An HOA is a Homeowners’ Association. They’re designed to maintain and enhance property values within a community or development.
HOA’s are typically a non-profit corporation used in the planning stages of a community. If you buy a house within an HOA, usually membership is mandatory.
HOA’s can be run by a board of directors, which could include the house developer and other representatives. Once most of the houses in the development are sold, the board transitions over to a board of elected residents.
All HOA’s have a list of restrictive covenants and bylaws, intended to keep the standards of the community equal. They’re designed to help your neighborhood continue to be a nice place to live. Some things an HOA could have covenants or bylaws against are painting your house neon green, parking excess cars or trailers in front of your house, or mandatory landscaping so yards don’t grow long and become wild looking. An HOA ensures that all homeowners within the area maintain their house, and keep it to an agreed-upon standard. Usually when you want to make a change to your home or property, it has to be agreed upon by the HOA. For example, you can’t simply add a pool to your front yard without approval.
Generally, people that are interested in a property within an HOA are people that place a value on the appearance of their home, and the appearance of homes in their neighborhood. Living within an HOA ensures that the value of your home and your community is protected.
Another common aspect to HOA’s is that most associations benefit from a shared amenity. Some HOA’s have pools, parks, recreation rooms or clubhouses, or sports facilities, like tennis courts. Members of an HOA are typically required to pay a monthly or yearly fee. The fees go toward capital improvements to the neighborhood, whether it’s mailboxes or street signs, or larger projects like repaving of streets.
Board of Directors
The spending of the HOA funds is typically decided on or voted upon by the Board of Directors. They meet to discuss what is in the best interest of the community as a whole. They keep records, have meetings, make or amend rules, pay bills and more. Some communities find it to be too much to manage and maintain a community operated HOA, and it becomes hired out to a management company. In this case, the board of directors still governs the community, and the management company runs the business side of things.
There are pros and cons to buying property within an HOA. Chances are your house and neighborhood will always be clean and look well taken care of. So if you’re seeking a certain standard of living for yourself and your neighbors, it may be for you. The best advice to keep in mind is to always read the governing documents before you buy. You want to make sure that you can uphold the covenants or rules that have already been set in place. You also want to make sure that once you move in, you don’t accidentally break a rule, just because you haven’t read them.