We get a lot of questions about HOAs. HOA stands for Homeowners’ Association, and most neighborhoods in Charleston, SC have them. The HOA is a non-profit group that manages a community. Sometimes it is made up of residents from the neighborhood who work with a property manager (usually a professional, paid group who specializes in keeping up neighborhoods).
Their work is paid for by all of the home owners in the neighborhood by HOA fees. These fees range in price from about $150 to $8,000 per year. HOA fees vary in price since they cover different things. Some HOA fees simply cover grounds maintenance for all of the green spaces in the neighborhood. If you live in a townhouse or condo, your HOA may cover insurance (although we usually recommend getting an additional policy), a termite bond, and exterior maintenance. Some high-end neighborhoods charge a steep HOA fee in order to keep up their notoriously high-end maintenance and status. Another point to keep in mind is that gated communities typically charge a higher HOA fee. Because the HOA fee can affect the affordability of your new home, be sure to ask your real estate agent about the neighborhood’s HOA fee (how much and what does it cover) before you buy.
A neighborhood’s HOA is usually responsible for beautification, decision-making, and maintenance in general. Some HOAs in Charleston are stricter than others. Some of our clients tell us that they do not want a strict HOA because they don’t want to have to get everything approved, they want a very laid back atmosphere, or they don’t want to feel like they’re in a “cookie cutter neighborhood.” We’ve heard lots of reasons.
And, many of our clients say that they want a very active HOA. An HOA can help to protect your home’s value. Some of the strictest Homeowners Associations require approval before residents can repaint the exterior of a house – so you don’t have to worry about neighbors painting their house mint-ice-cream green. However, these very strict HOAs usually also require approval before you add on to your house or build a privacy fence in your backyard.
Also, if you have a boat, you need to approve storing it at your home – some HOAs will allow boats with no problem, or they’ll allow it if it cannot be seen from the road. Some neighborhoods don’t allow boats to be stored at the house at all (some of these neighborhoods have boat storage within the neighborhood). If one of the neighborhoods you’re interested in doesn’t allow your boat, you can either price boat storage elsewhere or look in another neighborhood.
Homeowners’ Associations can play a major role in the home you end up buying and even your satisfaction after buying. Be sure to talk with your real estate agent about the HOA restrictions (stated in the Covenants and Restrictions) before you buy so that you can plan accordingly.