When you’re considering moving, one of the most significant decisions you have to make, after general location, is whether you prefer a single-family residence in a standard municipality or a home in a homeowners’ association. Most individuals have heard of HOAs but may not know the appeal of living in one or the potential downsides of committing to an HOA.
Below, we’ll be discussing the major pros and cons of buying a property in an HOA-run community to help you decide if HOA living is right for you.
Pros of Living In an HOA
Below are some of the most significant upsides to living in a community managed by an HOA.
Less Exterior Maintenance
Most homeowners despise mowing their lawns and shoveling snow and would do just about anything to avoid exterior maintenance. Most HOAs provide some type of exterior maintenance, including basic landscaping and snow removal. Some even include more extensive landscaping services that boost home value, like maintaining flower beds and walkways, so you don’t have to call a professional yourself.
You can check with your HOA before committing to a purchase to confirm which services are included in your annual HOA dues.
Many HOAs monitor utility usage and couple utility bills with HOA fees. While you’ll likely pay the same as you would with multiple bills, you won’t have the inconvenience of having to remember to pay water, gas, electric, and other utility bills each month. Instead, you’ll be on the hook for one simple HOA fee that includes everything.
No More Inconsiderate Neighbors
When you own a home outside of an HOA, you’ll have to deal with any neighbor who makes too much noise, lets garbage accumulate, or leaves their property a mess. You can simply report them to the HOA board, and they’ll be dealt with by the management company directly. The best part is that repeat offenses can result in legal action, fines, and even foreclosure.
Access to Amenities
Many HOAs include access to desirable amenities that only residents can enjoy. Yours may have a clubhouse that you can rent out for parties at an affordable rate, pools, tennis courts, golf courses, private playgrounds, and more. You should always check with your HOA about included amenities before committing so you can take full advantage of them once you move in.
Cons of Living In an HOA
The above benefits might make HOA living seem enticing, but there are some downsides as well. Below are the most common cons that can come along with buying a home in an HOA.
No HOA comes without HOA fees. These fees often go toward the amenities and management services provided, so they can be well worth the added cost. However, they can be several hundred dollars per month in some cases, which significantly adds to your cost of living. What’s worse, HOAs can opt to increase HOA fees over time, and there is very little the residents can do to prevent price hikes.
Little Home Customization
Most HOAs take pride in the physical appearance of their community. While this is generally a positive thing, it can come with negative consequences. Namely, most HOAs restrict changes to the exterior of the homes within the development, making most in the development look very similar.
Restrictions vary from HOA to HOA, but common ones include specific color exterior doors, few options for exterior house color, minimal choices when it comes to landscaping features, a restriction of privacy fences, and even rules regulating what kinds of window coverings you can have.
HOAs typically have bylaws, which is a set of rules that all residents must follow. Bylaws can restrict things like garage sales, outdoor gatherings, general noise, guests and guest parking, and much more. Some HOAs have very reasonable bylaws, but others have overly strict and intrusive ones that can get frustrating over time.
HOAs are typically managed by an HOA board that makes decisions for the entire community. These decisions include changes to rules, new regulations and restrictions, price increases, due allocation, and more.
The management companies in some homeowners’ associations are very easy to deal with and create a positive environment for the good of the community. Unfortunately, some HOAs are very poorly managed and make living in them a nightmare.
It’s a good idea to speak with some of the residents before committing to an HOA to see what they think about the management company. However, note that the board and the management company could change at any time and go from good to bad overnight.
Wrapping Up: Should You Live In an HOA?
Living in an HOA can come with many benefits, but no HOA is without downsides as well. Before deciding for sure if you want to commit to HOA living, you should do some extensive research on the community you’re considering. It’s best to review the bylaws with a lawyer, discuss regulations and inclusions with the management company, and speak with some of the residents about the HOA before purchasing.