Thinking about Living in an HOA? What to look out for when Purchasing

  • Living in an HOAFinancials: when buying a San Carlos CA home in an HOA carefully review the financials. Is the HOA well-funded? Those HOA fees you pay might be for things like all exterior maintenance including expensive items like replacing roofs, repairing parking lots, etc. If the HOA is not well funded to perform this maintenance, then it will come after residents for special assessments. These can be for tens of thousands of dollars! Or the HOA may take out a loan and raise its monthly fees to pay off the debt.
  • Insurance: make sure the HOA is well insured to cover the structure, the HOA grounds and a good liability policy in case anyone gets injured and sues the HOA.
  • Crazy Restrictive Rules:  some HOAs are super restrictive. It can be that they want to pick out everything for you; what color you’ll paint your door, kind of plants you can have in your front yard, your garage door, etc. Make sure the HOA’s rules match your lifestyle.
  • Pet Policy: HOAs typically have pet policies. This includes whether you can have a pet or what breed or size the pet can be? If you’re an animal person you need to make sure the rules are not too restrictive for you.
  • Rent Restrictions: Many HOAs limit the number of units that can be rented at any one time and there might be a waiting list to be able to rent and it may take years for it to open up. If your plans are to purchase the unit to rent out, make sure it can be done immediately and not have to wait years!
  • Car Charger Rules: Let’s face it electric vehicles are here to stay! Whether its you or a tenant, you might have a need for an electric charger sometime in the future.  Most HOAs around San Carlos CA are not set up to have car chargers in their parking facilities.

Pros of Living in an HOA

  • Maintenance: most condo HOAs maintain the exteriors. That means they will clean, paint, reroof, garden, etc. It does make life much easier. It’s also nice to have it if you’re a busy professional and perhaps travel often.
  • Utilities: Living in an HOA also often includes some utilities like water and trash as part of the HOA fee. Sometimes even hot water which makes that long hot shower extra sweet!
  • Maintain Order: now if you’re a person that likes your neighborhood to look at certain way, then you my friend should live somewhere with an HOA. They will patrol the area and force anyone not complying with the aesthetics rules into submission.

Cons of Living in an HOA

  • HOA Fees: Living in an HOA means there are those annoying maintenance fees and boy have they been rising. In 2023 I see HOAs fees typically in the range of $450-$750 per month. If you never use the pool or tennis courts, then maybe you’re paying for things you shouldn’t and need to be living elsewhere? These HOA fees can rise without limit since they are needed to pay for maintenance.
  • Assessments: as mentioned before, sometimes HOAs don’t have the funds in the bank to pay for a necessary big repair. When this happens, they can come calling and asking everyone for money.
  • Overly Restrictive Rules: Living in an HOA also means that rules can sometimes just suck the fun out of life. They can be things like you’re not allowed to hang holiday lights in your balcony. Read the rule book before buying. I’ve seen some crazy things even in San Carlos CA.
  • HOA Police: While there are people assigned by the HOA board to look out for rule violations, living in an HOA  also means there will also be a few nosy people that have memorized the book and are just looking for victims to snitch on. This can be ever so annoying, especially when you’re a bit of a rule breaker!

Living in an HOA

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