According to Landlord Station, approximately 8,000 new homeowners associations, or HOAs, form each year. For many, living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association is preferred because it helps them feel like a part of a community, and allows their family to reside in a well-kept, peaceful neighborhood. If you are considering purchasing a house that requires you join a homeowners association, here are a few critical questions to ask the HOA management before proceeding:
What Are the Rules?
When you purchase a home in a neighborhood that is governed by a homeowners association, you will be expected to sign a contract. By signing on the dotted line, you agree to follow the rules put forward by the HOA. It is vital to ask the HOA representative for a list of all the rules, and think long and hard about whether or not you agree with them.
Here are a few typical rules homeowners association rules you may be expected to follow:
Quiet hours—Many HOAs have rules about the noise level coming from your property during certain hours of the day. For example, if you pull out the leaf blower at 5 o'clock in the morning or have a loud party that lasts all night, you could be in direct violation of the rules regarding noise.
Pick up after your kids and pets—Another common rule deals with keeping an eye on and cleaning up after your children and pets, both on your property and in the common areas.
Maintain your home—You HOA may require you to maintain your home according to a certain standard. This also includes what color you can paint your home.
Landscaping and fencing regulations—The HOA might allow you to only plant certain types of flowers and shrubs or erect fencing of certain colors and designs.
Once again, this is only a few of the rules that might be included in the HOA handbook.
What Are the Fees & What Do They Cover?
The majority of homeowners associations require everyone living in the neighborhood pay a monthly or yearly fee. Typically, this fee covers anything from maintaining a neighborhood pool to paying for a professional to mow everyone's lawn.
Before you sign on the dotted line, it is important to ask several questions about the HOA fees. Ask the HOA representative to provide you with a detailed list of everything that the fees cover. Take this list and compare it to the amount of the fees to help you determine if the fee is reasonable, or too high.
To meet the demands of a changing economy, some HOAs will raise the fees on a yearly basis. Ask the representative about a typical fee increase, and why they believe this increase is necessary. Additionally, ask for a document that lists the annual fee increases for the last five to 10 years. This can also help you get an idea of how much the fees might go up in the future.
Also, many HOAs create a reserve fund, and the money is used to cover any unexpected expenses. For example, the HOA might use the fund to pay for new gym equipment or to upgrade the playground equipment in a common area. It is critical the HOA maintain a reserve fund because if there isn't one, it could mean that in the event of an emergency, you may be expected to chip to cover this surprise cost.
Being a member of a homeowners association has several benefits. If you are concerned about HOA rules and fees or have additional questions, don't hesitate to ask services such as J & N Realty, Inc.