Blog

The Ultimate Guide to HOA Loans: Pros and Cons

Considering an HOA loan? Learn about the pros and cons, eligibility requirements, rates, terms and how to make an informed decision.

Written by

HOA Loan Services

Published on

20

Apr

2023

When it comes to managing finances for a community association, a homeowners association loan can be a great solution. But as with any financial decision, it's important to consider the pros and cons before getting started. Whether you're looking to make upgrades or just need extra funds for repairs and maintenance, this article will help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of taking out an HOA loan. So if you've been thinking about getting an HOA loan, read on to find out what you should consider before making your decision.

Definition of HOA Loan

An HOA loan is a type of loan taken out by a homeowners association (HOA) or condominium association (COA) to finance improvements and repairs to common areas, or pay for other costs associated with running the community. The loan is usually secured using the collective monthly assessments paid by all homeowners in the community. It's important to note that taking out an HOA loan can be a great solution for managing finances and a superb alternative to a special assessment; but it's important to carefully weigh all factors before making a decision.

Overview of Pros and Cons

HOA loans can be a great solution for managing finances, but there are several pros and cons to consider before taking out a loan. On the plus side, HOA loans enable associations to spread the cost of capital improvements over a longer period of time rather than requiring an upfront payment. This allows associations to make needed repairs or upgrades in an affordable manner while protecting property values, strategically planning for future projects, and preserving the savings of individual community members.

That being said, getting an HOA loan can be complicated and time consuming. If many homeowners are behind on their monthly assessments, it may be harder for the association to get funding. Plus, there are only a few lenders in the market, so options for associations are limited. It's essential to consider all of these factors carefully before deciding whether an HOA loan is appropriate for your community.

Pros

By taking out an HOA loan, associations can reduce the financial burden on their members while also improving the overall quality of life in the community. With the right approach and professional guidance, this type of loan can be a great solution for providing long-term benefits to all homeowners. And best of all, there is no individual credit risk to Board of Directors or unit owners - but more on that in our next segment.

No individual credit risk to board of directors or unit owners

An HOA loan is a great solution for managing community finances because it does not involve individual credit risk to the board of directors or unit owners. This is because the loan is made to the association as a whole and the monthly dues are used as collateral instead of individual or community property (for more information on what happens when an association defaults on a loan, check out our blog: What Happens When an HOA Defaults on a Loan). This helps to protect the financial interests of all homeowners in the community. As long as members keep up with their monthly assessments, the association will be able to pay off its loan in a timely manner.

Improved property values

Taking out an HOA loan can have a positive impact on the property values of a homeowners association. Since most loans are taken out in order to finance improvements to common areas and amenities, or make emergency repairs, members often find that their property values increase as these improvements are made.

Additionally, the presence of a well-funded reserve fund can be seen as an indication of financial stability, making the association attractive to potential buyers. Furthermore, if the loan is taken out for long-term projects such as fitness centers or other recreational activities, this may lead to an increased demand for units within the association and thus higher prices. In short, taking out an HOA loan may actually improve property values over time as long as it is managed responsibly.

Favorable terms: communities have more buying power than individuals

The terms and conditions for HOA loans may differ from those available to individual homeowners, and may be more favorable. This is because the collective buying power of a community association can enable it to negotiate lower interest rates and better terms than what would be available to individual homeowners. This makes it easier for associations to obtain financing for large projects such as common area improvements or common amenities without having to worry about individual finances or expenses of the communities members.

Increased cash reserves

Taking out an HOA loan can help to increase cash reserves for a community association. Community associations typically have a reserve fund that is used to cover unexpected expenses and large capital projects.

By taking out an HOA loan, the association can receive additional funds which can be used to strengthen the reserve fund, ensuring that there are sufficient funds available for future needs. This helps to reduce the risk of unexpected expenses or large projects becoming unmanageable due to lack of resources. Furthermore, it also helps to prevent homeowners from having to pay special assessments in order to cover sudden costs or large projects because there will be enough funds available in the reserve fund.

Availability of funds for common area improvements

An HOA loan can provide a community association with the funds to make common area improvements. This helps to improve the quality and aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood, making it more attractive to potential buyers and leading to increased property values. Furthermore, this type of loan also provides homeowners with peace of mind knowing that their neighborhood is being well-maintained and kept up-to-date.

Efficiency: projects can begin immediately after loan closing

An HOA loan allows community associations to gain access to funds quickly, allowing them to begin projects almost immediately upon loan closing. Instead of waiting for homeowners to make assessment payments, the association can have the necessary funds in hand and begin work on the project right away. This eliminates delays due to individual financial issues and helps ensure that projects are completed as quickly as possible.

Additionally, taking out an HOA loan can often be faster than other methods of obtaining funding, such as applying for a grant or seeking lump sum payments from homeowners. This ensures that projects are done efficiently and effectively without sacrificing quality.

Ability to spread payments over a longer period of time

An HOA loan gives the association the ability to spread payments over a longer period of time. This helps reduce the financial impact on homeowners, as well as reduces the burden of large one-time payments. For example, instead of having to pay for an expensive repair or renovation all at once, homeowners can make smaller monthly payments over a longer period of time. This helps ensure that necessary repairs and improvements are made without stretching homeowners’ budgets too thin or tapping into individual emergency savings.

Additionally, spreading out payments over a longer period of time can help reduce the impact of inflation and rising costs, allowing associations to make necessary improvements without having to worry about their budget in the future. Finally, it allows associations to take advantage of lower interest rates that may be available if they secure a long-term loan with fixed terms.

