A Blessing and a Curse
Make sure your agent has knowledge about the Homeowners Associations where you are interested in buying.
First things first, let’s make sure we all know what and why HOA Fees exist. The Homeowners Association (or HOA) is an organization within a subdivision, planned community, or condominium that creates and enforces the rules for the properties in their jurisdiction. When you purchase property within an HOA’s jurisdiction you are often required to pay dues – the infamous HOA fees. There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in communities that have an HOA – we talk more about that in this article. But first let’s look at 5 questions you should ask when talking to your agent about a property that would come with an HOA fee.
Is the HOA mandatory?
Do not be fooled by thinking just because a community has an HOA it is mandatory. There are mandatory and voluntary Homeowners Associations. A mandatory membership requires every owner in the community to be a member, otherwise they could face penalties for not complying with rules and dues. However, some communities have a voluntary associations. An example of a voluntary HOA may be a neighborhood that asks members to be apart of their civic organization or club to help maintain community spaces or the neighborhood entrance.
What does the HOA fee cover?
Some HOA fees can be quite steep depending on the community or area you live in, therefore it is wise to have a clear understanding of what the fee is covering. Make sure your money is being put to good use. Here are a few items that an HOA fee may cover.
- Amenities: Pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, gym facilities
- Lawn Care: This could cover anything from general lawn maintenance to snow removal
- Maintenance and Repairs: Oftentimes condominium HOA fees cover interior, like the lobby or community space of a condo, and exterior maintenance. They will also keep a set amount on reserve for bigger projects like replacing water heaters or community floors.
- City Services: Trash pickup, water, sewage
How often are the HOA fees collected?
Homeowners Association fees can be collected, yearly, monthly or quarterly. Once you know when your HOA fees are expected it’s a good idea to put a reminder on a calendar or budget accordingly so that the fees do not catch you off guard.
What is the penalty for not complying with the HOA?
In most cases if you do not pay the fee, the HOA has the power to place a lien on your property. A lien is placed on the properties title, and restricts the owner from legally selling, refinancing, or transferring the title of ownership to the home. This could lead to a foreclosure, with the understanding that if one is not financially secure enough to pay an HOA fee, they could fault on their mortgage payment as well. If you are able to get caught up and pay the overdue fees the lien will be removed.
Do you have an HOA website or Facebook group that is regularly updated?
The Homeowners Association should have a website that hosts the community covenants and restrictions. Often HOAs will have a website that has their bylaws, but then an additional Facebook page to showcase community events or ways to get involved. One of the benefits of moving into a community that has an HOA is the community bonding opportunities available.
A sign of a good agent is someone who has already asked these questions and then some! Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.