HOA FAQ: What to Know About Homeowners Associations in Orange County

When you plan to buy a home in Orange County, California, you might have some questions about homeowners associations (HOA). Understandably so! HOAs are a topic that strike fear into many a homebuyer's heart, with all the horror stories of oppressive HOA rules and domineering board members. Chances are you’ve heard a few.

But are HOAs really anything to be scared of? What is the purpose of an HOA, and what benefits do they offer to homeowners? This FAQ blog will answer many of your questions about homeowners associations in Orange County. (If there's something we missed, feel free to contact us with your question!)


Brad Feldman - Group Brad Feldman (949) 678-5198 Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 Real Estate Listing Agents


Brad Feldman Group (949) 678-5198 Laguna Niguel, CA 92677


What is a homeowners association (HOA)?

A homeowners association is a nonprofit organization created to operate and maintain a common interest development, such as a planned community or condominium.

What does an HOA do?

The purpose of an HOA is to protect and enhance property values within the community and to maintain common areas. The HOA establishes and enforces the rules of the community, known as the CC&Rs, or the covenants, conditions, and restrictions. The HOA is responsible for the upkeep of the common areas of the development, such as parks, pools, and playgrounds. The HOA may also provide other services, such as trash collection and security.

Who belongs to an HOA?

All of the homeowners in a common interest development are members of the HOA. If you buy a house or condo within an HOA, then you’re part of it and are required to pay the monthly HOA dues. If you wish to participate in the governance of the community, you can attend HOA meetings to vote on board members and proposals. HOA’s are found in both condo and single-family home developments, but not all condos and houses are part of one.

Who’s in charge of an HOA?

The HOA is governed by a board, typically made up of volunteers who are elected by the HOA membership. The HOA board oversees the operations of the HOA and makes decisions on behalf of the HOA membership. Being on the HOA board is a great way to get involved in your community and have a say in how it’s run. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbors and make new friends. HOA board members typically serve a term of one or two years.

Why would someone want to live in an HOA?

There are many reasons why people choose to live in an HOA. Some of the benefits include having access to amenities that you may not have if you owned a single-family home, such as a swimming pool or tennis court. HOAs can also provide peace of mind knowing that there is someone responsible for maintaining the common areas of the community. If you hate mowing the lawn, maintaining the pool, or shoveling snow (not a problem here but definitely in colder climates!), then living in an HOA might be perfect for you.

HOA board members sitting at a table for a homeowners association meeting in Orange County CA

HOA members vote for who is on the HOA board

What are the drawbacks of an HOA?

Some people view HOAs as being too restrictive, with rules that dictate everything from what color you can paint your house to how often you must mow your lawn. HOA dues can also be a significant expense, particularly in luxury developments. HOA board members are just regular neighbors—with added authority—and thus they can sometimes be difficult to deal with. HOA disputes can be time-consuming and costly to resolve. However, the authority of an HOA over its membership can be a good thing. Imagine a loud or unscrupulous neighbor who refuses to maintain their property. An HOA has the power to compel its members to take action or risk being fined.

Can an HOA make you sell your home?

An HOA can force the sale of your home if you fail to pay HOA dues or assessments, or if you violate the CC&Rs. If you’re behind on HOA dues, the HOA can place a lien on your property and eventually foreclose on it. Before taking such drastic action, the HOA must give you adequate notice and an opportunity to cure the default. If you violate the CC&Rs, the HOA can issue a fine or impose other sanctions, such as suspending your access to the amenities. The HOA can also file a lawsuit to compel you to comply with the CC&Rs. In extreme cases, the HOA can seek an order from the court to have your home sold to pay for the HOA’s legal fees and other costs incurred as a result of your violation.

How can a buyer or homeowner protect themselves from an HOA?

If you’re thinking of buying an Orange County home in an HOA, be sure to do your research. Ask sellers for their HOA contact and attend HOA meetings to get a feel for the community and the HOA board. Read the CC&Rs to learn about the rules of the community. And be sure to review the HOA’s financial statements to ensure that the HOA is in good financial health. If you’re already a member of an HOA, get to know your HOA board members and attend HOA meetings. The more you know about how your HOA works, the less likely you are to be surprised by an HOA action.

How many properties are within an HOA in Orange County, California?

Per the California Association of Community Managers, there are roughly 5,000 separate homeowners associations in Orange County, California. (See the full data at this PDF link.) With an average of around 173 properties per HOA, there are about 900,000 HOA-governed homes in the county, which house over 80% of its residents.

So, if you want to buy a home in Orange County, CA, chances are it will be in a homeowners association. Hopefully, this HOA FAQ helped to answer some of your questions. Before you dive into a home purchase or any HOA-related legal action, we highly recommend that you consult with your Realtor and an experienced, qualified real estate attorney. If you need a recommendation, we’re happy to help! As always, we are here as your resource for all things Orange County real estate. Give us a call, or click here to contact us online.



Looking for more guidance? We are happy to learn about your situation and discuss your options with no obligation. Contact the Brad Feldman Group.