When you’re buying a home, whether it’s a condo for sale in Alys Beach, land for sale in Seagrove Beach, or a home for sale in the beach community of WaterColor, you may have to deal with a homeowners association. Every condominium has a condo association, too.
But should you really buy in a beach community with a homeowners association? Will the rules and regulations keep you happy, or will they stifle your free spirit?
What is a Homeowners Association?
A homeowners association – commonly called an HOA – is a group of people from the neighborhood or community who establish rules for living in the community. They’ll often have requirements about lawn maintenance, the size (and types) of pets you can keep in your home, and rules about paint colors, building additions, and cosmetic issues. All these rules are put together into a document called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or CC&Rs.
What Are CC&Rs?
The HOA’s rules are in place to protect and preserve the value of the homes within the community, and if you buy in a neighborhood that has one, you’ll be required to pay dues (annual, quarterly, or monthly) in addition to the mortgage payments you make to the bank.
When you own a home in the community, you’re required to follow the CC&Rs. If you don’t, the HOA can try to enforce them. The key is that the HOA must abide by Florida law to do so. Each community’s HOA has different enforcement powers, even under Florida law. In some cases, HOAs can enforce rules through:
- Fining non-compliant owners
- Come on your property to fix a rule violation
- Suspend your right to use common facilities
- Hold you responsible for costs involved with your rule violation
- Place a lien against your property
If you’re buying a home in a beach community with an HOA, ask your Realtor® to get you a copy of the CC&Rs in advance. That way, you’ll know if you find the rules reasonable or if they’re too restrictive for your lifestyle or what you intend to do with the property.
Common Sections in CC&Rs
While every HOA’s CC&Rs are put together to reflect the needs of the community, most contain sections that involve homeowners’ usage of property, common areas and maintenance. One of the most comprehensive sections in a beach community’s CC&Rs typically involves nuisances.
What is a Nuisance?
When you live in a beautiful beach community, the last thing you want is for something – or someone – to infringe on your right to enjoy your own property. Nuisances that commonly show up in a community’s CC&Rs usually involve activities that:
- Interfere with the use or quiet enjoyment of other residents’ properties
- Create hazardous, noxious or offensive conditions
- Violate local, state or federal law
Interfering with the use or quiet enjoyment of other residents’ properties can be interpreted in dozens of different ways, so most CC&Rs are very specific about activities such as:
- Running home businesses
- Smoking or drinking alcohol outdoors or in common areas
- Pet behavior (and owner behavior, such as leashing and picking up after pets)
- Tenant behavior, which comes into play if you rent out your property some or all of the time
Benefits of Homeowners Associations
Some homeowners prefer to live in a neighborhood with an association. The homes in the community have to meet the standards the HOA sets forth so the neighborhood stays in good shape and property values don’t decline. Sometimes services like trash removal and lawn care are included in your HOA dues, and your dues also pay for shared amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, and community centers. The HOA can serve as the middleman when you have a dispute with a neighbor, too.
When disputes don’t involve the community interest and are only between neighbors, such as nuisances involving pet behavior or cigarette smoking, the HOA board may decide to intervene or to stay out of it.
Cons of Homeowners Associations
Some people just don’t like to live under restrictions – even when they don’t mind keeping their yards neat and clean, their home exteriors in good repair, and handling cosmetic and maintenance issues promptly. The rules of some HOAs are really strict, too, even going so far as to tell you what vehicles (if any) can be parked outside your garage or whether you can put a decorative flag on your property.
How Much Are HOA Dues?
Every community’s HOA dues vary, with the national average falling somewhere between $200 per month and $400 per month. In some beach communities’ HOAs, you can choose to pay monthly, quarterly or annually; in others, you don’t have a choice when payments are due.
Where Does the Money Go?
The money you pay in dues typically goes to two places: an account for monthly expenses and a reserve fund. Monthly expenses go toward things like trash pick-up, keeping the street lights on and maintaining the community areas. The reserve fund is cash saved for long-term repairs and replacements, as well as emergency expenses (such as repairing damage caused by natural disasters or vandals).
Your HOA board can vote to raise dues if they feel it’s necessary.
Are You Buying a Home in a 30A Beach Community?
Only you can decide whether living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association is for you, so it’s a good idea to ask your 30A Realtor to get you a copy of each community’s CC&Rs to make sure they’ll work for you.
If you’re buying a home in Grayton Beach, Panama City Beach, Destin, or any of the surrounding communities, we’d love to help you find the perfect place.
Call us at 850-213-3048 or book a consultation to let us know what you’re looking for. Our expert 30A real estate agents will start searching for your dream home right away.
About 30A Local Properties:
30A Local Properties is located in Grayton Beach, FL and services the South Walton community. The team of locals confidently offers the experience of over six hundred South Walton real estate transactions, nearly three decades of banking experience in commercial and residential property holding positions, and over a decade of entrepreneurial real estate experience in property investments and management. Visit our website at www.30alocalproperties.com or stop by our office and meet the team:
30A Local Properties
35 Clayton Lane, Suite B
Grayton Beach, FL 32459
P: (850) 213 3048
F: (850) 213 0035