Buying a House in a Homeowners Association (HOA)

Most properties within planned communities will be a part of a homeowners associations also known as an HOA. HOA rules can either attract home buyers or drive them away. When you purchase a property within an HOA you agree to abide by its rules and to pay any associated fees.

By living in a home inside an HOA you are agreeing to abide by the rules of the HOA. Most HOA’s have fees that are paid monthly, quarterly or annual fee for the management and maintenance of the community. 

It’s always a good idea to research a particular neighborhood and find out what are the rules and regulation of the homeowners association.

What is a Homeowners Association (HOA)?

Homeowner’s Associations are governing bodies ran and funded by residents in planned residential communities, gated neighborhoods, or condominium buildings. The HOA board is responsible for establishing and maintaining budgets, holding meetings to address residents concerns, and enforcing rules and regulations. Those rules and bylaws of an HOA are legally binding. 

One of the primary responsibilities of a homeowners association is to maintain and upkeep the neighborhood communal areas.

They also create bylaws outlining what residents can and can’t do. The rules vary from one association to another and can be general or definite guidelines.

Keep it in mind that HOA board members can issue a warning, put a lien on the home, or force the homeowner to foreclosure for those who don’t pay the fees.

How Much Does an HOA Cost?

As mentioned above, homeowner associations require residents to pay HOA dues. Which are used to maintain community amenities, common areas, and may also include snow or trash removal.

HOA dues vary depending on the location of your property, typically, ranging from $200 to $400 a month. 

Luckily, your lenders will consider the cost of HOA fees as part of the responsibility for buying a new home.

An HOA can increase its fees based on the community’s maintenance needs and the number of the residents in the neighborhood among other reasons.

In addition, if there’s a major expense and there isn’t enough money in the reserve funds, the homeowner association can charge an extra assessment with or without a majority vote.

By reviewing the bylaws and governing documents, you’ll know about the procedures for setting and raising amounts and any limits on annual assessments.

How do HOA rules work?

If you want to purchase a property within an HOA, you need to be well informed. When purchasing a home within an HOA you’ll receive a resale property disclosure from the association. It will include the bylaws, governing documents, financial statements, master insurance plan, and meeting minutes.

THOURGHLY review the details before making your final decision and determine if the neighborhood is fit for you.

HOA’s rules are mostly centered in the exterior of the house. Homeowners need to keep their lawn appealing, keep the exterior free of clutter, and have enticing curb appeal. There may also be guidelines pertaining to parking 

You will also want to know your rights for being a member of a homeowners association. You’ll need to know what your options are for petitioning the board or raising a complaint. 

Many HOAs require approval for any exterior architectural changes which can include everything from paint colors to light fixtures.

Fairfax County Homeowners Association

Are HOA Rules Legally Enforceable?

Before buying a home in a homeowners association, you need to determine whether you can abide by the rules or not. Failing to follow the rules and regulations can lead to fines or worse the possibility of a lawsuit.

The HOA’s Financial Condition

The homeowners association may require you to pay periodic assessments. Be mindful of if the HOA has enough funds for maintenance and repairs of common areas or not.

If not, the homeowner association may require a special assessment for emergencies or specific projects not in the annual budget.

Reviewing the HOA’s financial record will show whether or not it is organized and financially solvent.

Bottomline

The homeowners association wants to promote a particular vision for its residents. They use bylaws to maintain a certain standard of living make the neighborhood appealing to both persuade potential buyers and its current residents.

Before purchasing a house in a homeowners association, make sure you know the rules and regulations. Determine whether it works well for your lifestyle and your idea of home ownership.

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About the Author

The article, "Buying a House in a Homeowners Association (HOA)" was written by Abraham Walker, Your Northern Virginia Real Estate Agent. He's been helping customers like you buy, sell, and invest in real estate for over 10 years.  He’s the co-founder of Ask A Walker and can be found on YouTube, Facebook, and HERE on this blog.

Are you thinking about buying a home soon? Schedule a no pressure call to talk about your options. Feel free to give me a call at 703-539-2053 or email info@AskAWalker.com.

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