Santa Cruz Real Estate Glossary: What is a Homeowners’ Association?

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 11:01pm.

When you buy a Santa Cruz real estate in a subdivision, co-op or planned unit development, you may be subject to a host of rules and regulations as established by the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) governing that development. 
You’ve most likely heard of HOAs, but you may not know exactly how they operate and how they can impact you and your Santa Cruz real estate.  In this article, you’ll get information on some of the broader issues that you should be aware of when moving into a community governed by an HOA.

What is a Homeowners' Association?

It is a corporation formed by real estate developers to market, manage and sell homes and lots within a development.

Does the Santa Cruz real estate developer retain control of the HOA forever?

No.  After a predetermined number of homes or lots are sold, the control is turned over, first, to a handpicked group of homeowners.  Later in the process, elections are held once a year within the development to choose board members.

Can anyone be a board member?

As long as you’re a property owner in the development governed by the HOA, you can campaign for the position.  Elections are held once a year.  It is not a paid position; board members volunteer their time.

What is the primary function of the HOA?

The primary function of an HOA is to maintain the rules and restrictions that were put in place by the developers and to maintain the community’s common areas.
Common areas include streets, parking lots, parks or green areas, pools and buildings used by the owners like a clubhouse or fitness center.  If your Santa Cruz real estate is an attached condo unit, this would include the exterior of your unit as well.

Can I elect not to join the HOA?

No, HOA membership is written into the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) when the development is formed.  No matter how many times the property changes ownership, the HOA requirements remain with it.

You’re also required to pay HOA fees, which are used to maintain the common areas.  If you do not stay current on the fees, the HOA can put an assessment lien on your Santa Cruz real estate.

Before buying into a development with an HOA, read and understand the CC&Rs.  Also, take the time to talk with some of the other homeowners in the development to find out how they feel about their HOA.

If you’re interested in buying Santa Cruz real estate, with or without an HOA, I can help.  Please give me a call at 831-662-6522 or email me at

For more information, please visit my website at

About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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