When you're searching for a new home, you may encounter a community with a Home Owners' Association (HOA). Certainly, if you're including condominiums in your search, membership in an HOA will definitely be part of the purchase.
From an ownership perspective, when your home is subject to the provisions of an HOA, the things you can do in and around your home are subject to the rules of the HOA. Basically, there are rules you must follow and those rules do restrict your ability to "do whatever you want" with your property. For some, any restriction just isn't acceptable; while for others, membership in an HOA provide a level of comfort that the qualities of their neighborhood will be maintained.
Common HOA restrictions include the colors you may paint the exterior of your home, the style of exterior home accessories such as mailbox type, house numbers, landscape materials, and even the type of vehicles that cannot be on the property.
Most HOAs collect fees as part of membership. The amount and due date of the fee depends on the services the HOA provides. For example, if an HOA's function is only common area landscaping, the fee may be annual. In the event an HOA is responsible for common area expenses such as utilities and insurance, the fee will most likely be collected monthly. I have seen fees as low as $35 a year to $1,300 every month!
Condominium communities always have a fee as every owner owns a share of the common elements and those elements must be paid for somehow. When you're comparing a condominium to a single family home, you will want to pay close attention to what your fees are providing. In some cases the monthly condominium HOA fee includes utilities such as water & sewer, electricity, and even cable TV & internet service. These are monthly bills you will not be paying and can actually cost you less than if you were paying them yourself... so consider that when budgeting for your new home.
The more amenities a condominium community boast, the more fees must be collected to pay for those amenities. However, if you're getting a pool, fitness center, concierge, secured parking, and a dog park for a few hundred dollars a month, you may find that you're getting a lot of enjoyment out of your HOA membership.
If you have questions about living with an HOA, we're here to help!