Hello, everyone, this is Charles McShan from Century 21 Universal. My office is located in the West Ridge area in the city of Chicago. This blog addresses the question of what does the term Home Owners Association or HOA means in regards to homeownership? Well first off the term HOA simply means an organization developed for the purpose of managing and maintaining the common interest portions of a community. The Home Owner Association also makes rules for the properties and it’s residents. 

    This form of community living is normally found in Condominiums, Townhomes, and some single-family homes that make up this form of community ownership. In contrast, the majority of  Single-family homeowners are in complete control of their home. They can decide if and when they will fix any repairs to their home. They can plant fruit trees, put up shrines, etc. On the other hand, a Condo or a Townhome owner does not have that authority to operate independently of the association.
      Home Owner Associations have the task of enforcing rules for all the residents living within that subdivision or building or groups of buildings. There are no exceptions to the rule if you purchase a home with the HOA jurisdiction you by default become a member and you have to pay the costs which are called Home Owner Association fees So if are considering steps to homeownership especially in the Chicagoland area and you do not want to pay association fees and you do not want anyone telling you what you can and cannot do then you should not think about buying a townhome or a condo.

  But if you like the Condo or townhome lifestyle then you must come to grips with what comes with that form of homeownership. This form of community living is run by the residents living there and by establishing rules of order. Why is that necessary? Well, everyone wants to customize there new home there own way and live there own way but where there is conformity there are rules. The main document of the HOA is the document is called the Declaration Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. 

    These documents inform the residents about what they can and can not do their property. For example, structural restrictions might limit the type of fences, landscapes, and the type of paint you can use on the exterior of your home. You must blend in and not stand out. Some HOA will not permit satellite dishes. To violate the HOA rules you will pay the financial price. So, how does this form of community living works?

        How Does An HOA Board operate and what goes on at the Board Meetings?
                                                                                                                                                                      Everyone living within the community is part of the association they are dues-paying members. They, in turn, are governed by an elected board of directors. They, in turn, create laws that are adopted that determine how many HOA members will sit on the board. They did decide how many board members must be present at a meeting to qualify as a quorum so a matter can be voted on? How often elections must take place? If there are term limits for board members? Who has the right to cast a vote for board members? 

     Every state has different rules on how HOA boards operate it can also be confusing. How often does the board meet? Every board is different. It can be monthly or every 4 months. Notice of a meeting should be delivered in advance. The notice should include an agenda of topics to be discussed.   

    At these meetings, the board also resolves disputes between members and keeps track of maintenance issues. A member of the board will keep track of the minutes of the meetings so every Home Owner Association board member will know what took place at that meeting. There can be in fact 5 different types of HOA meetings it can be very complexing so if you want to learn more about this subject the experts explain it to you please click the link below. http://hopb.co/blog/homeowners-association-hoa-meetings

     Two of the main topics discussed at these meetings are
  1: The property manager’s work dealing with maintaining the complex
  2: The task of collecting monthly or annual fees to pay for the common areas and to maintain the area. This area includes parks, laundry rooms elevators swimming pools exercise rooms, etc. If it is on your Association property, it has to be maintained. Someone has to pay for it and that someone is you and the rest of your HOA family. The fees could be as low as $150.00 to as high as over $2.000 a month for high-end areas. HOA fees also contribute funds to the association reserved funds for major renovation projects or emergency use. 

The association can also impose a  special assessment when funds are low to cover an emergency repair such as the parking lot, the elevators, roof, etc. As you can see The Home Owner Association board handles the organization’s finances. They set assessment rates and penalties that come when you do not pay your monthly fees or if you damage the common areas. They also have the powers to impose fines, liens, and legal action on the non-compliant homeowners. They can also put pressure on the homeowner to sell his/her home.

  How is Living in a Rule controlled environment different from living in your own individual home?
                                                                                                                                                                 So you can see there is a lot to consider if you are thinking of buying a townhome, Condo, or certain Single-family homes that fall under a Home Owner Association. Everyone has heard of certain HOA Boards controlling their members like a dictator. Before you buy into that way of living you must ask yourself these questions.  What are the pluses? What are the minuses? If you are a person who likes to work in your garage using power tools jacking your car high in the air whenever you want to that will not be allowed. You want to party all night with loud music and people hanging out partying till dawn your home noise restrictions will not allow you to do that.
      In my recent blog about landscapes if you owned a home and you wanted to make your front yard into a fantasy paradise different from your neighbor’s lawns you could do so. You can not do that living on HOA property, your bylaws will prevent this. Your grass has to be cut to a certain level. Your landscape must match every other resident landscape. Outside furniture, grills, and other things can not just be sitting around. 

   There are pet regulations, barking laws In other words, your home must blend in with the other units. The HOA you will not allow your unit to stand out externally as different, you must maintain all stucco or siding along with maintaining everything else on your property. Remember at the beginning of this post I said a Single-family homeowner can defer maintenance on his home. An HOA owner will not be allowed to do that. The HOA will see to it that you maintain the integrity of your home’s exterior at all times.

  In regards to Condo owners, when you look up at Condo high rises you will see that all the window blinds, draperies, or curtains are identical. They have to be, the bylaws stress that everyone has to buy a particular style of blinds or draperies so the exterior view will be in harmony. You will not be allowed to disrupt that harmony with a totally different style of window dressing. So, whether Condo, Townhome, or a Single-family home. the people living there have bought into this way of living.  The majority of people love it that decisions have already been made for them an all they have to do is follow the rules. Can you follow those rules? Think about and be honest with yourself

  So to sum it up, when you buy into a homeowner association you are going into business with people you do not know. There are billions of dollars on deposits across the country. There have been fraud and embezzlement cases reported. With that being the case you must really do your homework and understand the bylaws and the management practices of the HOA that you want to buy into. On the Real Estate side when a property is listed on the MLS it will state the monthly Assessment fees. It will normally also tell you what those fees cover such as lawn care, snow removal, and garbage collection among other things. 

  Can you find out how much reserves they have in the bank and if the fees will cover repairs for years to come before you make an offer? The odds are against it because the HOA board does not have a fiduciary duty to you a potential buyer but to the owners living there. You might be able to find a CPA who has experience in Condo finance statements. Your Real Estate Broker might be able to put extreme pressure on the Seller of the property to come up with all documents pertaining to the HOA.In some states, these documents are a matter of public record and you will find them at the registrar of deeds office.


   So, after reading this article what is your view of Home Owners Associations?  A lot of people love them some do not. Others have bought about changes in their associations by showing up at the meetings. They have spoken up, addressing issues, and formed groups. Together as groups, they took on the bullies in the room who insist on living as they did 25 years ago. Yes, HOA means different things to different people. If you want your home to be an extension of yourself and your many creative ways to express yourself then Association living is not for you. Go out and buy that single-family home and you can be king/queen of your castle. 

   On the other hand, if you like what HOA offers and that is a stable community with amenities, structure, and rules already in place, every home blending in then, then by all means, please consider it. The choice is yours. As a Real estate Broker, I am here to help you any way I can to get you the type of home and the time of lifestyle that suits you. When you are ready and you are in the Chicagoland area please contact me.  Thank you and until the next time, Please have a good day,                                                                                         

                                Charles McShan   

                                Century 21 Universal 7300 N.Western  Ave. Suite I Chicago Ill.60645

                                email  chicago@charlesmcshan.realtor

                                website     https://www.charlesmcshanchicagolandrealtor.com

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