If you picture living in a planned community full of amenities and happy neighbors, you’re probably asking yourself: How much are homeowners association fee (HOA fee)? Some studies suggest that you can expect to pay HOA monthly fees between $200 and $300. But the real answer is: It depends. Some HOA fees can drop to $100 a month and some can climb to more than $6,000. The general rule of thumb is the more amenities your community has and the larger your residence, the more you have to shell out in HOA fees. But there’s more to it than that. This article will explore how HOA fees work, so you know what to expect. We can also help you find a financial advisor who will work with you to find the most affordable and livable options for you based on your finances and preferences.
How Do HOA Fees Work and What Do They Cover?
A homeowners association (HOA) fee supports the maintenance and expansion of planned communities. It also covers the amenities the community provides to you. We list some common amenities and services HOA fees support below.
- Community parks
- Fitness centers
- Entertainment centers
- Trash removal
- Electricity and other utilities that support common areas
- Gates and security guard
- Fire alarm systems
- Pest control for common areas
- Trash removal
So the more bells and whistles your community boasts, the more you can expect to pay in HOA fees. And even within the same metropolitan area HOA fees can vary widely. In Des Moines, Iowa, HOA fees were found to have ranged from $120 to $700. Meanwhile, a 3,400-square-foot Sierra Towers condo in Hollywood loaded with amenities, including 24-hour concierge service, charged a $4,000 monthly fee. Then there’s New York City where the toniest pads carry HOAs of up to $7,000.
So it’s important to look at what the community offers to keep you comfortable and entertained. Ask yourself if it’s worth it and whether you really need all of it.
In addition, part of your HOA fee supports a reserve fund. The HOA uses this fund to support long-term maintenance projects. For example, the HOA may tap into it when it needs to repair gates, elevators, sidewalks or anything else that needs improvement in your community. In the event a reserve fund can’t cover a particular project, the HOA may require you to pay an “assessment bill” in addition to your regular fee.
Therefore, your HOA fees indirectly depend on how well your HOA manages this fund. The HOA of any planned community is usually run by a board of directors comprised of community property owners who elect other property owners.
The HOA also makes and enforces the rules that govern properties within its borders. It decides HOA fees based on what’s needed to keep the community running efficiently.
So it’s important to take a magnifying glass to the HOA in the community you’re considering to make sure it’s experienced and reliable.
HOA Fees: What to Look Out For
Amenities and maintenance needs are just pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the true cost of your HOA fees. It also weighs heavily on home size. Planned communities typically offer single-family homes, condos and townhouses. The larger your home, the more you can expect to pay in HOA fees.
Furthermore, the study found HOA fees tend to rise higher in communities with older buildings. This makes sense as older structures likely must undergo more maintenance procedures than newer establishments. So the reserve fund may be stretched further. As a result, your HOA fees may be higher to cover the expenses.
But location is also a major factor. In a recent study, Inspection Support Network looked at the largest metro areas by occupied housing units to find the most expensive monthly HOAs. The top five contenders were Honolulu ($520), the New York City metro area ($410), San Francisco metro area ($400), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($370) and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellvue ($360).
You can get a decent estimate of what HOA fees should be if you consider area property values and the size of your home, as well as the extent and quality of the amenities the community offers.
Also, remember that fee schedules can vary by community. Most charge monthly HOA fees. But some charge HOA fees by quarter or year. In any case, you’d have to do the calculations to uncover what you’re charged monthly and whether it’s worth it.
HOA Fees: What to Ask
While HOA fees vary significantly by area, they can also vary within the same general location. You can reach out to a local real estate broker familiar with HOAs. This individual can help you compare the benefits and costs of different planned communities across the area you want to reside in.
Fees change throughout time. So a report of the community’s fee history can be a useful tool in determining how yours may change. You can usually gather a printed document of these statistics directly from the HOA. Some estimate fee shifts for the next three-to-five years based on project analysis. So you can ask for this information too.
In fact, HOAs typically hire third-party companies to examine what their future expenses would look like based on current needs. You can measure all this data up against the size of the community’s reserve fund. If the numbers are hard to crunch, you can always turn to a financial advisor or certified public accountant (CPA) in your area.
HOA Additional Fees
HOA fees cover the maintenance of the community you live in. They have nothing to do with your mortgage loan. You must still pay your mortgage with interest, as well as property taxes and private mortgage insurance (PMI) if applicable.
To help you break down all the costs associated with your mortgage, we developed a mortgage payment calculator you can use.
What Happens If I Can’t Pay My HOA Fees?
In some cases, you can work something out with the HOA board. But you should get in touch with the board members as soon as you think you won’t be able to make an upcoming payment. The HOA may just charge you a late fee. But in extreme cases some HOA boards can evict you or foreclose on your property.
You should take HOA fee payments seriously. The consequences for missing payments should be clearly detailed in the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CCR) documents tied to your community.
Regardless of fees, you should read these with laser precision. These documents detail the rules you must follow form how often you can paint your house and what colors you can use to how tall your grass can grow. The CCRs also outline the consequences for failing to abide by such rules. So make sure you’re looking at an updated CCR.
HOA fees typically vary from $100 to $500 a month. But they can climb far higher. It ultimately depends on the extent and quality of the amenities your community offers. Property size and value by location also heavily influence the bulk of your HOA fees. So pay attention to these points when deciding whether the HOA fee is worth it. A financial advisor may be able to help you find a more affordable and suitable property. Also, keep an eye on the CCRs as this describes what happens in the unfortunate event that you can’t make HOA fee payments.
Home Buying Tips
- Remember, your HOA fee is not part of your mortgage. You still need to make your mortgage payments and cover other housing costs separate from HOA fees. To help you figure out the true costs of buying a home, SmartAsset developed a down payment calculator, a mortgage tool and an award-winning closing costs calculator.
- HOA fees depend on several factors, some of which you may find harder to spot. A professional financial advisor can help you find all the hidden costs to help you decide if the community you’re considering is worth it. You may find better options nearby. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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