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Q: Is an HOA Right for You?

Thursday, August 6, 2020   /   by John Salkowski

Q: Is an HOA Right for You?

Here’s what you need to know before deciding whether an HOA is right for you.

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Is a homeowners or condominium association right for you?

The purpose of a homeowners association (HOA) is to maintain a clean, cohesive, law-abiding community. So, are you the type of homeowner who prefers to follow rules and regulations, or would you like the freedom to do what you want with your property?

The reason most people buy in an HOA is that it relieves some of the responsibility of homeownership (exterior building maintenance, landscaping, etc.). Whether you’re buying in a homeowners or condominium association, make sure you review its rules and regulations to the letter. We recommend having your Realtor or an attorney review them with you.

An important question you must ask your homeowners association is how solvent they are. In other words, how much do they have in cash reserves? Have they ever done a special assessment for new roadways in the community? If, for instance, an HOA area gets more snow than they bargained for during a harsh winter and the budget exceeds what they have allotted for it, they can levy a special assessment. Find out how often your HOA has been assessed. 

You also want to ask how their rules and regulations are enforced. Do they issue warnings or fines? Do they threaten foreclosure? There are many ways they can levy fines, so make sure you’re in complete compliance with their regulations. Another question to ask is whether the association can put a lien against your property if you’ve fallen behind on your payments. 

Next, figure out whether the association is run by the residents or has been subcontracted to a professional company. If the latter is the case, find out what kind of reputation they have. Prior to signing a sale agreement for any home within an HOA neighborhood, I advise walking around that neighborhood and talking about the association with other residents. In our experience, HOAs that are run by the residents can be riddled with petty politics and egomaniacal power trips. 

Living in an HOA can be great if you don’t want to worry about maintenance items like roofs, windows, and siding, so decide whether you’re willing to take care of these things yourself or if you’d rather relinquish some control to the HOA. 

If you have questions about this topic or have an HOA in mind that you’d like me to check out for you, don’t hesitate to call or email anytime. I’d love to help.

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