When you begin searching for your dream home, you may come across some properties that are in homeowners’ associations. You may be unsure of what this means or if buying in an HOA neighborhood is the right choice for you. Below are some important pros and cons of homeowners’ associations.
Living in an HOA: Pros and Cons of Homeowners’ Associations
Benefits of HOAs
There are a number of advantages to buying a property that is part of an HOA.
Owners Are Required To Maintain Their Property
The ultimate goal of an HOA is to keep the property values in the entire community high. HOAs have the right to fine homeowners who do not maintain their properties. This prevents an unmaintained home adjacent to yours severely decreasing your home’s value or impacting whether it is sellable. The rules keep the entire neighborhood looking good and provide recourse against neighbors who don’t do their part.
The types of maintenance the association pays for varies widely depending on the type of property as well as the individual governing documents. Many HOAs pay for snow removal, for example, and in some HOAs the association will even pay for roof replacement. When everyone pays together, the cost becomes substantially less than if you were solely responsible for it. Fewer responsibilities are a key advantage among the pros and cons of homeowners associations.
HOAs typically have a number of amenities on-site for their residents. These amenities can include private community pools, clubhouses, golf courses, and even tennis courts. Some HOAs have beautiful common areas and trails that are for residents only, along with pergolas, resident-only events, and more. Being a member of an HOA can also give homeowners a strong sense of community and enable them to meet some great new people.
Things to Consider about HOAs
When researching the pros and cons of homeowners’ associations, consider:
One thing to consider about buying a home in an association is the extra fees you will have to pay. The fees can vary depending on the neighborhood. Dues are usually required monthly or annually, depending on the association, although some have payment schedules that are on a trimester or quarters. The services and maintenance an HOA provide simply cost money and those expenses are paid for by the owners. HOAs also have the right to levy special assessments for big projects, although these usually must be voted on by the members.
HOAs generally place restrictions on what you can and cannot do to your home. While these restrictions are not without benefits, as outlined above, some homeowners may find them to be frustrating and limiting. These restrictions usually require that owners request approval from the HOA for any changes they wish to make. This can be anything from changing the colors of the shutters to building a back deck. Speak with the HOA about what their policies are regarding additions and aesthetic and structural changes to your home.
Most lenders require information on the association’s finances before they will agree to a loan. This includes FHA loans. If the HOA is having financial problems, is involved in a lawsuit, or has not put away enough money in reserve funds, it can impact a buyer’s ability to get a loan. Buyers looking at homes in the neighborhood should research the HOA’s financials before they make a decision to buy.
Whether the home you are considering buying is located in an HOA or not, you will need to go through many of the same steps. These include working with a qualified real estate agent and ensuring comprehensive home inspections are performed. Weigh the pros and cons of homeowners associations so you can find the home that’s right for you.