Whether or not you are a home buyer looking for a new home or a tenant looking to rent a property you should understand what exactly an HOA is and how it will affect your rights.  You should inspect the association documents carefully. Most Real Estate Brokers should be able to help you review the financials, by-laws, and restrictions that an HOA imposes on a property.

What is a Homeowners Association (HOA )?

In simple terms a HOA is a non-profit corporation comprised of all the property owners in a development(s). The owners typically higher a property management company to manage the association. The HOA elects a board of directors who works with the management company. The developer of the project typically creates the association documents, by-laws, and CC& R’s before the project is built and will manage and run the association until the development is a certain percent complete. The Board is the voice of the association and will work to follow the association governing documents. Often I hear people talk of the association in an adversarial way. Based on my experience, it seems a lot of property owners have an, us against them mentality. Where in reality all the homeowners are part of the association and can and should have a voice. In most cases people do not have the time to get involved they leave it up to the board to make all the decisions. Individuals on the board are elected volunteers and typically have other full time jobs. They will vote on key items and conduct the business of the HOA, typically acting on the advice of the management company. The key here is the management company. The board has a duty to its members to make the sure the management company is doing its job.  HOA’s govern various types of developments and are not limited to condo and townhome developments.

What Does The HOA Pay For?

Typically the association provides some insurance coverage, maintenance of a property’s exterior, green areas, pool and community areas and more. It really depends on the type of community and amenities. Single Family Home Associations (PUD’s) may not provide any exterior maintenance but only maintaining the community common areas. A common area is a space that is shared by all owners. Some associations are very complex and it is important for homebuyers to understand these complexities when purchasing a property in a development with an HOA. It is not something that should be ignored. How well an association is run can and will affect the value of the property.

Financial Componenet

HOA dues can be as high as $400 per month is some communities. If you are considering buying a property with an HOA consider this. With today’s interest rates around 4% for 30 year fixed rate loan it costs about $477 per month for every $100,000 you borrow. If your HOA dues are $350 per month you could spend $70,0000 more to  purchase a property without an HOA.  This means the property in the community with an HOA needs to be priced about $50,000 lower than a property without an HOA assuming the HOA is paying for the Hazard Insurance on the property.  

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