A homeowners association (often abbreviated as HOA) collects a monthly fee from homeowners to handle a variety of services. This is usually in the realm of landscaping, but could also include roofing, general contracting duties, concrete repair and snow shoveling if you live in an area with winter weather.
Homeowner dues range anywhere from $75 a month to over $200 a month in certain areas. For instance, a homeowner in California would likely pay $150+ for basic services from an HOA.
So, what does that fee actually cover?
General Neighborhood Maintenance
An HOA exists to make the neighborhood look cohesive. These means that all homes in the neighborhood need to look similar from their roofing to how their city garbage cans are placed on the street. The HOA enforces these policies and hires outside groups to help manage the property they oversee. If you’ve ever wandered into a neighborhood where everything looks clean, consistent and well-polished, it’s likely managed by an HOA.
An HOA is primarily responsible for the landscaping of individual properties. In the summertime, this entails mowing the lawns, cleaning up weeds and maintaining sprinklers. The HOA is responsible for picking up leaves in the fall and will also provide support for snow shoveling in the winter. These services make the neighborhood look great and they reduce stress for homeowners. For example, cleaning up leaves is a vital service for homeowners with a lot of trees.
Roofing & Exterior Repair
Depending on the contract with an HOA, they might also cover roofing repairs. This likely isn’t going to cover a complete replacement of a roof, but the HOA will help replace shingles and some weather damage to the roof. The HOA group should also provide some services for fixing exterior blemishes to the home. This might involve fixing stucco or siding on the house, and could even mean fixing concrete in the driveway and sidewalks. Be sure to ask your HOA for a list of what is covered.
How Does An HOA Find Service Professionals & Contractors?
In most states, an HOA appoints a board for all decision making. The board has a team of knowledgable people who vet contractors and service professionals, then use the residents’ monthly dues to pay for the service. HOA boards will usually find the best quality for the price, but there are occasionally issues with quality if a board member hires a friend or family member to perform a job. For this reason, many HOAs are shifting to an 3rd party election process for the board to reduce conflicts. In fact, this is now the law in the state of California.
Be sure to check with your HOA on any questions you may have about what services are covered from a monthly fee and how they find service professionals. If you’re new to living in a neighborhood that is managed by an HOA, try to attend meetings and find out if the board is in fact governed by an HOA election inspector (most likely the case in California). It will be important for you to participate in elections to make sure the community’s funds are properly used.
As you can see, an HOA can cover a lot. While homeowners will need to pay their monthly dues that vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, they will also receive expert landscaping, neighborhood maintenance and some communities even offer a clubhouse, recreation area or pool. If you’re moving into an HOA-run community for the first time, be sure to ask questions about the services provided and where your funds go.