Buying a Home in an HOA Community

Real Estate

Homeowners associations, or HOAs, are fairly common; in fact, roughly a quarter of all homeowners live in an HOA-governed community. HOAs are especially prevalent in Charlotte and the surrounding areas, like Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville. Many of the communities in which Minges Cline is involved are governed by an HOA.

Pros and Cons of HOA Life

Living in an HOA comes with some definite perks, as well as potential drawbacks. The first thing you need to understand about them is their purpose. The HOA exists to preserve property values, first and foremost—and that’s something from which owners can really stand to benefit. If you’re looking to buy a house and ensure that its value appreciates considerably, an HOA can be a real asset.

The downsides? In order to preserve a nice, valuable community, owners are typically required to pay monthly or annual dues. There may be some additional, special assessments should any part of the community fall into disrepair. Additionally, the HOA can impose rules that homeowners must abide by—most of them just common-sense policies to ensure safety and to preserve those property values. (You may need to have home renovations approved by the HOA board, for instance, or you may have restrictions on parking RVs in your yard, etc.)

Before You Buy…

An important note for homeowners is that not all HOAs are created equal, and before you buy into one, it’s smart to do a little research. Here are some specific considerations to make:

-          What are the dues? HOA membership can cost as much as $900 a month or as little as $100 a year. In some HOAs, the dues are optional. You’ll certainly want to know about the dues before you buy into the community.

-          All HOA rules and regulations should be codified in governing documents. You are well within your rights to ask to see those documents, and to know what the rules are before you buy.

-          You can ask to see other documents, too, such as the minutes from the latest HOA meeting. This will give you a good sense of current projects or ongoing problems within the community.

-          Ask to see a copy of the annual budget and the most recent reserve study, to ensure you are buying into an HOA that is financially sound and healthy.

-          Make sure you inspect all common areas—such as pools, parks, clubhouses, and tennis courts—to see how well-preserved they are. If these areas are in poor condition, that means the HOA is slacking off.

-          If you have the opportunity, you might also ask current residents what their perception of the HOA governance is—helpful? Effective? Too restrictive? Not sufficiently active?

Find Your Next North Carolina Home

As you look for your next home in North Carolina, make sure you consider all the angles—including the possibility of an HOA. If you need help clarifying any of these important details, don’t hesitate to connect with us at Minges Cline.