Everything You Need to Know About Homeowners and Neighborhood Associations

by Carson BuckSeptember 16, 2016

Welcome to the Club!

If you’re considering purchasing a condominium, a town home, or a residence within a planned or gated community, then joining the local homeowner’s association will more than likely come with the territory.

You may have heard some less-than-flattering things about HOAs, but they’re certainly not all bad. In this article, we’ll talk about how homeowners’ and neighborhood associations work, and discuss some things you should consider before buying or renting a home that falls under the governance of an HOA.

joining a local homeowners or neighborhood association

Pay Your Dues

First things first: yes, homeowners’ associations cost money. You’ll have to pay monthly dues, generally between $100 and $600 per month. If your community decides to take on a special project, then you may also have to pay what’s called a “special assessment,” above and beyond your normal monthly ante.

HOAs Have a Lot of Clout

You should also know that membership in a homeowners’ association may put certain limits on your rights as a homeowner. For example, your HOA may decide that you can’t have dogs over a certain weight, or park an RV in your driveway.

They might also limit your choices when repainting your home, installing solar panels, or building an addition (must be made of ticky-tacky, look just the same). Some HOAs even restrict the type and color of window treatments you’re allowed to install in street-facing windows.

Limitations Can Be a Good Thing

If all of this sounds a bit oppressive, consider the following: you may not be allowed to paint your home whichever color you like, but you don’t have to worry about your neighbors repainting their homes in gaudy colors, either.

You also don’t have to concern yourself with whether or not your new neighbors will drag down your home’s property value by parking junk cars in the driveway or filling the yard with plastic flamingos and lawn gnomes.

So yes: living in an HOA-managed neighborhood can limit your creativity when it comes to exterior décor, but it also gives you the peace of mind of knowing that even if you have extremely tacky neighbors, their gauche sensibilities will be limited to the privacy of their own homes.

joining a local homeowners or neighborhood association

Membership Has Its Perks

Planned communities often have certain benefits that you might not be able to afford on your own. For example, many offer community swimming pools or shared green spaces. Many condo communities include landscaping and maintenance services. If you’re living in a residential high-rise, you may have access to a swanky rooftop gathering space or a well-appointed on-site fitness room.

The specific amenities will depend on the community in question, but they all have one thing in common: they’re paid for by the members, and being able to split those costs with your neighbors can be a real perk.

Before You Join, Read the Fine Print

Joining an HOA or neighborhood association has its pros and cons. Whether the former outweigh the latter is in the eye of the beholder. But one thing is certain: you should know what the rules are before you sign on the proverbial dotted line.

Are you OK with having your decorative choices limited to an agreed-upon set of guidelines? Do you like the idea of sharing the cost of community amenities? Do you find the idea of knowing that your neighbors can’t just throw a backyard rave reassuring? If so, joining an HOA might be for you.

If you’re a free spirit, however, then you might find the strictures of HOA living to be a bit too restrictive. If you’d prefer to be able to paint street art murals on your home, have loud parties, work on your classic Dodge in the driveway, and keep chickens in your back yard, well, let’s just say you’re probably better off living in a neighborhood where dirty looks are the extent of your neighbors’ power to reprimand. Better yet, find a community of kindred spirits who appreciate those sorts of things.

Thanks for Reading!

Whether you’re looking for the predictability and shared resources of a planned community, or a place where you can fly your freak flag at full mast, we hope you find the perfect home for the live you want to live. And if we can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re Homes.com, and homes are what we do.

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About The Author
Carson Buck
Carson is a real estate agent based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Carson loves data and market research, and how readily available it is in today's world. He is passionate about interpreting these insights to help his clients find and buy their perfect home. Carson got into the real estate industry because he loves the feeling of handing over the keys to a new home to happy clients. In his free time, he works on his backyard bonsai garden and spends time with his wife, Julia.