There are around 310,000 communities in the United States governed by homeowners associations. A homeowners association can have a huge impact on what day to day life is like in a neighborhood.
Making the decision to move into an area governed by a homeowners association is not an easy one. Every one of these areas is different and there are different pros and cons associated with living there.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about living in a homeowner’s association neighborhood.
What Are Homeowners Associations?
Homeowners associations, or HOAs, are self-governing organizations that work towards common interests in a neighborhood. As a member of an HOA, you pay a membership fee that is pooled together. This money is then used to pay for things to improve the local area.
Areas with homeowners associations are often particularly clean and tidy, as the membership fees are used to maintain common areas. HOA areas might also have special community amenities such as swimming pools or parks.
Typically, a local HOA is run by resident homeowners who are elected to sit on a board of directors. This means that as a local homeowner, you could potentially be elected to have a say in how the HOA is run.
As a member of the HOA, you are subject to homeowners association rules. This ensures that local residents maintain their properties to certain standards. Not only does this improve the look of the area, but it can also keep the local property values high.
What Do Your Fees Pay For?
So what exactly will your HOA fees pay for? It can differ depending on the specific area, but generally, you can expect to pay a good proportion of your fees towards landscaping and maintenance. You might also contribute towards practical things such as garbage pickup, parking, and shared utilities in common areas.
Some HOAs might even take measures to ensure the safety and security of local residents. For example, they might hire a private security guard to safeguard the area, or they might hire a pest control company.
Living in an HOA area can differ significantly depending on where you are, so it's hard to say how much you'll be expected to pay. Some HOA fees are as low as $50 a month, but it's not unheard of for the fees to be 4 figures.
If you're considering moving to a new area that falls under HOA jurisdiction, make sure you do your research so you don't end up shocked over the amount they take each month.
Homeowners Associations Benefits
There are many great benefits associated with being an HOA member. One of the main benefits of being part of an HOA is that your property value will be maintained.
HOAs will fight against anything that could potentially lower local house prices. This is great news if you ever plan to sell in the future.
Another great benefit is that you may gain access to exclusive group amenities such as swimming pools, parks, or gyms. This often means that HOA areas have a greater sense of community than other neighborhoods. You may even get the chance to mix with your neighbors at exclusive HOA social events.
HOAs will also help to resolve disputes within the neighborhood. For example, they may step in if a resident has not been following homeowners association rules.
The Bad Side of HOAs
While living in homeowners associations can offer a lot of great benefits, it doesn't mean that homeowners associations are perfect. In fact, a lot of people do not enjoy living in the jurisdiction of an HOA.
One of the most common criticisms of HOA neighborhoods is that the HOA has a large amount of control over what you can or can't do with your own property. For example, the homeowners association rules might insist that you can only paint your house a certain color or only have a certain type of fence.
If you violate any of these rules, you may face a fine until you rectify the issue. Some HOAs may even go so far as to tell you how many pets you're allowed to have.
If you are a free-spirited individual, you might not want to live in an HOA area.
Know the Rules
It's important to note that the rules of every HOA are different. This means that you absolutely need to take the time to read up on an HOA before you move into its jurisdiction. Failure to do so could lead to some nasty surprises in the future.
Any HOA should have a list of their rules and regulations available for you to check out. Make sure you read through the rules carefully before putting any kind of offer down on a property.
Investigate the HOA
It might also pay off to conduct some online research to learn more on HOA property management before moving into an HOA area. For example, you might check out what people are saying on sites like Facebook and Nextdoor.
If you find a lot of horror stories, you might want to consider living in a different area. Some HOAs may even have online reviews listed on sites such as Google reviews and Yelp.
If you can't find much information, you might consider reaching out to some of the local residents on social media.
Should You Move Into an HOA Area?
Ultimately, this is a difficult question with no simple answer. All homeowners associations are different, so you'll need to do your research before making a decision.
A well-run HOA can create an amazing sense of community and protect the value of your property investment. On the other hand, a bad HOA could make your life difficult and cost you a lot of money.
If you want to read more about real estate related topics, take a look at the rest of our blog posts.