When some hear the term HOA, or homeowners association, they instinctively recoil in fear. Still others find some comfort in the term. Homeowners associations are not a tool created to perpetuate misery upon unsuspecting residential populations. Rather, HOAs exist to protect the value of your neighborhood property and maintain a reasonably peaceful living environment when it comes to the neighborhood.
HOAs accomplish their goals by placing certain rules governing behavior in the community. The rules can be anything from parking requirements to which types of shrubbery are on the permitted list. And while some of these rules can seem a little strange or petty, they often exist for good reason.
It seems everyone knows someone who has an HOA horror story. As with any gathering of people, sometimes petty things happen or drama unfolds where it shouldn’t. This is why it can be helpful to understand more about a prospective HOA. Asking a few key questions can help mitigate heartache down the road.
Five Questions to Ask About Your Future HOA:
- What is the structure of the HOA and how are members determined? This question might not even make every list of HOA questions, but the answers are important. It’s a good idea to understand how the HOA works in a prospective community, in case you seek to run or get into it with your neighbors. Making sure that the HOA is structured in a way that cannot encourage abuse. If you see issues with how members are appointed, then that may spell trouble down the road.
- What are the rules for the community? If you plan to park too many vehicles or desire to put in a pool where pools are prohibited by the HOA, then the actual rules are an important piece of the puzzle to review. All members of any association must follow a certain set of rules known as covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) which govern what you can and cannot do in a community. These rules reflect many areas of home ownership such as architecture, landscaping and parking. Always know what the rules are, to include what you cannot do with your property. The wrong prohibition may be a dealbreaker.
- What are the community amenities? HOAs also represent a means to pool resources for maintenance of common areas and amenities. The overall appearance of the neighborhood or added amenities may be a huge selling point for you, so understanding how these amenities are upkept is important. Know what your costs are for living in the community in the form of HOA dues.
- Will you one day want to join the HOA? Getting involved in your local HOA is a great way to stay abreast of what is happening in your new community. It can also be a great way to meet your neighbors. Many HOAs are on the lookout for new volunteers or board of director members.
- How much are HOA member dues and can I afford the cost? Last but not least, HOA dues can add a chunk to your monthly payment. It falls upon you to understand the payment schedule for HOA dues and make certain that it fits into your budget. HOA dues are paid either monthly, quarterly or annually. Also look into the rules and processes for changing the dues. You want to understand the costs and further understand if those costs can increase without much notice. Generally speaking, communities with more amenities will cost more in the long run. If you don’t plan on taking advantage of these, then it may be best to look elsewhere if the dues seem too high.
Homeowner associations, or HOAs, are a tool for adding and maintaining value in a neighborhood. If you would like to learn more about HOAs or what you need to know when considering a neighborhood with an HOA, then contact a REALTEAM agent today to answer your questions. We are familiar with HOAs in Michigan and can help you understand everything you need to know about HOAs when considering a new home. All of our agents have the experience and knowledge to help you find the home of your dreams.