What are the Pros and Cons of Living in A Home Owner Association (HOA)? When you are buying a home in the Phoenix metro area, you need to understand that if you are looking for a newer home, within a community, you will likely be buying in a community with a Home Owner’s Association. So are there benefits to having an HOA? What are the concerns about an HOA?
One of the factors home buyers need to consider when looking for a great home in the Phoenix Metro area are the pros and cons of buying within a Home Owner Association (HOA). When purchasing a home, buyers receive the community “rules”, called Covenant, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) of that community. As part of the buying process, they agree to abide by the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) and pay the required HOA dues. In the home buying process, if a buyer does not like the CCRs once they receive them prior to closing on a house, the buyer can usually cancel the purchase contract (as long as the cancellation is made in the required timeframe).
The Positive Aspects of living in a Homer Owner’s Association
Many people like living in an HOA community because they know their neighbors will keep their property well maintained, which in turn helps maintain property value. Who wants to try and sell a home when the neighbor’s yard looks like a jungle and their paint is peeling?
Often a community will have common areas, such as a community pool, clubhouse, walking paths or tennis courts. The HOA will use the HOA fees to manage the maintenance of these areas. As a homeowner, you have access to these community features. You may enjoy a pool without the maintenance, expense and safety challenges of a private pool. Many people prefer the community pool from a safety aspect of having one in their backyard with small children.
We know an HOA has rules for homeowners, including maintaining a pallet of colors homes are required to use. There may be requirements for grass and shrubbery to be maintained, restrictions on parking. Some HOAs do not allow parking a car in the driveway or on the street. There may be restrictions on parking large work trucks or RVs at the property. Many home additions or structural changes need to be approved by the HOA architectural committee. But, what if you want to live in a neighborhood where these things are regulated? Then an HOA may be the place for you.
The homeowners actually make up the Home Owner Association. All homeowners are required to belong to the association and follow the rules set forth in the CCRs. If you don’t like the rules in your community, you can join the various committees for the HOA. Don’t forget to vote on issues the HOA brings before the community to ensure your voice is heard.
What are the benefits of living in an HOA community?
Homes in a community with an HOA typically are well maintained – When you purchase a home within an HOA community, you will find that homes are well maintained. Should a homeowner not maintain the exterior of the home (weeds, peeling paint, etc.), the HOA will step in and initially send the owner a letter regarding any violations. The HOA may also levy fines against the homeowner in an effort to force them to comply to the CCRs.
You don’t have to address property condition with your neighbors – If there is a homeowner not maintaining their property, you as a neighbor do not have to address the offender, just contact your HOA board members or manager. The HOA or appointed manager will address
A community pool – If the community has a community pool or common area, the homeowners may use these facilities as a benefit of their membership. Many homeowners like the idea of a community pool. A community pool is a great way to meet your neighbors and in many communities, it serves as a great social gathering location. Many homeowners like the benefits of a community pool and spa without the upkeep of a personal pool area. Often homeowners with small children or pets prefer not to have a pool in their own backyard!
In the Phoenix Metro area, a private pool can easily add over $100 per month to your household expenses with water use and chemicals or a pool service.
Other community amenities – Often, an HOA will provide other amenities, such as a clubhouse, tennis or volleyball courts, park areas or playground equipment. Typically these amenities are not something an individual homeowner would have in their backyard!
Discounted Golf Course Fees – Often if you purchase in a golf club community, you may get preference in booking tee times. You may also receive reduced pricing the pro shop, etc
Front yard maintenance – Some communities include your front yard maintenance as part of your HOA fees. This is a great benefit to those who don’t want to spend time on ard work or those who aren’t able to do their own yard work.
What is the downside of living an HOA?
While many homeowners appreciate the benefits a homeowner association provides, there are some who have had bad experiences with overzealous HOA managers or CCRs who say “Never Again”! But really, is there a downside to an HOA? In part, it depends on how the HOA is managed. There are instances of those managing the HOAs who attempt to manage with an iron fist and push rules to the limits. In many HOA communities, if, for instance, you leave your garbage cans out the day after trash pick-up, you may be sent a letter that you are in violation. If the CCRS states trash cans should be removed from your driveway the day that the trash is picked up, some communities could send a letter or levy a fine for repeated violations.
