Homeowners Associations: The Pros and Cons of HOA's
What are Homeowner Associations?
Homeowners associations, or HOA's, are organizations designed to manage neighborhoods in an orderly fashion. The rules imposed by HOA's to serve in the homeowner's best interest, most commonly including regulations regarding lawn upkeep, street cleanup, house color, noise control, etc.
For many the idea of an orderly neighborhood that is well-run and protected sounds like a great idea. For some, HOA's can come across as intrusive and lacking in freedom regarding choice in homestyle and upkeep.
The Good of HOA's
Accountability and Tidiness
If you love a clean neighborhood, a HOA is right up your alley. Most impose rules regarding lawn care, garden beds, and keeping streets trash free. It also helps knowing that your neighbors won't be able to slack off on their end. This keeps the whole neighborhood in check.
Many HOA's provide shared use recreational facilities. These can range from swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, tennis courts, and more. Another great benefit of these amenities are the sense of community. They allow a chance for kids to meet kids and adults to meet adults. This can be incredibly advantageous for families that are relocating and need to restart socially.
Done for You
Some despise yard work. Some just can't find the time for it in their busy lives. The good news is that some HOA's take care of the lawn-mowing, snow shoveling, and other tasks that ensure the neighbor keeps its clean, uniform look.
Lack of Confrontation
You love your neighbor. But maybe you just really can't stand their barking dog, or loud music at 2 am. You might be worried to get after them over the small stuff in the case that it may harm your good relationship. This is where HOA's can help. Many allow for anonymous complaints to be made and they will deal with the confrontational side. Crisis averted.
The Bad of HOA's
Money, Money, Money
Nothing good ever comes free, and those amenities and regulations are no exception. HOA's impose monthly fees, and on top of your mortgage this home ownership thing can get more costly than it already is. Getting behind on these fees can even lead to HOA's foreclosing on your home. So it would be wise to budget for these costs when looking at these homes.
Copy, Paste Homes
If you dream of having a unique home with fascinating features, you can pretty much forget it in these neighborhoods. HOA rules are often stringent on details regarding home color, what improvements can be made, and what type of decorations you display. Almost all of these homes are built by the same development company. So don't expect much variation from your fellow neighbors.
Sometimes you have an annoying neighbor, and sometimes that annoying neighbor is you. Nobody likes to be lectured about having tall grass, loud music, or too many people over. But in a HOA, it's bound to happen.
If you ever consider fighting a fine imposed on you by a HOA, just don't. These organizations have clear contracts, and great legal teams. You almost certainly won't win and now still have that fine and legal fees to pay for. Oh and don't forget those HOA fees are due in 4 days!
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day the choice is completely up to you. If you are raising a family, HOA's can be a great choice as they build a sense of community and order among yourself and fellow neighbors. If you want to go into homeownership with the idea of truly making a home yours with unique style. Maybe look in another neighborhood.