When house-hunting, there’s a high chance that you’ll encounter plenty of properties with a homeowners association (HOA). Statistics show that there are more than 370,000 HOAs in the United States — that translates to 53 percent of owner-occupied properties.
If you’re cringing, you are not alone. Due to their strict covenants, codes, and restrictions (CC&Rs), associations tend to be seen as party poopers. HOAs can be incredibly nitpicky, such as when an HOA in Missouri threatened to sue a homeowner over the color of their swing set.
While associations can be hypercritical, they do have their benefits. Rather than being a curse, homes with HOAs can be a blessing. Below, we’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of HOAs so you can decide if this type of community is for you.
What is a Homeowners Association?
A homeowners association or HOA manages a group of homes. It is run by a Board of Directors, whose members are elected by the homeowners. The association oversees the community by enforcing rules and regulations that dictate what homeowners can and can’t do with their properties. They also collect fines from homeowners that go against their rules and regulations.
In addition, an HOA collects fees that go to managing common areas (e.g. community pools and parks), purchasing insurance, paying service providers (e.g. garbage collectors), paying property management companies, and so on. HOA fees can range from $200 to $300 a month, but it largely depends on the type of property and the amenities the residents have access to. In general, the more the amenities, the greater the fees.
What are the Pros of an HOA?
#1 The HOA Takes Care of Common Areas
The main advantage of living in an HOA-regulated community is that the HOA takes care of common areas, including landscaping, community centers, and so on. The result? A good-looking neighborhood that will have others green with envy. The enhanced curb appeal will cause your property to appreciate. So, in case you decide to sell your home, you can see a significant return on investment (ROI). That’s why HOAs are ideal for property investors who are concerned about property values.
#2 The HOA Provides a Variety of Amenities
Contrary to popular belief, the Board of Directors doesn’t pocket the HOA dues. They use the dues to provide a variety of amenities, such as clubhouses, community pools, community centers, playgrounds, and so on. Best of all, these amenities are for members only. You don’t have to share these spaces with non-residents.
#3 The HOA Manages Conflict
From noisy neighbors to dogs that bark ‘til daylight, neighbors come with inconsiderate habits that are the cause of disputes. If you fear confrontation, an HOA-regulated community is for you. If your neighbor loves to throw loud parties, you can bring this up with the Board of Directors who will handle the matter on your behalf. In some cases, they may bring the conflicting parties together to come to a compromise.
#4 The HOA Creates a Sense of Community
What does an HOA community have that the typical neighborhood doesn’t? A sense of community. This is because the members of an HOA are encouraged to participate. They can plan social activities such as bake-offs, barbecue parties, and more. Plus, it’s also easier to meet people when you’re sharing amenities, such as swimming pools and community centers. Even the most introverted members can be part of the community because of mandatory HOA meetings!
What are the Cons of an HOA?
#1 The HOA Fees are Expensive
Homeowners don’t want to live in an HOA-regulated community due to the fees. In some communities, it can cost an arm and a leg to get in. If you’re the type of homeowner who isn’t interested in having access to a variety of amenities, the fees will be a waste of money. Unfortunately, fees aren’t set in stone, so they could change from time to time. Be sure that you can continue to afford the fees, otherwise, the HOA can foreclose your home.
#2 The HOA’s Rules are Strict
An HOA has the authority to tell you what you can and can’t do. Planning on throwing a party ‘til dawn? Thinking about painting your walls? Unfortunately, some HOAs have strict rules that cover everything you can imagine. If you’re planning on renting out your property, your HOA probably has rules against that, too. So, before buying a home in an HOA-regulated community, be sure to check their CC&Rs.
For Real Estate Investors: Don’t make the mistake of buying a home in a community that doesn’t allow tenants. Consult a property management company to be certain that you can actually rent out your property.
#3 The HOA Has Control Over Your Home
Similarly, the HOA can tell you what you can and can’t do with your home. If you were planning on painting your home a certain color, prepare for disappointment. The HOA can create rules regarding what you can and can’t do to your outdoor space. The HOA does this to protect the best interests of its members — that is, to increase property values over time.
#4 The HOA May Mismanage the Community
Not all HOAs are worthy of praise. While many communities are well-maintained, some are poorly managed. The fault usually lies in the Board of Directors that fails to enforce the rules and regulations. Before buying a home in an HOA-regulated community, consider talking to the residents. Hear out their honest opinions on the Board of Directors.
Is an HOA Community For You?
That is something that only you can answer. The bottom line is that HOA communities aren’t for everyone. If you’re someone who wants complete control over the appearance of your home, you won’t be happy in an HOA community. However, if you’re into structure and security, then an HOA community can offer you the suburbian life of your dreams.
Need Help Deciding?
If you need additional information to help you decide, you can count on Luxury Property Care. Our property managers know the South Florida real estate market. We’ll provide you with our unbiased opinion on your prospective property.
When you’re ready to move, enlist our long-distance moving services. All of our relocation companies are licensed and insured — we can guarantee that your move will go smoothly.