Rules on the location of garbage cans – In many HOA communities, if, for instance, you leave your garbage cans out the day after trash pick-up, you may be sent a letter that you are in violation. If the CCRS states trash cans should be removed from your driveway the day that the trash is picked up, some communities could send a letter or levy a fine for repeated violations.
No parking restrictions – While you may need to follow your city or town parking guidelines, there is no HOA to restrict the type of vehicle you have parked at your house or for how long. Family can visit and park their RV or trailer as long as you want them to stay!
Paint your house the color you want – without HOA guidelines, you can paint your house the color you want, and not be limited to a “neutral” palette.
Choose your preferred landscape – The HOA may have a required number o tree of bushes in your front yard. In Phoenix, we often see desert landscaping rather than grass. Some HOAs will dictate the style of your front yard landscaping.
The color of homes is typically regulated by the HOA. If you do not what to be told what color to paint your home, you might not want to live in an HOA community.
No approval from the community to remodel the exterior of the home make additions, add /remove shutters You will still need to be sure you comply to your city building codes,
Save money by not paying monthly HOA fees. – HOA fees can range from a few dollars a month to $100, $200, $300 or more, depending on the amenities within a community.
Some HOAs are poorly managed – Even with an HOA community, you will want to carefully review the CCRs and financial statements before buying your home. Some HOAs are self-managed, while others outsource the management. A poorly managed HOA can be more frustrating than no HOA. If the HOA doesn’t apply the rules consistently and fairly to all residents a homeowner could get frustrated If the HOA fails to take action on neighbor complaints, other residents can grow frustrated as well.
How do I know if I am choosing a great HOA community?
When buying a home within an HOA community, do your homework. This includes consulting with your local Real Estate professional. If you are considering making an offer on a home, knock on the door of the neighbors. Ask how they like the community and the HOA. People are very happy to talk to prospective home buyers. They will often talk endlessly about the community, pros, and cos as well as the former owners of the house you are considering! Ask current homeowners if they had had any issues with the HOA or if they know others who may have had challenges with the HOA.
When you are under contract on a home, you will receive a copy of the most current CCRs. Read these carefully! Review the financial information included.
What are the financial reserves?? Is there any pending litigation that could cause the community to increase rates or require the HOA to levy an assessment. How recently have common areas been maintained? Go look at any community common areas. Is the pool area well maintained? What is the condition of any pool furniture/? Does it look fresh and clean or is it ratty looking? Are residents evening using the amenities? How do the tennis courts or volleyball courts look? This will give you an idea of how well the HOA maintains the community. You can call the HOA and ask any fact-finding questions you may have to satisfy yourself that the community is well maintained.
How do I get a say in my HOA community?
Once you purchase your home, get involved in the community! Attend board meetings. Vote on issues that are placed before the community residences. Understand the issues. Provide input to issues and help find a resolution to issues identified. Many homeowners do not attend their HOA community meetings and few actually vote. The HOA is made up of the residents who live in the community, not people who don’t own property in the community. Discuss issues with your neighbors and work collectively to improve the community.
Don’t let a few in the community dictate their opinions to everyone else. Sometimes boards have to make difficult decisions. Sometimes if few people elect to vote on an item, the HOA could implement a rule that is not in the best interest of the community. It is better to understand any upcoming changes and educate your neighbors to vote. Voting an idea down is easier than repealing it!
Home buyers need to do their homework when considering buying a home within a HOA community. Understand the restrictions you will need to live by. Check out the financial health of the HOA, read the CCRs that are sent to you and review the financials. If you have questions, make phone calls and inquire. HOAs are great for some people and may not work well for others. As a home buyer, this is one of the many home aspects you need to check out.
If you are considering buying, selling or investing in real estate in the Phoenix east valley area, please give Shirley Coomer a call for a free consultation. The Shirley Coomer Group specializes in the Phoenix east valley. To see all the properties in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), CLICK HERE.