A homeowners association (HOA) provides you with the chance of living in an orderly and well-run neighborhood that's managed by an organization that sets the rules and regulations under which you and other community members agree to live.
While some people may welcome the chance to be a part of this organized living arrangement, others might not like the aspect of having restrictions on how they can manage their property. If you are thinking about moving into a community run by an HOA, there are things you should first take into consideration.
Homeowner's Associations Overview
The HOA in the neighborhood you are considering moving was probably originally founded by the real estate developer who wanted to set standards for managing a community of condominiums, houses, or townhomes. The association gave the developer (and subsequent governing board) the authority to administrate the conditions, covenants, and restrictions of the development and manage its common elements.
There are several advantages of living in a homeowners association community. Some include the following.
You Live in a Well-Groomed Neighborhood
There are strict guidelines put in place to ensure the neighborhood looks good. For instance, typically lawns are meticulously groomed and manicured, there are limitations imposed on the colors of exterior paint, and there are restrictions on parking large vehicles and boats on the street.
You Have Access to Amenities
When living in an HOA community, you often have access to amenities like a fitness center, pool, children's play area, parks, security gates and more.
You Have Most Maintenance Done for You
Your HOA will likely manage and maintain all of the community's common areas and take care of tasks like mowing the lawn, weeding the flower beds, shoveling snow and other outside maintenance work for those parts of the neighborhood.
Your Home Owners Association Handles Neighbor Disputes
When a dispute occurs between neighbors, your HOA generally steps in to mediate. So, if a neighbor has a barking dog or is throwing a party that's loud, the HOA will contact the offender instead of you having to do it. An HOA enforces a rule against after-hours noise.
There are also disadvantages of living in an HOA community, such as:
You Risk Foreclosure if Dues Aren't Paid
If you fail to pay your dues for living in the community, an HOA can foreclose on your home. Of course, it depends on your state laws. In some cases, an HOA has certain limitations on when they can foreclose.
You Don't Have as Much Freedom
When you live in an HOA-governed community, you have to abide by its rules and regulations, even if you do not agree with them. While you often have the ability to petition the HOA to get a rule changed, they are not usually altered unless a majority of residents support it. However, petitioning them does not always mean you will get what you want. If you lose, you have to live with the rule.
You Have to Live with Certain Restrictions
Running a particular home-based business that involves commercial activities is frowned upon by some HOAs. If this is your source of income and your HOA disallows it, you may have to consider changing it if you want to stay a member. Many HOAs also place restrictions on your ability to rent out your home. They may also screen all future residents to the point where it may jeopardize your ability to sell.
You Have to Pay HOA Fees
For you to live in and belong to an HOA community, you have to pay certain dues, which can be as little as $100 a year to more than $1,000 a month, depending on the community.
For some people, living in an HOA-controlled community is the right place for them. Others prefer the freedom and independence of living in a property free of outside oversight. As you select a home or community to live in, a good realtor will help you learn the ins and outs of each neighborhood so that you make the decision that is right for you.