Many residential communities these days, especially the newer ones, have a homeowner's association. A Home Owner Association (HOA) can spare the homeowner many responsibilities and maintain a tidy and beautiful neighborhood. However, they also come with several non-negotiable obligations. Before you settle on a home that requires you to become a member of the HOA, there are a few things you need to know.
What exactly is an HOA? An HOA is a governing body established for a planned community, such as the development of single-family homes, condominiums, or townhouses. These organizations act a bit like a landlord, maintaining many of the community features and atmosphere in exchange for a fee with the promise of following the HOA guidelines. Nowadays, many new developments have HOAs, with Florida landing among the top states with the most community associations. HOAs can do a lot of good for communities, but that doesn't mean they're for everyone. Some people love the added benefits and amenities while others find the guidelines too stifling. To make it easier to determine if an HOA community is right for you, check out these pros and cons.
A whopping 85% of people in HOA communities say that they're satisfied living in an HOA. Homeowners associations can be very beneficial to their residents, as they offer a wide variety of perks. Some HOAs take care of everything on the house's exterior from mowing the lawn to roof maintenance and more. Others can take on responsibilities for certain utilities like gas, water, recycling, etc. Having the HOA take on these responsibilities can save the homeowner time and money. If you're not able to do manual labor outside or don't want to, looking into an HOA with these perks could be the right choice for you.
Beyond the chores, homeowners associations offer many social and recreational options to their members. Some HOAs have swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, playgrounds, and gyms for their members to use. None of these amenities have to be maintained by the residents. They are funded and cared for by the HOA, using membership dues, making it so residents can fully enjoy the amenities without any hassles of upkeep. Many HOAs will, in some cases, plan events like block parties, community yard sales, pool parties, and more for the residents to come together, hang out, meet people, and make friends with their neighbors. It's a great way to develop a tight-knit community.
If you have a neighbor that plays music too loud or has a dog that barks at all times of the day and night, you can report this problem to the HOA and have them advocate for you. Every HOA is different in what they offer to their residents. Still, any homeowner association's goal is to somehow make life for its residents more enjoyable or easier through the services they offer, the amenities they have, or the events they host.
One of the main cons of living in an HOA community is the expense. Fees, or dues, are mandatory and can add up fast. The average single-family homeowner in an HOA community spends $2,800 in dues every year. Most monthly assessments are between $100 to $300 but are often higher in condominiums. As we mentioned in the Pros of Homeownership Associations above, dues go towards social events, upkeep of amenities, lawn care and more. HOAs also have employees that they have to pay and a reserve fund to maintain for unexpected community expenses such as repairing damage from a flood, fire, or storm. Not all HOAs are created the same, and while a reasonable HOA will be professional and efficient, some mismanage their community and its funds.
Some people dislike living in HOA communities because there are restrictions and guidelines on what you can do with your own home. Some organizations can be pretty strict. Some HOA policies dictate your home’s exterior paint color, the type of window coverings you can have on the windows facing the street, and even what kind of fertilizer or sprinkler system you can use on your lawn. These guidelines and rules can be aggravating and hard to follow for some people, but if you don't follow them, you'll risk the chance of being fined for it.
If you break the HOA rules, the management company will notify you, and you will have a predetermined timeline to fix the infraction. The association can place a lien on your home and possibly foreclose on it if members choose not to pay their dues to the HOA. Of course, this is the last resort for any association.
Homeowners Associations can offer many desirable bonuses to their residents, from the ease of exterior upkeep to social events and amenities. However, the HOA can also limit what you can do on your land and your own home because of strict guidelines. Review your budget and lifestyle to see if living in a neighborhood with an HOA would be a good fit for you.
If you consider purchasing a house in a community with an HOA, a look around the neighborhood will show you how well it is maintained. But to dig a little deeper, be sure to work with your Realtor. A knowledgeable Realtor can have the HOA answer standard questions such as the HOA's financial status, the association's rules and regulations, and whether the property you're looking at has any outstanding debt owed to the HOA. Your Realtor will be able to answer all your questions about HOAs in the community you've got your eye on and help get you into the perfect home and neighborhood.
If you are looking to buy anytime soon, reach out and let me help you find the perfect neighborhood and house to call home. As a Florida native, I have accumulated a lot of local knowledge about Broward County, including all the great places to live, work, and play! Learn more about how I can help. Learn more: Erika Anderson, Realtor.