Some people love them, some people hate them, but if you own a home in the United States, you’re probably required to be part of a homeowner association (HOA). Approximately 53% of households, or 40 million owner-occupied homes, are governed by HOAs.
Although they’ve been around for over a century, the number of homeowner associations grew in the 1970s, when developers began clustering homes around common areas used primarily for storm water detention and retention. Because the common areas were shared by multiple residences, a central entity was created to collect money from homeowners in return for managing the maintenance of common areas, and the homeowner association was born.
Today, homeowner associations have a broad reach with rules that can dictate the way homeowners live. Here are three advantages and three disadvantages to homeowner associations.
Amenities – Communities with HOAs usually have a number of amenities which more traditional neighborhoods don’t have. The cost of amenities like pools, tennis courts, golf courses, playgrounds, walking trails, and community centers are shared among all residents.
Maintenance – Many HOAs handle general maintenance, as well as trash and snow removal, lawn care, and upkeep of common areas, leaving fewer chores for homeowners to worry about.
Arbitration – Homeowners sometimes have problems with neighbors, from barking dogs to late-night parties. Rather than confront the neighbor directly, HOA members can ask the management to handle the problem.
Fees – HOA fees average $200-$300 per month, and can be a lot higher depending on the amenities. Plus, every homeowner pays property tax, part of which pays for road and sidewalk maintenance. HOAs use members’ monthly fees to pay for community road and sidewalk maintenance as well. The result is that homeowners pay twice for some services.
Restrictions – HOAs can dictate everything about your home, from what can be parked in the driveway, what color curtains can be hung in the windows, and how holiday lights are strung. HOAs can also levy fines for any transgressions. If you think it’s your home and you should be able to do what you want, an HOA is not for you.
Special Assessments – HOA members can occasionally be hit with large and unexpected special fees for upgrading recreational areas, landscaping, or legal expenses.
When buying a home, find out if the home is part of an association, what the association rules are, and if the home you’re thinking of purchasing is currently in violation of any rules. To get the information you need when buying a home, be certain you’re working with experienced agents, like the RJ Homes Team.