By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog
The article referenced below, featuring Sudden Valley HOA in Bellingham, Washington, is a typical illustration of what common interest communities are all about.
It is a little known fact: Your HOA is a shared real estate investment, and all of your neighbors are collective co-investors.
When you buy a home in a planned community – be it a condo, townhouse, or single family home – you buy into much more than your condo or house. You effectively buy all of the common elements (everything outside of your unit in a condo structure) and common areas (everything beyond your lot, but still within the boundaries of the community).
Of course, developers and real estate agents sell buyers on all the perks: the association takes care of the maintenance, you have the use of a community pool or tennis courts, you might have green spaces and parks, there might be a club house, a game room, and exercise room, or a movie theater room.
In a low frills HOA, the common area might be nothing more than a single retention pond (presented to you as a scenic “lake”) and an entry monument.
But whatever is collectively owned as an asset is also your collective liability.
And collective maintenance services are generally beyond your direct control. The HOA Board hires maintenance staff and possibly a manager to assist.
But each and every property owner must pay to maintain all buildings, infrastructure, and recreational amenities, as well as paying for additional maintenance services such as landscaping and snow removal.
What happens if many of your neighbors don’t want to pay the true cost of providing high quality maintenance and consistently good service? What if many of your neighbors would like to pay, but simply cannot afford to do so? What if HOA assessments have been kept too low for too long?
Read about Sudden Valley to find out, and be sure to check out the short video. And be sure to read the comments, too. It will give you a glimpse of the typical internal conflict and politics of any given HOA in America.