If you’re considering buying in a planned development or a condominium complex, there is a good chance the property has a homeowners association (HOA). Knowing the HOA rules before you buy is essential.
Real estate agent, Julia Monaghan, has years of experience helping hopeful hunters find their dream homes. She can help you determine if an HOA is the right fit for your family and lifestyle. Contact her for buying or selling in the Portland Metro area.
Where Will You Find HOAs?
HOAs are becoming a standard part of modern homeownership. In the Portland Metro alone, there are about 2,000 different HOAs.
Homeowners associations are common in planned developments, with houses all built at about the same time. They are also typical in apartment or condominium buildings. Sometimes, neighborhood groups also choose to create an HOA.
The HOA is a community organization that exists to support the neighborhood. They often oversee or manage items such as:
- Landscaping, leaf clean up, and outdoor appearance
- Clubhouse or community buildings
- Playgrounds or recreational spaces
- Sidewalks or roads that are not publicly managed
- Utilities used within community spaces and buildings
- Guardhouse or secure entrances
- Property insurance
The HOA covers the costs and maintenance of shared amenities for homeowners within the association. However, there is a monthly fee that everyone must pay. Sometimes the fees are due quarterly or annually, instead. Additionally, an HOA can request special assessments when there are larger projects that require extra funds.
How Much Are HOA Fees?
The monthly dues for a homeowners association can vary widely. Largely the HOA cost depends on the location of the development and the number of amenities. Access to a pool and a clubhouse, for example, comes with a higher monthly cost.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing an HOA is that you pay the same amount whether or not you utilize the amenities. Some HOAs charge members different amounts based on where their home is within the development, but this situation is not common.
HOA Rules: Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions
Every homeowners association has covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) built into the bylaws. These codes make up the bulk of the agreement you sign upon buying a home within an HOA.
While each HOA is a little different, there are some common CC&Rs that you might encounter in an association. Often, the rules are in place to create a cohesive feel to the neighborhood. These rules can sometimes mean that the area doesn’t have as much unique personality. But they help ensure a certain degree of tidiness and cleanliness.
HOAs often govern the external upkeep of your house. Depending on the rules, the HOA can have a lot of say in the choices you make for your home’s exterior.
Some of the things that a homeowners association might oversee or restrict include:
- Paint Color
- Siding Material
- Solar Panels
- Satellite Dishes
- Trash Bin Placement
- Flag Flying
Garden and Yard
Lawn maintenance is typically a significant component of HOA rules. The CC&Rs often dictate how long you can let your grass grow or how frequently you must remove fallen leaves.
Other rules and codes may govern things such as:
- Compost Piles
- Fire Pits
- Fertilizer Use
- Pesticide Use
- Sprinkler Systems
- Pruning Trees and Bushes
- Removing Trees
Cars and Street Parking
Since HOAs monitor the neighborhood’s appearance and upkeep, they tend to have rules around parking. They may prohibit long-term street parking or leaving an RV or boat in your driveway.
Use of Property
Many homeowners associations require owners, not renters, to occupy the homes. If you think you might ever want to turn your house into a rental property, be sure you check for rules prohibiting this. Similarly, some HOAs may forbid the placement of additional dwelling units (ADUs) or tiny homes on the lot.
It is common for HOA rules to govern noise levels to help keep the peace in the neighborhood. Music, power tools, and parties can all run the risk of breaking the CC&Rs.
What To Do Before You Buy
If you are interested in buying a home in a homeowners association, there are some essential things to do first. Be sure to get a copy of the Covenants, Conditions, and Requirements and read all the bylaws. Ask for clarification if necessary.
Take the time to understand what the HOA rules demand of the members to ensure that you can follow them without stress. If the CC&Rs align with your lifestyle, then buying a home there could be a great fit. But if you like to use power tools in the garage every weekend and let the garden run wild, an HOA may not be suitable for you.
It’s also smart to talk with neighbors about their experience with the homeowners association. Try to get a sense of how the association manages things and how they handle complaints or conflicts. If you hear repeated stories of drama or arguments, you might want to think twice about buying there.
Ask residents of the neighborhood if they enjoy living there and whether they find the HOA helpful, courteous, and beneficial to homeowners. Homeowners associations have significant legal leeway to enforce their rules and levy fines against owners who don’t follow the regulations. So it’s worth the time to do your research.
HOA Fees and Your Mortgage
Your lender will include HOA fees in their final determination of your loan amount. Buying a property in a high-cost association might result in a smaller loan than your pre-approval indicated.
However, there can be a trade-off. Many experts find that homes within an HOA sell for about 5% more than those not in an HOA.
Know Before You Buy
Owning a house in a homeowners association can be a perfect fit for many people. It generally creates a nice-looking neighborhood that holds its property values. And an HOA offers a system for addressing complaints and difficulties among neighbors.
But an HOA isn’t the right choice for some people. If you don’t like to think much about how your house and yard look, then a homeowners association might be stressful to you. Having an experienced real estate agent with you as you make these decisions is crucial.
At Julia Monaghan Real Estate, we help you find the perfect home for your needs. We help you navigate the search and all of its details, including the presence of an HOA. Julia is your advocate at every step of the way.
We serve clients in Lake Oswego and West Linn, OR, as well as surrounding areas. If you are ready to buy, sell, or both, reach out and let’s connect.