Homeowners association and condo associations are becoming more prevalent throughout the United States. Millions of Americans live within these types of communities. No two HOAs are exactly the same though, so everyone’s experiences may differ. A well-run and organized association can make for a highly enjoyable community, while a poorly governed association can lead to its share of problems.

It’s important that homeowners do their research to find out about the neighborhood they’re moving into and how its HOA operates. Ask questions and review the governing documents so you know what to expect and whether you can live with the rules that are in place. Here are a few pros and cons of living in an HOA community:

Pros:

  • Access to amenities. Many communities have pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, clubhouses, business centers, and other amenities available for member use. This can help homeowners save on expenses associated with having to pay to use these facilities elsewhere in the area. Plus, they’re often well-maintained and less crowded.
  • Protection of property value. Under HOA rules, homeowners must gain approval before making structural or aesthetic changes to their homes. There are also often guidelines regarding décor, landscaping, where trash cans be stored, or where vehicles can be placed to keep the community looking more appealing.
  • Quality neighborhoods. Because certain rules are enforced, it can improve the overall safety and quality of life in HOA communities. Expectations are put in place and everyone is held to the same rules and regulations. Decisions are made in the best interest of the community as a whole, not individual homeowners.
  • Dispute resolution. If neighbors have issues with barking dogs, loud music, on-street parking, or other situations, the HOA typically steps in to address these matters. They may enforce specific rules, or help homeowners come to a mutual solution.

Cons:

  • Limitations on changes homeowners can make. The HOA governs what color you can paint your house, what type of fence you can have, and what your mailbox must look like. However, these rules are generally agreeable by homeowners and not a major hinderance. Plus, they keep your neighbor from painting their house bright purple, or putting up a makeshift shed.
  • Special assessments may be implemented. In the case that an emergency arises, a special assessment may be levied to cover costs of repairs if the reserve fund is not adequate. Well-managed HOAs take steps to ensure underfunding is not an issue and special assessments are only used when necessary.
  • Poor management. If the board is not well-equipped to run the HOA or knowledgeable in the types of decisions it is making, this can make for a negative experience. There are many nuances that come with managing an HOA and regulations that must be observed. Hiring a property management company such as Kuester can help boards to turn their HOA operations around and work more effectively and efficiently. With guidance from a property manager, they can make more sound decisions for the benefit of the community and gain assistance with many day-to-day tasks.

HOA living isn’t for everyone, but before you make a final decision when it comes to buying a new home, make sure you weigh your options. You may find that if you keep an open mind, living in an HOA community can be a wonderful experience and help you get the most out of your investment.

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