Home Buyer Tips: Does This Subdivision Have a HomeOwners’ Association?
Drive through a subdivision where the grass is cut, shrubs trimmed, and nary a piece of trash or visible eyesore and buyers perk up and want to see more. Conversely, travel through a community that looks unkept and rundown and you will typically get the opposite response. In both circumstances, a frequently asked question I hear is “Does this subdivision have a homeowners’ association?”.
What is a Homeowners’ Association (HOA)
An HOA is normally a non-profit organization established by the real estate developer and handed over to the community upon development completion or after a percentage of homes are built. The HOA provides rules regulating maintenance of common areas and enforcement of deed restrictions (filed with the property records). The HOA is the go-by for the subdivision do’s and don’ts. A copy of the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&R) will be provided to buyers at closing.
Possibly, but how do you know for sure? Here are some common places you can check:
- The developer or on-site sales team. If homes are still being built, they will know
- Local clerk of courts or the courthouse at the county seat. HOAs must record their CC&Rs
- A local Realtor. If they closed a home in this subdivision, they have the information
- A Real Estate Attorney. They handle a lot of closings and will most likely know
- Do a Google search. Many subdivisions have community websites and the HOA information is often available
- Check with homeowners in the subdivision. This is less awkward if you know someone in the community in question
- In Georgia, you can also check with the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority
- U.S. wide, another online resource is Community Associations Institute
Features of an HOA
They can be very restrictive with the HOA Board ruling with an iron fist, lax and easy going, or someplace in-between the extremes. While there is no set standard list of rules they must adhere to, here are some common features that HOAs have:
- Mandatory membership and a fee is charged (monthly, quarterly, or annually)
- Approval from HOA Board before structural changes are made to the property
- Enforced exterior maintenance standards (community landscaping/security contracted by HOA Board)
- Common area use (clubhouses, exercise facilities, pools, etc.)
- Commercial use of property
- Storage of boats, RVs, or work vehicles
- Erecting a tree house or basketball hoop
- Fence, landscaping, and paint restrictions
- Street parking
- Number of pets
- Age restrictions
What Happens to HOA Rule Breakers
That depends on how strictly enforced the CC&R rules are. HOAs have the ability to generate fees, fines, solve minor disputes, or take homeowners to court for serious (and often repetitive) infractions. Follow the rules if you live in an HOA subdivision and issues should not arise. Remember, owning a home is an investment and doing your part to keep the subdivision looking nice will help keep property values UP.
For the vast majority of homeowners living in an HOA subdivision or community, the experience is nearly transparent. Potential buyers need to weigh their options on HOA living and determine if the guidelines and enforcement of those HOA rules are a good fit for their values and lifestyle.
How can Warner Robins GA home buyers ensure they make informed home purchasing decisions? Employ the services of a well qualified Warner Robins Real Estate Professional!
As always, Warner Robins real estate information is brought to you as a courtesy by Anita Clark, your Warner Robins Real Estate Consultant.