Pros and Cons of Living in an HOA Community
There are many pros and cons of living in a homeowner and condo association community. Below is a list of some pros and cons:
Pros of living in an HOA Community
- The homeowners association pays for common areas like swimming pools, spas, tennis courts, parks, private roads, sidewalks and clubhouses. That means you are able to enjoy a pool without having to maintain or clean it, or enjoy a playground or garden without the hassle of maintenance.
- HOAs typically do an outstanding job of maintaining amenities. (Think manicured and over-seeded common area lawns, freshly painted walls, lighting that works and clean play areas, to name just a few)
- Lots of amenities - not just well-maintained amenities, but lots of them, too, which may include walking trails, sport courts, swimming pools, barbecue pits and neighborhood parks
- Some HOA's also offer services like lawn maintenance to keep the neighborhood looking good all the time. You don’t have to hire someone yourself and your property always looks pristine.
- Homes within HOA communities typically maintain their values better than non HOA deed restricted communities. By regulating the appearance of common areas your curb appeal and home price tend to be higher.
- Often, HOAs promote a strong sense of community. Friends can gather at the clubhouse or common areas, people get to know their neighbors, and there are usually social functions planned year round.
- Issues with neighbors like unwanted cars parked in front of your house are handled by the association, taking the pressure (and responsibility) off of residents.
Cons of living in an HOA community:
- The price of your perfectly manicured lawns could be losing the freedom to choose your holiday decorations or the color of your house. There are rules and restrictions and the HOA documents can dictate what you can and cannot do in common areas.
- A homeowner may encounter restrictions if they want to rent out their property. The association may require potential renters to be screened and approved by the HOA board, how much you charge for rent could also be regulated along with the duration of the rental. Some HOA's ban rentals altogether.
- The more amenities that are offered, the more the monthly dues can be. Sometimes the extra expense of monthly dues may be more than some homeowners can afford.
- Some HOAs are poorly managed by board members who don’t have enough time to devote to the community. Others too might be managed by a third party company (property manager) which can feel like giving up control of your neighborhood.
- You might be a victim of a "rogue" board member. Electing a “rogue” homeowner to the board, who then decides to flout the rules and do whatever he wants, for instance, the rogue board member thinks the community needs speed bumps to slow down speeding drivers, so he goes ahead and has them installed. That move can cause a neighborhood uproar. The process to take out the speed bumps and remove the rogue homeowner from the board can cost several thousand dollars, including legal fees.
Before purchasing a property within an HOA or condo community it is very important that you find out how the association is run, how much the monthly association fees are, what the fees cover and how much money is in the reserve fund to cover any large expenses such as replacing a clubhouse roof. Always get a copy of the rules and regulations before you purchase so that you are completely aware of what you can and cannot do within the community. For example, if you purchase within a condo/townhouse community where there are zero lot lines, more than likely you won't be able to touch the landscaping outside your home. If you are an avid gardener then this is definitely something you will want to consider before purchasing.