Buying a home for the first time is a learning process. This is especially true for first-time home buyers who choose to purchase a condo, town home, or other residence governed by a homeowners association. If you are preparing to purchase this type of home, the following information will help you know what to expect.
What is a homeowners association?
Homeowners associations (HOAs) set and enforce the rules for the development in which the home is located. Homeowners typically pay fees or dues to the HOA, which then uses the money to cover maintenance and repairs to common use areas, such as pools, elevator systems, parking garages, and sidewalks, as well as other expenses and needs of the development. A board is elected or appointed to manage this function, as well as handle any problems that may occur between the homeowners.
What type of regulations can HOAs have?
While the actual regulations enacted by each HOA are likely to be different, common ones might include:
- specific rules on parking vehicles, campers and RVs
- rules to ensure that architecture and appearance conform to regulations
- types and heights of fencing
- restrictions on pets
- permissible activities, such as allowing a home business to be operated, etc.
When the home is located in an area already governed by municipal or county regulations, the HOA regulations add and enforce additional rules.
What should buyers do before the purchase, regarding the HOA?
While most HOAs function as intended, helping to protect property values and provide a secure, pleasant living environment for all residents, buyers do need to take steps to learn as much as possible about the HOA before committing to the purchase. These steps include:
- getting and reviewing a copy of the HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions, commonly referred to as CC&Rs
- checking to ensure that the home being considered is in complete compliance with all HOA rules
- understanding all dues and fees that will be charged, when they must be paid, and what the money is to be used for
- requesting information about the HOA's reserve fund and asking about any fee increases planned for the future
- comparing the HOA fees to other developments in the area to determine if they are fair and equitable for the services provided
In addition to research basic information, buyers should take time to speak with a variety of residents in the development. This will help provide an accurate feel for the level of satisfaction and confidence that the other owners feel and help to ensure that the HOA will be a good fit for the new homeowners.
For additional information about HOAs, contact your real estate professional or visit the website of J & N Realty, Inc.