HOA fees in Tucson are rising (as well as other places).
Working with some first time homebuyers lately, we were comparing the rates that a few different homeowner associations were charging for similar benefits in the same general part of town. After a little discussion and some serious digging, it was found that one HOA had more than doubled their fees in the past 24 months - from $17 to $44, while others had risen a little and a few had no increase yet...but they will be.
Why the differences?
Could be a bunch of different reasons, but the general consensus was that HOA increases are like the old adage about termites:
- If your HOA fees haven't risen, it just hasn't happened YET - maintenance costs never go down.
The other common factor to the associations with the highest increases was the proportion of short sales and foreclosures in the neighborhood - the more there were, the more dues that hadn't been paid. When people have to tighten their budgets, the HOA fees take a backseat to putting food on the table or taking Jr. to the doctor, but the dues don't stop accumulating. The association can put a lien on your home for non-payment of dues, which gets wiped out during foreclosure, leaving the rest of the homeowners to take up the slack.
This is true whether you're buying a luxury home, resort condo, townhouse on a golf course or a regular single family home.
Always make sure you get the most recent copy of the Homeowner Association's financial statement & operating budget when purchasing in a neighborhood that has an association. Also make sure the HOA's reserve studies are in the packet you receive - and read them, don't just stash 'em in a file for "someday." You are entitled to this information as part of the homebuying process for a reason.
Typically, you will get all of the Homeowner Association information "packet" on a CD, while a few are being sent via email (the documents on paper can be the size of a small phonebook sometimes, so a CD is usually easier). Once in a while, the title company will still send the documentation printed out, but that is becoming more rare...especially as postal rates rise. I don't get a copy of these - just you, so if you haven't gotten them from the title company, please let me know.