What's the Deal with HOA's?
guest blogger: Cameron Dixon
So you’re in the market for a new home. And you’re checking out various listings, some in different neighborhoods, and some that are not part of a distinct community. One thing you definitely must consider when purchasing a home is the rules and regulations of the house’s governing homeowner’s association (HOA), and whether it even has one or not!
Some people, even if they have moved multiple times in their life, have always lived under some sort of HOA governing body. Others may have never dealt with an HOA and may now be looking at a neighborhood home with one. They could be wondering what they are getting into with a group that makes rules over their home and property. Let’s explore the concept of an HOA and help you decide whether you are comfortable with living under one, or whether you would prefer to stand alone!
Most neighborhoods and communities these days have some sort of HOA in place. The purpose of an HOA is to manage a neighborhood’s common areas and amenities, such as the roads, established parks, and pools. If you are considering buying a home under an HOA, make sure you investigate the required dues each year, the perks for paying these dues and being a part of it, and of course the rules and regulations.
Depending on the neighborhood, HOA yearly dues can vary from maybe just one hundred to thousands of dollars! Decide how much you can actually afford to pay this association every year- and make sure that it isn’t a deal breaker on your home purchase! But when thinking about this added expense, you must also consider what all it is covering. HOA dues ensure that the grounds and roads of the neighborhoods are maintained; grass cutting and landscaping and routine road maintenance are promised to you in exchange for your yearly dues. And maybe the particular neighborhood you are looking at offers a park and playground for the kids or a pool or two to enjoy on those hot summer days! They might have a tennis court you can use, a community gym or a common area building you can take advantage of. Maybe this community is gated for added security in the neighborhood. All these amenities cost money to maintain- thus the need for those HOA dues!
But with an HOA comes various rules and regulations that you must follow to avoid “nasty- grams” in your mailbox and various fines for violations! They may not allow you to have a trailer or a boat parked in your driveway, or they may require approval for you to accomplish a landscaping project or to plant a large tree in your yard. They may also require you to use a sprinkler system and certain fertilizers to keep a presentable lawn.
So maybe you are the type of person that can’t imagine being told what you can and cannot do with your own home and property. Then an HOA is certainly not for you. Look for a home that stands alone, separate from that of a governing HOA body, or maybe one farther from more urban areas where many homes indeed belong to an HOA. Rural homes that might come with more land are less likely to belong to such an organization, and you are free to do what you want with your property. However, you also won’t be able to take advantage of those amenities and covered maintenance that we discussed earlier.
The bottom line- research the HOA when considering buying a new home. First find out if it even belongs to one, and then request a copy of the HOA by-laws before signing any contracts. Certain communities have many more rules and regulations than others. Weigh the pros and cons of the neighborhood’s particular HOA amenities as well as its rules. Make sure that being part of this HOA is a commitment that you can make along with the purchase of your new home!
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Jeff Cook Real Estate
Charleston | Columbia | Greenville