What is an HOA and is it Right For Me?
An HOA, or homeowners association, is a community of houses that follow certain rules, pay monthly fees, and abide by an HOA committee’s guidelines. Most often times, these are newer developments like condos, townhomes, country club neighborhoods, or single family detached homes. An HOA exists to improve property values and maintain good neighborhood for enhanced equity and peace of mind.
What types of HOAs are there?
There are three types:
- Voluntary HOA: These communities have an HOA in place, but you don’t have to join when you buy a home. They also don’t have any legal standing, but they do have dues among members. It’s more of a union to organize functions and maintain a high quality neighborhood.
- Mandatory HOA: When you buy a home in these communities, you have no choice but to join the HOA. These HOAs require monthly or annual dues and have rules that every property owner must follow—or pay fees. These communities typically have amenities like a pool, rec center, and more.
- Condominium HOA: These associations have mandatory buy-in guidelines and when you purchase a property, you must be a part of the HOA and pay their dues. However, since a condo is just the inside of the building, you won’t be responsible for anything outside of it. This can be a good or a bad thing since it’s less maintenance that you have to deal with on your own, but all aesthetic decisions are made by the HOA. The dues are also higher than with other HOAs since more of the upkeep is the responsibility of the association.
What do HOAs include?
Paying dues is in exchange for some nice perks like security, landscaping, low noise levels, stable property value, and great amenities like pools and gyms. Some HOA communities even have maid service, doormen, and more.
What are the pros?
HOAs can come with great perks like security, landscaping, low noise levels, stable property values, and great amenities like pools, walking trails, pretty landscaping, and community centers like gyms.
What are the cons?
HOA associations have strict rules ranging from what color you can paint your house to if you’re allowed to have pets to how many cars you can park at your home to noise constraints and more. HOAs have fines you must pay if you break any of the rules and dues that every homeowner in an HOA community must pay throughout the year—on top of your mortgage. These rules and dues can also fluctuate at any time—so the terms you might like when you buy the place could change over time.
How much are HOA fees?
HOA fees are dues paid on top of your monthly mortgage and vary—usually between $200 and $400 per month. While some HOA communities base fees on a sliding scale depending on your square footage, if you’re in a highrise condo or free standing home, what type of amenities are offered, and how new the development is. You can guess what an HOA fee will be based on how much the community has to offer and how nice it is. If you bought a $1 million home, you’d expect to pay a higher mortgage than a house that is $250,000. Look at it that way if you’re shopping for a home in an HOA community to get a good idea how much you’ll be paying beforehand.
Does an HOA cover homeowners insurance?
All HOAs cover some of the property, but not all. What they cover also depends on what kind of HOA you live in. Here’s the breakdown:
- Condo HOAs will be covered for everything outside your unit. This means the roof, shared space, walls, plumbing, and grounds. However, you are responsible for finding additional insurance to cover personal property as well as some liability. While the HOA may cover it if you get hurt on the property, your guests could be another matter that falls under your policy. Make sure you get a policy to cover liability and belongings in case something happens. And check to see if your HOA has minimum limits too!
- Mandatory HOAs are a bit different since they are usually free-standing, single family homes and you are responsible for the whole home—including structure and land. While the dues will cover insurance for common areas, your home is your responsibility. This means you need to find a homeowners insurance policy that includes liability insurance too.
- Volunteer HOAs can be thought of as any other home. Whether you opt into the HOA or not, you’ll need your own homeowners insurance.
Can you get kicked out of an HOA?
We doubt you’d ever have to know this, but it’s a good question to cover anyways. In short, it would be an extreme case if you got thrown out of an HOA. As long as you’re paying your bills on time and abide by the law, annoyed neighbors aren’t enough to send you packing. However, it would be an unpleasant environment to call home if you made enemies in your community.
Is an HOA right for me?
This totally depends on your likes, dislikes, and lifestyle. Most are divided on the topic. If you’re at a stage where you’d like to lessen your burden of household maintenance, an HOA can be a great solution. If you also don’t mind keeping noise to a minimum, complying with paint color restrictions, and amount of people allowed on your property, then it can provide a number of pros including steady or increased property value.
If you’re more independent, you probably won’t like an iron-clad HOA. If you want to build a shed, you’ll have to get permission. If you want to paint your house, you’ll have to get their seal of approval. You also won’t be able to have loud parties or have additional people move in beyond their predetermined max amount.
While HOAs have many pros, they also have many cons. Now that you know the facts, you can make an informed decision if you’re thinking of buying into an HOA.
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