neighborhood association

Homeowners associations (HOAs) represent up to 53% of occupied households in the USA and have been controversial. Most recently, People highlighted the case of one Wisconsin HOA for its rules concerning celebrating Pride. More often than not, HOAs hit the headlines for sensational reasons – an overzealous board member here, a Draconian rule there. The truth as to whether HOAs are a force for good or bad is a little more nuanced, as they can also improve your quality of life.

The Good

The majority of new home buyers will find themselves in a HOA. The main benefits of HOAs is the community amenities – many come with shared green spaces, swimming pools and fitness centers. Furthermore, as USA Today outlines, the codified nature of a HOA and its board mean that, there is an arbitration process to help clear issues up when issues arise between residents. Homeowners should be aware of the risks of this – for instance, selective enforcement HOA practices, where a set of rules is enforced on one homeowner but not the rest. This gets us into the downsides of living in a HOA.

The Bad

Restrictions are the downsides of HOAs. When you own your own home, without any other parties managing it, you have total freedom (within the law) to do as you like. According to the Texas Credit Union, HOAs sometimes have the power to foreclose on homes if fees aren’t paid – fees that can be exorbitant. Furthermore, some homeowners dislike the restrictions they live with, extending to how they decorate their home and garden.

Making a Choice

Ultimately, the downside of HOAs comes when enforcement is biased or conducted irrationally. Researching the HOA before you apply to buy the property, and ensuring that the association’s rules fit your standards, is the best way to make sure you’ll have a reasonable time owning the home and settling down. Just like anything else, knowing what you’re getting into will save you a lot of headaches down the line.

That’s the trick to an HOA – knowing what you’re getting into. The right one can be a great way to improve your quality of life, granting access to community areas to get to know neighbors and spend your leisure time. Sticking to the rules is easy if you know what they are before you buy.

You should have learned something new as a result of reading this article. More recommendations are available on this page: Tips for First-Time Home Buyers


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