toy houses sitting on toy blocks spelling out HOA

HOA Information: What You Need to Know about HOA’s

By: Steve Hembree
September 8, 2017  | 

Here is HOA info, with general information such as fees, rules that are fairly commonplace, and expectations.

What can an HOA do for you?

I decided to write HOA info per an editor request after writing a prior article that mentioned HOA’s. I’m not an expert on HOA’s, so if you’re expecting pie graphs and tiny details, you best keep burning up the Google. However, if you want basic HOA information, then you have arrived at the right place.Mostly what I have to say on the topic of HOA info is my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions: “Every now and again one must trot it out into the light of day.” Ha, you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you? However, my opinion is based on hundreds of property inspections over the last 5 years, in HOA communities and those outside of HOA communities.

What is an HOA?

HOA is shorthand for homeowners’ association. In basic of terms, an HOA is partly like an exclusive club that only residents of a building, complex, or community can, and must, belong to. You will pay monthly dues to be a member and must stay current on these dues. HOAs also have additional rules and regulations set by the residents of the said “club.” So, in a way, the members of the club pay money to an entity and said entity pretty much tells the member, the homeowners, what they can, and cannot, do.Does it sound like I’m not a fan of homeowner associations? While I don’t love them, I certainly understand the benefits of being in an HOA, as well as why I would not own a house in an HOA.

What are CC&R’s?

Most HOA info is contained in the HOA’s published CC&R’s, which is short for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. Much of the time you can find information about specific HOA’s CC&R’s online. CC&R’s generally cover things such as the colors you can paint your house, the rules and regulations regarding the amenities that the building, complex, or subdivision offers. This can include work out facilities, pool and spas, tennis courts and the like.

Additionally, you will find rules regarding parking, how your yard must look, guests, and pets.

Advantages of HOAs

  • No weird paint schemes
  • Cars parked on yards, oils stains on driveways are no-nos
  • No dead yards
  • You belong, strangers do not

I have driven into many a neighborhood where all the houses looked great, the color schemes complement each other, then BAM, there’s a lime green house. Next door is a dead lawn. Across the street, a car parked on the grass. Down the way a bit, there is a house painted orange. My only thoughts on this are, “What were they thinking?!?” You will not find this sort of thing happening in an HOA, and if you do, you can bet it will be corrected toot sweet. That means fast, for you young’uns out there.Dead yards? Nope. Out of control landscaping? Nuh uh. Oil stains on driveways? Not gonna happen. Strangers driving from out of the area, milling about, using the amenities? Sayonara strangers. Everyone belongs to a property or is a guest of a property.There definitely is a plus side to homeowners’ associations, especially HOAs that take their community CC&Rs seriously, as most do.Property values in homeowners’ associations are enhanced, or guarded against falling, by the HOA board, generally speaking. In theory, at least.

Disadvantages of HOAs

There are negative about HOAs too, but this does not necessarily pertain to all HOAs.

  • Cost
  • Politics
  • Less freedom to do things like painting your house in pink stripes and purple polka dots.
  • HOA abuse

How Much Do HOAs Cost?

I did some reading earlier to confirm my thoughts on HOA monthly costs, as I have had limited interactions with homeowners’ associations. My folks paid about $77 a month for theirs, however, there were not many amenities, and it was a retirement community. There was a pool, but to the best of my knowledge, they never used it. More on this HOA later.

I do know of some HOAs with extraordinary monthly fees. Back when I was doing inspections for brokers/banks, it was not out of the ordinary to find homeowners’ associations with monthly fees from ranging $300 to $700. A MONTH! This is in addition to the PITI, aka Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance payment. In other words, one’s monthly bank payment.

Politics and the Rest

I dislike politics of any sort, be it office, election, or neighborhood. In fact, I especially dislike neighborhood politics. “You better butter me up with a compliment, because I sit on the HOA board.” Oh please, shove off.

I dislike politics of any sort, be it office, election, or neighborhood. In fact, especially neighborhood politics. “You better butter me up with a compliment, because I sit on the HOA board.” Oh please, shove off.

If you’ve read my articles, you know that at some point I have a (true) story to tell.When my mother passed away, I had to take on the task of selling her house. It was in an HOA. A lady down the way was a retired real estate broker. Her son ran her agency, and she happened to sit on the HOA board.I set about getting the house ready for sale, using the list of items my broker wrote up for me as a guide. The front wrought iron fence/gate was one item, it had some small areas of rust, so I set about matching the paint and spraying it with primer, then paint to make it look like new.

The HOA Speaks

Ms. Broker/Board member dropped by as I finished up.“So, why did you not list the house for sale with me? I own an agency, you know. I knew your mother well. (Lie). She would have wanted you to sell through me.” (Another lie, mom disliked this lady).I responded with, “I chose whom I chose because they represented themselves well, and besides, they are selling a lot more of the places in this town, right now, then your agency is.”“Well, you know, I do not think I like the color you painted that fence” she came back with, “it just may be contrary to the homeowners’ association color guidelines.”“I don’t know how that can be, it has been the same color since my folks bought the house new, which was, if I’m not mistaken, before you moved here,” I said.“Yes,” she replied, “but you sprayed the paint on. You will be getting a notice to repaint it with a brush,” at which point she spun on her heels and walked away, turning back only to say, ‘Pity you didn’t list with me, all would have been well with the board.”This is why I have no love of HOAs.

Final Words and Last HOA Info

If you are a “Go along To Get along” type of laid back person, and don’t mind spending a little extra every month to have symmetry, order, and consistency, a home in a homeowners’ association HOA may be for you. However, if you have misgivings about people wielding minor authority as if they were the Pope, then maybe you ought to steer clear of HOAs.

My neighborhood does not have an HOA, and there are times I wish we did. The guy across the street repainted his tan/brown house brown with white trim. It was shocking, at first, but I grew to accept it soon enough.Shortly after, a neighbor the next street up painted their house sort of a Tijuana Gold color, which is off-putting, mostly because it is the only house of the couple hundred in my development this color.Then there’s the Blue/Hershey Chocolate house caddy-corner from me. The house is blue, and the trim, shutters, and garage door are all chocolate brown. As a matter of fact, the garage door looks like a giant Hershey bar, with the rectangular impressions in the metal.None of this would happen in an HOA.

Post Script about HOAs

Another case I dealt with is with one of our multi-property owners. When there is an HOA violation, I get a copy of it from him attached to an email that simply says, “Take care of this.”

The HOA stated that the resident stained the driveway in the condo complex washing his car. Curious how water could stain asphalt and concrete, I drove over there later in the day to have a look. Yes, there were some marks on the asphalt near the garage car door, just as there were at every other garage door I could see. I took a couple photos and sent them to the owner, and let him know that I saw nothing there that was not present everywhere.

About a month later I get another email, 2nd violation. Okay, I’m going to have to look again, and closer.When I arrived later that day, I noted no changes at all, anywhere, except that at present there was a group of teenagers riding their skate boards around the garage doors, each carrying Big Gulp cups of soda while skating. One skater spilled his soda right

When I arrived later that day, I noted no changes at all, anywhere, except that at present there was a group of teenagers riding their skate boards around the garage doors, each carrying Big Gulp cups of soda while skating. One skater spilled his soda right in an area where this looked to happen a lot, I happened to capture a picture of this to supplement my growing collection of images at this place. Funny, after sending these photos to the HOA themselves, I never heard anything back.

We at Management One manage properties inside of, and outside of HOAs, in the Inland Empire and Orange County. We know how to work with them to keep the property in compliance, and when the HOA is wrong, we will politely fight back. Contact us today about our services!

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