Townhouse HOA Fees

Are you considering buying a townhouse or already living in one? If so, understanding the homeowners association (HOA) fees is key to making sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

HOAs – also known as community associations – are responsible for managing and maintaining common areas, amenities, and shared services within a neighborhood or development. This can range depending on the area and type of community, but typically includes things like landscaping, trash removal, and building exterior maintenance.

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But what exactly are these fees, how do you make online payments, and what do they cover? As a resident or HOA board member, being well-informed about townhouse HOA fees can help you make better decisions and ensure a well-maintained, harmonious community.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what townhouse HOA fees are, and how you can be sure that you stay informed and involved in the process. In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • The key factors that influence the cost of townhouse HOA fees
  • Common services and expenses covered by these fees
  • Pros and cons of paying HOA fees for a townhouse
  • Tips for managing and understanding your HOA fees as a resident or board member

Whether you’re a current townhouse owner, a prospective buyer, or an HOA board member, this guide will provide valuable insights into the often misunderstood world of townhouse HOA fees. 

 

Is My Townhouse In an HOA?

You may be surprised to find that your townhouse is in an HOA-designated community, even if it doesn’t have a traditional homeowners association feel. After all, aren’t HOAs “homeowners” associations? 

The truth is that HOAs can also apply to townhouses, condominiums, and even some apartment associations. The main difference comes down to the type of ownership and shared areas. In a townhouse community, the HOA is responsible for maintaining common areas such as playgrounds, pools, and landscaping. They may also oversee exterior maintenance for individual units.

What Factors Affect Townhouse HOA Fees

What Factors Affect Townhouse HOA Fees

Not all townhouse HOA fees are created equal. The amount you’ll pay can vary significantly depending on several key factors. Understanding what influences these fees is crucial for prospective buyers evaluating different communities and current residents making sense of rate changes.

Location and Cost of Living

Where your townhouse community is located plays a big role in determining HOA fees. Communities in expensive metro areas with a high cost of living tend to have higher HOA fees to cover the inflated costs of services, utilities, insurance, and labor.

Age and Condition of the Community

Older townhouse developments typically require higher fees to fund ongoing maintenance and repairs. Newer communities can often get by with lower fees initially but will need to budget for future upkeep as things start aging.

Amenities and Services Provided

The more amenities and services included, the higher the HOA fees. A basic community with just grounds maintenance will have lower fees than one with a pool, fitness center, security patrol, and other premium amenities.

Reserve Funds for Future Repairs

Well-managed HOAs contribute to reserve funds for major repairs and replacements down the road, like re-paving roads or re-roofing buildings. Communities that properly fund reserves need to charge higher fees.

Professional Management Company Fees

Many HOAs opt to hire professional management companies to handle day-to-day operations and oversight, which adds efficiency but also increases residents’ fees.

What Do Townhouse HOA Fees Cover?

While the specific services and expenses can vary, townhouse HOA fees generally go towards maintaining and operating the common areas and amenities shared by all residents in the community. Let’s look at some of the major line items these fees routinely cover:

Exterior Building Maintenance

For townhouse owners, the HOA fees cover repair and upkeep of exterior elements like roofing, siding, painting, gutters, and any shared lawns or landscaping beds directly surrounding the buildings. For example, if a roof needs replacing or the siding needs fresh paint or repair, that would be covered by the HOA using fee funds.

Common Area Maintenance and Amenities

A major portion of fees goes towards maintaining any common amenities and shared spaces that all residents have access to. This can include:

  • Community pools and sports courts/facilities
  • Clubhouses, parks, trails and greenspaces
  • Playgrounds and pet amenities
  • On-site security/patrol
  • Parking lots and garages

For instance, an HOA fee for a community with a pool and tennis courts would cover cleaning, utilities, supplies, and maintenance personnel for those amenities.

 

 

Insurance for Common Areas 

HOA fees help pay for different insurance policies that cover liabilities and potential damages or repairs in the community’s common areas, such as the pools, clubhouse, parking areas, etc. This protects the HOA from costly losses.

