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Is There a Difference Between a POA, HOA, COA? Understanding Owner Associations

by Staff Writer on Jan 18, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or looking to move, understanding the difference between a POA, HOA, and COA is important. The first step is to understand how each one is defined:

  • A POA is a Property Owner's Association
  • An HOA is a Home Owner's Association
  • A COA is a Condominium Owner's Association

The only true common element among the three is the last two words: owner's association. While each type of association deals with property on some level, the exact terms of membership and services vary. Let's take a closer look at how they differ in meaning:


POA - A Property Owner's Association is a governing body that encompasses HOAs and COAs. Its primary purpose is to be supportive of other associations and their members. POA fees are combined with HOA or COA fees. Serving as a type of umbrella organization, a regional POA often provides legislative, educational, and networking opportunities for property owners. A POA is not as regulated as an HOA or a COA. Members are not only homeowners but may also be business owners or property managers who contribute to the real estate industry.


HOA - A Homeowner's Association is for homeowners who own their lots and homes. An HOA governs and manages regulations for a residential community. It also manages and maintains common areas such as pools and playgrounds. Membership may be required, depending upon the location. Homeowners follow regulations ranging from lawn upkeep to outdoor decorations. HOA fees contribute to services that benefit the entire membership, such as trash removal. Any alterations, additions, or exterior improvements must be approved by a board of directors.  The overall goal of an HOA is to set and manage certain standards for the residential community which is important to a home's resale value.


COA - A Condominium Owner's Association is comprised of condominium owners. Condominium owners own their individual units and have joint ownership in the building and grounds with other units. COA fees not only cover common areas but the fees also cover building repairs and maintenance.

Understanding the Acronyms

The purchasing process for any form of real estate can be overwhelming but by understanding the meaning of the acronyms POA, HOA, and COA, you'll be prepared to ask better questions. Questions regarding an association's services, regulations and fees are very important when considering a new home as a monthly fee adds to your overall expenses. Be sure to ask if the association is also part of a Property Owner Association and what fees that may require.

A homeowner or condominium association has value in that regulations governing standards greatly impact resale value. It is reassuring to know that your neighborhood or community is in agreement via membership consensus about such issues as lawn care. Should a neighbor or resident not comply with regulations, there is a board in place to enforce the rules.

Common areas, like playgrounds and pools, are great places to connect with fellow residents. Knowing that your association fees maintain a clean place to swim and a safe place to play is also, very reassuring.

When it comes to condominium owner's associations, membership fees are important for any building maintenance and repairs. Inquire about any plans for upgrades or future projects and how they will be financed.

When it comes to fully understanding a POA, an HOA, or a COA, understand that there's no such thing as too many questions. Your home is an investment and you want to make sure you understand all fees, services, and benefits of membership. Ask to meet board members and talk with residents. By educating yourself in advance and asking the right questions, you'll be better equipped to choose your next home.


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