Homeowner’s Associations (HOA) have both positive and negative attributes depending on expectations. The benefits of living in a building or neighborhood with an HOA include maintenance and upkeep of common areas such as:
- swimming pools
- tennis courts
- parking garages
- fitness rooms
- security gates
- building exteriors
The trade off of HOA membership is adhering to the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), which might include:
- what color you can paint your home
- the exterior landscaping
- vehicles you can or cannot park on the street or in your driveway (no RVs, for example)
- the type and height of fences
- restrictions on window coverings for windows facing the street
Ultimately, an HOA property, whether that is a single-family home or a condo, will provide the best balance of perks and restrictions for your preference. When researching the HOA that governs your next address, please consider these seven things to get from the HOA before you buy.
- Assess the environmental practices of the organization. In California, the environmental laws, and culture promote conscientious ecological practices. If the HOA bylaws do not clearly state how the HOA approaches equipment like solar panels or any other “green living” subject, ask someone on the HOA board.
- HOAs are frequently putting restrictions on renting out your property, or enforce protocols that make it difficult for you to do so. If you are considering buying a home that you might occasionally rent for income, research the HOA’s position on leases.
- On the subject of laws, and repercussions, be clear on if the HOA can foreclose on your property for nonpayment of HOA dues or fines resulting from CC&R violations.
- Some HOAs have pricey monthly fees, find out what the monthly dues cover to ensure you are getting a return on the investment.
- Investigate the legal history of the association. Has the HOA sued anyone? If so, what was the result? Notice of any pending lawsuits in the local media.
- In terms of insurance for both high-rise buildings and neighborhoods, find out what kind of catastrophe insurance the HOA carries for structures and common areas.
The Condition Of the HOA Is Important
I recommend determining when HOA meetings are held, and if you will be able to attend. Meeting your future neighbors might sway your decision.
- Determine the financial viability of the organization. Most local governances provide a way for the buyer access to an HOA’s financials. Pertinent information will include the HOA’s balance sheet, yearly revenue from HOA dues, and the reserve fund balance.
Warning signs on financial statements include emergency borrowing by the HOA and frequent special assessments. In condo building foreclosure situations, there are fewer people paying dues, limiting the funds available for the HOA to maintain the building. Plus, it leaves the existing residents responsible for covering fees for unsold units and shared utilities.
Sifting Through The Details
I am happy to assist you in determining which HOA best suits your needs. Please contact me today for support.