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How to get the most out of your HOA fees

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What are you getting for your HOA fees?In my neighborhood, which is still being developed, HOA fees aren’t much of an issue. They are small — just $25 a year — and only cover road maintenance.

But other neighborhoods with HOA fees offer a lot more amenities, and charge a lot higher price for them. If you live in such a community, it makes sense to know what you’re paying for, and how to get the most out of those hefty monthly dues.

What do HOA fees cover?

“To take full advantage of your HOA and the fees that come with it, understand what they cover,” says Anton Ivanov, a real estate investor and president of Fortnoff Financial. “Know what types of maintenance they cover, and take advantage of the community amenities.”

Some of the amenities that come with HOA subdivisions or condo installations include snow removal, park maintenance, and security (sometimes including gates and checkpoints).

“HOA fees are worth it as long as you get value for them,” says Michael Veri, a real estate agent with Realty Executives Mid Florida. “Some communities offer amenities such as pools, gyms and sports facilities. Other HOAs are just to take care of common areas such as entrance signs and drainage retention areas.”

A Homeowners Association can also help protect your home’s value.

“An HOA can restrict activities that may hurt your property value,” says Thom Dallman, a real estate agent with Core Group in Boise, Idaho. “Your neighbor can’t paint their house bright pink, or the the entryway to your subdivision can’t become rundown and unkempt.”

Make sure you take full advantage of your HOA

The key to getting the best value for your HOA fees is knowing exactly what is covered and then using the amenities as much as you can. In my case, the small fees are designed for road maintenance, so there’s not a lot I can do beyond enjoying plowed streets in the winter to take advantage of my HOA fees.

But others might have more advantages. If your subdivision has a pool or fitness center, make it a point to use these facilities; no need to pay monthly dues at a gym if you have a fitness center and sports facilities in your subdivision. If your community has a clubhouse, you might be able to use a room there as a venue the next time you need to host an event such as a wedding reception or a baby shower, rather than paying a higher price elsewhere.

Some HOA communities also include certain kinds of maintenance in their HOA fees.

“In some cases, the HOA is responsible for the exterior maintenance of your property, including walls and roof, all the landscaping,” says Ivanov. “If your property is older or in need of exterior maintenance, you can actually save money by paying HOA fees and letting them take care of it.”

Also, if you’re considering buying a home in a subdivision or condo community with an HOA, you should ask for a copy of the HOA information up front. Reading it carefully can help you decide whether the amenities the HOA offers are worth the cost.

What perks are you getting for your HOA fees? Do you feel like you’re getting a good deal?

(Photo: Flickr user Patrick Feller)

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3 Responses to “How to get the most out of your HOA fees”

  1. My HOA has a community pool and takes care of the common areas. They also ensure that our neighborhood doesn’t become run down which helps property values out a lot!

  2. Sue F. says:

    Our subdivision’s HOA is extremely over-priced for what we get. Firstly, some residents pay a lot more than others. No one can figure out why that is. e are one of the higher ones, paying almost $400 a year. Yeah, they clear the snow off the streets, sometimes, but blow it right up into owners’ driveways, making it difficult for us to get onto the street. Sometimes, we have to shovel the snow that they put there. What kind of beneficial service is that? Also, Christmas wreaths at all the entrances are hung in early December….good timing on that one. But, the removal is some point in March or April…months after the wreaths have died. I’m curious if anyone else has problems like this. Thanks for listening. Regards, Sue F.

    • jim says:

      You need to check your HOA documents to find out why some have to pay more. Does it go by the square footage of the property, or the land, or the road frontage? $400 is not much at all for an HOA annual fee. If that is all of the problems you are having with your HOA, you are very lucky.

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