Buying a home means more than just signing up to pay a mortgage. It also means having to deal with additional costs, from property taxes to homeowners insurance to maintenance. And if you purchase a home that’s part of a homeowners association (HOA), you’ll be required to pay monthly dues as well.
It’s common to be on the hook for HOA fees when you buy a townhouse. But some standalone homes can be part of an HOA, too — especially those in newer developments.
When you first look at a home to buy, you’ll be made aware of what the associated HOA fees look like. But be careful. HOA dues can rise over time. It’s important to do your research before making an offer.
Ask the right questions
If you’re thinking of buying a home that’s part of an HOA, you’ll no doubt inquire as to what the monthly dues look like. But that’s not the only question you should be asking. You should also ask:
- What do my dues cover?
- What have dues looked like over the past five years?
- What anticipated expenses do you foresee in the coming years that might result in an increase in dues?
It’s one thing to factor your initial HOA fees into your budget and call it a day. But if those dues start climbing, they could become a real financial burden.
That’s why it’s important to understand what expenses those dues are paying for. That will give you a sense of the extent to which they might climb.
Asking for a breakdown of what your potential HOA dues have looked like over the past five years might also give you a sense of how much they’re likely to climb in the near term. If the dues in question have largely held steady, that should give you some peace of mind. But if you see there’s been a hefty increase almost every year, you may want to think twice about signing up for them.
And finally, asking about upcoming HOA expenses is important, as those could correlate directly to a dues hike. If the playground your HOA maintains has seen better days and needs to be replaced, that’s something that could raise your dues a lot.
How to mitigate HOA dues hikes
If you do decide to buy a home in an HOA and are worried about rising dues over time, one potential solution is to get on your HOA board. That way, you’ll get a say in what expenses your HOA takes on and what dues increases look like.
Ultimately, though, you’ll need to brace for the possibility of those HOA fees rising from year to year, just as your property taxes and homeowners insurance costs have the potential to rise over time. But you can minimize the financial blow by buying a home that’s not at the top of your price range. That, in turn, will give you some wiggle room in managing your housing costs and other bills.
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