Homeowner Association Tips for New Homeowners

Part of successful community management is providing homeowner association tips for new homeowners.  These “new homeowners” in a homeowners association (HOA) can be defined in a number of ways:

  • They can be first-time buyers who have never owned a home before.  They’re not only new to homeownership, but they’re new to HOA living and new to a particular HOA community.
  • They can be first-time buyers in a HOA community, having never experienced HOA living before.  But, they have owned a home in a non-HOA neighborhood in the past.
  • Or, they could have lived in a HOA previously, but have moved to a new HOA community.

Regardless of their status, every new homeowner has something to learn and can benefit from homeowner association tips.  Whether understanding how a HOA works or discovering what amenities a community offers, new homeowners need to get to know life within their new neighborhood.

Therefore, the following homeowner association tips will help all new homeowners planning to buy a home in a HOA community to dodge any issues.  These six tips will also help new homeowners benefit from everything the HOA has to offer.

Homeowner Association Tips:

  1. Commit to Education

    The key to avoiding surprises that could end up costing homeowners money is to remain vigilant about learning all there is to know about the HOA.  Buying in a HOA community is different from purchasing in a non-HOA neighborhood.  The purchase is somewhat more complicated because it involves so much more.  As part of the HOA, the buyer assumes more obligations, has more restrictions, enjoys more amenities and has access to more community resources.

    All these things need to be understood prior to the purchase and throughout the entire time the homeowner resides in the HOA.  The old adage “information is power” certainly holds true concerning new homeowners and HOAs communities. 

Homeowner Association Tips:

  1. Analyze the HOA’s Governing Documents

    The most obvious part of the educational process for new homeowners is scrutinizing the association’s governing documents.  Each HOA will have Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), by-laws and regulations, meeting minutes, financial statements and more. These documents will outline all the crucial information a new homeowner must know about to understand what life will be like in the community.  In other words, what will the HOA expect of the homeowner in terms of participation, behavior and monetary contributions?

    While investigating the impact of the HOA, new homeowners must also determine the financial strength of the association.  Does the board seem to be spending money wisely?  Are any special assessments planned for the future?  What has been the history of increases on HOA dues?

    First-time buyers need to be extra diligent during this critical step.  After all, the governing documents will dictate whether the new homeowner’s lifestyle will be compatible with the HOA’s rules and regulations.  If anything is unclear, a new homeowner should get clarification from an expert.

Homeowner Association Tips:

  1. Determine Financial Responsibility

    New homeowners need to be advised of the HOA dues and special assessments.  A buyer agrees to pay a share of common expenses when they buy property in a HOA.  If new homeowners follow tips one and two above, the financial obligations should be very clear from the time of purchase.

    HOA homeowners usually pay monthly dues for common operating expenses, including grounds maintenance, pool service, fitness center operation, road and sidewalk maintenance, security, management fees and more.  Major expenses are covered through special assessments.  After member approval, these assessments are imposed depending on the requirement.

Homeowner Association Tips:

  1. Evaluate the Management Company

    Many HOAs hire professional management companies to help manage the HOA and provide community resources.  These management companies attract talent from a variety of disciplines – finance, accounting, property management, human resources and more.  An experienced management company will be able to develop programs to improve how HOAs operate.  They can also enhance connections between homeowners and boards.

    If a HOA uses a management company, new homeowners should research the firm to determine its standing within the industry.  What services does the company provide?  What level of experience does it have?  What do other clients say about the company?  What is the company’s overall track record with its employees and clients?

Homeowner Association Tips:

  1. Check-out the Amenities

    New homeowners should take an inventory of the community’s amenities.  It’s important to compare what’s identified on the community’s website versus what is seen in-person.  Talking with current residents can provide added information regarding maintenance, usage and more.

    Common amenities within HOA communities include pools, spas, tennis courts, restaurants, golf courses, fitness centers, business centers, game rooms and more.  New homeowners need to get copies of all rules and regulations governing these facilities.

Homeowner Association Tips:

  1. Investigate the Community Resources

    The community resources provided by the HOA create an opportunity to get connected to neighbors, board members and others.  Resources, such as organizations, events, activities and more, can help new homeowners feel welcome, make new friends and quickly become a part of the community.

    Establishing a variety of community resources promotes neighbor participation in the HOA.  And, greater participation in the community creates a sense of neighborhood pride.
    Neighborhoods can do so much more than house people.  When properly managed, HOAs help take neighborhoods to new levels by connecting people, providing amenities and creating resources – all to enhance lives and build vibrant communities. 

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