With the sea of master planned communities, townhomes and condominiums making up the majority of homes in the greater Phoenix market, chances are pretty high that you will have a Homeowners Association (HOA) fee included in your monthly costs.
HOAs are made up of a board of directors and are run and funded by its residents. The role of the board is to organize regular meetings, enforce a set of rules and regulations for its community, while managing and maintaining a budget. The HOA lays down a set of rules called covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). These rules typically apply to you (the homeowner) and your property. The rules can differ from community to community, but standard rules include:
- What color you can paint the exterior of your home
- What plants you can put in your yard
- Noise restrictions
Before buying a property with a HOA you should be fully aware of the CC&R’s, getting a copy of the rulebook at closing is too late. Most realtors would advise adding a contingency to your contract, ensuring that you have received a copy and have adequate time to review.
Pros of an HOA
Stabilizes the value of your property: Research suggests that HOAs increase property values. Homes tend to sell between 5-6 percent higher than an equivalent home in a non-HOA neighborhood.
Protects and maintains community amenities: Common areas in the community are well-maintained with the dues collected. It’s a big perk of living in an HOA community. You don’t need to worry about unkempt walking paths, overgrown plants or swimming in a community pool that’s not cleaned or properly treated. HOA fees typically cover maintenance of community common areas.
Meditates problems on your behalf: If you are having an issue with a neighbor, you don’t have to confront them, because the HOA will. They refer to the CC&R’s issuing a friendly notice and follow up with a stern warning if the neighbors in violation don’t clean up their act.
Cons of an HOA
Membership is mandatory: When you buy a home in a community that is governed by a HOA, you automatically become a member. You don’t have a choice of not joining, and you must pay the dictated fees; consider it part of your cost of homeownership in a community.
Red tape and bureaucracy: Home modifications (even minor ones) need to be approved by the HOA. So, before you decide to add that jungle gym for your kiddos, you’ve got some explaining to do and some red tape to cut through. You are required to submit all requests detailing your plans to the governing board for approval and/or denial.
Penalties for breaking HOA rules: While the rules are made for a reason, primarily to uphold the reputation of the community and its values, the HOA has the right to take legal action if you paint your home the wrong color or your dog exceeds the weight restriction as set out in the CC&Rs.
There are at least 9,000 HOAs in Arizona and approximately half of Valley homeowners live in an HOA community, according to azcentral.com. The argument for HOAs is that they save cities money. So, if you want to live in a well-maintained community, chances are it will have an HOA. However, it’s important to do your homework on the community you are looking to buy in and learn more about its governing board and how they operate.
Buying a home is a big milestone in one’s life, especially if it’s your first. Working with reputable industry professionals is key. At Landmark Title we have more than 40 years of combined experience in title and escrow services. When you work with Landmark Title, know that you’re in great hands and we have your best interests at heart. Contact our residential real estate team today, we’re more than happy to help you in the process.