A HOA (homeowners association) is an organization found in condominiums, townhome and planned communities, and subdivisions. Their primary purpose is to make and enforce rules for properties in those communities and their residents. When you purchase a property in one of these communities, you become a member of the HOA and are required to pay HOA dues. If you buy a home in a community that already has an HOA, you must join the HOA as a condition of purchasing the home.
A would-be buyer must know there are benefits and disadvantages when considering purchasing a property in a community that has an HOA. Some of those benefits may be that homes in HOA communities often hold their value because of the HOA rules and enforcement of those rules. These communities often present well maintained homes, common area, amenities, and present with a uniform aesthetic. On the other hand, some buyers feel manacled by HOA rules, and find the rules to be intrusive and impedes their ability as homeowners to make fully autonomous decisions about their property. Some examples of such rules and restrictions might govern exterior paint colors, lawn maintenance and landscaping, parking, storage of items like trash bins and basketball goals, and fencing.
Living in a HOA community isn’t for everyone. A strong association will solicit resident involvement, have regular meetings, and encourage residents to participate. Strong associations WILL police and enforce association rules. Residents will often be required to get approval from the association prior to changing exterior paint colors, making architectural changes, altering the original footprint of a home, etc. Perspective buyers should be aware that associations can issue homeowners warnings, fines, place liens on properties and in extreme cases initiate judicial foreclosure proceedings for failure to comply with association rules, pay fees and assessments.
Here are a few things to pay attention to and be aware of when purchasing a home in a HOA community so you can make an informed decision.
- Covenants, Bylaws and Restrictions. These are the rules and expectations of the homeowner’s association. As a buyer, it’s important that you get a copy of this during your due diligence period and review these documents thoroughly so you can make a sound decision about moving forward with your purchase. Your agent may be able to get a copy from the listing or a seller may make it available. Do what you must to get a copy of these documents so you can be sure you’re making the best choice for you and your family.
- Monthly, Quarterly or Annual Fees. These fees are important to your bottom line and could have an impact on the amount of the loan your lender approves, not to mention the effect it may place on your household budget.
- HOA Financials. You want to know the financial solvency of the homeowner association. Of particular interest should be past, current and foreseeable litigation, as well as any known special assessments.
- Rental Restrictions. Homeowner associations determine the number of properties in a community that may be rented. You may also here the term “rental caps” used to describe this. The association will also outline the procedure for renting property in a community.
If you want more information on living in a community with a HOA, I’d love to speak with you and get your information to make the best decision for you and your family.
Sean C. Hamilton is a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners. He services Metropolitan Atlanta and the state of Georgia; and can assist with your real estate questions or needs no matter where you are in the world. Call or text Sean at 202-651-0309 or email him at email@example.com