Today, more than 25 percent of people in America live in one of the communities managed by an HOA (homeowners association). If you are among those who are looking for a new home, chances are you will want to check those properties. These associations are designed to take care of the properties within a community and establish and manage regulations for everyone to follow. For some, living in such an area means relief from certain obligations. For others, it may look like placing restrictions on the way life is supposed to be lived. That’s why, before making a purchase, you should get familiar with all pros and cons of buying a home in an HOA.
Buying a home in an HOA
Buying a home is a huge accomplishment, but it brings many responsibilities. While some might enjoy maintaining their property, it represents an unnecessary waste of time and energy for others. That’s why opting for a home in HOA, for many people, seems like the right solution. On the other hand, not everyone likes it when others decide what is best for them. In this case, it can be as trivial as the color of the paint on your house.
For these reasons, it’s essential to check all the advantages and disadvantages of living in such a community. It’s better to know all the intricacies and fees before completing the purchase, or you may end up disappointed.
What is a homeowners association?
A homeowners association is like an organization that manages, maintains, and sets rules for a housing community. Simply put, those are groups of homeowners who came to a mutual agreement about how to manage their properties within the area. In most cases, they set regulations and fees for all the members and deal with property issues. These are planned communities where the elected board of homeowners manages the organization and regulates its budget. In general, these communities may include single-family homes and townhouses, but also condominiums.
Fees in homeowners associations
For everything to work according to plan, every HOA member pays a fee. These fees can be as low as a couple of hundred dollars a year, up to several hundred a month. Consider this if you are moving and settling down in a big city, like New York. It mostly depends on the type of community and the level of luxury it provides to its residents. Before buying and moving to one of these communities, it’s always good to check if there are any upcoming assessments, mostly because those expenses are not included in regular fees.
The pros of buying a home in an HOA
Living in a community with an HOA brings a lot to the table. From maintaining the exterior of your home to providing its residents with a certain living standard. In most cases, they include shared amenities like pools, playgrounds, parks, and complete security solutions.
Here are some of the main benefits:
- Maintenance – HOA takes care of each property’s essential maintenance, whether it’s mowing the lawn, cleaning off snow, or any other exterior care. They also make sure plumbing, pest control, electricity, street lights, and similar matters are at the highest standard.
- Friendly neighborhoods – Most of those communities are indeed lovely places to live. You can make friends with your new neighbors and have a good relationship with the people around you, and your surroundings are safe and clean.
- High living standard – thanks to the rules everyone follows, you can expect an increased quality of life in such communities.
- Free amenities – most of these communities invest the money collected from fees in shared amenities. As a member, you will have access to free pools, parks, recreational areas, and facilities like gyms, and many more. Also, all amenities are regularly maintained without additional costs.
- Regulate disputes – even in case of local conflicts for various reasons like noise, the HOA will address the problems and find a solution. They also have the power to issue penalties, so the number of issues is usually minimal.
The cons of buying a home in an HOA
Unfortunately, not all communities with HOA are the same, and some conditions and rules are not appropriate for everyone. Naturally, living in a set community can be nice, but dictating which color you will use, how many pets you can have, or how your garden will look is sometimes just not acceptable.
If you want to have complete control over your property and shape it on your own, consider these cons before buying a home in an HOA:
- Fees – not in all communities, but some of them have extremely high fees. Yes, they provide you with everything you “might” need, but sometimes you don’t need all of that. For example, paying a high monthly fee just because there is a luxury gym without using it might be unnecessary.
- Additional fees – If the HOA decides to do something for the sake of the community, like build a pool, homeowners will have to participate if the HOA budget doesn’t cover all the costs.
- Strict rules – if you are not accustomed to strict rules, the HOA community is probably not the right place. In other cases, people just don’t have enough time to comply with everything an HOA demands, like maintaining the home appearance. It can often lead to high costs, which some people are unwilling to deal with every month.
- Foreclosures – in some states, HOAs can potentially foreclose your home if you fail to pay the fees. In reality, it happens rarely, but it’s worth considering when searching for a new home.
In addition, some communities allow only a small percentage of their homes to be rented. Or, even if they allow it, the entire renting procedure might be more rigorous than most tenants are willing to take.
Given these points, you should thoroughly research before deciding if buying a home in an HOA is for you. While some enjoy community life where you don’t have to deal with maintenance, others might not. If you want a home that you can adapt to your taste and customize everything the way it suits you, then you should look the other way. However, an HOA also brings many benefits while regulating communities, so weigh all the options before making a final decision.