Facebook Share Twitter Share Google+ Share Linkedin Share Pinterest Share
Before You Say “No Way,” Learn About Your Condo Association or HOA!

Before You Say “No Way,” Learn About Your Condo Association or HOA!

Looking to buy or build a home in a picturesque new community or considering buying a home in a condominium complex? Whether you’ve got your sights set on a private, gated community or you’re shopping townhomes in a bustling new suburb, it is important to understand that when you make an offer on that new home, you may also be offering to join that community’s governing organization.

Ah, yes. Homeowner associations (HOAs) or condo associations come with several things… most notably those things are fees, rules and regulations. But, what does all of that mean? To start, all HOAs are different and come with different things. So, if you’re buying a home or condo in a community that is governed by an HOA, it is very important to read and review all of the HOA documents carefully before committing to living in the community.

Homeowner and condo associations typically are formed with the intent of protecting property values in a community. Because they often are started when a community is forming, most HOAs begin with the developer or builder in control. Among HOA bylaws, it is written that once a certain percentage of homes in a community are sold, the developer transitions control to a community-elected board of directors that is made up of community residents.

Whether it is the developer or resident board of directors that controls a community’s HOA, the HOA serves as the community’s governing organization. It is important to note that by default, all homeowners in the community belong to the HOA. Simply by making a purchase in that community, you become of a member of that organization and are subject to organization fees, rules and policies.

What might those HOA or condo association fees, rules and policies include?

Again, HOA and condo associations vary widely among communities; but, their governances may include similar things like home improvements, landscaping, parking, painting, fences and common areas like pools, gyms or tennis courts. As you can imagine, when pools, gyms or other common areas are included in a community, fees that are included as part of an HOA typically go toward covering the costs associated with those common areas.

Moreover, if you’re purchasing a condo, your association fees may go toward lawn care or ground maintenance, as the association is typically responsible for maintaining the appearance of exterior areas.

One of the biggest roles that the HOA can play concerns home improvements. These upgrades can include everything from putting up a fence to cutting down a tree or building a deck to painting shutters. Often times, an architectural review application and approval are required before home improvements can be made in an HOA-governed community. A good rule of thumb is… if you’re thinking about making improvements to your home, it is best to make sure you run your plans by the HOA before you begin.

Another common HOA policy concerns resident driveways. A community HOA may restrict the type of vehicles that residents can park in their own driveways. For instance, a certain HOA may not allow boats, RVs or commercial vehicles to be parked in their residents’ driveways.

You may be surprised to know that your pets and their care can be covered by a homeowner or condo association as well. The HOA may dictate the way that you leash or clean up after Fido and Fluffy. Your HOA may even be concerned with how much noise your pets make, too. In fact, speaking of noise, your HOA may govern how noisy you can be in your new home!

It may seem that there are a lot of rules to follow when you belong to a homeowner or condo association; but, HOAs are not only about disallowing their residents to do or have certain things. These associations also can offer their residents certain benefits. Some community associations offer media packages that can include cable, internet or phone services. An HOA may also offer trash services as part of their monthly or annual fee. If you’re looking at a community that has an HOA, you may get a discounted rate on these services; but, that does not necessarily mean that they will be coming from your preferred provider.

As with any governing body, there are ramifications for not following HOA or condo association rules. Just like HOA and condo association rules vary from community to community, so do those ramifications. Nonetheless, failing to comply with HOA regulations may carry penalties like fines, restricted access to common areas or, ultimately, foreclosure.

Before you join a homeowner’s association or condo association by signing the fine print and closing on a new home, be sure that you read and agree to the community’s governing documents. If you need help understanding a community HOA or condo association, contact an experienced agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty today.