The new FHFA Regulations: Good or Bad for Homeowner Associations?

ManagementTrust.com

Homeowner associations (HOA) exist to maintain the welfare of their communities.  To sustain such initiatives, HOA rules and regulations require a number of fees to be paid by residents.

Recently, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will dramatically affect HOA’s. While the regulations cover a variety of subjects, there is much skepticism as to whether they are actually beneficial to the HOA’s themselves.

One of the most sweeping areas of reform aims to allow Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System to regulate transfer fees paid to investors, as well as to the associations themselves.  More specifically, the FHFA seeks to implement the prohibition of investor transfer fees nationwide. These payments, made to investors whenever a house is sold in a planned community, don’t serve any true purpose in context to helping and sustaining the community and its surroundings. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has agreed that this change would be positive for homeowners.

The FHFA is also trying to pass regulations that are not necessarily beneficial for both homeowners and homeowners associations.  For example, community transfer fees have been in use for decades to minimize the financial burgeon of maintenance and any special assessments that may pop up out of the blue. Still, there is always a margin for error, and the FHFA aims to limit the use of community transfer fees solely for maintenance and improvements.  This regulation, if carried out, would in theory help to reduce the effects of irresponsible actions made by HOA board members, but it would also remove a great deal of the operational flexibly necessary for an association as a whole.

Of course, not every homeowners association is the same – and some may find it more difficult to tend to their community’s needs and wants with a decrease in flexibility.  More importantly, the homeowners themselves have the most influence over their HOA rules and regulations, and the benefit of this proposed limit is already supplemented by the voice of each individual resident; ineffective polices are always due to be replaced at some point or another.

Another limitation that would affect a HOA’s operational flexibility stems from regulation that would allow non-residents to use common areas for free.  This decision has traditionally been up to each association to determine the best steps to address this issue, with the consideration of homeowners’ unique and specific demands taken into account. Some homeowners may be more comfortable in certain situations than others, which is why homeowner associations avoid ‘one-solution-fits-all’ policies, and instead develop policies based on their community’s needs.

The last regulation proposed by the FHFA would prevent HOAs from voting to have a transfer fee for an area move farther than 1,000 yards from their property line.  Both the CAI and homeowners across the nation are vehemently opposed to this since it’s not a very logical option, especially for larger communities who often consist of a so-called master associations and a number of sub-associations.

The CAI has voiced displeasure over many of the FHFA’s proposed regulations – and for good reason.  Decisions made and carried out by an HOA are based on the good judgment of the homeowners and board members themselves. This scenario represents a majority of HOAs across the nation.

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