34. Why do homeowners always complain they have to increase their annual budget assessments after the developer/declarant transfers the common areas to the homeowners?

The developer/declarant wears many hats, one of them is sales. When you purchase a home in an HOA it is important to the seller that you know there is a small annual assessment required of you as a member each year.

What you are NOT told in West Virginia is the true cost in relation to the long term, e.g. 20 – 30 – 40 years. Developers are not required to disclose that information to you, nor are they required to provide that information to local, county or state authorities. It becomes a guessing game of dollars and cents to the HOA.

So what does it cost annually to maintain your common areas? $100/homeowner, $300/homeowner, or more? It’s pure speculation without a a reserve study that includes a reserve plan. More often than not, no reserve study will be provided by the developer/declarant – the HOA must decide to be smart and pay (or do the leg-work) for a reserve study to learn what the projected costs are for maintenance of the common area, most importantly, roads. Sadly most HOAs limp along with band aid solutions for the long run so as to refrain from increasing the annual dues/assessments in support of maintaining their common areas.Maintenance is equal to the overall property value of the community in the long run.

It is the responsibility of the homeowners thru their Board of peers to provide the General Operating Expenses (monthly/year) & Capitol Expenses Deferred Maintenance (long term reserves) accounts, circulate that information and follow the detailed plan to a “T” – by setting up a budget HOAs will know and will expect the outcome each year. There are no secrets – it’s simply a fact of life in West Virginia HOAs.