What is a Homeowners Association?
An HOA, also called a homeowners association, is a group of individuals either residents, property managers or a combination of both, assigned to manage the bylaws and requirements of living in the particular Association. The homeowners association can be organized for a condominium or townhome complex or a single-family house community. Many gated communities will automatically have a homeowners association attending to homeowners needs, any complaints, and managing the bylaws and requirements of living in the community.
Living in a homeowners association means you are responsible for maintaining your home and your property as required in the HOA’s CC&Rs, which stands for covenants, conditions and restrictions. This document will be (or should be) given to a potential buyer either before an offer has been made or after the offer has been made. The buyer has a chance to go through the documents and verify the rules, ask any questions, and decide if they are willing to live by these covenants. If the potential buyer rejects these covenants they can simply terminate the transaction and move on.
Often times, these documents can be so expensive that it can be difficult to understand all of your rights and requirements. At this point, if you have specific concerns its best to simply ask the Association to get the answers you're looking for. If you're unsure, have your real estate attorney go to the document pointing out any red flags or issues that may be of concern.
Read more: Home Buying in an HOA
Those that choose to live in a homeowners association will typically pay monthly, quarterly or annually to reap the benefits of the Association. Perhaps the community has a swimming pool, exercise facility or other common area amenities. Your homeowners dues with low pay for the upkeep and management of these amenities. Homeowners dues may also pay for road maintenance, landscaping, common area building maintenance, and management services.
If you live in an apartment or condominium complex the homeowners dues will also pay for exterior building maintenance. Special assessments may be required at different times during the life of the Association to pay for major replacements or remodels such as roof replacements, painting or siding. The special assessments are required and it is mandatory that homeowners make up the extra difference. These special assessments can be broken up into several smaller payments or one large lump sum. If you have concerns about special assessments ask about the associations reserve fund. Many times, associations save up for larger projects so that they don't have to burden the homeowners with a large assessment payment.
Check for liens. Homeowners associations, especially those with many homeowners, can get into the situation of a lawsuit. You'll want to find out if your association is currently in litigation. This may hinder your ability to get a home loan on the property. Find out all you can about the lawsuit. Sometimes, it's as simple as a homeowner suing the Association because he or she is not allowed a particular pet. It might be something very simple or it could be extremely in-depth. It will be up to you and your lender whether you want to continue pursuing the property in the Association.
Homeowners Association’s are a great way for neighborhoods and communities to band together making decisions as a team. Most associations will have annual or quarterly meetings, in which homeowners are allowed to voice their opinions on rule changes and ask questions.
For more information on homeowners associations in the Portland real estate area please give me a call. I can help answer any questions you might have if you're still on the fence about whether or not you should purchase a home in an HOA.