You may find yourself wondering, just what is a Homeowners Association (HOA) anyway?
Lawyers.com says “Homeowners’ associations are common in many new, single-family housing developments, as well as in condominium and townhouse complexes. An HOA is the governing body of the development or complex, usually comprising homeowners who have volunteered to serve on the HOA board.”
When you purchase a home (be it condo, townhouse, or single family home) in a gated community, planned unit development, neighborhood, or subdivision, you will have to join the community’s Homeowners’ Association (HOA) if there is one. In joining the HOA you will have to pay monthly, quarterly, or annual fees for the upkeep of common areas such as a community pools, parks, landscaping, fitness centers, guard gates, and more.
Is the HOA fee optional? There are a few optional HOAs out there but for the most part it is mandatory to join the homeowners association where your new home is located. If you don’t pay your HOA dues, the HOA is completely within their rights to put a lien on your home. This can cause quite a problem when you try to sell your home and could even lead to the HOA foreclosing on your home before you even get to that point.
The “rules” that govern an HOA are called covenants, conditions, and restrictions which is frequently abbreviated CC&Rs. These rules apply to both the homeowner and to the home. These rules might dictate things such as what color you can paint your home, what types of trees or plants you can put in your yard, how many or what type of cars can be parked in the driveway, what types of pets are allowed, whether the property can be rented, and more. This might all seem quite restrictive, but keep in mind the intent of all of these rules and regulations is to maintain the value of the homes in the community and to make the community a nicer place to live.
With that being said, it’s important to note that living in a community with an HOA has distinct advantages. Most HOA communities offer many amenities such as gates to keep unwelcome visitors out of the communities, community parks, playgrounds, pools, and sometimes even cable or internet services. They also include landscaping of these common areas and in some instances HOA membership includes exterior maintenance of homes such as mowing, pressure washing, and painting of the home itself. Another factor is the HOA architectural standards. The homeowners association will typically have an Architectural Review Board comprised of members who review and approve or deny requests homeowners make to make changes to the exterior of their home. This keeps the looks of the community in line. An example: this is what keeps your crazy neighbor from painting their home tie-dye or putting gargoyles on the roof.
There are of course, disadvantages of living in an HOA community as well. For one, as we mentioned, there is a fee to pay. This may be anywhere from $50 per month to several thousand dollars a year. In addition many HOAs do not have the most stellar reputation. We’ve all heard the story of the HOA charging exorbitant fines for very small mis-steps or taking the sometimes hefty monthly fees and providing zero service. And of course, many people just want to be left alone or have the freedom to do what they wish with their own home.
So how do you find homes in without an HOA? Simple: work with a qualified real estate professional who can guide you in your search. We are happy to assist in finding your next home in Central Florida or we can connect you with a professional, vetted real estate agent wherever you are searching for your next Florida home! Just leave your information in the contact form below or send us a message at MovingtoFloridaShow@gmail.com.
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