If you’re a first-time buyer and are confused about what a Home Owners Association is (or does), you need to ask the right questions before considering buying. An HOA is an organization designed to protect the quality of life and property values for owners within a neighborhood or shared building. Although, how they make this happen can vary widely. Typically, when you purchase a residence subject to an HOA, you’ll be required to pay monthly dues, which often contribute to major repairs or maintenance or the upkeep of common/shared resources.
But HOAs can also significantly impact what you can and can’t do with your own home. The covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) detail the HOA’s rules. To understand how strict an HOA is (or isn’t), you’ll want to understand the details of its CC&Rs before you consider buying. These might have reasonable restrictions, such as keeping junk cars out of the front lawn, or they might extend to what color you can paint your garage door.
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself and the HOA before you make an offer:
- How comfortable am I sharing decision making about my own home? Yes, you own your property, but if you agree to abide by the CC&Rs of an HOA, you’ll need to be willing to abide by its rules.
- How much are the HOA fees, and how much have they increased over time? Your budget can be seriously impacted not only by current HOA fees but anticipated increases. Sometimes HOAs can even require residents to chip in for major repairs or upgrades beyond HOA fees.
- What are all of the CC&Rs? Get a copy of the CC&Rs and make sure you understand all of the rules. Furthermore, see if you can sit on an HOA board meeting or obtain notes from past meetings. Observing will help you understand the HOA’s temperament and the type of past conflicts residents have had with the board.
- Is the home (or unit) you’re considering in compliance with the HOA’s CC&Rs? If you’re considering an offer on a problematic property, understand a real hassle may follow.
A great way to learn about the association’s history is by asking the neighbors around your desired home. Walk around the community and find a few residents to talk to. Are they happy? Have the neighbors had problems with the HOA? Does the HOA keep a well-run community?
If you like the idea of a group of neighbors who set community or building standards, a residence with an HOA may be for you. But if not, don’t worry, there are lots of other homes out there! Get in touch today: (928) 710-9148