Property Types and HOAs
What Kind of Home Do You Want?
A home doesn’t have to mean a free-standing house. It can be an condominium, a mobile home and more. Here are the most common options.
Single Family Residence (SFR)
The most common type of home, also known as single family detached. An SFR is a standalone structure with its own lot—unlike condominiums, townhomes, cooperatives and multifamily homes that are all attached residences.
A type of home or building with multiple units owned by one or more parties, such as condominiums and duplexes.
A condominium or condo is one of a group of housing units where each homeowner owns his/her individual unit. Individual units normally share walls. Condos include no individual ownership of a plot of land. All the land is owned in common by all of the owners. Usually, exterior maintenance is paid out of homeowner dues collected and managed under strict rules.
Planned Unit Development (PUD)
A PUD is a housing development not subject to the area’s standard zoning requirements. With permission from the local government, a developer establishes criteria that determine private and common areas and building guidelines. These may include street lighting designs, street width, architectural styles, building height standards, landscaping, land coverage ratios, common area park or amenity requirements. Planned unit developments are often used to cluster homes closer together than allowed by zoning laws.
A manufactured homes is prebuilt in a factory. Each home conforms to the US government's Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD code), rather than local building codes. Each home or segment of a home is labeled with a red tag that is the manufacturer's guarantee that the home was built to conform to the HUD code. Manufactured homes are built on a non-removable steel chassis and transported to the building site on their own wheels. A red HUD label with a stamped serial number should be attached to the exterior of the home.
Homeowners Association (HOA)
A homeowners association (HOA) is an organization in a planned community development, a condominium complex or subdivision that is given authority to manage common amenities and enforce covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). An HOA may provide services, regulate activities and levy assessments. It can offer a neighborhood with common values an opportunity to achieve a community representative of those values. Ask yourself if a property you’re considering has an HOA and decide whether or not the rules and regulations fit your lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions About HOAs
What is the HOA fee, what does it include and when is the next fee increase due?
HOA fees can vary dramatically depending on the type of association and community. Often, fees are assessed to maintain common areas, such as pools, parks and community buildings. However, fees can also include services, such as utilities, garbage pickup and private road maintenance. Looking at a copy of the HOA financials might give you a clearer picture of the distribution of the organization's funds.
Can I see a copy of the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs)?
CC&Rs can vary as significantly as the fees associated with different HOAs. Restrictions for common areas can include rules and regulations on how those areas are used by the residents and their families, while other constraints on use of property might include the type and height of fencing allowed, required landscaping or the storage of boats and RVs.
Read the CC&Rs carefully before you buy, if you don't understand something ask for more information and seek legal advice if necessary.
Is the HOA managed by the homeowners or by a property management company?
Most HOAs are controlled by a board, typically made up of volunteers of the community elected by other property owners. However, an HOA property management company can be hired to perform administration and operational tasks on behalf of the HOA.
When does the HOA board meet? Can I have a copy of the most recent minutes?
Most HOA boards meet at least annually. However, other meetings might take place quarterly, monthly or sometimes to resolve a specific issue. Reviewing the minutes might give you information regarding the way the board conducts the organization. It can also make you aware of any challenges within the community and alert you of any lawsuits.
Are there any special assessments planned within the year?
Sometimes special assessments are planned in addition to monthly HOA fees. These are typically assessed when major repairs or maintenance is necessary on common areas. For example, a planned unit development or condominium complex may need a new roof or updated paint or, homeowners may want to add new playground equipment to their park or a private road may need to be repaved. These are often not included in the annual budget and may require an additional assessment to cover the costs. If you’re on a tight budget this may be something you want to take into consideration.