As much as 25% of the San Diego population lives in a community association, be it a home in a gated community, a townhouse, or a luxury high-rise such as we have at Pacific Gate. A homeowners association (HOA) is run by a board of directors elected by the homeowners to oversee the common assets of a property, manage its finances, run business affairs, enforce and set rules, and see to the maintenance and upkeep of the common areas.
However, be aware that not all HOAs are created equally. Some are seamlessly run by a competent management company overseen by dedicated officers. Others unfortunately can be filled with infighting, expensive assessments for repairs, or even prying neighbors attempting to keep an eye on other owners.
If you are on a house hunt now, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of living with an HOA.
Pros of a HOA
Maintenance: The care taking of the common areas and grounds is essential to keeping the value of your property up, thus a major benefit of an HOA is that they take care of these spaces.
Additionally, they are tasked with securing the necessary insurance for community areas such as a pool, gym and landscaping.
Control of your Property: If your current HOA proves to a be ineffective, you can always choose to run for the board and help set the agenda for the property. In other words, you may take ownership of the entire community along with your home.
Cons of an HOA
Dues: These monthly dues can vary from the middle hundreds to several thousand dollars per month, depending on the home. Part of your dues goes to paying monthly building expenses, while the remainder goes into the reserves for potential future large repairs. HOA dues can also cover costs you would incur if you didn’t live in a property with an HOA, such as some utilities, water and trash.
Assessments: Should an unexpected repair come up and the HOA does not have enough in reserves to cover it, a one time assessment may be charged to pay the bill. Depending on the cost, this assessment could prove costly.
What to Look for in an HOA
Word of advice – do your research. Such research includes reading the HOA covenants, conditions and restrictions, known as the CC&Rs. Within these documents you will find the rules and regulations as they apply to you as a homeowner and the community as a whole.
If possible, ask for the minutes from past HOA annual meetings to get up to speed on current issues within the community. Additionally, definitely request the HOA finances to see if it has a substantial reserves funds in case of emergencies.