In this new day and age, many of Denver’s homes and communities are maintained and managed by HOA’s. (Home Owner Association)

homeowner associations1When you decide to purchase a house, townhouse, or condo in a planned development such as a gated community, a leased land property, or sometimes even a regular subdivision, you are required to join that community’s certain HOA and pay the monthly cost that comes with it. HOA fees are used to maintain the common areas and buildings. If you are considering buying one of these properties, you need to be aware of a few things and how they work with HOA before you decide to move forward with your purchase.

What is a HOA? Good question. HOA’s have fees that can range anywhere from $200 to $400 per month. Obviously the more upscale the building, the more amenities, the higher the HOA will be. In addition to the monthly fee, say a major expense, such as a new roof or a new elevator suddenly comes up and there’s lack of funds in the HOA’s reserves, the association may actually turn to you and charge extra and unfortunately, that can leap into the the thousands of dollars.

Because there are multiple families all residing in the same structure, all residents of townhouses and condos must all be responsible for perpetuating all of the shared areas. Such as landscaping, elevators, swimming pools, clubhouses, parking garages, gym, sidewalks, security gates, roofing, and the structures exterior. Many of these type of common areas though, such as pools and tennis courts, also exist in subdivisions of single family houses. Regardless of whether the HOA maintains a building, such as a townhouse or condo, or a neighborhood of individual homes, HOA fees help maintain the quality of life for the residents and protect the property values for all owners.

Along with maintaining the common areas, HOA’s set certain rules that all occupants must follow. These are called covenants, conditions, and restrictions. (CC&Rs) In a shared community, rules can include what color your front door can be or whether you’re allowed to dry your laundry outside. Whether you can have a satellite dish, what type and size of pets you can have, etc. In some instances, these rules can be similar to those who reside in apartments.

In a subdivision with single family homes, some rules and regulations can include to what color you may paint your house, what landscaping you’re allowed to do, and the certain types of vehicles you can park in the street or on your drive way. (RVs, boats, etc.) Other restrictions may include the height of your fence, if you can have window coverings on windows facing the street, etc. If you want to do anything different from these rules, you must personally ask your HOA to allow you a variance, which is more than unlikely. No matter where you live, you are likely to have to follow city ordinances and restrictions related to your property. HOA is just another layer of rules and because their members are more likely to know what you’re up to, they’re more likely to make sure those rules are being followed.

You might be able to find certain HOA’s and CC&R’s online as well as what consequences would happen if you violate regulations. Make sure all the documents are current. Now if you can’t find this information, ask your real estate agent to find the documents for you or have them contact the HOA personally. Make sure you pay close attention to rules that end in fines and whether the HOA is allowed to foreclose your property if you don’t pay your HOA fees or if you have fines from a CC&R violation. Learn about the process of adding or changing rules and where and if HOA meetings are held. Make sure the home you are looking to buy is already in compliance with HOA rules. If you feel the rules are too confining, think about perhaps purchasing elsewhere.

If you like to be friendly to the environment, you must know that some HOA’s may regulate whether or not you can use pesticides, sprinklers, fertilizers, etc. They might not allow xeriscaping and may also limit the size of your garden. They may ban compost piles and also prevent you from installing any solar panels. If any of these are important to you, make sure you read into this and see what is and what isn’t allowed.

Something else you must take into accountant is your attitude. Do you despise being told what to do? If yes, living somewhere with a HOA in place may severely frustrate you. One of the best benefits of being a homeowner is your ability to customize and alter your home to your desires but unfortunately HOA can really, really mess with that.

Every fee with be different within each community. You should be sure to ask your HOA some of the following questions; How are the fees established? Do increases occur? If so, when? Could you get a printed history of HOA fees? Just how large is their reserve fund? Will you have to pay extra for garbage pickup? Is cable or satellite included? Speak to neighbors you are considering living next to and what they pay to the HOA. Remember regardless of whether you use it or not, you must pay for all the recreational facilities.

Think about all the fees. A condo or apartment may end up costing you less than say owning a house with certain HOA fees. Consider this before you move on to a purchase.

HOA’s can be your BFF when they stop your neighbor from painting her house puke green, but they may also be your most horrid enemy when they expect you to maintain excessive expensive maintenance on your home that you may think isn’t worth it. They may have rules you find far too restrictive. Remember before you purchase any sort of property, find out if they have a HOA, learn their rules and fees, and decide if this is what you really want before you jump in to any sort of deal.

Did you like this post? Want More? Check out some of my other blogs:

Denver Real Estate

Matt Kuchar

The Kuchar Team


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