A Homeowners association, or “HOA”, is a community of homeowners who abide to a governed structure formed by the neighborhood. It’s an association created to care for the neighborhood formed by the residents within that community.
The association maintains and cares for the integrity of the community, similar how a landlord takes care of apartments in a complex. There are various benefits included in belonging to an HOA, but with it, comes a roster of do’s and don’ts.
HOA’s vary in structure and requirements, so it’s important to determine if it’s right for you.
Pro: Provided Amenities
Different HOA’s provide different perks. These usually include swimming pools, workout facilities, tennis courts, playgrounds, basketball courts, and sometimes even golf courses. They are only available to the residents of the community.
These perks are free for residents to use because the maintenance costs are already added to the HOA fees. Certain communities will even host community cookouts, sporting events, and block parties. If you’re looking for a sociable community, an HOA might be right for you.
Cons: More Rules to Follow
Belonging to an HOA requires a homeowner to abide by a (potentially lengthy) roster of rules and regulations.
Some of the guidelines can be quite simple to follow, while others can be more tedious and frustrating to keep up with. These rules may include the size of your garden, fence dimensions, the number of pets allowed, and even the type of fertilizer used on your lawn.
Failing to abide by these regulations may result in expensive fines and possible expulsion from the association all together.
Pro: Aesthetically Pleasing
The plus-side to keeping up with all and any community rules is that the neighborhood is always upkept and maintained.
You won’t ever have to worry about stepping in dog poo during your morning jogs or dealing with a neighbor that has 7 “project cars” taking up space in the cul-de-sac. Certain standards are expected out of the residents to help care of the community as a collective effort.
Con: Much Less Freedom of Choice
As a member of an HOA, you cannot simply decide to change the exterior attributes of your home. Everything from painting to installing new window awnings must be approved by the board of the HOA.
Other restrictions include approved yard ornaments and even garbage can placement. Failure to comply with these strict regulations result in hefty fines and possible eviction in extreme cases.
Pro: Increased Property Value
All of these rules and regulations assure residents that no individual property will degrade and compromise the property values of other homes in the area. If you are buying a home with the intentions to sell in the future, this may be an avenue worth exploring.
According to a study conducted in 2019 by UC-Irvine, homes which were sold in HOA communities increased their value by 4% on average.
Con: Risky Fees
The benefits that an HOA offer is certainly not free and require the payment of additional fees. These fees are charged separately property taxes and monthly mortgage payments. If you’re a member, you’re responsible for these payments even if you don’t use the amenities offered.
In certain communities, failure to pay these dues may result in extreme penalties such as foreclosure and liens on your home. This means that even if your mortgage payments are caught up to date, failure to pay HOA fees can still result in foreclosure.
Do Your Research
A Homeowners Association is certainly not for everyone, but some communities can be tailored to an individual’s specifications. Plenty of homes can be bought inside and outside of an HOA. Before purchasing, never be afraid to ask questions.