When you purchase a home, there’s a chance you’ll have to pay a homeowners association fee, especially in gated communities, townhouses, condominiums, and other similarly planned neighborhoods. The idea is to keep common areas clean and maintained, and there’s usually an HOA board that is responsible for setting the rules and regulations.
Each HOA is different, but most have the same core elements. You’ll typically pay your HOA fees either monthly or annually, and it’s an important factor to consider when you’re weighing your options for a new home. So what is typically included in your HOA fees?
First, the fun stuff Amenities are typically the big perk of living in a community with an HOA. While you lose out on some of the freedom of living without an HOA (the most common restriction in HOAs is exterior paint colors), you instead get community amenities like a maintained pool, gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. The HOA fees pay for cleaning and maintenance, so—in theory—you’ll always have a clean pool whenever you want to use it.
Protecting the community HOA fees often contribute to insurance for the community amenities, as well as a fund for unexpected repairs to damaged community property—think damage from weather or accidents. This protects homeowners from getting hit with unexpected assessments to cover those costs. Be aware, though, that if the total cost exceeds what is in that emergency fund, usually the members of the HOA will be responsible for splitting the remainder equally among all owners.
General maintenance Your HOA fees will go toward maintaining the general safety and upkeep of the community. This means things like elevator maintenance for condominiums, snow removal, and trash/recycling services. HOAs will also pay for grounds maintenance. Sometimes this will include yard maintenance for individual units, so be sure to thoroughly check the conditions of the HOA before making an offer.
Be active in the association There may be a board of directors, but homeowners associations exist for the betterment of the entire community, and every voice matters. HOA meetings—and the amenities they support—provide great opportunities to meet your neighbors and make your community a better place. You can be as active or passive as you want to be, but it’s always good to know there is a place to voice any concerns or ideas for improving where you live!
A lot of times, HOAs get a bad rep because of the fees associated with them. But if you are the kind of person who doesn’t want to have to do a ton of maintenance or wants a tightly knit community, the fees may be worth it. Be sure to talk to a REALTOR® when you’re making the decision to figure out what will be the best fit. Those HOA fees may be less daunting once you realize that you no longer have to pay a gym membership or pay for yard maintenance.
Do you live in a community with an HOA? Tell us how you feel about them in the comments!