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HOA fees vary throughout the valley

Homeowners association fees: Some of us complain bitterly about them while others simply take them for granted as the price we pay for secure, well-manicured streets.

Still others — though it’s not many, here in Las Vegas — opt for HOA-free neighborhoods where they can paint their houses any color they darn well please. But how much are the typical HOA charges for a single-family home, and what should we expect to get in return?

Realtors and HOA experts say total monthly fees in the valley range from just $15 for a community with limited common areas to more than $600 for luxurious neighborhoods with swank clubhouses and round-the-clock security.

Many communities fall somewhere in between, with monthly rates from $50 to $150 paying for amenities like guarded gates, swimming pools and parks.

Four key factors can influence the HOA fees, says Barbara Holland, the Review-Journal’s HOA columnist and a regional manager for First Service Residential Co.

“The bottom line is: What do the governing documents say the HOA must provide? What kind of property type are you? What’s in your reserve account? And are there additional expenditures that have been added that homeowners have approved, like the social functions in senior communities?”

Complicating the picture is the fact that some homeowners make monthly payments to a master association and a sub-association. Own a custom home in tony The Ridges in Summerlin, and you’re likely on the hook for three fees: $43 a month to the Summerlin Community Association, $200 to The Ridges master association, and a sub-association fee that can add another $100 to $200, according to Ridges resident Gavin Ernstone, a real estate broker with Simply Vegas.

Even homes in seemingly similar neighborhoods can come with dramatically different HOA bills. In the westside community of Desert Shores, residents of the Ritz Cove and La Jolla Classic neighborhoods both enjoy access to four man-made lakes, a sand beach and basketball and volleyball courts. Both subdivisions are gated, with well-maintained grassy areas. But Ritz Cove homeowners pay $140 per month to their sub-association while La Jolla Classic residents pay about $29, said Eddie Petro, an assistant community manager with Mesa Management, which manages the communities.

“La Jolla has more than double the homes, so it’s easier to spread the cost out among multiple homeowners,” Petro said. “Also, Ritz Cove has security every night whereas La Jolla Classic does not, which can add a tremendous amount of expense.”

Fees also can reflect how well-funded a homeowners association is, and whether it’s been mismanaged in the past, Petro and other experts said.

“It’s rarely a good way to gauge what you’re going to get (in terms of amenities),” Petro said. “It’s going to be a very misleading number.”

Age-restricted communities can sometimes offer quite a few amenities for a surprisingly low HOA fee. Sun City Anthem, for example, offers its senior citizen residents three community centers with gyms, swimming pools, a theater and a ballroom, plus bocce, tennis and arts and crafts facilities. It’s all included in a monthly fee of about $92.

Even The Ridges’ relatively high HOA fees provide value for the dollar compared with other luxury communities, said Ernstone, when you account for the community’s infrastructure. Hiking trails and a spa-like fitness center are open exclusively to residents and included in their monthly dues.

“There’s kind of a cult following in (the fitness center) because there’re some really good classes, and it’s not overcrowded because you can’t join it if you don’t live in the community … . Overall what you get for your standard HOA (payment) is comparable to, if not better than, anywhere else,” he said.

That same all-inclusive model will also apply at Ascaya, a desert-contemporary, custom-home community under construction in the hills above Henderson where a typical home will cost $3 to $5 million. HOA fees of $591 per month will include access to the neighborhood’s $25 million clubhouse, which is under construction. It will have a pool, cabanas, food service, movement classes and children’s art studio — all with sweeping city views.

Ascaya Sales Director Darin Marques says the idea is to provide the same full-service, hotel-style experience buyers might find in one of Las Vegas’ high-rise condo buildings, where HOA fees can run from $500 to $2,000 per month.

“We know a lot of these clients are not going to be full-time residents,” he said. “They’re going to want those additional amenities. We will also offer a white-glove concierge service, somebody on-site to facilitate a car or plane rental for them.”

By contrast, the lush Dragon Ridge country club in nearby MacDonald Highlands boasts an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis stadium and spa. But membership isn’t included in the $330 per month residents pay in HOA fees. Homeowners who want to join must pay an additional fee, plus membership dues starting at about $200 per month.

Regardless of a neighborhood’s price point, defenders of HOA fees say the associations offer a level of maintenance for streets and green space that local municipalities are unable or unwilling to provide.

“Homes tend to keep their value longer because the community looks good,” said Donna Toussaint, a board member of the Nevada chapter of the Community Associations Institute, an HOA advocacy organization. (Several studies have shown modest benefits to property values.)

As an example, Toussaint pointed to the difference she saw in the quality of fencing and landscaping in Henderson’s Green Valley compared with the adjacent Green Valley Ranch. The latter has an HOA while parts of the former do not.

“The communities are the exact same age, but one looks good and pristine and one not so much,” she said.

Las Vegas buyers looking to avoid HOA fees face limited choices: Only 40 percent of homes listed in the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service don’t have an HOA. Many of those are clustered in the vintage neighborhoods near Downtown Las Vegas where millennials and empty-nesters are flocking to restore Midcentury homes.

If you are contemplating buying into an HOA, and want to know what kind of value you’ll get for the money, don’t just read the governing documents, Petro advised. Instead, try employing some good old-fashioned shoe leather.

“The best thing to do is go to the community, drive around and see if you can catch a resident or two,” he said.

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