HOAs (Home Owner Associations) have been around for a long time; primarily for condo and townhome developments they are becoming more and more prevalent for single family home developments. In fact you will find that the vast majority of new developments have a HOA to one degree or another.
So what is a HOA? An HOA is a governing body (usually made up of home owners) put in place to look after a neighborhood. They define rules and regulations that must be following by the homeowners, and are responsible for enforcing those rules. They are also usually responsible for maintaining common areas, facilities (swimming pool etc.) and external maintenance of the buildings (at least when it comes to condos and townhomes).
So their overall job is to maintain a standard within the community, and therefore protect the property values. In order that they can do this each homeowner pays a fee (usually monthly), which is used to support the HOAs activities. This fee can be a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.
Just like businesses some HOAs are well run and others not so. The HOA can be a true enforcer and proactive or can be weak and ineffective. So how do you know how good an HOA is? Well there are a several ways you can find out. The first way is to ask for the minutes of the HOA meetings, here you will see if there are any problems, if they have enough money in the bank and if there are any big bills that are due to be incurred in the near future. You can then study these minutes as part of your due diligence period. The other way is to ask some of the people who live there. Lastly, take a look at the neighborhood to see if the homes and facilities are well maintained, if they are then the chances are the HOA is doing their job.
You should also obtain a copy of the HOA governing documents, which detail the rules and regulations covered by the HOA. These can cover anything from what pets you can own to what color you can paint your home.
Visit our SLC Condos website for more information on HOAs and other condominium development information.