4 Things to Know Before Buying in an HOA

4 Things to Know Before Buying in an HOA

If you’ve been thinking about buying in an HOA, you’re not alone. Many people choose to live in a homeowners association community because of the amenities they offer. That said, living in one of these communities is very different than owning a single-family home.

There are things you should know before signing on the dotted line. We’ve laid them out for you below so that you can make the best decision about whether or not living in one of these communities is right for you.

Here are 4 things you might not know about buying in an HOA

1. Some extra services and amenities will probably be provided for you.

The first thing to know about living in an HOA is that you will likely have access to some additional amenities and services. Typically, homeowners associations will collect fees in order to provide these services to the residents in their communities. For example, many HOAs take care of exterior maintenance and offer services like trash collection and snow removal. However, in addition, others will offer added amenities like a clubhouse or community pool.

If you’re looking at an HOA community, it’s important to understand what the association fee covers. Answering this question will give you a better idea of what services and amenities are included in your particular fee. Once you know that, you can make a decision on whether or not it’s worth having the fee included in your monthly payment.

2. Living there may come with some additional costs.

While we’ve already talked about the HOA fee that will be collected on a monthly basis if you choose to live in the community, that is unfortunately not the only cost that you may incur. In some cases, you may be subject to a capital contribution fee, which will be collected when you first move into the community. A capital contribution fee is a one-time charge that goes to find repairs to the community or large (capitol) improvement projects.

However, in addition, you may eventually be on the hook for a special assessment. Special assessments are designated amounts of money that members of the community must pay in order for the board to be able to complete necessary maintenance projects. While special assessments are rarely charged, especially if the HOA is well managed, they can happen. When they do, they can cost thousands of dollars.

3. You might have to adhere to some additional rules.

Additionally, you may be subject to a few rules that you wouldn’t have if you lived in a single-family home. Put simply, HOAs are run by boards, and those boards create rules to govern the community. Usually, the rules are pretty benign. They may include things like what color roof shingles you can have or when you can mow your grass, but it all depends on the community.

Again, this is a matter of going in with eyes wide open. Before you buy an HOA, you will be given lots of materials about how the community is run. You’re going to want to read over all these materials, including any rules, before you sign any legally-binding documents. At the end of the day, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re okay with adhering to the rules as they stand.

4. You’ll have a say in how things are run.

Lastly, you’ll have a say in how things are run. If you decide to live in the community, you should know that every member of an HOA has the right to vote on important changes to the community. You’ll also likely be provided with materials to help you make an informed decision. You also have the right to educate others and to advocate for your perspective.

Still, if you want to get more involved, there’s nothing stopping you from running for your association’s board. These boards are usually made up of a group of volunteers who collectively want to better the community. If you have the time to spare and you’re interested in becoming more involved in your community, throwing your hat in the ring may be a great option.

The bottom line on buying in an HOA

In the end, the decision to buy an HOA is an incredibly personal one. No two HOAs are the same and no one person will react the same to its rules and regulations. If you’re wondering whether living in an HOA could be a good option for you, use the information above to help you make your decision. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll have a much better idea of whether or not living in an HOA could be the right fit for you.

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By Tara Mastroeni / April 29th, 2022 / Categories: / Tags:

Tara Mastroeni

Tara Mastroeni is a real estate and personal finance writer. She has a BFA in Media Production from Emerson College. Her work has been published on websites such as Forbes, Business Insider, and The Motley Fool. She has also been featured as a subject matter expert on Innovators with Jane King and the American Trends podcast. Find her at TMRealEstateWriter.com or on Twitter at @TaraMastroeni.