Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to get along with your Homeowners Association

If you live in a condominium complex or a community housing development, you might already be a part of a homeowners association (HOA).  Or if you are a first time home buyer and are getting ready to buy a home, you might be considering living in a development with an HOA.  An HOA is an organization in a subdivision or planned community that makes and enforces the rules for the properties in jurisdiction.  Typically the HOA can put stipulations on what type of fencing you have, what color you can paint the exterior of your home, and sometimes they even govern rules for pets allowed in the community.  

There are definitely pros and cons to having an HOA manage where you live.  Usually your monthly HOA fee covers yard work, snow removal, and other maintenance on your property.  However, if rules aren't followed the HOA can go as far as to put a lien on your property and foreclose on it so it's very important you know how to get along with your HOA.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Before you purchase a property with an HOA, make sure you ask your Realtor or the Builder for a copy of the CC&R's.  These are the rules and requirements that you must follow living the community so it's vital you look over it beforehand.

If you want to go one step further, speak with someone on the committee or talk to some local community members.  Usually members of the neighborhood will be able to provide you with a wealth of information on how the HOA operates.

BE PROACTIVE

The bylaws of the community can be changed at any time so make sure you stay current by attending meetings and always checking your email or mail for notices.  If you stay aware of what's going on there likely will be no surprises about monthly fees going up or other scenarios.  The more you know the better off you are.

PAY YOUR BILLS

This should be an obvious one.  Always be timely when paying your bills.  Falling behind or having many late payments could cause possible foreclosure on your home by the HOA.

Late Payments and How They Affect Your Credit 

COMMUNICATE BEFORE MAKING BIG CHANGES

It's extremely important that you notify your HOA before making any drastic changes or modifications to your property such as a new wall, fence, or additions in the yard.  Attend a meeting or send in a request in writing proposing your idea.  If you have a strong case it's likely they will reason with you.

Have you had any good or bad experiences dealing with a homeowners association? Have some advice to share with future homeowners? Let us know in the comments below.



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