As you search for the perfect home to buy, you might encounter three letters that make you stop and think for a minute – “HOA.” HOA stands for homeowners association and are most commonly found in condominium communities but can also be present in single-family home developments and neighborhoods.
Some homebuyers seek out HOAs, while others try their best to avoid them. Homeowners associations have pros and cons, so we’re here to help you decide if buying a house with an HOA is right for you.
What Is an HOA?
A homeowners association is an organization in a planned community, condominium building, subdivision, or neighborhood development. The job of the HOA is to make and enforce rules for the properties that the residents/owners must follow.
When you purchase a property within an HOA’s jurisdiction, you automatically become a member of the organization. You’ll be required to pay dues, also known as HOA fees. While some HOAs can be restrictive about what members can and can’t do with their properties, others offer more freedom and flexibility.
What Kind of Rules Do HOAs Enforce?
Having a set of rules for your neighborhood that you have to follow might seem restrictive at first. However, the primary purpose of having these common rules and standards of expectations is to protect your investment as a homeowner.
If you’re wondering what kind of rules you can expect to see from an HOA, some examples include the following:
- Architectural changes
- Holiday decoration restrictions
- Home maintenance standards
- Noise policies
- Occupancy limits
- Short-term rental restrictions
- Parking regulations
- Lawn maintenance
- Trash and recycling rules
Should I Buy a House With an HOA?
Owning a home is a significant responsibility, and it comes along with many expenses – one of them possibly being HOA fees. If you’re wondering if you should buy a house with an HOA, it’s an important decision to consider.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of being a part of an HOA. We’re here to break it down for you so you can decide if you should buy a house with an HOA or not.
The Pros of Being a Part of an HOA
- Access to Amenities
Homes within HOAs generally have access to high-quality, shared amenities. This could include tennis courts, fitness facilities, a pool, or playgrounds.
- Less Do-It-Yourself Home Maintenance
When you own a home that isn’t part of an HOA, you’re always responsible for all the maintenance that comes with it. This could include shoveling snow, trimming the grass, or repainting your shutters. Many HOAs cover maintenance duties, such as the ones listed.
- Lower Monthly Utility Bills
While it’s true that the cost to be a part of an HOA varies, one expense that’s frequently included in HOA fees is utilities. It’s possible that the association you join could take responsibility for water, gas, sewer, trash, or recycling. This would cut down on the monthly bills you’d pay.
- Conflict Resolution
If you dread conflict with neighbors, an HOA can be a helpful advocate for you. Whether your neighbor is playing music too loud, has a nonstop barking dog, or has overgrown grass that looks like a jungle, you can reach out to your HOA, and they will handle the problem from there.
- HOAs Manage Commons Areas
One of the benefits of living in a community with an HOA is that they’ll manage the surrounding common areas. They’ll landscape common areas, clean streets, trim trees, etc. The neighborhood you live in will always be in tip-top shape, increasing your property value and making your area more desirable.
The Cons of Being a Part of an HOA
- High Monthly Dues
Yes, HOAs have many fantastic amenities, but they come at a cost. When you’re a part of an HOA, you must pay dues (monthly, quarterly, annually – it varies). The better services and amenities your association offers, the higher your HOA fees will be.
- You Have To Follow Rules
HOAs enforce rules that members must abide by to maintain uniformity and order in the community. For example, the association might dictate that you can’t run a business out of your home, rent it out as a short-term rental, paint your mailbox or shutters a particular color, or have certain breeds of dogs.
- Defaulting on HOA Fees Has Repercussions
It’s vital that you don’t downplay the importance of paying your HOA fees on time. In fact, depending on your state, defaulting on these payments could put you at risk for foreclosure.
- Cookie-Cutter Communities
Depending on the specific HOA, their rules could be stringent regarding home appearances. This can result in “cookie-cutter communities,” where all the properties look exactly the same. While this might not bother some homeowners or buyers, it can deter others.
- The Association May Not Hold Up Their End of the Deal
While most HOAs are efficient and professional, some can misspend money and lack in keeping up with their duties. An HOA may fail to repair, maintain or replace crucial elements, such as a leaky roof in a condominium building. The most common reason for an association to not hold up its end of the bargain is a lack of money in its reserves.
The Team at Bluewest Properties Is Here for You
Are you interested in purchasing a home that's part of an HOA? It's important to understand exactly what you're getting for your money. Our team at BlueWest Properties can help! Our agents can break down your HOA fees so you can decide if it's the right choice for you. To get started working with us, contact us online.