A Homeowners Association (HOA) is a legal organization that is developed for the purchase of managing and maintaining the upkeep of a neighborhood. Typically, HOAs will have covenants, restrictions, and specific governance for homeowners with guidelines around how the property and units should be maintained. The HOA makes sure that these guidelines are upheld by the homeowner. The HOA also typically keeps up with the common areas of the neighborhood (such as landscaped entrances, building maintenance in condo communities, pool maintenance, gate maintenance, and so on).
Making sure you have a good HOA can be essentially to ensuring your property is attractive when you are purchasing a home or deciding to put your home on the market. You want to be certain that you have a good HOA that is looking out for the best interest of the homeowners. HOAs typically elect a board which consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, and other special committees depending on the neighborhood. If the HOA uses a management association, it also may be important to know who the key contact is at the management association for any additional questions or concerns you might have about the neighborhood.
Doing the necessary research on the HOA can weigh in on your decision to buy or sell your home. Some questions you might ask to HOA board include:
- What do my fees cover each month?
- Can you provide us (homeowners) with a copy of the annual budget?
- How many homeowners in our community are delinquent on their HOA fees? How are these delinquencies being pursued?
- Is there a booklet or guide to any architectural standards in our community (i.e. what colors we can paint our front doors, what types of displays can we have in our yards, should our decks be stained in certain colors, how tall can grass grow before it should be cut, etc.)
- How often are community meetings held with the board?
- Is there a way we can contact the board between meetings?
- Is the HOA using a management association to collect and enforce fees and restrictions or is the HOA self-governed?
- Is there any litigation pending that involved the HOA?
- How often and by what amount have the dues been raised over the past several years? Are there any significant or expected increases in dues approaching?
- How much does the HOA keep in reserve?
- What percentage of the units are owner occupied? Renter occupied?
- How much turnover occurs in the community (sold units, rental units)?