Is a Homeowners Association Property Right for You?

Is a Homeowners Association Property Right for You?

Introduction

Houses, townhomes, condos – there are many different types of dwellings where you can choose to live. But you cannot choose your neighbors. You could end up with great neighbors, or you could live beside those who make loud noises all night, cannot control their dog, or are oblivious to basic home maintenance. In some cases, it might make sense to look at homes within a Homeowners Association (HOA) or a Planned Unit Development (PUD).homeowners-association-resized

Homeowners Association

An HOA is a formal and legal entity that is created to maintain and uphold the guidelines surrounding the upkeep and appearance of common areas, such as front lawns and garages, belonging to that HOA. The aim is to ensure that the appearance and value of homes is preserved. The HOA is typically established when the community is being built, and it has the authority to enforce its deed restrictions and related covenants.

All property owners within the development are required to be members of the HOA, and the members must pay a fee to the HOA. In return, the homeowners association will maintain any recreational facilities, attend to any communal landscaping, maintain streets, limit the number of pets you can have, preserve the safety and security of its members, and more.  The Community Associations Network, LLC (CAN) was formed to create a single, public, internet resource for community associations and the people and firms that work with them.

Planned Unit Development

A PUD is a type of building development that is designed to group a variety of multi-use yet compatible areas, such as housing, commercial and retail services, as well as park land. In a PUD, the property buyers actually own the building where they live, and often, the property must conform to a certain look to help maintain property values.

The common areas are jointly owned by all members of that PUD and the association. The PUD may contain amenities and services that are only available to those who live in that PUD. It could may be gated to ensure that the PUD is accessed only by those who are permitted to do so.

Is a Homeowners Association Property for You?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in either an HOA or a PUD. Asking the right questions and researching all aspects of potential properties can help you in your decision. Here are some areas you should explore before you buy:

  1. Review the fees charged: Verify the fees you need to pay and how often you need to pay them. Depending on the amount, this expense can create a huge whole in your budget. Also check how often the fees can be increased and by how much. Finally, determine what exactly these fees are being used for – playgrounds, pool maintenance, lawn cutting, trash removal.
  2. Read the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions document: This document will give you the lay of the land in terms of what you are allowed to do and what you cannot do, pertaining to your home. For example, you may be prevented from leaving your garage door open on weekends, you may not be allowed to plant an apple tree on your front lawn, or you may be forbidden from stringing up a laundry line in your background. Think hard how these restrictions will affect your quality of life.
  3. Study the reserve fund: This is the account whose funds will be used to pay for long-term improvements to your community. It can fund upgrades to the community pool, allow for the addition of walking trails, or maintain trash removal for several years. See how much is in this account, how it is being spent, and if the fees being collected will adequately fund this account for an appropriate length of time.
  4. Stay involved: HOA rules can change at any time, especially to meet the changing needs of its members. HOAs have regular meetings so that its members can stay informed about the happenings of their homeowners association, discuss concerns they have, and get to know the committee. You may also have a chance to vote on new rules that can impact both you and the HOA.

Home Sweet Home

Some people thrive in an HOA or PUD while others prefer fewer restrictions. Either way can work well for the right person. Before jumping in with a home purchase, determine whether an HOA is right for you and your budget.

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