As a Realtor, I get asked frequently about HOA and whether it is a good idea to buy in a HOA community or no?
So let me first give you some background on HOA. HOA stands for Home Owners Association and they are legally known as Common Interest Developments. Most people think Home Owners Association in relation to attached housing like condominiums and townhomes, but this is not always the case. Around the 1980’s, developers started building single family homes that were Common Interest Developments. These communities came with their own set of rules, regulations and fees. These rules are referred to as covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R). In a subdivision with individual homes, regulations may include what color you can paint your home, the types of vehicles you can park on the street or in your driveway (no RVs, for example), the exterior landscaping you can do, permissible type and height of fences, restrictions on satellite dish/solar panel installation and restrictions on window coverings for windows facing the street. If you want to do anything that differs from these rules, you will have to convince the HOA to grant you a variance, which is probably an unlikely task.
The reason why builders started developing communities in the HOA structure was to maintain order and the aesthetics of a community.These HOA regulations assure new and existing owners that a neighbor’s behavior and choices will not diminish property values. This means, you must follow the rules yourself, and typically contribute monthly fees to manage and run the HOA for the benefit of all owners. When residents violate these rules, which can cause stress for other owners and hurt property values, the HOA will typically step in and enforce them with violation notices, fines and possibly litigation.
Often times the problem is not the rules, but the people who don’t read the rules and regulations before buying into a community. Ignorance should not be an excuse- the HOA rules are recorded on the property title, and in Texas these rules are given to buyer to review before a home purchase occurs. The seller has a specific amount of days to deliver the HOA documents to the buyer. It is the buyer’s responsibility to review the documents before purchase. Please note that home owners are still bound by those rules whether they received and read them or not.
If you are buying into an HOA-governed community, be sure to read the rules and regulations before you buy. Once you’ve read the rules and you don’t like them, you should avoid buying a property in that community.
What if you already own in an HOA and don’t like the rules and how the rules are interpreted or enforced by the HOA board of directors? Luckily, an HOA is a democracy and the owners can vote out the board of directors and change the rules! In order to do so you will need a majority vote. Any member-owner can try to get elected to the board and change the regulations. They just have to get enough other community members to support their opinion and vision for the community.
If you are one of those owners who doesn’t like the rules, then get involved and take the time to campaign in your community, get on the board and change the regulations.
Unfortunately, most community members never go to a board meeting and never get involved. They just complain about the board (who by the way, are all volunteers), the rules, HOA fees, special assessments, etc.
So getting back to the question: Should you buy in and HOA community or not?
Well, that depends on your personality, are you the type of person that hates being told what to do? If so, living in a community with an HOA may be a frustrating experience for you. If you want to park your RV in the street or park a car that you have been "meaning to restore, when you have the time " in your driveway, you might be prevented from doing so by the HOA. If environmentally –friendly living is important to you be aware that HOA might prevent you from installing solar panels or ban compost piles in your gardens.
I personally prefer communities governed by HOA’s. I like order, nicely manicured yards and uniformity when I pull up to a community. I do not like seeing disabled vehicles or boats parked in driveways. I don’t like to see homes where the grass is knee high, where the weeds are more prevalent than the grass or pink flamingos are a neighborhood’s staple. Imagine your neighbor decides it’s a good idea to start drying their clothes on a tree located in the front yard (yes it has happened to a girlfriend of mine). Do you think you will have a problem selling your house next door? And how do you think the value of your home will be affected? Yes, it will be harder to sell your home and the value of your home will be negatively impacted by such actions.
Please contact me to learn more about HOA’s and HOA communities in your neighborhood.
JP & Associates
Author:Olivia Borowski Phone: 214-600-5563 Dated: February 16th 2015 Views: 1,525 About Olivia: Buying or selling a home is serious business, and if there is one thing Olivia knows, it's business....
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