A homeowner’s association is an organization present in some neighborhoods that are overseen by a board of elected homeowners in the neighborhood to help maintain an expected quality of atmosphere and living for all homeowners in the community.
This quality of living is maintained by setting certain rules and charging homeowner association dues in the hopes of maintaining a nicer atmosphere and helping properties to retain value.
Though the overall focus of homeowner’s associations is good, there can be some that have downsides. Some homebuyers are understandably hesitant to purchase a home in a neighborhood that has an HOA. In an overzealous attempt to hold a strong line of expected quality some homeowner associations have become overbearing in their rules or have even placed overbearing elected officials at the helm.
When shopping for a home it is important to check into any HOA in a neighborhood you are interested in. If you discover you are not in agreement with the HOA rules, you may find yourself asking if you actually have to join the HOA.
Does a Homebuyer HAVE to Join an Association?
More than half of the homes across the country are in neighborhoods that have some sort of homeowner association in place. This does not mean that every homeowner with a home managed by an HOA is required to join, however. It really depends on whether the HOA is voluntary or mandatory.
When many people hear the word HOA, they automatically assume it is mandatory to join. What some do not realize is that not all HOAs are mandatory, some run on a voluntary basis.
Any voluntary HOA membership is not demanded but the homeowner releases any abilities to share in the use of any community amenities. This could include access to items like the neighborhood pool, or clubhouse, or golf course. In many cases, a voluntary HOA will not enforce any rules about your home’s outward appearance or what you are allowed to build on your property. One thing to keep in mind with a voluntary HOA however is that should homeowners agree to change they can opt to turn the HOA into a mandatory one.
In the case of a mandatory HOA, every single homeowner in the neighborhood is required to pay dues into the HOA and become a member upon signing the closing documents for the purchase of a home within the neighborhood. This type of HOA is built using what is called a covenant document and this means that there are covenants tied to the land and house that cannot be waived. HOA documents are to be signed and agreed with as part of your home closing and purchase process.
Make sure you research a neighborhood HOA before purchasing a home
If you find a home that you truly love and are considering putting a purchase offer on and it is in a neighborhood with an HOA, you want to do as much research about it as possible during the due diligence process. The due diligence process is the time between the acceptance of your purchase offer by the seller and the official closing date that you have as the purchaser to do homework on the home and find out as many details about the property as possible.
Of course, you want to make sure you know which type of HOA you will be dealing with and you’ll want to obtain a copy of the rules and covenants before you decide to move forward with your purchase. You want to know that you will be able to happily comply with any of the required rules of daily life or exterior home upkeep.
Make sure you are well aware of all of the costs of the HOA. Some homeowner’s associations will clearly communicate the monthly dues but may not communicate other charges like the up-front cost to join in, or yearly lump sum costs. Make sure you know the entire cost expected of HOA members. You want to make sure you can afford your dues, especially in a mandatory situation. A homeowner’s association can have the power to put your home into foreclosure over unpaid dues.
For more information on purchasing a home in Saint George and surrounding areas please contact me anytime.