Trash Removal and Utilities

Fees typically cover services like trash/recycling pickup and removal from common areas. HOA fees also cover any utilities required for amenities like streetlights, clubhouses, or community spaces. After all, who wants to live in a community with overflowing garbage cans or no streetlights?

Professional Management Services

Many HOAs employ professional management companies or on-site staff to handle day-to-day operations, maintenance oversight, homeowner communications, rules enforcement, financial management, and more. The fees cover these management costs.

Community Events and Activities

HOAs often organize community events and activities for residents to participate in, such as holiday parties, neighborhood garage sales, or movie nights. These events are funded through HOA fees and provide opportunities for neighbors to get to know each other and build a sense of community.

 

5 Ways to Fill Your HOA Website with Great Content

 

Reserve Funding

Responsible HOAs allocate a portion of fees into reserve funds that build up over time. This reserve pool allows for larger periodic expenses like re-paving roads, re-roofing buildings, replacing amenities, and making major repairs down the line.

In an older townhouse community in need of significant work, 30-40% of fees may go into reserves. Newer communities can allocate less initially when major projects are further off.

While specific percentages can vary, a typical breakdown might be:

  • 30% Exterior Building Maintenance
  • 25% Amenities & Common Areas
  • 15% Management & Administration
  • 10% Insurance
  • 10% Utilities
  • 10% Reserves

The HOA’s specific amenities, age, location, and professional management needs will shape that allocation. But you can see how the many moving parts translate into those monthly or yearly fee amounts for each resident. Next up, we’ll look at both the pros and cons of these fees.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Townhouse HOA Fees

Like many aspects of homeownership, paying townhouse HOA fees comes with both advantages and drawbacks to consider. Let’s weigh some of the key pros and cons:

Pros of Townhouse HOA Fees

Shared Maintenance Costs: One of the biggest benefits of HOA fees is that they allow you to share the costs of maintaining your community’s amenities and common areas with all other residents. Big-ticket items like re-roofing buildings or repaving roads become affordable when spread across all homeowners.

Access to Amenities: The fees grant you access and rights to use all the amenities the HOA provides and maintains, like pools, fitness facilities, parks, trails, and more. You’re paying for these rather than financing them all separately.

Consistent Community Appearance: By enforcing CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions), HOA fees help maintain a neat, uniform appearance and prevent unsightly properties that could diminish home values. Landscaping, building exteriors, and more remain well-kept.

Property Value Protection: Well-maintained amenities, meticulous landscaping, and uniform neighborhood appearances tend to protect and even enhance property values over time compared to non-HOA communities.

 

 

Cons of Townhouse HOA Fees

Perpetual Monthly/Yearly Expense: HOA fees are a perpetual, ongoing expense that never goes away as long as you own the property. For some, these yearly costs on top of a mortgage, can strain housing budgets.

Lack of Control Over Fee Increases: While homeowners technically have a vote, once you buy into an HOA community, you have very little control over fee increases down the line that can quickly make housing costs burdensome.

Potential for Mismanagement or Disputes: There are always risks around HOA boards mismanaging funds, making poor decisions about expenditures, having conflicts of interest with contractors, or getting bogged down in petty community disputes.

Restrictions on Property Use/Modifications: The CC&Rs that come with HOA fees restrict what homeowners can do with their properties in terms of appearances, renovations, parking, noise levels and more, which some may find overly limiting.

Like most aspects of homeownership, townhouse HOA fees have trade-offs to weigh. For many, the benefits of shared amenities and maintained communities are worth the perpetual costs. For others, the lack of full control and added expenses may be downsides. Your personal situation and priorities will dictate if the pros outweigh the cons.

Tips for Managing Townhouse HOA Fees

Tips for Managing Townhouse HOA Fees

Whether you’re a current townhouse resident or prospective buyer evaluating HOA fees, it’s important to stay informed and engaged when it comes to how those fees are set and spent. Here are some tips to help you better understand and manage HOA fees:

Review Financials and Budgets Regularly

Don’t just pay the fees blindly. Request copies of the HOA’s annual budgets, financial reports, and reserve studies. Look for line items that seem excessive or areas that may be underfunded. Understanding how your money is being allocated is key. And when it comes to paying for HOA fees, make sure you know how to use the online HOA payment system or whether you are required to mail in your payment.

