You’re a new homeowner who has spent the past few days trimming, polishing and scraping in anticipation of your official housewarming party. An hour before your guests arrive, the sound of a loud exhaust and backfire from an old rattler reverberates next door. A diesel monster truck decorated with lighting stripes and offensive bumper stickers, pulling a rusty and dilapidated tractor-trailer follows close behind. Your neighbor’s family members have arrived. Their parade of junk proudly taking up nearly an entire block – including the front of your home.
Good news? If you’re living in a homeowner association community (HOA), help could be literally just around the corner. In fact, a quick phone call often means even a nice parting gift (fine) as a reminder of the consequences of breaking the fine print.
There are considerable benefits to living in a homeowner’s association community. According to experts, out of the nearly 320,000 HOA communities, an overwhelming majority are happy with their governing boards. Mandated regulations enforced by a vested interest to increase individual return on investment most often have a positive outcome for individual lives. Not to mention the removal of unnecessary stress when it comes to individual lives.
HOA Perk: Collective Management
First and foremost, let’s discuss what a homeowners association is all about.
Basically, if you live in an HOA community, there are additional rules on top of your city government’s that limit what you can do to your own property. The HOA’s homeowner-elected or your developer-appointed board of directors decide and mandate these rules.
For many folks, an additional set of mandated rules, especially when there are additional $200 to $400 monthly fees tacked on, could be a gigantic pain. However, if you look beyond the surface it can actually be a good thing. Such as the neighbor and junk caravan parade example, HOA covenants and bylaws preserve the value of your land. Thanks to a vested interest, they ensure neither you nor your neighbors do anything distasteful to your home.
Nearly every association community sets property limitations built into your homeowner’s agreement. The difference of opinion on HOAs depends on several factors, including individual personalities and preferences and the quality of the particular HOA. Rules and dues vary but, in general, homeowners who live in an HOA must abide by its regulations.
Live next door to a neighbor who looked to Dr. Seuss for their exterior paint job? What about a neighbor who finds overgrown weeds an acceptable landscape? Or, basically any type of painful upkeep that you worry could potentially plummet your home value?
This can go beyond complaints only regarding the exterior façade of your neighbor’s home. If you’re worrying about dogs barking, loud parties or overgrown trees leading to animosity, you can ask the management to handle the issue. This proves handy rather than responding to a flaming brown bag on your doorstep.
HOA Perk: Private Public Functions
As mentioned earlier, everyday nuisances for people living in community associates are generally not the main worry. Local municipalities are overwhelmed with services for an entire area. Not to mention most are stretched financially due to a strict budget.
No matter where you live, you are likely to be subject to city ordinances and restrictions related to the use of your property. So, responsibilities such as trash pickup, road maintenance, snow removal and other services are often managed by your HOA to ensure they are completed in a timely manner. Your HOA fees go to members of your community for such maintenance, therefore not leaving you at the mercy of an often backlogged local municipality.
Homes with an HOA are subject to facing fines if they do not meet standards set by the association. That means, you’re less likely to see unkempt lawns, rusted shingles or a brightly-painted house. Other common covenants regulate fences, the number of rooms in your house, building materials, and other types of physical structure regulations.
It also relieves the town’s tax burden since the entire community is self-sustained, which could pave the way for more neighborhoods such as these to be built locally.
Keep in mind that HOA’s have other roles in the community as well. Your dues could be going toward parks, landscape maintenance, club houses, pools and even fundraising activities. Depending on your current situation, this could be a positive — especially for active, community-focused lifestyles.
HOA Perk: A Sense of Community
As mentioned, knowing your neighbors can have defensive benefits. Sometimes, it’s not the actual association but a fellow neighbor who calls attention to a homeowner’s violation. Or, let’s say you unknowingly hang your clothes on a line to dry which is against HOA bylines. If you’ve befriended a neighbor, they could give you heads up. This could ensure you avoiding the unpleasant scenario (and potential hefty fine) entirely.
For many, one of the biggest advantages of living in an HOA community are the bonds formed with neighbors. Because you share a commonality in the form of dues and regulations means talking to people you might not have talked to before. Besides sharing these types of vested interests, forming bonds with neighbors means an additional sense of security when it comes to protecting your property. That is, they are more inclined to keep a look out for you when you are out of town, or alert you to any situations that could raise eyebrows.
Of course, there is also the community aspect of bringing people together. Statistically, many of the 62 million people who live in community associations or condos take part in neighborhood activities. This includes holiday parties, social clubs, and athletic and fitness events. These activities give people a chance to get to know everyone better and form a more communal bond.
HOA Perk: Recreational Amenities & Other Bonus Factors
Depending on the area or residential type, HOA communities come with additional features. These could include swimming pools, parks, golf courses, tennis courts and even marinas accessed by way of your membership.
Sometimes, there are even associations with age restrictions, pet-friendly (or not) and other various living options. These can help narrow down the type of community to fit your lifestyle.
While not all HOAs have swimming pools and tennis courts, many offer a range of amenities. These include a community center, walking trails, sports courts and playing fields reserved for residents. Most fees include regular maintenance to such amenities, which allows for cost savings thanks to the unnecessary need to spend on outside club memberships.
These amenities also add to your home’s value. However, it’s important to remember some HOAs are sometimes under-managed. The opposite problem may be an HOA where no one really cares. This means showing little interest in maintaining the building, making repairs, hearing resident grievances or being on the board. This can cause negative implications, especially diminishing the overall value of your community and individual property values.
HOA Perk: Staying in the Know
When it comes down to it, knowledge can be power, especially when it comes to your HOA. If you decide to live in such a community, consider staying actively involved by serving on the HOA board.
By serving as a director, you’ll always have first-hand knowledge on the latest proposals. Not to mention the potential effects on your property’s future. And, if you are against these proposals, you have the power to do something about them. That is, as a director, you can vote for or against decisions and influence others’ vote. Even if you like the current HOA board or management company, it can change after you move in and you may end up getting something totally different than what you expected.
Having the additional of an HOA can help diminish the potential headache that come with certain neighbors. Remember, this is also an investment you’ve chosen to make. This is important especially when it comes to considering how involved you choose to be with your community authority.