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A Home With an HOA May Be Right for You

When searching for a new place to live, it’s wise to consider many different features, such as the neighborhood, the style of the house itself, and its proximity to various amenities. One element that may influence your decision is whether the place is part of a homeowners association (HOA).

Although HOAs can sometimes get a negative reputation, they often offer valuable benefits that make it worthwhile to become an active member. If you're unfamiliar with how these organizations work, here are some insights.

What is a Homeowners Association (HOA)?

An HOA is an organization dedicated to forming and enforcing rules within a specific community. HOAs are relatively common in planned subdivisions, gated communities, and condominiums. Everyone within the HOA's jurisdiction must become a member, and the organization has a board of directors who live in the community. The board is elected by members, although the rules regarding elections can change from one HOA to another.

What Responsibilities Does an HOA Have?

The primary purpose of an HOA is to create a set of rules and regulations, often called a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R). The board of directors makes these rules, but they can amend or remove them if necessary. The CC&R is designed to outline what's permissible for community members. Violators of HOA rules can often incur heavy fines and penalties.

Another essential function of the HOA is collecting dues and fees from members. These funds are often used for the maintenance and upkeep of common areas. For example, a condo HOA may take care of elevators, lobbies, and events.

Which Properties Usually Come With an HOA?

When searching for a new home, you'll often see whether it's part of an HOA or not. Typically, planned subdivisions, gated communities, and condominiums have HOAs. So, if you're looking to buy property within these zones, you'll need to become a member of the organization once you finalize the paperwork. 

One crucial point to consider is that your HOA fees are on top of any other payments you may have, such as rent or a mortgage. So, before moving, you need to make sure you plan your budget accordingly. Typically, HOAs collect fees monthly.

Are HOAs Worth It?

A big reason why HOAs have a bad reputation is because of tales of organizations with restrictive rules and overbearing board members. However, these stories can often be the exception to the rule.

Because community members elect HOA boards, you have a voice in their operations. Also, the rules and conditions can change depending on what the community wants.

Overall, most HOAs provide value to the community and help bring people together to improve the neighborhood or condo building.

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