Significance of Home Owners Associations
Perhaps you don’t feel as though your home owner’s association is actually “doing anything.” Repairs might be slow, nuisance neighbors go ignored, a homeowner gets permission to make an addition while another is denied; these are just a few situations that cause some homeowners to detest HOA’s while others find them essential in resolving such problems. Many successful examples of HOA management have been helpful for new homeowners, more specifically in Phoenix, Arizona.
Whether you love them, hate them, or find yourself neutral on the topic, the majority of new constructions today live in association-governed communities that operate under the guidance of a defined set of CC&R’s, or Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions. Four in five housing start-ups in the past decade plan to elect HOA’s, and an estimated 7,000 new planned communities form associations every year, according to the Community Associations Institute.
What Does an HOA Do?
Homeowner associations may elect to hire a property management company for larger communities with numerous residential features and heavy upkeep requirements. The HOA works with this entity closely, and the management company typically takes over the day-to-day issues pertaining to common area maintenance and repairs, residential complaints, and other issues like security in exchange for an annual fee. These fees, as are the costs of common area repairs, come from the mandatory homeowner dues that you will pay monthly or annually.
In the end, most residents find their HOA to be an invaluable asset, and HOA board members find management companies to be priceless. Elected board members do their best to represent both the people and the property’s best interests as a whole. They convey their decisions to the property management company for implementation or take make arrangements for actions on their individual or group time in no management company is under contract.
Many HOA’s make arrangements for and oversee:
- Maintenance and improvement of landscaping, driveways, lighting, and parking areas
- Collecting dues and violation fees from homeowners
- Overseeing renter/lease occupants
- Providing security
- Maintaining recreation areas – pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, etc.
- Approving homeowner requests for visible improvements
- Enforcing parking restrictions
Certainly, some HOA’s enforce rules more strictly than others do, and some boards have stricter rules. The best way to avoid purchasing a home overseen by a home owner’s association that you will find issues with pertaining to rules and regulations is to read over the bylaws carefully before signing any purchase papers.
How to Avoid Problems with an HOA
Beyond reading the community’s bylaws, consider interviewing neighbors to see how they feel about the neighborhood HOA’s performance in general. You’ll be surprised at the vast differences of improvements vary between residents. Those with kids love the pool renovation and the lawn-mower phobic ones prefer the new landscaping, while others wanted a basketball court and countless disgruntled gardeners preferred their plants. Ask around.
Find out how often residents receive a detailed audit of the HOA’s expenses, how often fees have been raised, determine how board members are selected and if committees have any function. Also, inquire if the HOA is currently involved in any litigation, a sure sign of potential fee increases and disgruntled residents.
To learn more about living harmoniously in an association-governed community, check out this informative guide concerning How to Handle Problems with Your HOA from the office of the NY Real Estate Finance Office – an excellent information source regardless of your current state of residence.
In Defense of HOA’s
Granted, there are times when your HOA may approve projects that you don’t agree with like the massive renovation of a clubhouse that you personally never use, improvements in the common area or landscaping, or other projects that may inconvenience you and limit access to your property for weeks or even months at a time.
However, the goal of a homeowner’s association is to make improvements in the long-term interest of the residents, pertaining to both comfort of owners and preserving (and increasing) property values. Remember, your HOA members are volunteering their time; foremost, they are your neighbors and fellow homeowners making decisions in their best interests, too. They are elected by you – the homeowners, they listen to your concerns when you pass them on the sidewalk, and they genuinely care about the neighborhood.
Once you understand the significance of home owners associations, you’ll begin to appreciate their efforts much more.