The homeowner's association or HOA plays a vital role in maintaining a complex or neighborhood. But not all HOAs are created equal. Some HOA services in northern Colorado are much better than others.
A strong HOA can make all the difference in creating a safe and beautiful neighborhood and building a strong community. Because you're paying to be part of the HOA, you want to ensure your community or neighborhood has a great HOA.
When looking for an apartment to rent or a home to buy, many people place heavy consideration on the HOA. A great HOA can help build a beautiful neighborhood and a place where people are excited and proud to live. But the opposite is also true.
Here are five telltale signs you have a great HOA:
In most communities, the HOA maintains common areas like sidewalks, parks, and open spaces. In condo complexes or neighborhoods of patio homes, the HOA may do even more, including trash pickup, yard work, and snow shoveling.
The open areas are generally the most trafficked and visited areas of the neighborhood and are the first impression for guests and potential homebuyers. Regular maintenance includes operating the sprinklers, maintaining the landscaping, updating sidewalks, keeping parks clean and in good working order, and other responsibilities that improve common areas for the good of the community.
A great HOA keeps the common areas in great shape to build a strong reputation for the neighborhood. They use reliable contractors to perform the work and are up to date in their regular and seasonal maintenance. This builds the pride homeowners have in the community and gives a strong impression to anyone looking to buy or rent in the neighborhood.
But even communities with great regular maintenance face emergencies. A sprinkler system may break and start flooding, a storm could knock down trees, or a streetlight may go out. These things naturally happen. A great HOA takes care of emergency maintenance promptly instead of letting things sit in disrepair for weeks or months.
A great HOA is also available for 24/7 emergency maintenance requests, especially for significant damage. HOAs may not always prevent emergencies from happening, but they are quick to respond and fix things.
All homeowners pay monthly or annual HOA dues for the good of the neighborhood. In larger neighborhoods, the HOA account can involve quite a bit of money.
The HOA's responsibility is to use the money wisely to maintain and improve the community. A great HOA builds responsible and detailed budgets by considering what improvements to make in the neighborhood and how much they will cost.
The budget should include regular maintenance and upkeep and improvements to the neighborhood so homeowners can see their home value increase. A great HOA has a large reserve in the bank account in case a large issue arises.
Homeowners trust the HOA to use their money wisely instead of blowing it on things that don't matter.
The HOA is also responsible for providing accurate and transparent financial reports. These reports should be made available to all residents and include exactly how much money came into the account and how they spend homeowner's dues.
A great HOA has accurate and honest financial reports and puts them together in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. Financial reports should be accessible to everyone, not just those who sit on the HOA board, and come out every month and at the end of every year.
A great HOA is transparent and honest about everything, especially about the financial records.
The HOA is also responsible for paying taxes. These HOAs understand the nuanced taxes for associations and pays them on time and properly. If the HOA doesn't pay taxes as it should, it can receive fines and other punishments, which could negatively impact homeowners.
Quality property management services can make a difference in this area because they understand the specific tax requirements for HOAs. The average homeowner may not know the ins and outs of HOA taxes, but a professional management company will.
One of the most visible and notorious jobs of the HOA is to enforce covenants. Every neighborhood or complex has a set of covenants or bylaws that all residents follow by being HOA members.
Commonly called Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, or CC&Rs, these documents inform residents of what they can and can't do and vary by neighborhood. These are the neighborhood or community rules that all residents agree to follow.
These rules include maintaining their lawns, shoveling their snow on time, or only painting their house an approved color. When looking for an apartment to rent, many people are looking for cohesive and well-maintained complexes.
Residents pay into an HOA mainly because they want their neighborhood to look nice, and much of that comes through the covenants.
If an HOA isn't enforcing the covenants and the neighborhood starts to look worn down and disheveled, the HOA loses credibility for not doing its job. A great HOA enforces the covenants to protect what people are paying for and create a beautiful, well-kept, and welcoming neighborhood.
A great HOA not only enforces the covenants but does it consistently and steadily. That means that certain people don't get special treatment. The HOA should enforce the rules evenly across all residents. A great HOA has a multi-step plan for enforcing covenants, starting with issuing a warning and then following up with the residents in question to ensure that they correct the issue. They are fair in how they handle enforcing these covenants.
The HOA represents every household in the neighborhood, but not every homeowner is actively involved with HOA proceedings. One of the primary responsibilities of the HOA is to keep residents up to date with current events of the neighborhood, from events to community improvements and current happenings.
A common frustration in HOA neighborhoods is not being aware of what is going on in the neighborhood, deadlines for paying fees, or turning in paperwork. Those frustrations can all be taken away with strong communication.
A great HOA has strong communication with all of its residents. This communication generally happens with a website with an updated calendar of events, contact information for HOA leaders, neighborhood bylaws and covenants, news, meeting minutes, and more.
The HOA should also contact homeowners individually with information directed specifically to them. Some of these time-sensitive contacts include an action that needs to be taken right away to solve a problem or participate in a meeting or event.
The HOA should communicate with everyone about upcoming meetings that are open to the entire neighborhood and any changes to bylaws or regulations.
Some HOAs have problems with responding to communication promptly. A great HOA has a strong leadership team that is quick to respond and communicate. They are available through phone or email and quickly respond to messages so that everyone stays informed.
A great HOA is also willing to receive feedback from residents and opens questions and suggestions. Communication goes both ways, and great HOAs recognize that and go out of their way to make it happen and ensure everyone is informed.
The HOA does more than just making sure the neighborhood looks nice. In many instances, the HOA has to step into complicated legal matters.
A great HOA has leadership that understands the legal process and knows how to represent the community and its residents best.
An HOA may have to get involved with contract negotiations, foreclosures, and residents who refuse to follow the regulations. In these instances, you want an HOA with a strong legal backing and can take care of issues quickly and justly.
The HOA also plays a role in transferring records when homes are bought and sold. A strong legal background and data management skills are crucial to ensuring records the proper transfer of records.
Residents also want to know their personal information is protected and kept securely, even after moving out of the neighborhood.
There are lots of reasons why a great HOA is essential. A homeowner's association sets the tone for a neighborhood or community.
A great HOA that is well run by experienced people can make all the difference in creating a safe, beautiful, and valuable community for all its residents.