When you’re considering a move, it’s important to do your research and ask the right questions to the Homeowner’s Association (HOA). The HOA typically oversees upkeep of common property, such as landscaping, repaving streets, trash collection, upkeep of shared facilities like clubhouses and swimming pools, etc. The size of the neighborhood you are considering and what shared facilities are available could determine the level of activity of the HOA. Each neighborhood and HOA will be different, but here are some questions to get the conversation started while you look for your dream home.
What are the HOA dues?
All HOAs require dues to cover the upkeep of the common spaces and facilities, even if you do not utilize them. These dues can range anywhere in the hundreds of dollars, depending on the facilities and quality of the neighborhood you are considering. A good follow up question is to ask about the history of dues increases, which could impact you while living there. You should compare the dues to other dues in the area as well.
What specific insurance will I be required to carry?
Most likely your HOA has purchased an insurance policy to protect the common property and facilities but not the homes. In the case of a condo or townhouse community, the policy may include the external building structures as well. These policies do not include the interior of the homes or the residents’ property. You should be looking at homeowners insurance for everything the HOA policy does not protect, and consider these costs in your budget assumptions. It’s important to ask the HOA if they require the homeowners to carry any other specific policy.
What are the rules and regulations set by this specific HOA?
Rules and regulations typically revolve around upkeep of commons spaces but also can include rules about pets, fences, swimming pools, etc. Look for the HOA rules and make sure they are the most current information. Specifically, pay attention to rules regarding fines, changing/adding rules, and when the HOA meetings occur. It’s a good practice to look at minutes from past HOA meetings to see what violations they are most concerned about and to be aware of any potential conflicts between homeowners.
What has been budgeted for in recent years and in the future?
As a potential dues paying member of the HOA, you should know what exactly dues have covered in the past and what they may cover in the future. Are there reserves for big projects, like concrete repair? For example, if the budget does not reflect a high reserve for that cost and you notice that sidewalks are in desperate need for repair, you can assume they either won’t be fixed or you may be forced to pay a special assessment sometime in the near future.
Do I have to attend all the HOA meetings?
Again, this can vary based on HOA, however, most of the time you can send an HOA proxy if you are unable to make a meeting and want to stay informed on the decisions or make your voice heard on a particular decision. These meetings, typically consisting of a board of directors that was voted by the other homeowners, could impact the dues you will pay or special assessment fees for certain projects in the coming year. It’s important to be part of these conversations if any of the decisions will affect you as a homeowner or renter.
As a potential homeowner or renter, it’s important to do your research and be part of the conversation when it comes to your HOA. Stay informed and involved to ensure you are prepared for any fees or decisions when it comes to your home and neighborhood.
For more information about an HOA or property management, give our team a call at 615-297-7711.