When shopping for a new home, one of the things any homeowner should look into is whether or not a property belongs to a homeowner association. Homeowner associations, commonly referred to as HOAs, are generally put in place by real estate developers to manage and maintain certain rules and regulations set for anyone who purchases a home tied to the HOA. They are fairly common in areas with condominiums or townhouses, but are also found in communities of single-family homes as well. Yingst Engineers can provide a developer with an experienced building inspector to perform a property condition assessment that can assist with planning for an HOA. For anyone who is unfamiliar with HOAs, there are certain things everyone should be aware of that can help when making the all-important decision of buying a home.
- What is the purpose of an HOA? – An HOA is usually tasked with enforcing rules set for a particular group of condos, townhouses or single-family homes. Anyone who would purchase a property linked to an HOA would become a member and abide by these rules. These rules are outlined in the HOA’s by-laws and covenants, conditions and restrictions. These help to maintain order and appearances of any properties in that neighborhood.
- What do I get for being an HOA member? – Finding out exactly what you get when buying a property in an HOA is crucial. Not every HOA has the same rules or benefits and this could impact your decision on buying a property. Some HOAs will take care of things like landscaping or snow removal. Certain HOAs will even cover things like maintenance on your home, ranging from painting of the interior or exterior of the property to repairing or replacing the roof. You might find that an HOA will have certain utilities included with every home, such as cable or internet service. There is a chance that your HOA has amenities like pools, tennis courts or a recreational facility. What you get for becoming an HOA member will vary from one association to the next, so make sure you find out exactly what is, or in some cases isn’t, included when looking at a property.
- How much do HOAs cost? – All of the different benefits that are made available to homeowners in an HOA do have a cost. Fees or dues are collected by the HOA from each property owner to fund all of the different features, services and comforts that members enjoy. How much the dues are will be dependent on certain variables. These might include things like size of the neighborhood, or included amenities or services that are rendered. Make sure that you find out exactly how much the fees for an HOA are when looking at a home and that you are comfortable with paying those fees. Be sure to consider things like the cost of your mortgage or property taxes in addition the fees connected to an HOA. A best practice is to see if you or your realtor can speak with a board member of an HOA to obtain a list of dues the association has collected over the last 10 years. This can help you know how often dues are collected, how much they may have increased over time and whether or not you are comfortable with paying the amount being asked.
- What rules do I have to follow in an HOA? – When you become a member of an HOA, you agree to follow the rules set forth in the by-laws or covenants, conditions and restrictions. Finding out what these are before purchasing a home is a good idea because you may or may not agree with some of the rules that will be enforced. Generally speaking, these rules are put in place to maintain order and certain aesthetics, but they can be very particular in some cases. Some of the more common rules in an HOA relate to things like how tall the grass on your lawn can be or whether or not you can plant or remove certain trees. Others might be stricter, such as not dictating how high a fence on your property may be or even what kind of vehicles may be parked on your property. You might be able to find a copy of the rules or by-laws for an HOA online or by contacting them directly. You need to make sure you can live with the rules of a particular HOA because there may be consequences for not following them. This could be anything from fines being issued to an HOA placing a lien on your property.
- Can I get involved in my HOA? – The short answer is YES! Many HOAs are run by the homeowners who live in the neighborhood they preside over. Even when an HOA is privately run, there are still ways to make an impact. HOAs have board members and hold meetings throughout the year to discuss changes to rules, budgets and to organize collection of dues and more often then not want its residents to get involved. Many HOAs have minutes documented for their meetings that will record any important issues or talking points that were of note. Get in touch with the board of the HOA of the neighborhood you are looking to buy a home in and get a sense of how they run things. Find out how often meetings take place and what you can do to get involved in helping to see that your investment in a home is being looked after.
Yingst Engineers can provide a number of association services that can help an HOA maintain or improve aspects of their neighborhood. With our experience and expertise, there are several ways that Yingst Engineers can assist an HOA to ensure that its residents are happy living in an area that they can call home.
Some of the association services that we provide include:
- Reserve Fund Studies – By performing a site inspection and analysis, we can create a customized study that will give an HOA the information that is necessary when deciding the best way to fund changes that need to be made in a neighborhood. Whether they be to meet the needs of its residents or to meet regulatory requirements, we can assist with providing a plan.
- Transition Studies – When the board of an HOA needs to assess development of an area, Yingst Engineers can provide a qualified expert to assist them. Everything from setting an initial meeting to gather information to forming a report to negotiate correcting construction defects is included in our transition studies. We have experienced engineers that can even serve as expert witnesses in legal disputes should there be a need.
- Engineering Services – Yingst Engineers is committed to assisting our clients with any and all engineering needs. Any concerns will be assessed thoroughly by our team and given the proper attention no matter the project. When improvements need to be made, we can assist with everything from roofing issues to structural problems. Recommendations that make sense will be presented, so that an informed decision can be made moving forward.
- Design & Specifications – Members of a community may want to see their ideas brought to reality. Yingst Engineers has a talented design team that can do just that. By using the latest in 3-D models and advanced design software, we provide design services second to none. Yingst Engineers will also see to any administrative needs like building permit submissions, on-site inspections and payment application reviews.
- Stormwater Management – The team at Yingst Engineers realizes that the need for stormwater management is growing. Communities can utilize us to evaluate and correct any current deficiencies they have with regard to stormwater management. We provide a number of services that include site feasibility studies, erosion and sedimentation pollution control design and sinkhole remediation.
Yingst Engineers understands the needs that clients may have when wanting to maintain and improve their community. Having an experienced team ready to work with your community can make life a lot easier. Being in business for 30 years has given Yingst Engineers the insight that allows us to improve what we do for our clients every day.
Contact us online today or give us a call at 1-800-231-3346 to see how we can serve you!