Are you looking for a condominium? A place you own, but without all the hassles of owning a house? You might be wondering, then, what is this thing called a homeowners association (HOA) and what do HOA fees cover?

It might seem pretty steep to you, but you’ll probably be surprised when you find out what an HOA fee includes.

We’ll discuss homeowners association and HOA fees in this brief article. Maybe you’ll finish reading it feeling like a complete condo convert!

What Is a Homeowners Association?

A homeowners association is an organization in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium complex that makes and enforces rules for the properties and their residents.

Those who own property within an HOA’s jurisdiction are members by default and required to pay HOA fees (as discussed below).

An HOA has a board of directors charged with enforcing the HOA’s rules and regulations. These rules are spelled out in a document called the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

The CC&Rs set conditions that apply to owners and their properties. These can include anything from the type of fences or landscape allowed to the color of a house. There are penalties for violating the CC&Rs, such as fees, forced compliance or even litigation.

What Do HOA Fees Cover?

HOA fees vary considerably depending on factors such as geographical location and average income level, cost of the property, and what the fee covers.

For condo owners, HOA fees tend to cover things like:

  • City services such as garbage removal and water/wastewater
  • Property maintenance such as lawn care, snow removal, and pest control
  • Maintenance and repair of building exteriors
  • Insurance (for the property outside individual units)
  • Cost of amenities such as club rooms, pools, gyms, and playgrounds
  • Community events

The HOA also maintains a reserve fund for things like emergency repairs. But any large projects, such as re-roofing, need to be voted on by the community.

If you’re considering different condo communities, You’ll need to weigh their respective HOA fees and what you get for them. It never hurts to shop around, especially if you’re looking for low HOA fees.

It also is a good idea to ask the HOA for a look at their financial records to get a sense of how the fees have been spent and if there’s enough in the reserves to cover emergencies.

Something else to be aware of when it comes to HOA fees is the fact that you won’t entirely control how your money is spent. You might be asked to spend money on something you don’t want–because the board has voted in favor of it.

So, Are You Ready to Put Down a Deposit?

The upside to HOA fees is that, for the most part, they cover things you’d need to pay for anyway. They also might cover some extras that you couldn’t afford on your own–such as a pool or gym.

Imagine how great it would be to go to the pool instead of mowing the lawn. Or work out in the gym instead of shoveling snow.

But condos and other private communities with covenants and HOAs do have their drawbacks too, as we’ve mentioned. You have to decide what works best for you.

And, by the way, remember us when you’re thinking about your next vacation!