Updated March 2021
One of the most common questions clients ask me is about the average HOA fees in Northern Virginia.
An HOA fee, or homeowners association fee, is a monthly or quarterly payment for services and amenities provided in a particular community. It may be a neighborhood of single-detached homes, or a townhouse community. The HOA is commonly operated by a board of property owners elected by a majority of the other property owners.
Services typically include maintenance of and repairs in common areas, garbage disposal, and community security systems and personnel. Amenities vary depending on the community, but can include features such as swimming pools, tennis courts, walking trails, and tot lots.
It’s good to know the average HOA fees you’ll encounter as you begin your home search in Northern Virginia. Lots of homes in this area don’t have HOA fees, but some do. It is essential to factor in this information because it directly impacts your housing budget.
Average HOA Fees In Northern Virginia Neighborhoods
I sell a lot of properties with homeowners associations, and the average HOA fees I see are anywhere from $600 to $1,500 per year. These are considerably lower than condo fees, which are almost always considerably higher than HOA fees.
This number varies based on a lot of factors, including how many amenities the community has, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with whether or not a community has more or less expensive homes. For instance, I recently sold a home for just under $1 million in an older community that had HOA fees of around $120 per year.
Square footage, however, does matter in some communities. For instance, a homeowner with a larger residence may pay higher HOA fees than a homeowner in the same community with a smaller property. This is based on the assumption that a bigger home requires more maintenance, such as a wider lawn area to mow and lodges more occupants that use the community’s services.
The location and the level of community upkeep required also play major roles in an HOA board’s decision on the amount property owners are charged.
What Exactly Do HOA Fees Include?
The coverage of HOA dues varies as widely as the range of the fees mentioned above. An average homeowners association management fees typically involve these services: trash collection and snow removal, and landscaping and grounds maintenance.
If your community offers common recreation areas, such as a clubhouse with a swimming pool, park, or playground, then you may expect higher HOA fees. These would cover the electricity, water, Wi-Fi, pest control, and other utilities needed in the common areas.
An HOA board also needs to set aside reserve funds for emergency major repairs like replacing the old, worn-out clubhouse roof, or projects like parking resurfacing, swimming pool and exterior lighting repairs and replacements, etc.
In addition, the fees could involve HOA rules enforcement to ensure each residence’s curb appeal is properly maintained. This aspect is important in preserving or even increasing the value of properties within the community.
Are HOA Fees The Same Every Year?
Regular HOA fees are generally predictable because they follow current rates of utilities, salaries, and vendor prices in the county where the community is located. These expenses make up the bulk of the fees. Thus, an increase will be minimal, but is to be expected over time.
In some cases, an HOA board can authorize a special assessment, which is an additional amount that goes to the community’s fund reserves. It covers emergency repairs of damages occurring in common areas due to natural disasters or structural age. This fee can be added by the board by passing a resolution and then notifying the community. A poll among homeowners is not necessary.
Depending on the preferences of the homeowners, a special assessment can be charged either in a lump sum once a year or in increments on top of the regular monthly or quarterly dues.
What Kinds Of Homes Don’t Have HOA Fees?
Lots of communities with older homes don’t have HOA fees. For instance, as you get closer to D.C., you’ll find many neighborhoods with homes built in the 1940s and 1950s that don’t have homeowners associations.
Although most Northern Virginia townhome communities have homeowners associations, you can find some that don’t. For instance, in many areas of Arlington and Alexandria, it’s common to find brick duplexes and older brick row houses built in the 1940s and 1950s that don’t have HOAs. I recently helped some buyer clients find an awesome brick row house in the Del Ray area with no HOA.
Average HOA Fees In Northern Virginia FAQs
How Do You Calculate HOA Fees?
An HOA board makes a list of expenses related to maintenance, repairs, and utilities of all the common areas in the community, employees’ compensation, vendor services, and HOA management fees. Insurance is also considered an expense.
The total amount is then divided by the number of homes in the community. Some HOAs base it on each property’s size. Thus, homeowners occupying larger pieces of land would pay higher fees.
Is It Good To Buy A House With HOA?
It depends on your household’s needs and preferences. Some homeowners prefer to have the last word on the style and design of their home and yard, which may not align with an HOA’s rules. Others would pay for the convenience of having a well-maintained swimming pool, park, and playground within the neighborhood.
Do Renters Pay HOA?
Most landlords pay the HOA fees because delinquent payments can prompt the HOA to penalize or even foreclose on a property. This is a risk that very few homeowners are willing to place in the hands of their tenants.
What Is An HOA Initiation Fee?
Also called the buy-in fee, the HOA initiation fee is the amount charged to a property within the community upon transfer to another owner. This fee varies greatly - some communities don’t charge more than a small admin fee, while some communities charge a larger initial fee.
Who Pays The HOA Transfer Fees, The Buyer Or The Seller?
Usually, the buyer pays the HOA transfer fees, but sometimes, a seller absorbs it as part of their property’s purchase price. In certain instances, the buyer and the seller split the fee between them.
Is There A Penalty Imposed On Late Payments On HOA Fees?
Yes, delinquent accounts incur penalties. The amount differs per HOA, so it’s advisable to read the fine print on the board’s governing rules to set your expectations.
It’s also important to know that an HOA can issue a foreclosure on your property when payments are delayed for an extended period. However, most HOAs are open to payment plans. Thus, if you are going through financial challenges, it would be best to inform the board ahead of time and negotiate your payment terms.
Living in a community governed by a homeowners association has more advantages than disadvantages, and with a wide range of HOA fees available, you have plenty of options when choosing a home to purchase that fits both your lifestyle and your budget.
If you’re interested in comparing average HOA fees with average condo fees, you can check out this other article on my blog.
Email me at Darren@darrenrobertsonhomes.com for a free list of the top 10 homes with zero HOA fees that are for sale in the area of your choice!