Understanding HOA Communities: Should You Buy or Build Within One?

aerial view of a HOA community

When it’s time to buy or build a home, whether you’re first or tenth, there are various boxes on your checklist to thumb through to ensure you are closing on the perfect home for you and your family. Aside from the standard “must-haves” list that may include things like location, home size, budget, and luxury wish list items, there is one big question you should be prepared to answer if it is posed to you. Do you want to be part of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA)? Although this may seem like something to add to the bottom of your list of essential things, understanding how HOAs work and their impact on you as a potential buyer is imperative to decide whether or not being part of an HOA is a dealbreaker for you. HOAs have many benefits to homeowners and depending on the community you join, regulations, amenities, and fees all vary.

Learn more about the critical factors to consider when it comes to HOAs today.

What is an HOA?

A homeowner’s association, or HOA, is a group of people voted and elected to positions within a specific community that manages the common areas, community amenities and sets a clear, standardized guide of rules and regulations. HOAs are commonly found in condominiums, townhomes, and planned single-family neighborhoods but are becoming more popular with each new build-focused planned community. Within HOAs, you will find a document known as the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R). This document outlines the community rules and regulations for each homeowner, resident, and guest within the community. This document can cover various topics, including approved home colors, parking regulations, backyard allowances, and guest policies, to name a few.

Is the HOA a free service in the community?

No. In general, the more amenities offered within the HOA community, the higher the cost of HOA for the homeowner. The HOA fee is separate from your mortgage and covers the cost of the community upkeep and included amenities. Prices typically differ within a community based on home size. In most buying situations, you’ll have the opportunity to speak to an HOA representative before putting an offer in on your potential new home. HOA fees are collected monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly, depending on community requirements. If you are allowed to speak with an HOA representative, I encourage you to ask detailed questions about their CC&R along with their plans for future community upkeep.

Do HOAs impose any restrictions on homeowners?

This varies significantly by the community, so there is no definitive “yes” or “no.” The CC&R outlines the rules and regulations of your specific location. Some HOAs are strict about lawn care requirements, exterior home décor regulations, parking, and even things like whether or not you can paint your front door a specific color. Ensure all of your questions on their rules and restrictions are answered before finalizing your purchase. You don’t want to love your home and hate the regulations imposed on you to live within it. It’s possible to find your dream home in the community you love, too.

What amenities are included?

Amenities vary by community. Some of the most commonly found amenities in HOAs include:

  • A gated entrance for extra security and exclusive access to your neighborhood
  • A community pool
  • Recreation courts such as basketball or tennis
  • An onsite gym
  • A community center
  • Free events for families
  • Weekly or monthly lawn maintenance
  • Snow or storm debris removal
  • Golf courses
  • Trash and recycling pickup
  • Guest parking spaces
  • On-call maintenance
  • Discounted or free tickets to local attractions

A complete list of amenities should be included to show your potential home to highlight everything the location has to offer. If a detailed list is not included, speak with your realty team directly to learn more about what is offered and tour the neighborhood to check out the amenities before making an offer.

HOAs are an excellent option for those who want low-maintenance all-access communities.

HOAs are an added benefit to a community you love if they are effective and run smoothly. The goal of any HOA should be to assist in keeping the community they belong to safe and clean for all who live there. HOAs give you access to amenities typically not included with a standard home. HOAs can increase your home value by as much as 4%, depending on community location and home details.

On the other hand, If you like to be fully in charge of your home choices, an HOA may not be the right option for you, especially if you do not find the amenities to outweigh the additional cost of being a part of one.

Deciding whether an HOA is the right choice for you depends on your specific home buying needs, family goals, and community requirements. If you are looking to be part of a larger community of homeowners all aiming for the greater good of the neighborhood, while sharing all that the amenities have to offer, an HOA may be the right choice on your home buyers checklist. If not, cross it off the list today. If you find yourself somewhere in the middle and want to learn more about how an HOA can benefit you during your home search, contact me. I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your personalized options today.

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Meet Stacy Ashton Realtor
Stacy Ashton