What is an HOA and What Are the Benefits
If you’re currently looking for a home to buy or even doing research about the home buying process it doesn’t take long to learn there are a lot of additional costs and potential fees. For people looking at a condo, townhouse, or regular home in a neighborhood or development that shares a common area such as a swimming pool or security gate, these services are typically maintained by an HOA or homeowner’s association. If you choose to purchase a property in a community with an HOA, you automatically become a member of the homeowner’s association and will have to sign a contract with the HOA agreeing that you’ll obey rules and regulations and pay regular dues. This is mandatory, meaning that if your development has an HOA and you want to buy a home there, you are required to join and pay monthly or yearly dues.
The purpose of an HOA is simple; to make sure your community and neighborhood not only looks its best at all times but that it also runs smoothly without problems or unnecessary drama. And for homes or condos in a subdivision that shares a community swimming pool, gym, or park, the HOA makes sure that issues are resolved and that repairs are promptly made. For example, a homeowner’s association will ensure the grass is cut, and trees are trimmed in shared spaces and will also make sure the swimming pool is clean and working properly. HOAs are becoming more popular across the country. In fact, only one percent of Americans lived in a community with an HOA in 1970. Today, the Foundation for Community Association Research found that one in four Americans have an HOA.
The Cost of an HOA
Similar to being a member of a gym or country club, homeowners have to pay monthly or yearly fees to cover the cost of maintenance and other expenses the HOA handles. Fees vary from state to state and are different for each community, but a typical single-family home pays between $200 and $300 a month. In some cases, these fees can be lower if your home is small or the services are limited.
For example, if your community doesn’t have a swimming pool or other facility that’s expensive to maintain, the fees can be much lower. Fees will be higher for a family of four living in a four-bedroom house than a single person. These fees are also used to build up an emergency fund to have cash saved for expensive projects like repairing or replacing roofs, flooring, elevators, and water heaters.
Advantages of an HOA
If you’re a homeowner paying fees and facing potential consequences for violating their HOA contract, you may want to know the advantages of living in a neighborhood with an HOA. By balancing restrictions with benefits, there are many positives to this arrangement. When all homeowners follow the rules a community can avoid many problems that are common in cities across the country such as a neighbor who doesn't take care of his or her yard, stray cats and dogs running around, and trash or debris piling up on curbs and sidewalks.
In some instances, being in a homeowner’s association can ensure your property retains its value or even increases in value over time. When a neighborhood is appropriately cared for and looks beautiful, it can be attractive to potential buyers if you ever plan on selling. Additionally, an HOA gives you and your family access to many amenities that other people don’t have or have to install themselves like a swimming pool, golf course, gym, tennis court, and dog park. And with regular meetings, you can voice your opinions and your votes on how your neighborhood operates.
What You Can Expect from an HOA
It’s also important to understand the politics of your HOA. Every HOA has a board that’s made up of homeowners in the community. These individuals are usually elected by the community and attend all meetings to discuss any issues or make any decisions that involve the entire neighborhood or community. These meetings are also where members vote on approving any large expenditures.
Like any governing body, the HOA only works when all of its members follow the rules and do their best to keep their homes looking pristine. After purchasing a home and moving in, homeowners will then receive a copy of the neighborhood rules. This document is known as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” or CC&R and homeowners are required to sign it, assuring the HOA they will follow the guidelines and understand the consequences if they don’t. CC&Rs can contain many regulations from what kind of mailbox you can have to how often you have to mow your yard and even what breed of dog you can own.
Violating your HOA rules or failing to make payments comes with consequences. These vary in severity depending on your community. First-time offenses typically warrant a warning but subsequent violations could be severe including eviction or even foreclosing on your property. When purchasing a home, it’s incredibly important to understand the HOA rules and guidelines before making a decision.
Contact Domain Realty Today
Going through the home buying process without the help of an experienced and knowledgeable realtor can be a disheartening and stressful experience. From knowing the best areas in town, finding the best deal, and talking you through every detail of your HOA contract, the Austin real estate professionals at Domain Realty are here to help seamlessly get you into the home of your dreams. To get started, contact us today by calling (512) 872-4211.