When looking to buy a home, there are many options. Last week, we took a look at condos as compared to freehold properties but what about a freehold home with a homeowner’s association? In many cases, a homeowner’s association can appear very similar to a condo but this is not actually the case. It is very important to understand these differences before buying into a home with a homeowner’s association.
Differences Between a Condo and Homeowner’s Association
If you purchase a condo, you are purchasing your unit along with a share of the common element(s). These could include green spaces, amenities, private roads, or services and they are jointly owned by all condo owners. In the case of a homeowner’s association, those common elements are owned by a third party and your monthly homeowner’s association fees are paid to cover their maintenance and to allow usage of these amenities. In a homeowner’s association, you own your home and property but pay to use these common elements. Payment for these common elements is not usually optional so it is important to consider the cost and whether or not you will actually take advantage of them.
Homeowner’s Association Fees
Just like condos, homeowner’s association fees can vary dramatically depending on the amenities. They are generally charged monthly and go to cover anything from a parking lot or green space, or an amenity like a pool, golf course, or tennis court. The more that is offered, the higher the homeowner’s association fee.
Like a condo, a homeowner’s association may impose restrictions or bylaws. These restrictions can include exterior modifications, pets, or even people (some homeowner’s associations will not allow children to stay for long periods if the community is geared towards adult living). These restrictions can be strict so it is important ensure that the homeowner’s association bylaws fit your lifestyle.
Perks of Buying a Home in a Home Owner’s Association
Before You Buy
- Amenities – Some home owner’s associations offer great amenities.
- Ongoing Maintenance – Depending on what your homeowner’s association covers, it may mean that certain aspects of your property, or the property around your home is maintained. This can include snow removal and landscaping.
As a buyer, you will need to sign a “Joint Use Agreement” and it is important to review this carefully to ensure that you fully understand the details of the homeowner’s association. By signing this agreement, you are agreeing to pay all monthly fees and abide by any bylaws that have been put into place.
With all real estate transactions, it is important to work with a Realtor. A Realtor will be able to guide you through the decision making process to ensure that you know what you are buying.