If you are thinking about buying a townhome, condominium, or single family home in a newer development in North Iowa, it is likely that the property is part of a Homeowners Association (HOA). It is important that you fully understand what an HOA is and what rules govern the community before you consider purchasing there. HOAs should make your life easier as a homeowner by providing additional support.
So what is a Homeowners Association? An HOA is an organization of neighboring property owners that determine the rules that will govern the community as a whole. They are responsible for enforcing the rules and ensuring that they are followed by all of the residences within the association. All property owners pay a fee to the HOA which funds the operations of the association and helps cover costs for necessary community repairs as they arise. The goal of HOA (as it always should be) is to improve and maintain the quality of life for all residents within the neighborhood. With the support and work of the entire community, home values should ideally remain the same or increase.
If the North Iowa property you are interested in is part of an HOA, here are 11 important items you should find out in order to make an informed decision:
- What are the rules of the HOA?
The HOA will consistently be making sure that rules within the community are being followed. This means that you need to make sure that you are okay with following these particular rules. You can find the list of rules on the HOA’s website. It is also important to ask your Realtor for a list as they will be able to find out more about the rules itself and any related fees/penalties that are levied when the rules aren’t followed..
- Can you rent your property?
This one mostly comes into play if you buy a townhome or condominium, but if you are ever considering using the property as an income property, you need to make sure that you are allowed to rent it out.
- How does the HOA make decisions/changes?
It is important to see how decisions and changes are made by the HOA. Is it majority rule? Is consensus required? Make sure that you are comfortable with the decision making process of the HOA since they will be governing certain aspects of your life.
- Is the property currently in compliance?
You want to make sure that the property you are interested in is not currently breaking any of the HOA rules. If it is, you could be stuck with the fee. It is best to make sure that the home is already in good standing with the community.
- What are the fees?
Homeowners Associations are an additional cost to your monthly expenses so it is necessary to know what you are paying for. It is important to consider what the monthly dues are, what they cover, and if there are extra fees. Here are some more helpful questions to learn the answers to before buying. Does the cost of this HOA compare to similar ones in the North Iowa area? How often do fees increase and what is the process for approving of these increases? What is the current reserve fund for the HOA in case of community emergencies?
- How do current members feel?
Take the time to talk to several other property owners within the HOA. Find out what it is like to deal with the HOA on a daily basis. It can also be helpful to see a copy of the minutes from the last HOA meeting so you can see how well managed it is as well as get a better idea as to how issues are resolved.
- Is the HOA over- or under- managed?
An overbearing HOA can take away to much of your autonomy over your property and be difficult to work with. An undermanaged one can simply not be doing its job properly despite making money every year from dues. You want to find one with the management style that will best fit into your own life.
- What do the fees mean for your budget?
As you sit down to figure out what you can afford within your housing budget, you need to include any and all HOA fees. Are these additional costs truly worth it for you based on what the HOA can/will provide?
- Is the HOA environmentally friendly?
This will differ in importance based on each individual homeowner but it can be beneficial to know how environmentally friendly the HOA is. Do you want a community that tries to limit its environmental impact or one that focuses more on maintaining a particular physical appearance no matter the footprint on nature?
- Does being a member of an HOA match your personality?
Some homeowners really aren’t meant to be HOA members. If you do not want intrusion into your personal life and property in any fashion, being in a HOA is not meant for you.
- Can you attend a meeting?
The HOA will have a major impact on your life so it is in your best interest to check out an HOA meeting prior to becoming a member. This will allow you to better see how the HOA is managed and make a final decision based on your own personal experiences.
Ready to Buy your dream home with a homeowners association? Search North Iowa Homes for Sale to find out which available properties are part of an HOA. Give Jane Fischer & Associates a call today to find the perfect neighborhood for you and your family!