Before You Buy: Understanding The HOA (Homeowner’s Association)

Sep 21, 2022 | Real Estate

If you are in the home buying market, chances are good that you will be buying into a planned development. 80% of all new homes sold in 2020 were in HOA communities! In Washington state, 40.1% of homeowners are part of HOAs. Developers have discovered that planned communities are very attractive to buyers.  Every buyer should know a few important things about HOAs:


Consider hiring a real estate attorney to look out for your best interests in the home-buying process.  They will be your advocate in the purchase and help you understand what you are agreeing to do.

Property Values, Amenities, and Good Neighbors

If you are attracted to the cohesive atmosphere of an HOA, you have much to celebrate.  The elected HOA board collects monthly or annual dues to distribute membership benefits across the development.  You will enjoy a neat appearance, uniform color scheme, and a ‘buffer’ when neighbors have conflicts.

Trash or Treasure?

Remember, the HOA ensures that your home reflects the community aesthetic.  This ranges from serving notice on poorly kept yards and visible clutter to paint colors and décor.  Know whether the HOA’s rules will cramp your style over things like holiday décor, yard signs, and flags.  HOAs do not supersede federal, state, and city laws, so talk with a real estate attorney if you have questions regarding civil rights in your managed community.

Day-To-Day Life

Are your pets allowed (breed, type, size, number)?   What is the limit on frequency/length of stay for overnight visitors? Self-employment is on the rise, but not all HOAs will accommodate the entrepreneur.  Make sure your HOA meets your home-based business needs. Know whether you are allowed to rent or lease your home to someone else. This is very important if you are thinking of someday converting to an Airbnb, or having a long-term renter when you relocate.

Violations Are Costly And Legally Enforceable

The buyer must agree to all HOA terms – take it or leave it! These agreements are lien-based and legally enforceable.  The HOA can take possession if a homeowner is delinquent in payments or regularly violates rules.  See a real estate attorney if you are in a non-compliance situation.  They will be able to advise you about your options and suggest a path forward.

Could Your HOA Use A Facelift?

A real estate attorney can advise you on how to approach your HOA and neighbors about updates.  Think water shortages and alternate energy (solar, electric vehicles).  There is a trend to remove lawns in favor of low/no water alternatives.  It may be feasible to make revisions to your HOA that reflect current homeowner needs and aesthetics.  If your HOA community wants to disband, a real estate attorney can help you do that, too.


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, HOAs are here to stay.  They are attractive to buyers and deliver overall marketing appeal when you resell.  But remember, HOA life isn’t for everyone.  If you have questions, call our office for an appointment with an experienced real estate attorney.

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