If you’ve never lived in a condo or housing community that has an HOA, you likely have lots of questions about what HOAs are and how they operate. Some of the more commonly heard HOA Q&A’s are listed below.
What is an HOA?
An HOA (also known as a homeowner’s association) is a nonprofit organization that’s set up to manage and maintain a building, neighborhood, or collective of homes, and HOAs are run by elected board members, which include a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. Most HOA board members are elected to serve 1-year terms.
How much are HOA dues?
The fees that HOA charges vary based on a number of factors, such as where the home is located, the amenity the community offers (i.e., one or more swimming pools, tennis courts, a gym, a clubhouse, etc.) and whether the HOA oversees a collective of homes, neighborhoods, or condos and townhomes. Fees for people living in condos and townhomes are often higher, because the HOA is responsible for paying for maintenance for shared spaces in the building, such as shared walls, stairwells, the elevator, and roof maintenance, among others. Whereas some HOA fees are $200 a month or less, others charge $650 a month or more. If you’re looking to buy a house or condo, and the property is overseen by an HOA, be sure to ask your real estate agent about the monthly fees.
I won’t be using the common areas. Will I still have to pay dues?
Yes. All homeowners need to pay association fees, regardless as to whether they use the common areas. If you have questions about how your dues are used, and the types of things that your money will help pay for, ask your real estate agent to get clarification.
What types of things do HOAs regulate?
HOAs ensure that all homes in a community are cared for and that they have a consistent look. For example, if a neighborhood has an HOA, the HOA may have rules about the colors homeowners can use if they want to repaint their house. They may also have rules about whether flags can be placed on the property, whether flags need to be under a certain size, and whether cars can be parked on the street at (as opposed to in the driveway.) HOAs in condominium buildings may regulate whether owners can have vertical or horizontal blinds, whether residents can have pets, and whether the building has dog breed restrictions. Some HOAs specify the types of pets you can have (and the pets’ weight limit), i.e., there may be rules about residents not having more than one dog and one cat, and that if they do have a dog, the dog must weigh less than 25lbs.
If you’ve never lived in a house or condo that’s been regulated by an HOA, it’s natural to have lots of questions about how they work. For more information about other commonly heard HOA FAQs, be sure to speak with a licensed real estate agent.