What is the Difference Between an HOA and a Condo Association?


When you’re buying or investing in property, the terms “homeowners association”  and “condo association” regularly come up. Since most of us don’t use these phrases in everyday language, they can be a little confusing. You don’t always know what they mean, leaving you feeling confused. Real estate jargon can be the trickiest part of the home buying process.

Fortunately, we have the answer. An HOA is a homeowners association, which we can define as a group of people who both make and enforce rules for a planned community or subdivision. Similarly, a condo association is a community association to make and enforce rules in a condominium building or complex. While there are some similarities, there are also differences: topics we discuss below. 

What is an HOA?

Planned residential communities often have homeowner associations (HOAs). These help to keep the neighborhood clean and tidy, and maintain a positive atmosphere. Usually, when you purchase a single-family home in a planned development, a townhouse, or a condominium, you’ll encounter HOAs. These are groups of residents who come together to make decisions that affect the whole community. 

In many cases, homeowners don’t have to join an HOA. However, some schemes obligate involvement for all residents who fall within the HOA’s boundaries. As part of the HOA, you’ll be able to add your voice to the decision-making process, voting on whether to carry out certain types of property improvements or not.

Fees are a part of planned development HOAs. When you move into a qualifying community, you’ll have to pay a kind fee for the upkeep of shared structures and common areas While you own your unit outright (either your condo or house), it relies on public amenities, such as the neighborhood pool or the shared access driveway for the planned community. 

Fees tend to vary widely. Most residents pay between $250 and $650 per month in HOA dues, depending on the area. 

What is a Condo Association?

A condo association is a legal organization of homeowners that they use to manage shared condo-related projects and improve the overall quality of the neighborhood. Members might own the patch of land that their property sits on (or occupies), but share in the ownership, running, and maintenance of on-site amenities. These might include clubhouses, basements, parking lots, and landscaping.

Condo buildings have associations that govern the policies of condo projects. These allocate expenses for maintenance and collect association fees (monthly, quarterly, or annually).

Anyone who buys a condo must adhere to a set of conditions, covenants, and restrictions, called CC&Rs. Examples include things like preventing pets from roaming freely, the type of lawn decorations owners can put out, and when they must stop making noise in the evening. 

CC&Rs are a legal entity. That means that condo associations can use legal force to collect fees and impose rules on residents. Sanctions for not complying include things such as liens placed on homes, fines, and even foreclosures in extreme cases. 

How Are HOAs and Condo Associations Similar?

Both HOAs and condo associations are similar in the fact that they are grassroots organizations seeking to better manage the shared property and create community harmony. Members join to form a kind of mini-government, voting on issues that affect the residents, according to a charter. The aim is to grant the fairest and most equitable outcome for everyone, even if that means that some people lose out occasionally. 

HOAs and condo associations both charge fees for membership. Residents must regularly hand over cash for things like maintenance, community improvement projects, and upkeep. 

Both also impose legal obligations on people involved in the schemes. Community members, for instance, may be able to take enforcement action against residents who do not pay their dues. 

As for CC&Rs, there are usually some minor differences between HOAs and condo associations, but they both apply. Almost always, you will face more restrictions if you live in a planned community or shared building than if you occupy your own separate plot of land. HOAs and condo associations work hard to resolve tenant conflicts cordially, without the need to involve public legal processes. 

What’s the Difference Between an HOA and Condo Association?

People often use the terms “HOA” and “condo association” interchangeably. For this reason, they can be confusing. Many buyers assume that they are the same thing. 

That’s not true, though. It turns out that they are different legal entities for different purposes. 

Condo associations are organizations designed for the maintenance of common or shared areas, such as hallways. Residents elect a board of directors who volunteer to take over the running of the community and the responsibility that it entails. The burden of responsibility for “general common elements” is shared equally between all members of the community. 

An HOA is usually found in planned development schemes. Developers buy large tracts of land and then divide them up into lots. Homeowners have full responsibility for their own lots, and then partial responsibility for shared facilities. 

The key difference is that condo residents actually own a stake in a shared property (such as communal areas), while HOAs members don’t. Under HOA schemes, the housing association owns the shared property. 

Buy or Sell with Omni Horizon

If you’re looking to buy or sell a property, Omni Horizon Real Estate can help. Thanks to our experience, we can help you navigate complex jargon, such as HOAs or condo associations, helping you to find the living arrangement that suits you best. 

Remember, the real estate market is changing all the time, and you need a strategic partner ready to look ahead of the curve. Omni Horizon Real Estate sees what’s ahead and is ready to go to work for you no matter whether you are buying or selling a home. 

When you work with a skilled real estate agent, you can: 

  • Reduce the time that it takes to find the property of your dreams
  • Get a better deal
  • Get inside knowledge on local market conditions and the best time to buy
  • Find condos or planned developments with good associations
  • Learn more about the fees you’re likely to pay. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Omni Horizon today and buy or sell your property with ease.