HOA, the very acronym brings about different emotions depending on who you ask. From retirement communities to gated communities, there are many options with various rules, regulations and amenities. Today, many seniors are downsizing their homes and finding communities that are better suited for their current and future needs. Knowing what to expect from a homeowners’ association can help aid in the decision making process. While HOA fees may be an unwelcome expense, you may find that the benefits are just what you are looking for.
A Bit of History
Homeowners associations became common during the 1960’s, when large-scale suburban residential development was encouraged by the Federal Housing Authority and the Urban Land Institute. Today, these private associations serve the real estate developers in marketing, managing and selling homes and lots in residential subdivisions. After a certain amount of lots are sold, real estate developers typically turn over control of the HOA to the homeowners which then serve as an entity that helps maintain the overall appearance of its community.
How do They Benefit Me?
Monthly payments made to the HOA will typically be used to maintain community amenities such as pools, parks, gyms, landscaping, roads and sidewalks. The association will also enforce rules and regulations to help maintain appearance standards which can help increase property values. This means your neighborhood will always have manicured lawns, freshly painted houses and clean community areas for you to enjoy.
Fees and Fines
The cost of an HOA membership varies from community to community and no, you cannot choose whether or not to be a part of it. Before you purchase your home, make sure to familiarize yourself not only with the monthly cost, but also with the restrictions and requirements that you will have to adhere by. Any changes to the exterior of your home will typically have to be submitted for approval. If you do not adhere to their regulations you can face fines and fees. Shockingly enough, unpaid dues and fines can give the HOA the right to foreclose on your home! While different states have different laws protecting residents, HOAs still hold a mighty amount of power.
Where Their Power Comes From
HOAs do not own the land you are purchasing nor do they have any sort of lien over the property. When you purchase a home in an HOA community, you enter into a binding agreement with the HOA that you will pay the dues and abide by their rules and regulations. HOAs are not a government entity but they often have a lot of power to wield. There are horror stories of HOAs foreclosing on people’s homes because of unpaid fines and dues. In some cases the home owners sued the HOA successfully and won back their property. If you feel an HOA is abusing their power you may yourself run for a spot on the HOA board. If the abuse of power is unlawful you may report it and in some cases even sue the association.
Are you looking to buy a home? If you are looking at homes with an HOA, make sure to do your research into each community assuring that you are comfortable with the fees and regulations. With the many benefits they have to offer, you may find that an HOA community is the perfect fit for you!