Before Closing: What to Know About Your Home’s HOA

With the homeowner title, comes lots of responsibility.

And one of your responsibilities is to understand every detail of your contract before signing – in this case, fully understanding what an HOA is.

If you’re buying a condo, townhouse, or free-standing home in a neighborhood with shared common areas, (i.e., swimming pools, tennis courts, parking garages, etc.) you’re probably signing up to live in an area maintained by a homeowners association, or, HOA.

Don’t fret – HOAs aren’t bad. But it’s important that you understand what they are and what it means for you before signing the deal.

Essentially, HOAs are there to help ensure that the community looks its best and runs smoothly. If the neighborhood park has a broken swing set, then the HOA gets together to make sure it’s fixed.

However, fees are involved. Homeowners associations collect fees (monthly or yearly) from all community members that live in the area – this helps them fix the said broken swing set.

HOAs also charge members a little more in dues than the expenses require, in order to build up a reserve to pay for any property emergencies that might arise. This depends on what type of property you own and how your HOA might view property emergencies – these usually relate to shared common areas.

Who is in an HOA

The board is made up of homeowners in the complex who were (typically) elected by homeowners.

Rules of an HOA

For major expenditures, all board members of the HOA usually vote, not just the members of the board. When you move into the complex, you should receive a copy of rules – known as covenants, conditions, or restrictions. You may be required to sign a contract stating you will abide by them.

These rules vary from complex to complex. They can cover everything from the breed of your dog to the color of paint you choose for your home. These rules are mainly put in place in order to keep a uniform look to the area.

Pros of an HOA

  • Services like snow removal and lawn care for common areas are often handled by the association.
  • HOAs usually have some sort of recreational amenities that you and your family can use.
  • If you ever have an issue with a neighbor, you can ask the management to handle the issue, rather than getting directly involved.

Homeowners associations shouldn’t be something to fear; however, it’s important that you understand all of what you might be getting into before signing a contract.

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