Homeowners associations are becoming commonplace in many new neighborhoods. If you are looking to buy a new home, make sure you know about HOA benefits and restrictions before you sign all of the paperwork. Make sure you will be able to live in the community before you move.
Homeowners associations are designed to help improve community appearance and value. Still, there are always little things that can cause annoyances to residents. Read all of the rules and regulations before you buy because sometimes you may not be able to live within the parameters. Here are some common restrictions that can become trouble spots:
- Pontoon boats and RV’s must be stored out of sight.
- Trash cans cannot be visible, except on trash-pickup day.
- All cars must be parked in the garage (not on the street, not in the driveway) at all times.
- Exterior and interior change requests must be approved by the HOA before you make them.
- Remember, if you enter a neighborhood with an association, you are not able to opt out. You are stuck in the association until you move, so be willing to live within the guidelines.
Being part of a HOA is, by in large, a benefit — despite a few extra rules that improve your neighborhood. Your HOA will probably do regular walk-bys and drive-bys to make sure homes are in compliance. Keep up with regular maintenance and repairs to save a lot of work in the future because problems escalate into major repairs. It is a good idea to set aside about 1% of the purchase price of your home for annual repairs and preventative maintenance. Some trouble spots often include interior and exterior paint, gates, landscaping and roofing tiles. You can even ask them about their recommendations for professional services that ensure you are in compliance. This is particularly important if you are a business or working in a dangerous area. An example of such a service would be property condition assessments from Energy Finance Analytics, which is an external third party service.
If you are not in compliance with your HOA’s rules, you will probably be sent a letter telling you the problem and requesting that you fix it. You will then be given a grace period during which you can fix the problem at your own cost, followed by a re-inspection. If standards are still not met, you will receive a second letter, and the complaint is given to an attorney. The usual punishment is payment for when the HOA corrects the problem itself.
Your homeowners association is also designed to work for you. If you have any complaints, you can submit them to the office and they will be evaluated and taken care of. If the HOA is not responsible for the repair, like a broken street lamp or potholes, the complaint will be forwarded to the proper city offices. The association is also responsible for maintaining community-owned property such as median landscaping or certain fences and walls. Before you join a community, make sure its HOA does not have any outstanding financial situations you will be forced to help pay for because of major projects, maintenance or repairs.
HOA organizations are created to help you, the homeowner, have a comfortable, beautiful neighborhood to live in. Communities that have HOAs are more likely to increase in value and at a faster rate than those that don’t have homeowners associations because they are well-maintained and respected. If you are looking at a house in a neighborhood that has such an association, make sure you do all the research before you buy a home so you can live more comfortably within the rules and regulations.