Recently, I had a potential buyer call me about moving to Orlando from New Jersey. This particular buyer was interested in the neighborhood of Hunters Creek, Fl. because he had a young family and he knew that Hunters Creek was voted the 21st best place to live in the U.S. just a couple of years ago. In our first conversation he says to me “Whatever, you do don’t show me any houses where there is a homeowners association”. I can’t say I was surprised to hear this, I hear it all of the time. There’s a lot of bad press about HOAs, especially when it comes to short sales and trying to negotiate with them on discounting the amount owed by a seller, but that’s a different subject all together.
My first order of business as an Orlando real estate agent was to tell this buyer that every neighborhood in Hunters Creek is governed by a HOA. I then had to educate him on how communities like these put HOAs in place to protect their residents. Imagine if everyone was allowed to paint their house any color they wanted…Yikes!!! or what if residents didn’t have to pick up after their dogs? It would be total Chaos!
I knew that if I was going to keep him as a client I would have to do one of two things; either find him another neighborhood to live in or convince him that not all HOAs are evil. It forced me to do some deep research about HOA’s. See below.
What’s An HOA?
An HOA is an organization in a planned community or condominium that makes and enforces rules for the properties under its jurisdiction. A HOA survives by collecting fees, either monthly or quarterly to pay for the upkeep of the community’s common areas like soccer fields, dog parks, tennis courts, community centers, etc. They also enforce the community rules AKA “the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions”. If there weren’t a set of rules in place, the neighborhood would be much less appealing. These are the rules that keep your neighbor from painting her house bright purple or parking their RV in the driveway. It’s true that sometimes HOAs can be overly strict in some cases, but it’s always for the best interest of the community.
What Do HOAs Cover?
It depends on what community your talking about because every HOA is different. You can find out what any particular HOA covers simply by contacting the one that runs the community that you’re interested in.
Who or What Runs The HOA?
The HOA is ran by the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions AKA the CC&R’s. This will decide how a HOA will function including but not limited to: what’s allowed, what’s not allowed, how elections and assessments are managed. Typically, there’s a Board of Directors that are unpaid residents of the community that make sure that the community rules and restrictions are followed and enforced. Also, there’s a management company that’s hired to collect fees and schedule maintenance to common grounds like landscapers, park maintenance, etc.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your HOA Fees?
The HOA has the right to put a lien on your property for non-payment. If the homeowner doesn’t pay the fees for whatever reason, the HOA can actually has the ability to foreclose on the property. This may be hard to believe but it happens all the time here in Orlando. Even though the mortgage company is in first position if it goes to foreclosure, the HOA has the right to receive up to one years worth of HOA dues under Florida law
Why Do Some HOA Fees Increase?
The short answer is inflation. The fees that you pay to your HOA are based on the budget that was determined for that fiscal year. The budget covers day-to-day operations, field maintenance, pest control, landscaping, etc. Also, there should always be a reserve for any unforeseen events that may come up. If the HOA determines that the fees charged won’t cover the needs of the community, then the fees will increase.