You’re looking for the perfect Crystal Coast community to call home. As your journey takes you through town, you find yourself compelled to look for homes with the pretty entrances, neighborhood pools and well landscaped yards. Or perhaps you’re looking for a townhouse or beach condo that provides you with minimum home maintenance but all the curb appeal? More than likely, these neighborhoods, townhouse and condo complexes have what is called a Homeowners' Association, or HOA.
HOA’s serve a very important role within many communities. They fulfill many duties to the upkeep of the community, as well has handle finances and community events. However, HOA’s aren’t for everyone. If you’re looking to house livestock, or just want a bit more freedom to do with your land/home as you wish, you may want to consider finding a place that doesn’t include an HOA. If you’re looking for uniformity within the homes in the neighborhood, amenities or gated entrances, perhaps an HOA might fit your needs.
What is an HOA?
A Homeowners' Association (HOA) is an organization in a subdivision, planned community or condominium that makes and enforces rules for the properties within its jurisdiction. Those who purchase property within an HOA's jurisdiction automatically become members and are required to pay dues, known as HOA fees. Some associations can be very restrictive about what members can do with their properties and others can have very limited powers. There is typically an HOA board that consists of various roles. This board is responsible for handling all things HOA.
HOA & Lifestyle
The purpose of an HOA is to help ensure that the community as a whole looks its best and functions smoothly. The HOA is there to fix and maintain neighborhood amenities, and, depending on which type of HOA you’re in, that could be servicing common areas such as sidewalks, roofing and building exteriors as well as keeping the pools clean and up to code, maintain the clubhouse, and even fulfill landscaping duties in the common areas. When looking for your new home, keep in mind if being a part of an HOA fits your lifestyle. Some Associations are stricter than others so be sure to read through all respective covenants within the community.
HOA Fees and Coverage
Depending on which Crystal Coast community you’re considering, the HOA may collect monthly dues, quarterly dues or annual dues. This is strictly up to the Association on which route they choose. The cost for HOA dues is community dependent. It’s in your best interest to have your Realty World - First Coast Real Estate Realtor® check with the HOA in question and clearly explain the cost of dues, when dues are collected, as well as what the dues cover. A good rule of thumb to remember is typically the bigger the home, the bigger the cost.
Be sure to check if the HOA is planning any needed assessments within the neighborhood. While these assessments may not be in the immediate future, it is beneficial to you to prepare yourself for the costs associated with these assessments.
What Can The HOA Do?
Establish rules or guidelines on how the neighborhood should appear and also enforce those rules. It’s good to note that everyone in the community, collectively known as the HOA members, have great impact with HOA rules and what they entail. If you do choose to live in a community with an HOA, be sure to become an active member and keep up with the meeting schedule. Most HOA’s keep meeting minutes, which gives you an opportunity to view what topics the HOA is discussing as well as how the HOA is being run before you buy your home.
Bylaws, Covenants & Restrictions
These are contained in a document that expresses the guidelines for running the HOA. These rules can cover anything from the location of your trash can, to what type of dog you can own, to the paint color of a house. Whether you agree or disagree with these rules, many are in place to support the neighborhood aesthetic and maintain a consistent look and feel to the community. When purchasing a home with an HOA, you’ll be asked to sign a form that explains to the HOA that you’ll follow all rules set forth in their guidelines. For example, there are rules in many HOA’s, especially those along the Crystal Coast, that discuss boat requirements within the neighborhood. They discuss whether they are allowed to be seen, size allowed, etc. So if you’re an avid boater, you may need to consider the HOA rules when looking for a new home.
While repercussions for not paying dues varies dependent on the individual HOA, most have a system in place that includes applying a lien on your home. Others, may foreclose on your home.
Ok. Now that we know what an HOA is, how do we know if it’s something we want with our new home? If you’re still not sure if an HOA is right for you, check out our article on the Pro’s & Con’s of Homeowners' Associations.