Home Owner Associations or “HOAs” are community associations that are governed by elected board members. They are designed to oversee the community and enforce the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”). CC&Rs are rules that every owner agrees to abide by when they own a property within the community. The HOA charges homeowners fees or dues to support its function.
HOAs often get a bad rap because they can be costly, and cite homeowners for violations. The cover picture is of a carport I built for my daughter because my HOA thought it was “unsightly” to cover her toys with a tarp (my wife, unfortunately, agreed!). Although HOAs often get a bad rap, they can provide real benefits too. A growing segment of the population lives in communities with HOAs (approximately 26%) so it's important to understand the potential benefits of owning in a community with an HOA.
Most HOAs give homeowners access to amenities. These can be simple features like pools, gates, and parks. On the more extravagant end, HOAs can provide access to water parks, lakes, sports complexes, or even an arcade and bar. By pooling funds, HOAs can provide amenities to residents that would be cost-prohibitive individually. Amenities are usually the most tangible and desired benefits HOAs offer.
MAINTENANCE AND CARE
Not only do HOAs provide amenities, they also take responsibility for the care and maintenance of those amenities and common areas such as sidewalks, private streets, parking areas, areas needing landscaping, courtyards, parks, and playgrounds. Without HOAs, these features and areas in the community would quickly fall into disrepair. If you live in a condo community, your HOA may also take care of the exterior of your property. HOAs ensure that that the community, as a whole, stays in good condition.
CC&Rs set minimum upkeep standards for properties in the community. This helps preserve your property’s value. No matter how nice your house is, what happens to your home value if your next-door neighbor’s house has a Pepto Bismol-colored exterior, unkempt yard piled with junk, and abandoned cars in the driveway? HOAs may be a pain when they nit-pick about small violations on your property, but they serve a very serious function by preventing your neighbors from adversely affecting home values in the community.
At bottom, each HOA has different costs, benefits, responsibilities, and procedures. It is up to you to decide whether the HOA benefits are worth the dues.
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