With countless benefits, many homebuyers are attracted to neighborhoods with homeowners’ associations (HOAs). A community with an HOA is likely to have desirable amenities, well-maintained homes, and strong neighborhood pride. However, not all residents are informed on how to best take advantage of these value-adds and create a more enjoyable HOA living experience. Read on to learn ways you can enhance community living and help your HOA be successful.
1. Learn the basic terminology.
One of the keys to having a successful living experience in a managed community is understanding the role of the HOA and the part you play as a resident. Knowing the basic terminology used within an association will allow you to easily comprehend operations and processes. Here are some terms you should know:
- HOA - Short for homeowners' association, it’s an established non-profit organization that helps manage, run, and maintain a community.
- HOA Board - The HOA board consists of volunteers elected to act and make decisions on behalf of the community. There are typically four officer positions, including the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.
- Governing Documents - A collection of rules, articles of incorporation, and guidelines by which the HOA operates.
- HOA Management Company - A third-party company HOAs often contract to help professionally manage the community.
- Community Association Manager - The designated person from the management company who works directly with your community and board.
- HOA Fines - A fee residents must pay when they violate a community rule.
2. Volunteer and get involved.
When homeowners are involved in the community and engage with fellow members, they tend to have a more rewarding experience. As a homeowner, your opinions, participation, and input matter and can even affect board member decisions. If you’re looking for ways to become involved, here are some ideas:
- Attend board meetings
- Promote and participate in social events
- Volunteer for committees
- Voice your opinion when asked for feedback
- Make suggestions on how to improve the community
- Ask questions and hold board members accountable
3. Learn about fees and the association’s finances.
Paying dues is part of living in a community with an HOA. These fees enable the association to support projects, make improvements, and maintain neighborhood amenities. However, it’s essential that you understand how your money is being used. Attend board meetings, stay up-to-date with your community’s newsletter, and ask questions. The more you know about the association’s finances, the more you’ll see how your dues impact the budget.
In addition to dues, other fees that may apply to HOA residents include special assessments. Special assessments are extra fees that may be charged to cover budgeting shortfalls or unexpected expenses, like an increase in insurance or a surprise repair bill for a pool or clubhouse. Understanding these fees and their purpose will help you recognize your HOA’s needs and funding priorities and appreciate how your contributions support the community.
4. Understand rules and avoid violations.
To keep the community looking and functioning at its best, a community association usually has several regulations that residents must abide by. Typically, these rules are designed to support the neighborhood, increase home values, and make the community a safer, more enjoyable place to live.
As a member of the association, it’s important to understand these rules and expect the board to enforce them equally. Revisit your governing documents, which you should have received upon buying a home, and familiarize yourself with your HOA’s rules and community guidelines to avoid warnings, violations, and fines—and sustain a comfortable environment.
5. Use the amenities.
Many residents agree that amenities are the most significant benefit of being a member of a homeowners’ association. The features of a community meant to promote ease and well-being, amenities are designed to create a more relaxed lifestyle. Plus, your HOA dues are what funds and maintains them, so it’s a good idea to make use of these offerings.
Some common amenities include:
- Pool and jacuzzi
- Fitness center
- Business center
- Parks and walking trails
- Community-sponsored events
6. Meet your neighbors.
Connecting with your neighbors has never been more essential. Whether it’s a warm smile or a friendly wave, these gestures are the catalyst for developing meaningful relationships.
When you build a tight-knit community, it leads to fewer conflicts and creates a positive environment, open communication, and a supportive culture. Here are some ways to connect with your neighbors:
- Welcome new homeowners—a simple hello can go a long way!
- Attend community events together
- Chat at the mailbox
- Ask about changes or additions to your neighbor’s yard
- Share friendly seasonal gifts or goodies
7. Get to know board members and communicate with them.
Get to know the officers of the HOA board. Designated leaders of the community, reach out to them directly if you have questions, suggestions, or simply want to make the most of your HOA membership. Their names and contact information might be found in a welcome packet, on the HOA website, or community newsletter.
Your HOA leaders work on your behalf and strive to improve the quality of living for all residents. They want to hear from you. Take the time to connect with them and offer insight that may help create a supportive homeowner-board relationship. When the board and membership work together, everyone wins.
A Beginner’s Guide to HOAs
Both residents new to HOA living and established homeowners can benefit from reading our ebook, “A Beginner’s Guide to HOAs.” In it, you’ll learn everything from HOA basics to the different types of community associations, HOA FAQs, and much more.