Courtesy of FOX NEWS
By Adam Verwymeren
Published July 29, 2015
A homeowners association can seem like a great idea.
Neighborhoods governed by an HOA are often peaceful and pristinely manicured.
But buying one of these homes comes at a cost. Before you buy a home governed by
an HOA, here are some things to consider.
Read Before You Sign
All too often, hurried homeowners sign on the dotted line before they fully
understand what the documents mean. And who can blame them? During the home
buying process, you life is an unending series of documents that you need to
sign. But an HOA agreement is going to have a pretty big impact on your
day-to-day life so it’s important that you understand what’s in it.
There’s a pretty wide spectrum when it
comes to what an HOA might cover. Some agreements might be
limited to rules for common spaces like a parking garage or
community pool. Others agreements, however, can get extremely
|For instance, many HOAs have clauses ensuring that all of the
houses in the development look the same, which means you can’t
choose to repaint or make major changes to the exterior of the
home. An HOA might even get as specific as forbidding lawn
furniture, bird bath or swing sets in the yard. HOA agreements also enforce
community standards, such as quiet hours, which means you might have to cut your
weekend get-togethers short. With an HOA you’re not just buying a home, you’re
buying into a certain lifestyle, so make sure it fits your life before you sign.
Peace Comes At a Price
In addition to the rules, HOAs also come at a financial cost. The association is
tasked with maintaining common areas and structures. In a condo complex, for
instance, the HOA might have to set aside money to fix the building’s roof or
foundation. In an HOA-governed neighborhood, the money might go to maintaining a
park or putting on community events. Usually fees run a few hundred dollars per
month, but before you consider buying a property covered by an HOA make sure you
know how much you’ll be paying and what the money pays for.
Do Your Research
When it’s running smoothly, a homeowners associations will help keep the peace
and ensure that everybody stays happy. But sometimes, an HOA can create a
poisonous environment, causing homeowners to constantly bickerer with one
another. To avoid buying into a bad neighborhood make sure you do your research.
Take a look at the minutes of past meetings to see what the hot button issues
are in the neighborhood. You can also speak to the HOA board members to get a
sense of whether they’ll be easy to deal with.
Not all HOAs are put in place to impose requirements and restrictions on
homeowners. Some agreements are purely voluntary, which means the association
doesn’t have the ability to levy fees or compel homeowners to maintain their
homes in a certain way. A voluntary HOA is there to offer a forum for problems
in the community, or to plan a community project. If you’re wary of letting an
HOA control your life, but still want to live in a place with a strong sense of
community, a home in a neighborhood with a voluntary HOA might be for you.
An HOA is a democracy, not a dictatorship. So if you don’t like the rules in
your community, the best thing to do is get involved. You can start by attending
meetings and bringing your concerns before the board. Petition your neighbors to
get them involved. If you’re the type that likes to lead, run for a seat on the
board to push for the changes that you want. A homeowners association works best
when it has the full and active participation of the community.