If you live in a community setting, it’s common to be required to pay a monthly fee for amenities and maintenance of your community.
The collector of such fees and the overseer of the rules of your community is led by a homeowners association, or HOA, a community association that binds homeowners to certain rules and restrictions, says Stephanie Horan, a spokesperson at Today's Homeowner.
"They can consist of individual homes in a neighborhood, condos, townhouses, and co-ops, with rules and responsibilities varying based on property type and location," she explains.
According to Horan, HOA fees typically cover the cost of maintenance for community amenities such as swimming pools, parks and green spaces. Some HOA fees also help cover the costs of utilities, she says.
"Ultimately, your HOA fees will go toward keeping your community a clean and safe place to live," Horan tells FOX Business.
As mentioned previously, some pros of HOAs are in place to ensure and help uphold high standards for the community you live in.
"They keep the community clean, safe, and fun," insists Horan.
However, the cons include the fact that HOA fees can be expensive.
"Additionally, the rules and regulations set forth by the HOA can sometimes be seen as strict or excessive by people," Horan adds.
Horan says it will ultimately be up to the wants and needs of the specific homeowner. If you have a high standard for the livability of your community and don't want to be responsible for maintenance, then an HOA may be worth it, she says.
"If you value more freedom with the choices you make regarding your home and don't mind completing regular maintenance yourself, it may be best to avoid communities with HOAs," Horan tells FOX Business.
Judy Dutton, spokesperson with Realtor.com, says HOA fees can get higher year to year, or whenever expenses escalate due to major repairs or new projects.
"The best way to anticipate whether fees will rise is to check the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions or CC&Rs’ history for fee hikes or ‘assessments,’ which are temporary fee hikes," she says. In addition, it’s a good idea to check the HOA reserve fund, Dutton says, which is dipped into to pay for unforeseen costs without needing to hike residents’ HOA fees.
"A healthy reserve fund is a good thing to see," Dutton tells FOX Business.
HOA fees provide peace of mind and convenience for homeowners by taking care of maintenance and repairs you might not want to deal with on your own, says Dutton. For example, not needing to clean a pool or repair the pump if it breaks.
Also, says Horan, your HOA can help provide peace of mind by ensuring the community is safe and well taken care of.
"For example, many HOAs arrange for snow removal during the winter," Horan continues. "Homeowners in these communities can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that they will drive more safely and avoid slipping on sidewalks. HOAs can provide convenience by taking care of regular maintenance like pest control and community landscaping."