If you’re a first-time home buyer and are confused about what a Home Owners Association is (or does), you should definitely ask the right questions before you consider buying. Basically, an HOA is an organization which is designed to protect the quality of life and property values for owners within a neighborhood or shared building.  How they do so, though, can vary widely. Typically, when you purchase a residence subject to an HOA, you’ll be required to pay monthly dues, quarterly and annually which often contribute to major repairs or maintenance or the upkeep of common/shared resources.

 

But HOAs can also have a significant impact on what you can and can’t do with your own home. The HOA’s rules are detailed in what’s called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). To understand how strict an HOA is (or isn’t) you’ll want to understand the details of its CC&Rs before you consider buying. These might have reasonable restrictions, such as keeping junk cars out of the front lawn, or they might extend all the way to what color you can paint your garage door.

 

Before purchasing a house in Maryland and according to the Maryland Homeowner Association Act, “the seller is required to disclose to the buyer at or before the time the contract is entered into certain information concerning the development in the lot the buyer is purchasing.”

 

HOAs are typically of greater concern to condo buyers who pay condo fees than single-family home buyers, but they cannot be overlooked when searching for your next residence. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself and the HOA before you make an offer:

 

1. How comfortable am I sharing decision making about my own home? Yes, you own your property, but if you agree to abide by the CC&Rs of an HOA, you’ll need to be willing to abide by its rules.

 

2. How much are the HOA fees, and how much have they increased over time? Your budget can be seriously impacted not only by current HOA fees, but anticipated increases. Sometimes HOAs can even require residents to chip in for major repairs or upgrades beyond HOA fees.

 

3. What are all of the CC&Rs? Get a copy of the CC&Rs and make sure you understand all of the rules. Furthermore, see if you can sit on an HOA board meeting or obtain notes from past meetings. This will help you understand the temperament of the HOA as well as the type of past conflicts residents have had with the board.

 

4. Is the home (or unit) you’re considering in compliance with the HOA’s CC&R's? If you’re considering an offer on a problematic property, understand a real hassle may follow.

 

If you like the idea of a group of neighbors who set community or building standards, a residence with an HOA may be for you. But if not, don’t worry! There are lots of other homes out there. Get in touch with me today:

Upper Marlboro MD Real Estate Listings, Silver Spring MD Real Estate Listings, Washington DC Real Estate Listings and Real Estate Services.  Denise Watkins is your local Real Estate Expert for Upper Marlboro and the surrounding areas!  Looking for a Realtor who can help you sell or purchase a home, my online services are available to assist you now and you can also email, text, or call me: Denise Watkins 202-489-5478.