HOA vs Non-HOA Properties
The pros and cons debate of living in a housing development with a homeowner’s association (HOA) have been going on for decades. Ever since the first master-planned communities started appearing in the 1960s, homebuyers have had to decide if the advantages of an HOA outweighed some of the disadvantages. As with most aspects of home buying, the final answer is that it’s a personal preference, but there are some important considerations that should be discussed before buying a property with an HOA. Prospective buyers will be provided a document of CC & Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) which outline the specifics and they should be carefully reviewed.
There are many benefits to owning a home with an HOA. The same restrictions and rules that you might find limiting also limits your neighbors. Perhaps you can’t tell the difference between one beige house color and the approved beige house color, but that same rule prevents your neighbor from painting their house purple.
♦ Community Appearance and Standards
All aspects of the community will be monitored by the HOA. Not only house colors, but also landscaping, tree height, and other design elements must be approved by the HOA review board.
♦ Upgraded Amenities
Often the community will include neighborhood parks and greenbelts which are maintained by the HOA as well as other amenities like swimming pools, sports courts, and exercise facilities. For example, Landen offers these amenities in some of their subdivisions and have an HOA. The cost may be higher, but includes access to the lake and park, which affects not only the quality of life, but results in higher property values as well.
♦ Lower Maintenance Costs
Depending on the HOA, the front yard landscaping and other maintenance tasks will be handled by the HOA. These can include services such as trash, street cleaning, water, and some even offer cable and internet.
♦ Association Management
HOA management control varies from one association to another, but all provide some level of authority over the community. Disputes between neighbors that might otherwise land in court are often revolve by a review board with the authority to make final decisions.
♦ Higher Home Values
Home values are often higher in housing developments with an HOA than those without. The HOA will have policies in place to prevent a property or an area to become neglected or unattractive. This keeps the neighborhood looking better than those without and attracts homebuyers.
Of course, this level of management can also seem oppressive at times. Depending on the rules and regulations, residents in some neighborhoods might find their personal tastes restricted on their own property.
♦ Design Restrictions
First and foremost, the HOA will have restrictions on how the exterior of a home and the lot appear. The goal is to create a sense of unity and harmony in the neighborhood appearance. This could include something as simple as the approved house colors or as
detailed as the ability to fly a flag in the front yard.
♦ Parking and Street Use
Many HOA rules will include restrictions on how parking is addressed. Not only the use of parking decals can be controlled, but often a homeowner will be restricted from leaving their garage door open or parking a car in the driveway. RVs are also typically restricted.