What is an HOA?

What is an HOA?

If you are looking to purchase a home in St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln, or Warren County, you are likely to encounter homes during your search which are a part of an HOA. It is important that you understand exactly what this means so that you do not encounter any unpleasant surprises and can make a decision that fits your preferences. 

What is an HOA?

HOA stands for Homeowners Association, and it is basically an organization that makes and enforces rules for the properties and residents within a particular subdivision, planned community, or condominium building. When you purchase a property that is under an HOA, you automatically become a member of that HOA and are required to pay dues known as HOA fees. These are often paid monthly or yearly and the amount may vary based on factors such as the type of property you own, number of properties in the group, location, amenities, and operating expenses. HOA fees can change from year to year. 

HOAs may be run by a property management company but also consist of a board of volunteer members who are elected from the community. Each one may be structured differently, so it is important that you learn about the structure of the HOA if you are considering purchasing a home within one.  

What is the Purpose of an HOA?

Typically HOAs exist in order to help preserve and enhance the property values within a community. You will find that most of the rules established by an HOA deal with the appearance of the properties within it. Things like property cleanliness, condition, and repairs are often addressed. You can find these rules in the HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). These set the conditions for property owners about the maintenance and appearance of their property.

CC&Rs usually include structural restrictions, such as what type of fencing is allowed, and sometimes even cover minor aesthetic choices, like the color of siding or paint you can use on the outside of your house. Within the CC&Rs you may even find an outline of the penalties for violating any of the restrictive covenants within the document. These penalties may include fines, forced compliance, and in some cases even litigation. This is why it is so important to know what you are getting into before you purchase a home with an HOA. 

What will my HOA Fees Cover?

What your HOA fees cover varies greatly from one community to another. You will usually find that HOA fees cover any upkeep and maintenance for shared community features, such as mowing and landscaping of common grounds. Oftentimes the HOA will provide services to the community that are funded out of these fees. It is not uncommon to find special features like swimming pools, playgrounds, clubhouses, and athletic fields within a community that are reserved for exclusive use by those living within the jurisdiction of the HOA that funds them. It is also common for condominium HOAs to provide basic building maintenance, landscaping and lawn care services, and snow removal for parking lots and streets, all funded from the HOA fees they collect. If you are looking to purchase a home within an HOA, make sure you know not only how much you will be expected to pay, but also what services your fees cover.

HOA rules may dictate what type of fence you can have

What are the Benefits of Buying a Home With an HOA?

Living under an HOA definitely has its benefits. Property values often remain high in areas with an HOA since property owners are required to adhere to strict guidelines about the appearance and upkeep of their property. Oftentimes, you will also enjoy additional amenities as an HOA member, though you should always clarify what is available to you before purchasing a home within an HOA. 

What are the Drawbacks of Buying a Home With an HOA?

A major disadvantage of owning property with an HOA is the sometimes high costs of association fees. Additionally, some HOAs have strict rules about things like fence material, house color, and even how many cars can be parked in your driveway. Some HOA rules can seem arbitrary, and many homeowners prefer not to have to deal with these restrictions. You should also be wary of corrupt and poorly run HOAs, since buying a home within a community means you accept both its rules and leadership. If you are looking at a home with an HOA, it is a good idea to speak with some neighbors regarding how the HOA is run. 

Should I Buy a Home Within an HOA?

This is a highly personal question with an answer that will vary from one buyer to another. Some people love the idea of community guidelines that keep things uniform and looking nice. Others are drawn to neighborhoods with an HOA for the extra amenities like a neighborhood swimming pool or playground. On the flip side, there are many people who dislike the restrictions placed on their property under an HOA and prefer to purchase a home where they will have more freedom to do as they please. The HOA fees are also sometimes a deterrent, especially if a buyer does not see the value in what they get out of it. You should think about what you want as a homeowner, and decide what makes the most sense for you. 

Find Your Next Home With The Chad Wilson Group

The Chad Wilson Group can help you learn more about local HOAs in communities throughout St. Louis, St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln Counties. Our real estate experts know what to look for and what questions to ask when it comes to buying a home with an HOA. We will be your guide, making sure you have a full understanding of the area in which you are interested in buying. Contact us today with any questions you may have!

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