HOAs on the Grand Strand: What should Homeowners know?

When you are searching for a new home, what are your thoughts on an HOA? Do you roll your eyes imagining someone complaining about how quickly you put away your trash can? Or, do you have positive thoughts about how your HOA protects your neighborhood?

An HOA (Homeowners Association) is a committee of volunteer homeowners (and usually a professional manager) who work to protect and maintain the value of your community. There is an association fee, paid monthly or annually, which will vary depending on the amenities offered in your neighborhood. When you select your home, you should request the HOA bylaws and be certain that the rules work with your lifestyle. HOA rules can restrict you on such items as what color you paint your house, where you may park your car, and how often you mow your lawn. The HOA may be strict or not so strict.

Katia Singletary, PCAM, Senior Community Manager for Gold Crown Management in Myrtle Beach, and Consultant for Quality First Managment, says that the main problem between HOAs and relationships with homeowners is education. Frustration and misunderstandings occur due to the fact that homeowners and HOAs tend to miscomunnicate. New homeowners move in and receive a book of neighborhood rules they may not read carefully. When they are called out for violating a rule, they might develop an immediate resentment against the HOA as the enemy. And so, the cycle perpetuates.

Another issue with HOAs is lack of education about managing the community within the HOA itself. Normally, the board members of an HOA are volunteer homeowners in the community. When it comes to a successful Board it is imperative they understand the weaknesses and strengths of the association especially when it comes to the association's financial health. Many times communities are simply not financially prepared enough to deal with emergency repairs or capital reserve projects, which can lead to the dreaded "special assessment" that comes as a shock to the homeowners.

Katia believes that homeowners and HOAs can work together to protect the important investment that each family makes in their home. It's all about education: if you are a homeowner, seek out information on your HOA and how you can help make it stronger. If you are already an HOA board member, consider having a chat with a knowledgeable community manager like Katia. It can benefit the entire community and improve the value of the homes over time.

Contact Katia Singletary, PCAM at www.qualityfirstmgmt.com