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HOA requirements to be aware of

Nowadays, the thought of owning a home in a planned and well-manicured neighborhood may sound nice. However, while some people may enjoy living in an HOA-managed community, others may not enjoy the association's rules.

One unattractive feature of HOAs is the fact that homeowners must pay monthly dues that could unexpectedly increase. There may also be special assessments enforced in the event of an emergency. The fees could amount to quite a bit of money depending on repair costs. However, potential homebuyers could examine HOA financials to learn more about the raised fees.

Further, those who are locked into an HOA may have to pay disciplinary fees if they violate the rules, such as painting the home a non-HOA-approved color, installing a satellite dish against HOA's rules or improperly maintaining the home's yard. Members are also restricted in the type of exterior lighting and other accessories they can have, such as solar panels. These rules apply to all homeowners, regardless of whether they have paid off their mortgage or not. Homeowners who cannot pay the fees could be forced to lose their home. Renting out the home may not be allowed by the HOA, as well, since many HOAs generally limit the amount of members who have renters.

Homeowners who have pets may think twice before buying a home in a HOA community, too. While some HOAs may charge additional fees for homeowners who own pets, others have restrictions regarding the size and type of pets that can live in the community.

Those who buy into a HOA community and disagree with the association's rules may find themselves in an HOA dispute. They may want to have legal counsel attempt to negotiate a settlement before the matter escalates.

Source: Quicken Loans, "6 Facts You Should Know About Homeowners Associations", Zina Kumok, July 26, 2016

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