Whether you are buying your first home or your 10th home, if you have never lived in a community with an HOA or homeowner’s association, you need to make sure you understand how it will impact you if you are buying a property that is ruled by an HOA. Before you jump in, take time to understand the fees, the rules and what is expected of you if you own property within an HOA.
Fees are what most people think of first when they hear HOA and they come in many different ranges. Fees may be monthly, quarterly or annual and come in all different sizes depending on what they cover. Some HOAs require you to make a one-time payment into the homeowner’s association when you purchase a property. This money is kept in a reserve for future expenses, such as adding amenities or updating certain common areas.
The most common fee is a recurring HOA fee. These can be paid monthly, annually, quarterly or by any other timetable. Fees are generated per lot so if you own more than lot, you will need to pay your fees for each. In return for your fee, you may receive access to different amenities and services. The following are common items covered by HOAs.
- Utility costs for common areas
- Trash pickup
- Ongoing landscaping such as mowing or trimming. This is most often just for common areas but can be for individual yards too in some cases.
- Maintenance of amenities such as pools, tennis courts, playgrounds and more.
- Maintenance of roads or other common areas
- On-site security or gates
While you are not responsible for the actual work involved in maintaining the amenities, your portion of the HOA fees will help cover the expenses for these items and you must pay your portion for the ongoing costs.
Understanding the Rules
While the fees may be what first comes to mind with an HOA, make sure you think about any other restrictions in place under the HOA as well. Do you have a boat or RV that you plan to park on your property? Make sure your HOA allows that or you will need to secure off site parking. Restrictions also may be placed on changes you make to your home and may require you to request permission before making an addition, painting the exterior of your home or adding a pool among many other things. While an HOA can provide some nice amenities and services that maximize the value of your property, the HOA will place limits on you and you don’t want to be surprised by those.
Before you commit to any home, whether it has an HOA or not, make sure you take the necessary time to understand the property and any restrictions on it thoroughly. If the property has requirements that don’t meet your needs, the sooner you find out the better. For additional information on HOA’s, I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find your dream home or determine the value of your existing property.
Nancy Davidson is your ultimate real estate resource for Mammoth Lakes, CA and The Eastern Sierra. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.