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Homeowners associations (HOAs) exist to maintain the cleanliness and appeal of a community. Whether a home belongs to a HOA is a major consideration for home buyers. Some see it as a benefit, others a deal breaker. Here's what to consider before going with or without a HOA.
If privacy is a high priority, a HOA may not be ideal for you. Homes that are part of a HOA are usually connected or have very little space between them. If you're looking forward to meeting and becoming friends with your neighbors, you may not mind. In fact, most HOAs will organize community activities to foster cohesiveness between residents.
Monthly HOA fees can range anywhere from $200 to $600. Just as with rent, more desirable locations like New York City and Los Angeles will fall in the higher end of the spectrum, while small towns and rural areas in the lower end. The upkeep required for older homes and more populated communities will also demand higher fees. Amenities such as golf courses, fitness centers, and gated security will also add dollars to your dues.
HOA rules vary widely and are voted on by the community's residents. You'll be restricted on what colors you can paint your home's exterior, what decorations you can place, how late you can use the fitness center, where you park, etc. Some HOAs also have rules on the size and number of pets you can have. You can vote on new rules in the meetings, but don't expect midnight parties to become a thing.
One of the premier benefits a HOA offers is resolving disputes. You won't have to write a passive-aggressive letter to your neighbor about their barking dog or parking in your assigned space. Bring it to the HOA, and they should address the issue directly with the offender. On the other hand, if you happen to have petty neighbors, you may find yourself being reported for actions that may or may not be against the rules.
Another big selling point of a HOA is the convenience. You'll never have to mow your lawn, rake leaves, or clear snow. Most HOAs will cover general maintenance such as HVAC and plumbing repairs, pest control, and landscaping. Again, the quality of these services depends on the HOA itself, so be sure to do your research beforehand.
The pros and cons of a HOA all come down to your individual values, plans for your home, and the price and quality of the services rendered by the HOA. Read online reviews and talk to your potential neighbors to get an idea of what to expect.