Condos and homes that are located in an HOA community come with a certain set of perks that you won’t find in your traditional home. They offer private amenities solely for community residents, provide maintenance for all common areas, and offer a sense of security behind a gated entrance.
But as convenient as these extras may be, they don’t come for free. Living in an HOA community means you’ll be paying a monthly fee in addition to your mortgage and utilities.
Also referred to as “maintenance fees,” HOA dues are established by the HOA’s elected Board of Directors and are determined by the size of each property, or the owner’s share based on anticipated annual expenses. These fees do not go into the pocket of the board but are rather put towards the good of the community.
The question is, what exactly do these HOA fees cover? Every homeowner’s association has its own set of rules, so it’s essential that you carefully review the community’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) to find out the details about these fees.
Here some common things that HOA fees pay for.
Someone has to manage the community, and HOA’s typically employ a property management company to do this. These companies will be responsible for maintaining the property and employing the appropriate personnel to tend to the neighborhood as required.
They also collect HOA fees, deal with owner issues, and make sure that the community – and all properties within it – are properly cared for in order to ensure property values are maintained. To pay for these services, all owners cover this cost through a portion of their HOA fees.
One of the great things about living in an HOA is that your maintenance chores are kept to a minimum. Part of the HOA dues you pay every month will go towards the maintenance of the community, particularly the common areas and amenities. While every HOA is different, the associated fees can cover any one of the following:
- Ongoing maintenance of common areas and amenities (ie. pool, fitness room, tennis courts, etc)
- Lawn care and landscaping
- HVAC systems
- Garbage removal
- Pest control
- Cable TV
To find out exactly what’s covered in the HOA community you’re considering buying into, be sure to contact the association.
If the community you live in employs cleaning staff, lawn maintenance crews, security, or concierge personnel, part of the HOA fees will be used to pay their salaries.
While you’ll be responsible for taking out your own insurance policy to cover your belongings, you don’t have to worry about having to pay for insurance to cover the exterior of the building. The homeowners’ association has their own master insurance policy that covers the community’s building structures, amenities, exteriors, and overall community property against any damage or theft. Part of your fees will be used to pay for this master insurance policy.
Utilities For Common Areas
All the electricity, gas, water, and HVAC systems in the common areas need to be paid for, and all owners each chip in a little to cover such costs through their HOA dues.
Every HOA must have a reserve fund, which is used to cover the cost of large expenses every once in a while that will inevitably be required. Things such as roof replacement or repaving community streets don’t need to take place on a regular basis, but they will need attention at some point in the future as a result of natural wear and tear.
Part of the HOA dues is put towards keeping the reserve fund at a certain level in order for it to be able to adequately cover such major expenses when they’re required. If the reserve fund is not big enough for when these expenses need to be made, all owners within the association will be slapped with an additional fee to be put towards a special assessment.
In case there are any expenses that are not accounted for or anticipated, a contingency fund will be set up in order to cover such expenses, and some of the funds from HOA fees are used for this purpose.
The Bottom Line
It might not be fun to have to pay for another expense on top of all the others you’re responsible for as a homeowner, but HOA fees certainly cover a number of costs that make life in an HOA community comfortable and enjoyable. Every HOA will require its own fee amount, which should accurately reflect the community amenities, the location, and the types of units within the HOA. Speak with your real estate agent about HOA fees and how much you can expect to pay on average in the area you’re looking to buy in.