as snow removal or maintenance you would normally have to pay for yourself.
  • Often, HOAs promote a strong sense of community. Friends can gather at the clubhouse or common areas, people get to know their neighbors, and there are usually social functions planned year round.

Cons:

  • There may be rules or regulations in the HOA documents that will dictate what color you can paint your house, or what type of holiday decorations are acceptable.
  • The HOA may put restrictions on residents wanting to rent out their home. The association may require potential renters to be screened and approved by the HOA board, how much you charge for rent could also be regulated along with the duration of the rental. Some HOA’s ban rentals altogether.
  • An HOA can foreclose on your home.  

Texas Homeowners Association recommends before purchasing a property within an HOA or condo community it is very important that you find out how the association is run, how much the monthly association fees are, what the fees cover and how much money is in the reserve fund to cover any large expenses such as replacing a clubhouse roof. Always get a copy of the rules and regulations before you purchase so that you are completely aware of what you can and cannot do within the community. For example, if you purchase within a condo/townhouse community where there are zero lot lines, more than likely you won’t be able to touch the landscaping outside your home. If you are an avid gardener then this is definitely something you will want to consider before purchasing.

I am available to answer any questions about homeowners associations or any other aspect of buying and selling a home.  Feel free to call me at 970.393.3424 and please take a moment to make sure you follow me on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest for continual market information.