If you buy a property that's part of a homeowners association, or HOA, then you'll be liable for HOA fees as long as that home is in your name. HOA fees typically cover services such as:
- Common area maintenance
- Community amenities
- Water and sewer service
- Trash removal
- Property insurance
- Common area repairs
Here, we'll walk you through the basics of HOA fees so you can decide whether you're willing to buy a home that's subject to them.
Why do HOA fees exist?
You can't have HOA fees without a homeowners association, which is essentially a governing entity that maintains and sets rules for a housing community. HOAs are common in townhome developments, though it's possible to have a standalone house and still wind up paying HOA fees. Those fees, in short, enable your HOA to maintain your housing community and, ideally, increase your home's value over time.
What do HOA fees look like?
Usually, HOA fees are paid on a monthly basis, though sometimes you can pay them quarterly or even annually. Their actual cost, however, depends on where you live and the services your fees are intended to cover.
Realtor.com reports that HOA fees typically cost $200 to $300 a month for a single-family home. That may be true in some parts of the country, but if you live in an expensive region, or you live in a housing community with multiple amenities, like a swimming pool, clubhouse, walking trails, and tennis courts, then you could easily be looking at monthly HOA fees of $1,000 or more.
The HOA dues you'll be responsible for in conjunction with owning your home will be disclosed to you up front, so there won't be any surprises -- at least not initially. But one thing you should know about HOA fees is that your board can vote to raise them to cover increasing maintenance expenses or sudden repairs. In the latter case, you'll generally be subject to a special assessment fee, which is charged to cover a near- or short-term need.
It's also common to see HOA fees rise over time because inflation makes the cost of property maintenance more expensive from year to year.