Navigating the World of HOAs

Navigating HOAs

Moving to a location with a homeowners association (HOA)? Here’s some information to keep in mind while navigating the world of HOAs.

What is a homeowners association?

HOAs are governing bodies that can oversee parts of neighborhoods, subdivisions, apartment buildings, or planned communities. In order to live within some designated areas, buyers may have to join the corresponding HOA. Buying in these areas means agreeing to the HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)—the rules of that particular HOA. Membership in an HOA also usually involves yearly or monthly dues. Though not all HOAs have the same rules and regulations, many include lawn care requirements and other aesthetic standards.

What are the pros and cons of joining an HOA?

There are many pros to HOAs. They protect, and sometimes even increase, property values. Membership in an HOA often gives residents access to trash pickup, lawn care, and other utilities and services. Perks can include access to amenities such as parks, security, parking, and swimming pools. HOAs may also set aside a portion of dues to pay for emergency repairs and general maintenance as needed. Nest Broker Dawn Cromer explains, “If a homeowner is concerned about what the neighbors do or how a neighborhood looks overall (meaning they don’t want garbage piling up next door or roosters waking them up in the morning), then an HOA is a great way to ensure structure in a neighborhood.”

There are, however, cons to HOAs. They usually require full observance of all rules and regulations, and most contracts are legally binding. Fines and penalties can be brought against residents who do not follow the terms of their CC&Rs. Possible restrictions range from types of pets allowed to the color a house can be painted. “The restrictions imposed by HOAs can sometimes be frustrating to homeowners who don’t agree,” says Nest Broker Georgia Lindsey. “For example, if you live in a community that dictates what color your front door can be, but you’ve always dreamed of having a hot pink door, it can be annoying to have to live by someone else’s rules!”

Things to keep in mind

There are definitely some things to keep in mind when searching for homes in an area governed by an HOA. Look at federal and state laws that may affect HOAs near you. Researching all possible HOA fees and dues is important for your checkbook, since these costs can add up. It’s also smart to make sure you can fulfill the aesthetic requirements of an HOA and its CC&Rs.

Doing some homework can help you figure out whether living in an HOA community is right for you. According to Nest Broker Eric Knight, “It’s a good idea to discuss your needs, desires, and plans for the property. Compare your answers with what the HOA offers and how it operates.”

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