Homeowners associations, or HOAs, obviously mean different things to different people. While some households may welcome the chance to live in a well-run, orderly neighborhood, others resent the intrusive aspect of not being free to decide how to manage their own properties. Are you considering a move into an HOA-managed community? Here are a few points to ponder first:
Pro No. 1: Your neighborhood will look good.
Generally, an HOA establishes rules to ensure the neighborhood looks sharp. These include strict guidelines about keeping lawns manicured, restrictions on parking boats and other large vehicles on the street, and limitations on exterior paint colors. This type of oversight eliminates issues with one or two properties weighing down all property values due to an unpleasant exterior.
Pro No. 2: You’ll enjoy access to amenities.
An HOA usually offers community amenities such as a pool, a fitness center, parks, children’s play areas and security gates.
Pro No. 3: Your maintenance costs will be shared.
HOA dues are earmarked for maintenance of shared spaces. This includes community lawn care (but not for your own yard), community snow removal (but not for your own property) and upkeep of common areas like the pool or the fitness center.
Pro No. 4: You’ve got a built-in mediator.
Involved in a tiff with your neighbor over that big oak tree that’s losing limbs? You can settle some confrontations with your neighbors by taking your grievances to the HOA’s board or management company.
Pro No. 5: You can get to know your neighbors.
If you’re elected to serve on the HOA board or are otherwise active in the association, you’ll become better acquainted with your neighbors. Heck, you might even make some new friends. It’s good to know our surroundings, including the people in them.
Con No. 1: You’ll fork over HOA dues.
When buying a home in a community with an HOA, you’ve got to add HOA dues to your budget!
Con No. 2: Your hands will be (somewhat) tied.
If someone buys a home in an HOA community and wants to make changes to the property, such as the addition of an enclosed patio, it normally must be approved by the HOA’s board. It’s possible that an HOA could prevent certain updates on a home.
Con No. 3: You might be hampered by an HOA’s financial woes.
If an HOA is facing financial problems or is ensnared in a lawsuit, it could harm your ability to obtain a loan for a home and could hurt sale prices of homes in the community.
Con No. 4: You’ll lose some of your freedom.
When you live in a community governed by a HOA, you’ll have to follow its rules, even if you think they’re ridiculous.
You do, however, have the option of petitioning the homeowners’ association to change any rule you don’t agree with. But if you lose, you will have to live with it.
Con No. 5: Better Keep That Day Job
Many HOAs frown upon operating home-based businesses out of their communities, so living in one may lose you this source of income. Also, HOAs can place severe restrictions that may not allow you to rent out your property. In fact, they may even insist on vetting future residents to the extent where it impacts your ability to sell.
In summary: The best way to determine if a specific HOA is for you…talk to the neighbors!!