Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are a great resource to its members and offer a wide range of benefits. That being said, if you’ve never dealt with one or have never been a member of an HOA, you are probably a little bit nervous and have no idea what to expect. Even worse, you may have heard some nightmare scenarios and stories from folks.
Fear not -HOAs are fantastic when you understand how they work and how you can leverage the benefits they offer. Here are a few quick survival tips for those of you who are out there and new to HOAs. Let’s jump right in.
The most important thing you can do is to essentially learn about your HOA. Ask for any and all available resources – the association’s website, their rules and regulations that govern them, subscribe to their newsletter and mailing list, etc. Learn everything you can and don’t be afraid to fire off any questions to help fill in gaps. This can save you from costly mistakes and any potential tension with other community members.
Get to know the board
Introduce yourself to the folks who sit on the executive board. They’ll be able to help answer some of your questions, but it’s also helpful to have a ‘get to know you’ meet up with everyone so you can get a feel for each person and what’s important to them. It’ll also help you have a direct line to the people most responsible for decision making in the community.
Understand your fee structure
Every HOA is different in terms of how they structure their fees, bills and expenses. Some operate month to month, some operate quarterly and some annually. Figure out what your dues go to, when they’re due and how you can pay them. Also be sure to ask about any upcoming special assessments or big ticket items (improvements and the like) that might cause those HOA dues to go up.
Like the old saying goes -you get out of something what you put into it – and when it comes to HOA’s, that saying rings true. Join a committee or leadership team. HOAs all have lots of different teams you can join ranging from things like important fundraising, architectural review and landscaping committees to more fun social, neighborhood bbq committees. Long story, short -if there’s a good chance you can find an area of the HOA where you can become a real asset. Find it, join up and participate!
Hopefully, these tips put your mind at ease about joining an HOA. Anything that’s new can seem daunting at first, but simply put – it’s a matter of getting involved, asking questions and preparing for what’s coming. Good luck!