Attend HOA Meetings and Get Involved

Make an effort to attend HOA board meetings and annual homeowner meetings. This allows you to stay up-to-date on issues impacting fees, votes on budgets, planned projects, and more. Consider running for a board seat to have even more influence.

Plan for Potential Fee Increases

While stabilized, well-run HOAs may have flat fees for years, it’s wise to brace for periodic increases to cover rising costs of services, utilities, insurance, and needed reserve funding. Factor potential 5-10% yearly increases into your long-term housing budget planning.

Consider Costs vs Benefits When Buying

For prospective buyers, scrutinize HOA fees closely and weigh whether the services and amenities justify the added monthly/yearly costs on top of your mortgage payment. Ensure you understand exactly what you’re paying for.

 

 

Be Aware of Special Assessments

In addition to regular fees, HOAs can levy “special assessments” on all homeowners to cover major unexpected repairs or make capital improvements. Budget for the possibility of these periodic lump sums, which can run into the thousands per household.

Explore HOA Fee Discounts

Depending on your HOA’s policies, you may be able to get fee discounts for things like being an active military member/veteran, or for setting up recurring ACH payments from your bank account. It never hurts to ask!

Understand Termination Rules

If you get fed up with rising fees or disagreements over how they’re handled, be sure you understand the process and potential fees involved with terminating your HOA membership and moving elsewhere, if that’s permitted at all.

The key is never to take a passive approach to townhouse HOA fees. As an involved, informed homeowner, you can make sure you comprehend all costs, get your money’s worth in services, and have a voice in how fees are set and spent each year in your community.

Remember – Townhome HOA Fees Help Your Community Thrive!

Remember – Townhome HOA Fees Help Your Community Thrive!

Whether you love or hate HOA fees, the reality is that they are part of the package when you purchase a townhome. While it may be frustrating to see that monthly or annual expense on your budget, keep in mind that these fees are ultimately there to help maintain and improve your community. 

So next time you receive an invoice for HOA fees, think about how they benefit not just yourself but all residents in your community! When you see your HOA fees as an investment over an expense, you may start to appreciate their true value.

FAQ

What are the highest HOA fees near me?

HOA fee amounts can vary significantly even in the same city or town based on the specific community’s amenities, age, location, etc. To find the highest fees in your area, check recent real estate listings for townhouse/HOA properties and look at the HOA fees disclosed.

What is the average HOA fee in the U.S.?

According to national data, the average HOA fee for townhouse communities in the U.S. is $331 per month or $3,975 per year. However, fees can range from $100-$800+ per month depending on the specific HOA.

Are HOA fees included in my mortgage payment?

No, HOA fees are separate and paid directly to the HOA, not as part of your monthly mortgage payment to your lender. You’ll make this second recurring payment to your HOA in addition to your mortgage costs.

Do townhouse HOA fees cover roof replacement? 

In most cases, yes, replacing roofs on your specific building or row of townhouses is covered by the HOA fees you pay. However, review your community’s specific bylaws and maintenance responsibilities to confirm.

Does HOA cover roof leaks?

Minor roof leak repairs are typically covered under townhouse HOA fees as long as the leak is not due to an owner’s negligence or something excluded in the governing documents.

 

 

What does the HOA cover for townhouses?

Common expenses covered include exterior building maintenance like roofing, painting and siding, landscaping for common areas, amenity maintenance like pools and parks, insurance for shared areas, trash removal, security services and reserve funding.

Are townhouses a good investment?

Townhouses can be a good investment if you buy in a desirable area with a well-managed HOA that keeps amenities maintained and property values up over time. But they lack some control and privacy compared to single-family homes.

Can I get out of paying HOA fees?

As long as you own property in an HOA community, you are legally obligated to pay the recurring HOA fees per your home’s covenants and bylaws. The only way to stop paying is to sell and move out of the neighborhood.

Get started today

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