Home Owners Associations. Some people started clenching their fists just by reading those three words, while others completely embrace the opportunity to have one! I have lived in homes with an HOA and also lived in some without an HOA; I can certainly see both sides of the good and the ugly! Not every part of the country is as familiar with HOAs, but they are very common in new build developments or suburban community neighborhoods. If you are looking to purchase a home, make sure you understand which HOA governs the home, who manages it and how much they charge for dues or fees. The fee amounts need to be considered if you are using financing to purchase the home, however, often you need to pay the HOA separately from your mortgage payment.
The advantage of having an HOA is typically communal area maintenance, holding the neighborhood to a set of standards including curb appeal, every so often playing a part in the safety of the neighborhood, and can sometimes jointly share pay electricity or trash bills. If the neighborhood has parks, pools, recreational activities or other communal benefits, most likely the HOA is cleaning and maintaining all these areas. Having an HOA can certainly make for maintenance free living and beautiful neighborhoods!
The downside to having an HOA would be the fees and dues they need to operate. Some HOAs have expensive monthly dues, transfer fees, and capital improvement payments while others have fairly inexpensive dues and are very reasonable for the services they provide. Another drawback some homeowners feel when they live in a community with HOA, is the lack of freedom should you want to change anything about the exterior of your home. The HOA will have rules called Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) outlining their policies and guidelines to follow. These can include restrictions on paint colors, height limitations for home additions or renovations, landscaping changes, front yard belongings and more. These CC&Rs are intended to keep the cleanliness, safety, and impression of the community but some homeowners prefer the peace and freedom without an HOA.
Like most things in life, there are some good and some bad aspects to buying into an HOA. Ultimately, it is up to your preference and desire on where to own a home. Either way, make sure to do your research before buying a home and ask your real estate professional to help guide you through the process!