HOAs: Balancing the Scales of Community Living

Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) are a debatable topic – Some people prefer them, some refuse to live in one, and some simply don’t mind either way. Over my past seven years of selling real estate, I’ve run into all three scenarios and each opinion is justifiable- the pros are great, and the cons are understandable. If you don’t have an opinion, it may be helpful to at least be aware of the pros as well as the cons. Keep in mind that every HOA is different. Some offer very little, others offer quite a lot.  If you are looking to purchase a home that is managed by one, be sure to carefully read the covenants and restrictions as well as the bylaws. Here are some pros you might want to look for:

  1. Aesthetics and Maintenance: HOAs ensure that common areas, landscaping, and community facilities are well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing, contributing to a visually appealing neighborhood. This often includes snow removal come time for our winter months.
  2. Standardized Rules: HOA rules and regulations create a uniform living environment, preventing neighbors from taking actions that could negatively affect the community.
  3. Amenities: Many HOAs offer amenities like pools, gyms, clubhouses, and parks that enhance residents’ quality of life and provide recreational opportunities.
  4. Community Engagement: HOAs organize social events and activities, fostering a sense of community and providing opportunities for neighbors to connect and build relationships.

And then you have the cons:

  1. Fees: HOAs require homeowners to pay regular assessment fees to cover maintenance, amenities, and other community expenses. These fees can vary widely and may increase over time. It’s yet another bill you have to factor in to your monthly, quarterly, or yearly payments.
  2. Rules and Regulations: A double edged sword. While standardized rules maintain consistency, they can also restrict homeowners’ freedom to make changes to their properties or use them as they wish. This means, you may not be able to paint your house the color you desire, or put up the fence you’ve always wanted.
  3. Additional Costs: In addition to regular fees, special assessments can be levied for unexpected community expenses, potentially causing financial strain for homeowners.
  4. Lack of Flexibility: HOA rules may not align with every homeowner’s preferences, leading to frustration or conflicts over restrictions.

As you can see, living in an HOA community comes with a mix of advantages and disadvantages. The decision to choose an HOA-governed neighborhood should align with your lifestyle preferences, financial capabilities, and willingness to adhere to community rules. Do your research and ask the right questions- How much are the dues? Are they monthly, quarterly, or yearly? Do they cover snow removal? If it’s a neighborhood that’s still being constructed, what’s in the budget to still be completed? Are fences allowed? Can your camper be parked in your driveway? I could go on and on, but hopefully the point has been delivered. Do your research- talk to your friends, your family, and your REALTOR® and ask the right questions. Happy Sunday, everyone – until next week!

Eve Leombruno, 2023 MBOR President