Homeowners associations (HOAs) or Condominium Associations often have a bad image.
The first thought that normally pops in someone’s mind about HOAs are the strict neighborhoods that fine you for any tiny violation of the neighborhood covenants.
It seems everyone has a horror story from either themselves or a friend who had something not go their way.
But are HOAs really as bad as you always hear? Let’s explore!
Different Types of HOAs
Not all HOAs are the same. There are a wide variety of homeowners associations that offer a huge range of different services. You could have an HOA that simply makes sure that everyone follows the covenants that keep the neighborhood up to a certain standard.
Alternatively, you could have an HOA that offers everything under the sun including a clubhouse, golf course, pool, gym and they might even maintain all of the landscaping in the neighborhood.
Due to the wide variety of potential amenities, HOA fees can range from just a few bucks a month to hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.
Some fees, especially in condo associations, even include utilities such as basic cable, internet, phone, electricity, water and trash. You’ll need to do the math yourself to figure out if the financial cost of an HOA fee is worth it to you.
HOAs Don’t Just Charge Money For Services
The sole value of an HOA isn’t in providing services at a charge. They enforce covenants that can help ensure that the homes and areas within the neighborhood or condo are kept up to a certain standard.
This can greatly increase the value of homes within a neighborhood when you eventually sell your home.
HOAs Can Be A Huge Pain
If you’ve decided that HOAs provide enough value for you financially, then you need to consider one of the biggest complaints about HOAs. A HOA has a set of covenants that everyone in that neighborhood must follow.
These covenants can restrict anything from what colors you’re allowed to paint your house to how you use your home and your yard.
They can regulate whether or not you can build a fence. If you can build a fence, they can regulate what materials you must use and what color it will be.
Your HOA can control where you park and how many cars you can park in your driveway. They can restrict you from being able to park boats, RVs or other recreational vehicles on your property where others can see them.
They can even require you to keep your trash can out of sight from the road!
Some people absolutely hate having someone else tell them what to do. Before you buy any home that has covenants and restrictions, be sure to read through all of the documents and fully understand them.
Once you buy, you’re bound to them and must follow the rules.
HOAs Can Be A Blessing In Disguise
HOAs aren’t all bad. While they restrict you from doing certain things, they also restrict your neighbors from doing the same things.
If you can’t stand living in a neighborhood with boats, RVs and trash cans in sight of the road, an HOA may be perfect for you! If you can’t stand bright orange and purple homes in your neighborhood you can find one that won’t allow crazy paint colors.
These restrictions create a certain level of uniformity that can increase home values if you don’t mind playing by the rules. That’s in addition to the benefits of the amenities!
Overall, if you can find an HOA that aligns with your values, I think they’re a great deal. Just make sure you’re ready to play by all of the rules in case you have a nit picky board that will blast you for every small violation.
What’s your stance on homeowners associations? Do you love them or hate them? Do you have a horror story or a great story about a condominium or homeowners association to share?
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.