Home Owner Associations (HOAs), Condominiums, and Cooperatives all fall under the generic category of "Community Associations". HOAs and Condominiums are very similar in that,both are communities of home or unit owners in which the individual unit or lot is seperately owned, but the common areas are shared and maintained by a governing body voted in by home owners. However, there are very significant differences in the creation of each entity and how the main goal, to ensure the maintenence and general well being of the community property and enforcement of condo and HOA rules and/or bylaws, is ultimately reached.
-Condos are joint ownerships of real property in which common areas are commonly owned and other portions of the property are individually owned (the seperate units). Condos are created upon the recordation of bylaws, a declaration and a condominium plat in Local County Records.
-HOAs are a group of home owners within a specific geographical area that do not hold ownership in the common areas, but do vote for a governing body and do pay fees towards the upkeep of shared common areas. HOAs are formed upon the recordation of a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (DCC&R).
-Condo associations are typically responsible for all common area repairs including the roof and other common elements including all grounds upkeep, but the condo owner is responsible for the unit and Limited access areas that the owner has exclusive use of such as a patio. Funding for common area upkeep and repairs come from special assessments when over budget, and each owner is responsible for their percentage of ownership. Typically the larger the unit, the higher the assessment.
-The common area of an HOA development is owned by the HOA (often the origional developer) but each lot is owned seperately. The HOA is responsible for upkeep of all common grounds, parks, pools and parking lots, but is not responsible for any maintenence or landscaping of owners lots. Because of the lower upkeep for the HOA, HOA fees are typically lower than condo fees.
Both are a great way to get into a community where everyone is in it together and there are rules and organization to the grounds of the community.
If you have any questions about the different Community Associations in the District of Columbia, or are looking for property in Washington DC, please contact me anytime.