Cohousing Monthly Homeowner Association Fees What they Cover:
by Kathryn McCamant, Architect, Author, and Co-founder of Cohousing in the United States
Upon completion, as a homeowners association (HOA), the owners in your community will pay monthly dues to the HOA to cover a variety of community expenses. A community typically is not able to focus on putting its HOA budget together until you are close to or under construction.
In California, we hire a professional consultant that specializes in HOA Budgets to do these since they also need to be approved by the State Department of Real Estate. Other states may be less regulated, but Fannie Mae and lenders do tend to ask for copies of your HOA budget. In any case, it is an educated guess about what it will cost to run your community after move in, but the dues as up front will establish expectations over the long term. It is much harder to raise HOA dues after move in. Ultimately, the community itself controls the HOA budget.
In California cohousing communities, I have seen HOA dues typically range from $350 to $500/mo., depending on the size of home and whether you have a garage or carport. What is unusual is how much we tend to include in our HOA dues: when you really look at it, there are many things that are more cost effective when shared. Depending on the community, some of the items covered by HOA fees may include:
* Property and liability insurance for buildings. Doesn’t cover personal property and liability, but owners generally only get “contents” or condo insurance for their personal property
* All ongoing operating costs associated with common areas including the common house, laundry, guest rooms and bathrooms, kitchen, furnishings, patio, common utilities, exterior lights, and some exterior landscaping.
* Operating costs of the spa and pool.
* City sewer fees
* Garbage and recycling pick up
* Fire sprinkler and alarm system
* Pest control
* Maintenance of open space and landscaped areas (labor typically provide by community members, but materials, plants and major trimming may be hired out.
* Reserve for building and property maintenance and replacement including exterior paint, roof, and all building wide systems such as heating and hot water.
* Homeowners Association administration expenses
Keep in mind that your private electric and gas bills are generally relatively low, estimated to be $10 - $50/mo. per unit.