HOA stands for "Homeowners Association" and it is emplaced to help maintain a clean and cohesive atmosphere in the neighborhood. This can be for neighborhoods or when in a condominium, townhouse, or single-family home with a "planned development".
Here are some things to know before buy a home with an HOA:
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R) are the rules you need to follow that allow things or don't allow things. For instance, the CC&R may not allow you to park on RV in front of your home, or any vehicle that my be an eyesore; as well as stopping you from painting your front door a bright blue or have bright shutters. It is there to keep the neighborhood having a specific appearance. CC&Rs may limit how tall your grass can grow, whether you can plant or remove trees, how high fences can be, and which types of coverings you can use on street-facing windows, so you may be more restricted than you would want.
Fees: The number and size of the development’s amenities affect rates, as well as variations in square footage, location, and orientation can cause different rates within the community.
Some additional fees may apply. An HOA may adopt one of several approaches to financial management. These choices especially affect how it funds unexpected expenses and such capital investments as replacing an HVAC system. If a major expense happens, like fixing a roof, and the HOA doesn't have enough to cover it, the association may charge each homeowner a special assessment.
What You're Paying For: Every HOA will include and exclude different things, so make sure you know what you are paying for and if it benefits you. Some will include amenities, like pools and tennis courts, and you will be able to check the hours of operation for it to see if it works for you. Meanwhile a gated community may only have a gate maintenance fee as an agreement.
HOA's Impact on your Mortgage: Banks will consider your monthly HOA fees when deciding how large a mortgage you’ll be able to afford. Higher HOA fees could leave you with a smaller approved amount to spend on your house compared with choosing an alternative property with low or no fees.
Always look into the HOA of a potential neighborhood and make sure you fully understand it and the terms before purchasing!