Advantages and Disadvantages of a Homeowners Association Every Buyer Should Consider

Home buyers weigh a long list of factors before purchasing a single family home or condo. Location, price, size and style are all taken into consideration. But for some, a home in a community with a homeowners association, or HOA — a residents’ council that helps ensure your community is at its best and running smoothly — could either sweeten the pot or be a deal breaker. .

“I’ve had clients who specifically wanted this type of situation, and others who refuse buy in a community that has one,” says golden bill, an independent realtor with Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside.

Want to know what drives buyers one way or the other? The following information will illustrate the best and worst qualities of HOAs and help you decide if living in this type of community is right for you.

For: the HOAs maintain the common areas

Your community’s HOA will be responsible for managing all common area maintenance and repairs to amenities outside of your home. This is perhaps the biggest advantage of living in an HOA community.

“Based on the maintenance fees collected, an organized HOA maintains a comfortable balance in its fund to offset unexpected maintenance costs or issues that need to be addressed,” says Drew Scott of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” and co-founder of Scott Brothers Global.

The level of involvement of an HOA varies and may depend on the type and size of the community.

“The HOA will take care of common areas like the pool, clubhouse, walking paths, or other amenities that provide value to residents,” says Marc Ferguson, a real estate agent and investor based in Greeley, CO.

Con: You have to pay a recurring HOA fee

If you are moving to an area with an HOA, membership is mandatory, as are monthly or annual fees.

“Fees can change, based on decisions that you don’t have full control over,” Golden says. “Fees can also hurt resale if potential buyers don’t want that extra cost on top of paying for their home.”

So how much can owners expect to pay? This varies depending on your location and the price of your home.

“It also depends on what amenities the neighborhood offers, but, for example, in the Trussville/Birmingham, AL area, annual HOA fees can range from $300 to $1,200,” says patrick garrett, real estate broker at H&H Realty in Trussville, AL.

The listing agent will be able to tell you exactly how much the HOA payments will be.

Pros: HOAs help maintain consistency

Each HOA has its own Statement of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or CC&R, which explains what owners can and cannot do, which includes streamlining the appearance of each property.

“Your neighbors can’t paint their house bright purple or put an unsightly addition on the front of their house,” says Golden. CC&R ensures that “the community maintains the appearance of how it was built”.

Other common prohibitions are parking vehicles on the lawn or keeping inoperable vehicles in the driveway.

“You won’t have to worry about that neighbor who decided to let their front yard become a wild jungle,” says Golden.

“Ultimately, the HOA helps homes in the neighborhood retain their value,” says Garrett. “When there are rules and guidelines governing how homeowners should maintain the appearance of their property, it helps keep the neighborhood attractive to consumers who scour the neighborhood looking for a new home.”

Disadvantage: there is a lot of paperwork

Building this new second floor addition will be especially difficult in an HOA community. Why?

Any exterior modification, even minor such as a play area for your children, must be approved by the HOA.

You must submit plans describing height, colors, location, shape, and materials to the HOA board for approval. “It can really slow down the process or limit the type of work you can do,” says Scott.

Ferguson says the approval process can be downright unreasonable. “One time it took my HOA nine months to approve a basketball hoop that had already been approved by them for previous owners,” he says.

Pros: HOAs resolve issues on your behalf

An HOA can also reduce conflict and unpleasant exchanges. If your neighbors haven’t mowed their lawn in several weeks or decide to turn their driveway into an auto repair shop, you don’t have to confront them because the HOA will. When someone engages in activity that violates the CC&R, the HOA sends a friendly notice followed by a stern warning.

Disadvantage: they can be overbearing

Remember those CC&Rs? While they’re helpful in keeping rambunctious college students from moving in, they can also be off-putting to homeowners who like their autonomy.

“Many people believe that buying your own home should give you the freedom to make whatever changes you want and express your own individuality,” says Golden. “They don’t want decisions about their own home to be made by a committee.”

HOA-mandated restrictions may be set on swimming pools (eg, in-ground pools can be built in the back of the house, but above-ground pools are prohibited), pets (eg, they are allowed, but they may not be bred or kept for commercial reasons; livestock or poultry are not permitted without permission) and rentals (for example, you may not be allowed to rent rooms or the entire house). In extreme situations, some HOAs may evict the tenant and hold the landlord liable for eviction costs or any damages caused by the tenant.

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