Reduced exposure to inflation-related cost increases

One of the key benefits of taking out an HOA loan is reduced exposure to inflation-related cost increases. We often see that the associations that prolong work and put off large projects are the ones most negatively affected by rising prices.

Securing a long-term loan with fixed interest rates can provide further protection against rising costs due to inflation. This helps ensure that associations have the funds they need for necessary improvements without having to worry about their budget in the future. Furthermore, by spreading out payments over a longer period of time, associations are less likely to experience cash flow problems due to unexpected expenses or delayed payment from delinquent homeowners.

Owner-specific advantages

Although the benefits mentioned may positively impact the community, individual owners may question the personal advantages of obtaining an HOA loan. Here are a few examples of advantages that unit owners can enjoy if their HOA decides to take out a loan.

  • Owners can budget, smooth out, and extend assessments
  • Owners benefit from smaller payment amounts
  • Loans can be structured to give owners a choice between loan participation or upfront assessment
  • Units can be bought and sold while loan is outstanding

Cons

Taking out an HOA loan may present some challenges, as it can be a lengthy and complex process, particularly without expert guidance. As of 2021, approximately 29% of the US population lived in a community association. However, the number of banks available and willing to provide loans to these associations is still relatively limited.

Source: CAIonline.org

Complicated loan process

The loan process for Homeowners Associations (HOA) is a complicated one and can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the requirements. It is important to have a knowledgeable team in place to guide you through the process, from determining whether an HOA loan is right for your situation to securing the necessary funds.

To begin, it is important to understand what type of loan best fits your needs and budget. Depending on your association's financial situation, you may need to consider short-term or long-term loans as well as traditional or non-traditional lenders. Additionally, you need to consider factors such as interest rates, repayment periods and fees associated with taking out a loan.

Next, it is crucial to develop a comprehensive plan that outlines how the money will be used and how it will benefit the community in the long run. This plan should include projected costs of improvements or repairs as well as anticipated future expenses such as insurance premiums.

It is important to ensure that all legal documents are properly organized and reviewed before proceeding to sign any paperwork or contracts with potential lenders. This includes a detailed examination of the associations bylaws and CC&R's. It is advised to consult with legal counsel for the community early in the loan process as each association may have varying guidelines.

Taking out an HOA loan can be a difficult but rewarding process if done correctly. With careful planning and research into potential lenders, your association can secure the necessary funds needed for repairs and improvements while protecting its members' investments in their homes.

Limited availability of lenders offering HOA loans

Securing an HOA loan can be challenging due to limited lender availability, despite the potential benefits they offer. The reason for this is that traditional major lenders tend to prioritize consumer products like personal checking and investment accounts. They might not have the resources or expertise to lend to associations.

To ensure that your association has access to the necessary funds for repairs or improvements, it is important to explore all available options when seeking out potential lenders. It is beneficial to work with a knowledgeable team of experts who can provide guidance throughout the entire process.

Inconsistent underwriting

Different lenders have different underwriting guidelines and loan amount limitations when lending to homeowners associations. When obtaining a loan, it is important to consider the varying interest rates, fees and term options offered by different banks. Seeking advice from industry experts can help avoid loan declination.

Limited access

Homeowners associations seeking loans may face other challenges, as communities with fewer than 15 units may be at a disadvantage. Additionally, communities with extremely low dues may find it difficult to secure a loan.

Administrative tasks

Property management companies are responsible for a variety of tasks, including collecting monthly assessments, creating financial plans, and managing common area improvements. They also oversee annual assessments, monitor delinquent homeowners, and ensure the community has adequate operating funds. In the event an association takes out an HOA loan, it is the responsibility of the board and property management team to ensure timely repayment, treating it as any other essential expense for the association.

Are There Alternative Capital Raising Methods?

The short answer is yes, but they come with some potential pitfalls.

  1. Upfront cash special assessments may be simple to execute and manage, but timely collection of assessments is doubtful and there are possible financial hardships for property owners.
  2. Implementing and administering a dues increase is a feasible option, but it may take a considerable amount of time to generate the necessary funds and could potentially expose the HOA to cost inflation and economic uncertainty.

Conclusion

Taking out an HOA loan can be a valuable option for homeowners associations as it provides the necessary funds for repairs and improvements that would otherwise not be available. It is essential to weigh the pros and cons of taking out an HOA loan in order to determine whether or not it is the right choice for your association.

The most important thing you can do is consult an expert with an unbiased opinion. At HOA Loan Services, we sit on the same side of the negotiation table as the association. Our goal is to obtain the best possible financing for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation.

Want to know more?

Our team is here to help. Reach out to one of our specialists today and we will be happy to help you walk through the process of obtaining an HOA loan for your community.

Get Started

Recent Blogs

Neighborly Etiquette: Navigating HOA Community Interactions

Learn how to navigate the ins and outs of HOA community interactions with this comprehensive guide on neighborly etiquette.

January 30, 2024

Navigating the Corporate Transparency Act: Brace Yourself for Stricter Oversight for HOA Boards

HOA Loan Services can help your Homeowners Association prepare for HOA regulatory changes, stricter oversight, reporting requirements and the potential financial implications ahead.

January 3, 2024

Counting the True Cost: Delaying Capital Improvements in the Age of Inflation

Deferring maintenance can cost your homeowners or condo association dearly. Get ahead of rising interest rates, construction costs and labor increases with an HOA loan.

November 2, 2023

Recognizing Dysfunction in Your HOA: A Short Story

Know when to speak up. Is one loud voice derailing your HOA meetings? We've seen it before and it can be frustrating. Contact HOA Loan Services for help.

September 27, 2023

No results

Have a question to ask us?

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Please chat to our friendly team.

Talk to an Expert