If you’re currently house-hunting, you may come across properties that belong to a homeowner’s association (HOA). Did you know that Texas alone has over 21,000 HOAs? These associations are responsible for overseeing planned communities of single-family homes, townhomes, and condos. The purpose of an HOA is to establish a set of guidelines called covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) to maintain community standards. While living in an HOA has its benefits, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding. Let’s examine both sides to help you make an informed choice.
THE UPSIDE OF LIVING IN AN HOA COMMUNITY
It’s important to note that no two HOA’s are identical. Each HOA will have its own unique amenities, fees, and rules for the community. However, a well-ran HOA can provide several advantages to you as a homeowner. The most significant advantage is the protection and improvement of your property’s value. Below are four common benefits that homeowners appreciate in HOAs.
Community Amenities: HOAs often provide common facilities like swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, and parks that all residents can enjoy. These amenities can enhance the appeal of the neighborhood and increase property values.
Curb Appeal: Many homeowners like that the HOA establishes rules and guidelines for the appearance and maintenance of homes and landscaping, designed to create an attractive neighborhood. This benefit not only attracts potential buyers, but also helps maintain property value in the long run.
Maintenance and Repairs: Homeowners Associations serve a dual purpose. Not only do they establish guidelines for well-maintained homes, but they also handle repairs and maintenance for common areas. This can help save time and money for homeowners while enhancing the overall appearance and value of the community.
Social Events: HOAs often have committees that organize social events and activities for the homeowners, such as holiday parties, community clean-up days, and block parties. These events are a great way to meet neighbors and build relationships within the community.
THE DOWNSIDE OF LIVING IN AN HOA COMMUNITY
Living in an HOA may not be the best fit for everyone. If you are considering buying a home in an HOA, it’s important to do your research beforehand. Here are some additional factors to consider before making a decision.
Fees: HOAs typically charge monthly or annual fees to cover the cost of maintaining common areas and amenities. Make sure you understand exactly how much you’ll be paying and what the fees cover. Some HOAs may also charge special assessments for unexpected expenses, so be prepared for potential extra costs.
Rules and Restrictions: HOAs often have strict rules about what homeowners can and cannot do with their properties. These rules can include anything from the type of mailbox you can have to the color you can paint your front door. Before buying a home in an HOA, make sure you understand the rules and are comfortable following them.
HOA Management: HOAs are often managed by a board of directors consisting of homeowners who are committed to maintaining the community. Sometimes, a property management company is hired by the HOA to handle tasks such as fee collection and fine assessment. Poor management by either the board or the property management company can lead to a decline in the community. A great way to improve the management of your HOA is to actively participate as a board member or volunteer.
Liens on Your Home: This one is worth noting. HOAs can legally place a lien on a property when owners fail to pay their HOA fees or violate rules. This lien can lead to damaged credit scores, legal action, and the HOA collecting owed debt from the sale proceeds if the property is sold. It is important for homeowners to stay current with their HOA payments and abide by the association’s rules to avoid these serious implications.
IS AN HOA RIGHT FOR YOU?
Ultimately, the decision to buy a home in an HOA comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If you value the community amenities and find comfort in the rules and regulations designed to protect property values, an HOA might be a good fit for you. However, if you prefer more freedom to do what you want with your property and don’t want to deal with fees and restrictions, an HOA might not be the best choice. Take the time to research different communities and weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision.