Buying a Home

What Are HOA Fees?

July 11, 2012

As more and more neighborhoods are built as planned communities with shared amenities, more and more homeowners are finding themselves part of a homeowner’s association (HOA).

If a community has an HOA, homeowners automatically become members in the community’s homeowner’s association when they purchase a home. Membership in an HOA requires that you pay a fee, usually monthly or yearly. HOA fees go toward common area maintenance and help ensure that the neighborhood stays well kept. The fees may allow you entrance into the community rec center, fitness center or community pool, if your community has those amenities. In low-maintenance communities, fees may cover snow removal and lawn care.

HOA fees vary immensely from state to state and from community to community. When you are shopping for a new home, find out the sum of the fees up front so you can accurately assess your monthly budget before you purchase. Be sure to ask what the fees include so there are no surprise expenses at closing or after you move. In addition to monthly or yearly dues, there may be a one-time reserve or capital contribution and/or a transfer fee at your home’s closing.

Pool at Cobblestone Ranch in Castle Rock, CO

What do your fees include?

  • Landscaping/care of the grounds
  • Community pool
  • Tennis courts/sports courts
  • Care for parks and trails
  • Pest control
  • Catastrophe insurance
  • Waste/snow removal
  • Cable TV
  • Utilities
  • Emergency reserves
  • Other ______________

Beyond the fees themselves, if you’re moving to a community governed by a homeowner’s association, you’ll want to ask about design guidelines, regulations and restrictions. Your HOA may have rules about what types of businesses you can run out of your home. There may also be regulations on building outside structures, painting your home bright colors, parking and more. These rules are in place to keep the community looking attractive and well-maintained, which will hopefully help with the resale value of your home down the road.

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