Common questions posed by potential homeowners considering buying within an HOA often center around assessments. Prospective owners want to know what assessments cover, how much they will be, and if they’re worth the added expense. Some buyers may even hesitate to close the deal at the prospect of required fees.
What they may not realize is that assessments are vital to the success and financial health of the association, and when homeowners fail to pay them, the entire association can suffer.
What Does my Assessment Cover?
Assessments are distributed into operating and reserve funds and are used for the day-to-day operations of the HOA, as well as special projects or emergency expenses.
While every association differs in their specific policies for using assessments, most HOA members can expect their contributions to cover several basic services:
- Maintenance – Many HOA members enjoy access to swimming pools, clubhouses, gyms, or other common spaces. Monthly assessments cover the routine maintenance and needed repairs to these amenities. They also help take care of maintaining home exteriors – including paint, roof repair, and driveway upkeep – to keep the community looking its best.
- Landscaping – Aesthetics are important in an HOA. Landscape services may include mowing, tree trimming, fertilizing, gardening, and snow removal. This insures the HOA entrances and amenities are well-manicured and tended to throughout the seasons.
- Insurance – The association needs to be prepared in the event of accidents or natural disasters. Assessments help cover insurance costs for association property and liability. This is not homeowners insurance; homeowners will need a separate policy to cover their home and belongings.
- City Services – Weekly trash removal, sewage, and water services are often paid for with homeowner assessments.
- Pest Control – HOAs will often use fees to contract monthly service from pest control companies to eliminate rodents, insects, or other problems from the property.
- Security – The association may also contract with outside security companies to employ gate guards or install lights and cameras to protect homeowners and make the community a safer place to live.
How Much Can I Expect to Pay?
HOA assessments will vary greatly and depend on the type of association, its size, location, and offered amenities. Potential HOA members can expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $1000 per month in HOA fees, and should be sure to understand how their assessments will be allocated in proportion to the property and its amenities.
What Happens if I Don’t Pay Assessments?
Not only can homeowners expect additional penalty fees should they fail to pay their assessments in a timely manner, but the association may also take legal action, place a lien on the property, and in extreme cases, foreclose on the property. Additionally, when assessments go unpaid, the entire association suffers. Amenities cannot be kept up, repairs may not be made in a timely manner, and the association may be forced to require additional special assessments of the other members to make up the difference.
Assessments make it possible for an HOA to be run properly. When assessments are used to maintain the community as a pleasant, safe, and fun place to live, it is well worth the cost. Well-run associations offer many benefits and maintain property values for years to come.