If you are considering the purchase of a home, there is a pretty good chance that it may be located in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association (HOA). Of course, if you are considering the purchase of a multifamily unit such as a condo or townhouse, then you can be sure that there will be a condo/homeowner’s association. Like anything, there are pros and cons to homeowners’ associations. In addition, a well-run and managed HOA can be a blessing while a poorly managed one can be a curse. It is estimated that approximately 60% of newly constructed homes are part of a HOA. We discuss some pros and cons to consider when purchasing a home in a HOA.
Pros of a homeowner’s association
- #1. The neighborhood will look good: Typically, a HOA will have strict guidelines that are enforced to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Some examples include the maintenance of landscaping and restrictions on the parking of commercial and recreation vehicles on the property.
- #2. Access to amenities: A HOA usually offers community amenities such as a pool, a fitness center, parks, children’s play areas and security gates.
- #3. Maintenance costs are shared among homeowners: HOA fees typically cover the maintenance of common areas and amenities. For example, the landscaping throughout the community and the community pool, etc… Some HOA’s may include the maintenance of your home’s yard while others do not.
- #4. A built-in mediator: In the event that you have a grievance with a neighbor’s property, the matter can be taken to the HOA board or management company to assist with resolving it.
- #5. Getting to know your neighbors: HOA meetings can be a great way to meet your neighbors, particularly if you serve on the HOA board of directors. In addition, some communities will also plan social functions throughout the year. These are great ways to network and potentially make new friends.
Cons of a homeowner’s association
- #1. HOA dues must be factored into your budget: The monthly or quarterly HOA dues must be accounted for when searching for properties to buy. While these dues often cover many expenses that you would have anyways, you can be sure that these costs will only rise over time as well.
- #2. Limitations to what may be done to the property: It is possible that a HOA will not allow certain changes to the property. For example, the addition of an enclosed patio would likely require approval from the HOA board of directors.
- #3. Financial or legal woes for a HOA may negatively impact you: If the HOA is facing financial problems or ensnared in a lawsuit, it could negatively impact your ability to obtain a loan or even sell your home.
- #4. You will lose some of your freedom: Living in a community governed by a HOA means adhering to the various rules and restrictions, even if you think they are ridiculous. If you’d like for a certain rule to be changed, you will need to petition the HOA.
- #5. Potential negative impacts from unethical HOA board members: Like any governing body, you would hope that the entity is free from corruption or special interests. The HOA board of directors is typically a small group of homeowners that are making critical decisions for the community. For this reason, it is a good idea to either participate on the board of directors or at least attend the HOA meetings to stay informed. In severe cases, some board members have been caught stealing money from a HOA.
Across the U.S., homeowners’ associations are on the ascent. In particular, a high proportion of newly constructed homes are part of a homeowner’s association. As highlighted above, there are many pros and cons to living in one of these communities. You will need to take your own personal situation into account as to whether a HOA is an overall benefit to you or not. In certain situations, the decision will be easier for some. For example, if you are a plumber, electrician, or other contractor and will need to park your commercial vehicle in your driveway each night, a homeowner’s association will likely not be a good option for you. In addition, it is important to note that some HOA’s even prohibit the parking of pick-up trucks in driveways. It is strongly encouraged that all HOA rules and regulations are reviewed prior to considering the purchase of a home in one of these communities.
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