Number of bedrooms. Number of bathrooms. Fenced (or fence-able) back yard. Finished basement. 2 stall garage. Your budget. Close (or far) from town. These are all examples of definitive responses to buyer wish list questions. Buyer consultations elicit a myriad of what seems to be cut and dry, black and white objectives when buyers share what they’re looking for in their next home. However the temperature gauge on Homeowner Associations (HOAs) often ‘muddy the waters’. The uncertain ‘gray area’ of the HOAs leave some questions for clarification and a need for better understanding for the Homeowners Association.
An HOA, or homeowners association, is a self-governing organization in “common-interest” communities where homeowners collectively pay fees to maintain the units or neighborhood. HOAs are typically run by resident homeowners, unpaid volunteers who are elected to a board of directors that oversees the HOA’s management. Properties within an HOA are governed by a collective set of rules and bylaws that are enforced by the association. Each property owner is required to pay HOA fees that cover use and maintenance of common areas. These areas can include swimming pools, parks, parking lots and roads, as well as communal lawn maintenance and landscaping. HOA fees in the greater Morgantown area range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand per year. This range reflects differences in communities and the amenities it offers. HOAs are typically born when a determined percentage of parcels are turned over by the developer to homeowners/members. The Board manages the HOA budget and restrictive covenants and bylaws put in place by the homeowners association. Board members serve terms for specified time limits. This rotation of Board members encourages new ideas and keeps the HOA running fair and equitable. HOAs tend to have a stigma of being strict, unforgiving, and/or militant. Having served on a few different HOAs in the communities we lived in, I found ultimately the goal is to provide a safe community for children and strive to maintain positive property and resale values. Some examples of the rules an HOA may enforce may include: architectural controls, lawn and holiday decoration restrictions, home maintenance standards, noise complaint policies, home occupancy limits and parking rules and guidelines. These guidelines are put in place to manage the community’s curb appeal and overall market value. Perhaps your stance is, ‘I make my mortgage payments as well as pay my insurance and taxes. Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do in or around my home’. You’re exactly right. You likely wouldn’t be happy in an HOA, nor would the HOA be happy with how you maintain your property. If you’re in the market to buy a new home, be sure to share your feelings on HOAs with your REALTOR®. Observing the homes and properties in homeowners associations during showings is a great way to determine whether or not you’d like to be a part of an HOA. Some HOAs tend to be more or less flexible in the rules they govern. This decision should not be taken lightly and it will likely affect your happiness in the community in which you live.
Until next week, love where you live. And if you don’t…contact your local REALTOR®.
Brian Haufe, 2022 MBOR President