Twila Palmer - Westford Real Estate | Westford, MA Real Estate, Chelmsford, MA Real Estate

Move into a neighborhood that has a great homeowners association (HOA) and you could enjoy years of rising property values. Homeowners associations generally oversee housing in planned development areas. A house that you purchase could be serviced by a HOA if you live in a subdivision, gated community or in a community that leases homes.

Check out homeowners associations before you buy a house

Real estate developers form homeowners associations to oversee houses that are bought and sold in specified jurisdictions. Millions of American homes are managed by a HOA. Rules and monthly HOA fees vary, generally ranging from $100 to $400 a month.As with realtors and home builders, some HOAs are better than others. Here are ways to get the most out of homeowners associations.

  • Look over the interior and exterior of houses you're considering buying. Is the lawn neatly trimmed? If the house is painted,is the paint chipped? Notice if there are holes in the ground or if the yard is full of weeds.
  • Walk around the neighborhood. You have nothing to lose by getting out of your car and walking around a good neighborhood that you're thinking of buying a house in. Pay attention to fences, sidewalks and driveways. A good HOA will ensure that fences, sidewalks and driveways are in good condition.
  • Visit community amenities like picnic areas,community swimming pools and entertainment centers. These areas should be secure. It's better if they are managed by a volunteer or HOA employee who works onsite.
  • Find out the types and percentage of services that HOA fees are spent on. Generally, a good HOA will invest a portion of fees into savings. More than 70 percent of the HOA will also be funded. An under-funded HOA may lack the financial resources to properly care for your house and other properties in the neighborhood.
  • Meet with someone from the HOA and ask about rules and restrictions. Consider buying a house in another neighborhood if you strongly disagree with one or more of the HOAs rules. Remember, there are many HOAs in the country.
  • Ask the HOA when the last repairs or upgrades were made in the community. Find out what specific types of repairs or upgrades were made.
  • Get a copy of the minutes from two to three HOA meetings. Confirm that HOAs followed through on action items noted in the minutes. You want to buy a house that's located in a community that's managed by a responsive, well funded and progressive HOA.
  • Find out if the HOA has had any claims against it. Also, find out if the HOA is in compliance with local and state regulations.

Homeowners associations could make buying a home in a subdivision or another community under development rewarding. To get the most from homeowners associations,research the HOAs' rules before you sign a mortgage. Also, research the entire neighborhood to see how well the HOA is doing its job. With research and the right questions, your relationship with a HOA could extend far beyond paying your monthly HOA fees.