If you're a first-time buyer and need clarification about the role of a Home Owners Association, you should ask the right questions before considering buying.
What is an HOA
An HOA protects the quality of life and property values for owners within a neighborhood or shared building. How they make this happen, though, can vary widely. HOAs can enforce rules and regulations, collect dues, maintain common areas, provide amenities, and even set up committees or task forces to ensure the neighborhood looks and functions well. When you buy into a community with an HOA, you agree to abide by their rules as long as you own property in the neighborhood. Depending on the HOA's design, these can range from parking or outdoor decorations restrictions to enforcing noise ordinances and maintaining a list of approved contractors for real estate work. It's essential to understand what is expected of you to avoid surprises after the purchase. That's why first-time buyers must ask questions about the HOA before signing on the dotted line.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- 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 ensure you understand the rules. Furthermore, see if you can sit on an HOA board meeting or obtain notes from past meetings. This will help you understand the HOA's temperament and the type of past conflicts residents have had with the board.
Whether you're a first-time homeowner or an experienced real estate investor, it's essential to do your research and understand exactly what you are signing up for when buying in a community with an HOA. This will help ensure that both parties are on the same page and there are no surprises down the line. With the right understanding, HOAs can be great for keeping your neighborhood looking good while also helping to protect property values.
It's also worth speaking to current residents of the area to get their opinion on how well the HOA is run and if they have had any issues over time. Make sure you take everything with a grain of salt, as people may have their own biases and opinions. However, gathering this information is essential so that you can make a sound decision about whether or not to buy into an HOA-governed area.
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